(Photo via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic, Suns star Devin Booker and 2018 first overall pick Deandre Ayton exchanged words after the team’s 86-108 loss in Portland. The Suns scored just nine points in the first quarter, the second time in two games this has happened.
Comparisons have been drawn between Ayton and Booker and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, a center/guard combo whose tenure on the Lakers included many publicized arguments.
Booker has been sitting out after re-aggravating a hamstring injury, and Ayton played through an illness in Portland but came off the bench for Richaun Holmes. Ayton’s benching comes after Tuesday’s loss to Sacramento when Ayton admitted to not playing hard for the rest of the game after a weak first quarter.
This news also comes after video of Suns head coach Igor Kokoškov arguing with Mikal Bridges made the rounds on Twitter.
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) December 7, 2018
Per the Arizona Republic, Ayton said this about the incident:
“I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it doesn’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”
The Suns are 4-21, and are the only team in the Western Conference without double-digit wins. They have lost seven straight games, and come into Friday with the league’s worst record.
Booker will once again not play against Miami, and the team’s second leading scorer, TJ Warren, will be out as well. Ayton will be starting, per coach Kokoškov.