Suns have to stay positive without Deandre Ayton for 25-games

When the Golden State Warriors were shellacked by the Los Angeles Clippers last night, the reality that the Warriors have a very good chance of missing the playoffs became touchable. 

In the off season, the Oklahoma City Thunder moved on from Russell Westbrook and Paul George and in their first game of the season, they too, looked like a team that would miss the playoffs as well. 

Why does this matter? Because the Western Conference will finally have two open playoff spots, technically. With the addition of Anthony Davis to the LeBron James led Los Angeles Lakers, one spot was already claimed.  

Unlike the spot the Lakers will claim, the other spot had no earmarks. 

Was it realistic for a team that won 17 games last season to catapult themselves into the mid to high forty victory mark and compete for that spot? Probably not. But you never know what craziness can happen. 

But unfortunately, that 17 win team, the Phoenix Suns, just made that road incredibly difficult. When First-Team all Rookie center Deandre Ayton was suspended 25-games for testing positive for a banned diuretic. 

The Suns released the following statement from general manager James Jones last night. 

“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA. This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.” He added, “Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse. While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”

Head Coach Monty Williams said today, “We have Denver tonight, the statement (released last night) said it all. My responsibility as a coach is to get us prepared and move us forward everyday.” 

He added, “We have some adversity right here in front of us and we will be better for it.”

Williams also pointed out that their are teams facing early adversity as well. The Sacramento Kings will be without Marvin Bagley Jr. and the New Orleans Pelicans will be without Zion Williamson. Coincidentally, these are two of the teams that will be battling for that last playoff spot. 

Diuretics are banned in all sports because it is used as masking agents. They can cause rapid weight loss and hide the effects of other prohibited drugs. 

They do this by increasing the rate of urine flow and sodium excretion in order to adjust the volume and composition of body fluids or to eliminate excess fluids from tissue. (BJP)

During media day, Williams was asked if he thought Ayton would be team leader and he responded, “I want him to improve. I don’t expect a young player to be a leader right now. I expect him to improve and grow.”

For the first time in years, a young player on this team has time to mature his game and himself without added pressure of being a team leader. In this case, it appears that is a good thing. 

Ayton said he will appeal the suspension, “I want to apologize to my family, the entire Suns organization, my teammates, partners, our fans and the Phoenix community. This was an unintentional mistake and unfortunately I put something in my body that I was completely unaware of. I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that I am deeply sorry. I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down. I will continue to work with the Players’ Union (NBPA) to go through the arbitration process and am hopeful for a positive resolution.”

For their part, the Suns will prepare like he will be out for 25-games. “Aaron Baynes has started and played well before,” said Williams. 

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