Some quotes from the article:
Phoenix general manager James Jones said he told Ayton through the entire free agency process that he planned to re-sign him, including during a Zoom conference call on July 1. James also told ESPN's Andscape that it was "important" and "critical" to match immediately.
"We wanted Deandre here," Jones said in a phone interview. "He's vital to what we do, at the core of everything that we do. And throughout this whole process it was, it rang true. We wanted to keep him here, and the moment we can come to an agreement, we would. So, waiting 24 hours, 48 hours, that wasn't something we needed to do because going into it, we knew this is where he wanted to be and where we wanted him to be.
"I'm one to just be direct. And if you're convicted, if you know what you want to do, you do it. But if there's any doubt from anyone that we wanted him, I think that the matching did that. It was urgent for us. It was important. It was critical for us. So, we just wanted to make sure that we handled our business quickly."
"This is a blessing," Ayton told ESPN's Andscape in a phone conversation after signing his contract. "This contract not only has generational impact for my family, but also with the way we are able to work in the Phoenix community and home in the Bahamas. That is the things that we go by ...
"I've come to understand that this is a business. So, I was more anxious to know the end of the result so I could focus, move on, and just get back to work. I just treated everything like a business. Just keep being professional, approach everything with professionalism and not looking too deep into it."
"The shift in free agency brought a lot of uncertainty through the whole process," Ayton said. "I got to give a lot of respect to the Pacers organization. They were aggressive from the start and showing a lot of love. And we agreed to a max offer sheet. The Suns matched. Now, I'm back in Phoenix as a Sun.
"I'm happy. The process is over. I put all this behind me and focus on chasing a championship this upcoming season with my brothers."
Jones said he was elated for Ayton, his family and the Suns to have him back. Jones and Suns owner Robert Sarver were on hand when Ayton signed his contract from the franchise's practice facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"I just told him, I'm happy for him," Jones said. "I'm proud of him for how he handled it and how he approached it. I'm just excited for what his next steps look like. He's motivated to continue to improve, and we're motivated to help him reach that level.
"And if he can reach that level, we're a great team, an even better team. We're already a good team. We're already a great team, but we're even better."
Suns head coach Monty Williams added he was ecstatic Ayton was back as his starting center, and he knew all along "we were going to match any offer."
"James and myself, we talk a lot and he'll let me know what's going on with the contract and ask for my opinion," Williams said to ESPN's Andscape. "I try to stay out of persuading him when it comes to him making decisions. But we knew any offer that he got, we were going to match.
"... I'm happy for Deandre just because I know this is what he wanted. He wants to be in that class of players that's regarded in this way. So, from that standpoint, I think as a competitor, that's what you want. When you see a guy working for that, that part is pretty cool."
These are Ayton's first comments since that Game 7 he described as "in the past." He also said he and Williams are on good terms and described their relationship as "calm."
"Game 7 was an anomaly. We let that get away from us as a team. That is all in the past. We're going to look forward. We are going to move on," Ayton said without going into detail.