Phoenix Suns

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Jackson, Price, West

Warriors coach Steve Kerr suffered a spinal fluid leak during his July 28th back surgery on a ruptured disk, which has led to his absence from the team during the preseason. Dr. Neel Anand, the director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, believes that Kerr is likely to make a full recovery, though the exact timetable still remains unclear, Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle relays. When discussing Kerr’s prognosis, Anand said, “The body forms spinal fluid constantly. As long as it doesn’t continue to leak, he’ll make a full recovery and be back to normal. It’s like 99.9% that he’ll probably make a full recovery.” That’s certainly encouraging news for Kerr and the Warriors, and now here’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors team consultant Jerry West, in an interview with Ethan Sherwood Strauss of, noted that one reason Mark Jackson, who was Kerr’s predecessor as Golden State coach, was let go after the 2013/14 campaign was his inability to adapt the offense to better suit the team’s personnel. “Coaches who have been players in the league, they get so attuned to playing how they were successful, and who their coaches were,” said West. “Mark was a real pick-and-roll guy and very, very good at it. Steve played for two championship coaches, and I think the coach obviously he has replicated is [Gregg] Popovich. He liked his style of play, even if he had great success in Chicago. Moving the ball, moving your body, all the little things you do to get defenses to make mistakes and to try to be able to counter. I think that’s been his philosophy offensively.
  • While Ronnie Price may have been signed with designs on him being a mentor to the Suns‘ young backcourt duo of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, Price has found them to be more talented and prepared than he anticipated, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “They don’t need to learn anything from me,” Price said. “I’m just here to be a brother and a teammate and to help them get through the season with a clear mindset. These guys are gifted. You don’t often have a chance to compete against two All-Star caliber point guards in practice. It’s been a joy. I have a newfound respect for Bled and B-Knight. You don’t have a chance to know how talented people are until you play against them every day. I respect their games even more. I’m just happy they’re on my team.”

Cavs Lead With 16 Free Agent Signings

The Cavaliers have drawn plenty of attention the past few months for a free agent they haven’t signed, but even though Tristan Thompson lingers in free agency, Cleveland has taken care of more free agent business than any other team in the league during the 2015 offseason. They signed 16 free agents, three more than the Spurs, the team that recorded the next most free agent signings. The Cavs just made their latest signing this weekend, replacing Michael Dunigan with Dionte Christmas on the camp roster.

It might be easy to presume a direct correlation between free agent activity and success, given the teams at the very top and bottom of the list below. The Cavs and Spurs are strong bets to win their respective conferences this season, while the Jazz, Timberwolves and Sixers are nowhere near the title picture. The presence of the Warriors and Thunder on the bottom half of the list and the Kings and Nets close to the top debunk that theory, however. It has more to do with the fact that the Cavs had only four players signed for 2015/16 when they ended last season, while the Jazz had 13. Cleveland simply had more jobs to hand out.

Still, other factors are at play, since free agent signings don’t encompass draft picks, draft-and-stash signings, trades or waiver claims. The Trail Blazers made significant changes to their roster, but they did much of their work via trade instead of free agency. The Rockets had 10 players under contract on July 1st, but they still wound up making 11 free agent signings.

Here’s a look at the number of free agent signings for each team. Click the team’s name to see the names of each of their signees via our 2015 Free Agent Tracker.

  1. Cavaliers, 16
  2. Mavericks, 13
  3. Spurs, 13
  4. Kings, 12
  5. Knicks, 12
  6. Nets, 12
  7. Pelicans, 12
  8. Rockets, 11
  9. Clippers, 10
  10. Grizzlies, 10
  11. Suns, 10
  12. Heat, 9
  13. Pacers, 9
  14. Raptors, 9
  15. Bulls, 8
  16. Hawks, 8
  17. Magic, 8
  18. Wizards, 8
  19. Bucks, 7
  20. Celtics, 7
  21. Hornets, 7
  22. Lakers, 7
  23. Nuggets, 7
  24. Warriors, 7
  25. Pistons, 6
  26. Thunder, 6
  27. Trail Blazers, 6
  28. 76ers, 5
  29. Timberwolves, 5
  30. Jazz, 4

Western Notes: Howard, Martin, Morris

Fans knew that Dwight Howard was battling a knee injury during last season’s Western Conference finals, but the injury was worse than it seemed at the time, Calvin Walkins of writes.

“I was basically playing with a torn MCL and meniscus,” Howard said. “I never said anything about it. I tried to cover it up saying it was a sore knee. But I was in pain the rest of the series. I just looked at it like, man, you just never know if you will ever make it back to this moment. So just sacrifice your mind, your body and your spirit for your teammates and the city and hope for the best.”

The Rockets intend to utilize second year big man Clint Capela in a larger role in an effort to reduce Howard’s workload this season. In the summer of 2013, Howard signed a four-year, max contract that includes a player option after this season. The health of his knee, along with the level of his play this season, could determine whether he decides to turn down his option, worth slightly more than $23.28MM, and enter free agency in 2016.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders opines that Kevin Martin is a prime candidate to be traded after the Wolves announced that sophomore Zach LaVine will be the team’s starting shooting guard. Martin has two years and slightly over $14.46MM remaining on his current deal and Greene believes if Minnesota wanted to move him, there would be teams willing to bring the veteran aboard at that price.
  • Although Markieff Morris declared that he wants to remain in Phoenix, the Suns could ultimately end up dealing the forward anyway, Greene opines in the same piece. Morris is on a team-friendly deal that will pay him $32MM over the next four seasons and if he has a good start to the season, more than a few teams should be interested in acquiring him.
  • After losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs in free agency, many are not optimistic about the Blazers‘ chances of making playoffs, but statistician Kevin Pelton of argues that competing for a playoff spot is not out of the question, Cody Sharett of writes. Pelton cited the additions of Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee and Al-Farouq Aminu, who have all shined in terms of advanced statistics, as reason for optimism.

Pacific Notes: Upshaw, Warren, Williams

Lakers rookie center Robert Upshaw saw his first NBA preseason action during the team’s 105-97 loss to the Raptors on Thursday, and the young big man contributed six points, three rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one turnover in 25 minutes. When asked to assess Upshaw’s first showing for the team, coach Byron Scott said, “He was OK. He made a ton of mistakes on both ends of the floor. That’s probably to be expected in his first game,Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News relays.

Scott was pleased with how Upshaw is physically rounding into shape, as well as the athleticism Upshaw displayed during Thursday’s contest, Medina adds. “That’s something we didn’t see in summer league,” Scott said. “In summer league, he was much heavier than he is right now. He’s in much better condition right now. He’s much lighter getting up and down the floor. He’s getting off his feet much better. We’re able to see some of the things we kept hearing about.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said that T.J. Warren‘s overall game has improved since last season, and it may make his decision regarding the team’s regular season starter at small forward difficult, writes Matt Petersen of “When we can get him the ball and get him opportunities, he makes the plays,” Hornacek said. “Defensively, he’s much better than he was last year. I like what he’s doing defensively on guys. He’s taking challenges. He’s got a great knack.P.J. Tucker is Phoenix’s incumbent starter at the three.
  • Despite winning the 2014/15 Sixth Man of the Year award, the Raptors didn’t make an effort to re-sign Lou Williams this offseason, but according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey, “It wasn’t for the fact that we didn’t like Lou or want Lou,” Bill Oram of The Orange County Register tweets.
  • Williams, who signed a three-year, $21MM deal with the Lakers back in July, was allowed to depart because Toronto had more pressing roster concerns, and not because the Raptors didn’t think he was a valuable player, Oram writes in a full-length piece. “He has a huge value,” Casey said of Williams, “but it depends on the other needs that you have on the team. He won a lot of games last year for us with his scoring. We had nights where we had nothing going, and he would come in and change the game with his scoring. And there’s a value. There’s a huge value to that.”

Western Notes: Kobe, Morris, Barnes, Davis

The majority of the two dozen team executives, scouts, agents and other figures from around the NBA who spoke with Baxter Holmes of said the Lakers definitely shouldn’t re-sign Kobe Bryant if he decides to play beyond the expiration of his contract at season’s end. Another sizable chunk of respondents said it should depend on his health, while only one said the Lakers should definitely bring him back. Part of the issue involves repeated assertions from people around the league that free agents won’t want to sign with the Lakers and play with their longtime star, as Holmes relays. Bryant has said he won’t play for an NBA team aside from the Lakers, but if he did, few teams would have interest, Holmes hears. One executive mentioned the Knicks as a possibility, and another brought up the Clippers. See more from around the Western Conference:

  • Markieff Morris gave further indication Wednesday that he indeed wants to stick around Phoenix, telling reporters, including Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, that he intends to convince local fans he’s on board. “I’ll win them back,” Morris said. “That’s all I can say about that.” Morris last week backed off his trade demand from the summer, and the Suns apparently have no interest in sending him out, even though the Pistons are reportedly interested.
  • Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger and Matt Barnes sloughed off the notion that reports that Barnes physically attacked Knicks coach Derek Fisher will have any bearing on the team, and Joerger expressed full support for his player, notes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Barnes said that he hasn’t spoken with anyone from the league office, but the NBA is investigating, Tillery adds. Memphis traded for Barnes this summer, and he’s entering the final season of his contract.
  • Ed Davis prioritized the chance for minutes over money when he decided to sign a three-year, $20MM deal with the Blazers this summer, as Casey Holdahl of details. “I was playing well in Toronto my third year, then I got traded to Memphis,” Davis said. “I played behind [Zach Randolph] and Marc [Gasol] for a year and a half, didn’t really get the opportunity. I was playing 13, 14 minutes a game and there’s no way that’s you’re going to be successful in the NBA with those minutes. That set me back for a year and a half. I guess the media or whatever thought I couldn’t play, or whatever it was. Went to L.A. [Lakers] last year, had a decent year and everything turned. Now I’m in a great situation and I’m looking forward to it.”

Mavs Notes: Parsons, Matthews, Evans

The potential for better floor spacing thanks to the moves the Mavs made this offseason intrigues Chandler Parsons, who nonetheless still rues the aboutface DeAndre Jordan made after committing to the team, observes Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

“I think I’ve earned the right to speak freely about the Mavs and our future. There was no way DJ was going to come unless I presented our pitch,” Parsons said to Charania. “It’s not like I was gassing him up and lying. Everything he was saying that he wanted, we were going to give to him. Everything: the opportunity to get the ball more, to be an MVP candidate, to be the man and take the next step in his career. It’s not like I was just making this [expletive] up. He’s still a friend. But when I saw him in Las Vegas for Team USA, all I could really say was, ‘Are you [expletive] serious?'”

Absent Jordan, Parsons is embracing the “opportunity to be the man and an All-Star” with the Mavericks as he makes his way back from knee surgery, and he won’t rule out making a rehab appearance with the team’s D-League affiliate, as he tells Charania for the same story. A D-League assignment is nonetheless unlikely, Parsons indicates. See more from Dallas:

  • Wesley Matthews isn’t too upset with Jordan his reversal, perhaps unsurprisingly, since the total value of Matthews’ deal escalated from roughly $13MM a year to the max of about $17.5MM annually when Jordan reneged on his agreement. “He made his own decision and that was it,” Matthews said to Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams. “Am I mad that he changed his mind? No. The only thing that I have an issue with is, I’m reaching out [and] he just didn’t hit me back. If you’re like, ‘Hey, man, I feel this way,’ it’s fine. I’m not going to hold a gun to your head and say, ‘You can’t go.’ At the end of the day, we’ve got to make the best decision. If you thought it was here and realized it wasn’t, I can’t fault you for that.”
  • The Suns were among the teams that showed interest in Matthews this summer, Abrams notes within his piece.
  • The Mavericks like the versatility of Jeremy Evans, and he’s performed well so far in his initial preseason action for the team, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News chronicles. Evans signed a fully guaranteed two-year, minimum salary deal this summer. “It’s pretty clear he’s going to be one of our better defensive players with his activity and length,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s an above-the-rim kind of guy. He’s going to have to guard a lot of different positions.”
  • Check out Mark Cuban’s idea for a supplemental draft that he detailed in a Hoops Rumors exclusive.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Napier, Smith, Holiday

Goran Dragic has a new five-year deal worth more than $85MM with the Heat, and he also has more responsibility and a stronger roster around him than ever before, notes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post. Dragic only has played in one NBA postseason, but odds are that’ll change by this spring.

“There’s definitely more pressure now,” Dragic said to Lieser. “You need to show people that you’re worth that money. I know I have my spot, but you need to prove to everybody that you deserve it. There’s pressure, and you need to deal with it. I can do that.”

See more on an ex-Heat point guard amid the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Shabazz Napier likes his new surroundings with the Magic and wasn’t surprised when the Heat traded him in the offseason, observes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. “During the summer you hear lot of rumors. What actually happened, I wasn’t too surprised at all. If it hit me where I didn’t know about it, then I’d be surprised,” Napier said. “But I kind of had a feeling they kind of needed to get some trades off. I sensed it because I have a great agent [Rob Pelinka], not because I felt they wanted me to get out of there. It’s just sometimes it’s business. They needed extra money and they didn’t need the luxury tax and what not.”
  • The Sixers made Ish Smith an offer to return, and the Kings and Suns offered him deals, too, before he instead signed with the Wizards, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers seem like they could have used him, but Smith faces long odds to stick for opening night in Washington, since he has a non-guaranteed deal on a roster with 15 fully guaranteed contracts, Pompey writes.
  • Justin Holiday, one of the few members of the Warriors championship team to depart Golden State this summer, is hoping to follow in DeMarre Carroll‘s footsteps as an under-the-radar signee who blossoms with the Hawks, as Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders details. Holiday’s two-year deal with Atlanta is for the minimum salary, as Basketball Insiders scribe Eric Pincus shows. “The main thing that appealed to me was how the team played,” Holiday said. “Just how coach [Mike Budenholzer] goes about doing things here. I guess DeMarre leaving, obviously that made it available for me to come. So that has to be a big reason why I’m here, but I guess I didn’t focus as much on him not being here. I just think the way they do things here is the main reason why I felt like this was a good place for me to come.”

Suns Waive Deonte Burton

The Suns have waived point guard Deonte Burton, the team announced. Burton, who was not present at training camp, is still expected to join the team’s D-League affiliate in Bakersfield, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays (Twitter link). His one-year, minimum salary deal was non-guaranteed, so the Suns won’t be on the hook for any money as a result of this move.

Burton, 24, went undrafted out of Nevada in 2014 after averaging  20.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists against 2.0 turnovers in 38.6 MPG as a Senior. His career NCAA numbers were 16.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 4.0 APG to accompany a shooting line of .439/.337/.751.

Phoenix’s preseason roster count now stands at 17 players, including 13 possessing fully guaranteed deals.

Pistons Eye Markieff Morris?

Disgruntled Suns forward Markieff Morris may get his wish to rejoin his twin brother in Detroit at some point, with the Pistons monitoring Morris’ situation in Phoenix closely, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis does note that the Suns don’t appear to be currently interested in making a trade, but that could change on December 15th, which is the date most players become eligible to be traded (Twitter links). The former 13th overall pick had planned not to talk to the Suns front office and to answer coach Jeff Hornacek only with one-word responses until he was dealt, though Morris later backed off his rigid stance and declared “I want to be here” at Phoenix’s media day gathering. Markieff is slated to make $8MM this coming season in the first year of his four-year, $32MM extension.

Morris had previously said that he felt disrespected by the way the team handled the July 9th trade of his twin and former teammate, Marcus Morris, to the Pistons, and had made it clear that he wanted out of Phoenix prior to the 2015/16 season commencing. “One thing for sure, I am not going to be there,” Markieff had said. “If you want to put that out there, you can put that out,” he added. “. . . I am not to going to be there at all.” Those comments to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer essentially confirmed a report from John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 radio that Markieff wanted off the Suns. Morris was fined $10k by the league for making those public statements.. Morris was fined $10k by the league for making those public statements.

The Pistons don’t necessarily have a need for Markieff after the offseason addition of Ersan Ilyasova, who was acquired in a trade with the Bucks. Marcus has also said that the opportunity to play away from his brother, while not ideal, could help him grow as a player. “I kind of wanted to play with my brother [twin Markieff Morris] so much that I kind of took away from myself,” Marcus said. “I didn’t think I had an opportunity to get better. I don’t think I had the chance to grow as a player over there. I think the opportunity is here for me.”

The brothers are also both facing felony aggravated assault charges for their alleged roles in a January brawl at a Phoenix recreation center, which could dampen the Pistons’ interest somewhat. The duo would be suspended a minimum of 10 games if they are found guilty of a felony and could also face a suspension if they’re guilty of a misdemeanor.

Pacific Notes: Clark, Chandler, Cousins, Walton

Ian Clark has shot well during camp and shown improving skill as a point guard, as well as the ability to defend multiple positions, all of which bodes well for his chances to stick with the Warriors on his non-guaranteed deal, as Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle examines. He’s also lingering after the end of most practices so he can play one-on-one with Stephen Curry, Simmons notes.

“He’s played well,” Curry said. “He’s not just a shooter. He’s shown that he can put the ball on the floor and make plays. He’s been around a couple of different teams and our summer-league program. I think he understands how we play, and he’s fitting right in. It’s fun to watch those five or six guys fighting for a roster spot, but Ian has definitely shown that he’s confident, and he’s making the most of an opportunity right now.”

Golden State has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts and James Michael McAdoo on a partially guaranteed deal, as our roster count shows, leaving Clark among six likely fighting for a single regular season spot. See more from the Warriors amid the latest on the Pacific Division:

  • The free agent signing of Tyson Chandler has displaced Alex Len from the Suns starting lineup, but the 2013 No. 5 overall pick sees it as an opportunity to learn from an experienced mentor, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Suns senior adviser Lon Babby also arranged for Len to work with Tim Duncan for a few days this summer, Coro notes. “I learn something new every day,” Len said. “Like I talk to Tyson and he tells me something and I can apply it in the game right away. Like positioning and little things he helps with. I feel the game has slowed down a little bit from last year to this year. Now, when I dive and catch the ball, I see other guys more and read the game better.” 
  • Luke Walton‘s career trajectory has seen him go from a first-time assistant, to winning an NBA title, and now to Warriors interim head coach in the span of 14 months, Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.
  • Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is pleased with the team’s veteran offseason additions, who all fit with Sacramento’s intent to try to contend this season, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. “You’ve got guys who know how to play the game, guys that know the game,” Cousins said. “Coming out and building chemistry is even easier. Trying to do that with younger guys? They’re trying to figure out their game and learn how to play.

Get the hottest NBA news and rumors before anyone else! Follow us on Twitter to stay updated: