Suns' Deandre Ayton Ruled out vs. Celtics with Non-COVID Illness

Doric SamDecember 11, 2021

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton grabs a rebound against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton has been ruled out for Friday's contest against the Boston Celtics with a non-COVID-19-related illness, head coach Monty Williams announced, per Duane Rankin of azcentral.com

Ayton, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, is emerging as one of the best young big men in the NBA. Through 18 games this season, he is averaging 16.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 61.4 percent from the floor. 

Ayton was a key contributor during the Suns' run to the NBA Finals last season. The Arizona product averaged 15.8 points and 11.8 rebounds on 65.8 percent shooting in the 2021 postseason. 

Despite his strong performance in the playoffs, Ayton and Phoenix were unable to come to an agreement on a rookie contract extension before the Oct. 18 deadline. He will be a restricted free agent after this season.

Ayton also missed time earlier this season with a leg injury. In the games Ayton has missed, veteran center JaVale McGee has taken his spot in the starting lineup but Phoenix is lacking frontcourt depth. Power forward Frank Kaminsky, who often plays as a small-ball five, has been out since Nov. 15 due to a stress reaction in his right knee.