Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams opens up media day classifying this offseason as “one of those summers you’ll never forget.”
Typically, media day in the NBA is consumed by questions revolving around the prior season, offseason and upcoming season. However, on Monday, media day for the Phoenix Suns was gloomier then ever. Basketball came second.
The Robert Sarver story turned the Suns’ media day into a “dentist office waiting room,” according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The excitement and enthusiasm in the room was zero to none.
Media day marked the first time in which General Manager James Jones, coach Monty Williams, and Suns players were able to comment on Sarver.
The long summer made getting to media day no easier. According to Williams, the Suns organization used this summer to “grow and learn” by seeing life from different perspectives. The long summer was a direct result of losing to Dallas in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Now that the Robert Sarver story has been addressed, the season is officially underway. Coach Williams stated that he won’t have to be “cutting down trees in Texas” anymore. His focus lies strictly on basketball.
To prepare for this upcoming season, Suns players looked to take full advantage of the long summer, both on and off the court. Spending time with family seemed to be the number one priority for the team.
“This has probably been the best summer I’ve had in my career just because I was getting real time with my family,” Chris Paul said. “I was fully engulfed in that this summer.” When asked about how his body felt, Paul reiterated “I feel good. It was more so getting that time with family.”
Landry Shamet also spent time with family, specifically his newly acquainted father and three siblings.
“I was with family all summer,” he said. “Getting to know my siblings. Love them to death. It’s been the coolest situation for me ever. It gives me purpose.”
Deandre Ayton primarily focused on two things during this eventful offseason: his son and basketball. “I have a son. I waste my energy and patience with him and being in the gym.” Along with Ayton, every Suns player used this extended break as an opportunity to improve. Four Suns players spent time overseas representing their respective countries in Fiba Europe and Africa.
“It’s an honor to represent my country,” said Josh Okogie. “I love being able to go back to my roots and compete.”
Okogie competed for Nigeria in the African region. Ish Wainright took full advantage of the long offseason, representing Uganda and Phoenix in the African region and NBA Las Vegas Summer League.
After an impressive outing with Croatia during the EuroBasket tournament this summer, Dario Saric looks to “put that fear aside” after missing over a year of basketball with a torn ACL. “If you see the wall, you need to go through the wall,” Saric said. Late offseason addition Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot spent time in EuroBasket playing for France.
Fans and media around the association must remember that the NBA offseason falls during the summer season. Although the majority of this offseason was spent in the gym or with family, players had time to unwind and relax.
Mikal Bridges mostly stayed put in Phoenix “working out and chilling” Bridges said. “I took a couple vacations on the weekends. I like being home, staying in a routine everyday.” Bridges also helped teammate Cameron Payne immerse himself in the Phoenix culture, specifically through baseball.
Payne blames Bridges for his new found love of baseball. After attending Bridges Appreciation Day, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jack McCarthy is now Payne’s “guy” according to Payne. In every game Payne attended, McCarthy had success. So much success that Payne made an MLB The Show MyPlayer exactly like McCarthy. “I’ve been playing on easy mode, trying to get to the MLB.”
Despite the fact that Robert Sarver, the Suns early playoff exit, and Deandre Ayton’s contract situation loomed over the team’s offseason, the long summer proves to be beneficial. Monty Williams reminds the media and fans that “having a long offseason like this, you are going to see some body’s that are different. This is the first normal summer we’ve had since I’ve been here. It has paid dividends for sure.”
Suns fans, be prepared for a spectacular season.