- An opposing view comes from Suns coach Earl Watson, who as a youth saw many of his friends use marijuana as a gateway to harder drugs, writes ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “I think our rhetoric on it has to be very careful because you have a lot of kids where I’m from that’s reading this, and they think [marijuana use is] cool,” Watson said. “It’s not cool. Where I’m from, you don’t get six fouls to foul out. You get three strikes. One strike leads to another. I’m just being honest with you, so you have to be very careful with your rhetoric.”
- The Suns are willing to be patient through rookie power forward Marquese Chriss‘ growing pains, including Sunday’s bench technical, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Chriss had one of his worst game as a pro with just two points and five fouls in 10 minutes. “Bench Ts put you on the bench in the second half,” said coach Earl Watson. “So it’s an accountable moment. But he’ll learn. He knows I love him. He’ll learn. He’ll move forward.”
Wroten, who was waived three times during the offseason, has been claimed by the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate (Twitter link). Goodwin, who has been waived by both the Suns and Pelicans in the past five weeks, is also joining the D-League (Twitter link).
Wroten, 23, spent a lot of time in the D-League during his four NBA seasons with the Grizzlies and Sixers. He played in just eight NBA games last season, all with Philadelphia, before being waived on Christmas Eve.
Wroten signed with the Knicks in March, but never played for the team. He agreed to a two-year deal with no guaranteed money, and was waived in June after New York traded for Derrick Rose. Wroten was claimed off waivers by the Grizzlies, who waived him in July, re-signed him in August, then waived him again in October.
The 25th pick in the 2012 draft, Wroten started his career in Memphis but spent just one season there before being traded to the Sixers. He is averaging 11.1 points and 3.0 assists in 145 career games.
Goodwin, the 29th pick in the 2013 draft, also made frequent trips to the D-League during his three seasons in Phoenix. A 22-year-old combo guard, Goodwin averaged 6.2 points and 1.2 assists per night in 150 games with the Suns. He signed with New Orleans on November 7th, but appeared in just three games before being released.
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell said his left knee felt “better” Saturday as he hoisted a few set shots after practice, relays Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Russell made his first public comments since receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection on Wednesday. He is undergoing a rehab regimen that includes poll and low-impact cardio exercises and will be re-evaluated later this week. “Definitely don’t want to force anything back,” said Russell, who will be reevalauted later in the week. “I feel like I got to be 100 percent perfect before I step back on the floor.” He will likely be out of action for two more weeks.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The Clippers‘ rebuilt bench makes them a legitimate challenger to Golden State in the West, contends Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The reserves have been a liability in the past, but the Clippers addressed that issue this summer with the signings of Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton. Add in Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford and the return of Wesley Johnson from a heel injury, and the bench seems ready to support a strong starting lineup.
- Being assigned to the D-League gave Kings rookie Malachi Richardson the chance to enjoy the thrill of hitting a game-winning shot, writes Shahbaz Khan of NBA.com. It came in Reno’s recent victory over Texas and the Kings were happy to see how Richardson responded in a pressure situation. “The great players take those type of shots,” he said, “and one day I want to be one of those players, so I decided to take it.”
- Alex Len, who will be a restricted free agent after the season, has played well as a starter, but does not mind shifting back to the Suns‘ bench because of Tyson Chandler‘s return from injury, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relays.
Here are Saturday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Hornets have recalled Aaron Harrison from their D-League affiliate, the team announced on its website. A second-year guard, Harrison has appeared in two games for Charlotte this season.
- The Mavericks have sent rookie center A.J. Hammons to the Texas Legends, the team announced through email. Hammons has played seven games for the Mavericks, averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 3.4 minutes.
- The Suns assigned Derrick Jones Jr. to Northern Arizona, their D-League affiliate, according to the team’s website. This is his second D-League assignment, as Jones has averaged 15.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in two games with the NAZ Suns. The undrafted 6’7” small forward made his NBA debut on November 19th, playing three minutes against the Sixers.
- The Bulls assigned big man Cristiano Felício, and guards Jerian Grant and R.J. Hunter to their D-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, the D-League team tweets. After defeating the Sixers on Friday, the NBA Bulls have a gap in their schedule, as they don’t play again until Wednesday. The assignments will allow those three reserves to get playing time and stay sharp. All are expected to see action in Windy City’s game against Delaware on Saturday. Felicio has appeared in 11 games with Chicago, while Grant has played in 10 games — including two starts. Hunter has seen action in just two games.
- The Bucks assigned guard Rashad Vaughn to the Westchester Knicks under the flexible assignment rule, according to a team press release. Vaughn was previously assigned to Westchester from November 19-23, appearing in two games and averaging 11.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 15.9 minutes. Vaughn has appeared in nine games for the Bucks, averaging 6.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 14.5 minutes.
After spending last Thanksgiving in China, Phoenix native Alan Williams has landed his “dream job” with the Suns, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The 23-year-old big man’s quest to play in the NBA started with a 10-day contract with Phoenix in March. He chose the Suns over the Rockets, who were willing to sign him for the remainder of the season. Williams’ gamble paid off when Phoenix gave him a multi-year contract, and his $875K salary for this season became guaranteed in September. He is averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and posted two double-doubles last week. Suns coach Earl Watson believes Williams has a 10-year career ahead.
There’s more news out of Phoenix:
- After seeing almost no action in his first 12 games, Tyler Ulis is becoming a reliable backup point guard, Coro writes in a separate story. The 5’10” rookie has averaged 6.8 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals over the last four games and is making a case to be part of the regular rotation. “I just come in and try to make the most of my minutes,” Ulis said. “Do what coach and the players want me to do. Get guys involved, get paint touches and get into my man defensively.”
- Watson says rookie Dragan Bender has a bright NBA future, but that won’t guarantee playing time right now, Coro adds in the same piece. The Croatian power forward is seeing just 10 minutes per night through the first month of his career. “I think Dragan is going to have amazing opportunities moving forward,” Watson explained. “We understand he’s a big part of our future as a cornerstone. But the NBA is not just as easy as playing guys you like. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
- Small forward T.J. Warren is out indefinitely with a minor head injury, the Suns announced on their website. Warren left a game on Friday after just nine minutes of action and hasn’t played since. Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough said the organization has a policy of being extra cautious with injuries to the head and estimated Warren will be sidelined “a matter of weeks.” Warren has appeared in 13 games, all starts, and is averaging 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per night.
In a Wednesday edition of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe discussed several teams who could make a trade at some point this season, and several players who are candidates to be moved. Both ESPN reporters agreed that the Trail Blazers are one of the most likely clubs to complete a deal within the next three months, with Lowe suggesting he’d be “blown away” if Portland doesn’t make at least one trade. Stein also identified the Kings, Suns, Nuggets, and Celtics as clubs to watch for potential deals.
- Devin Booker, a breakout star with the Suns during his rookie season, lobbied the Magic to draft him in 2015, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, which held the fifth pick, opted for Mario Hezonja, who averaged 6.1 points and fewer than 18 minutes per game as a rookie. Booker cracked the starting lineup in Phoenix, averaged 13.8 points per night and was a First Team All-Rookie selection. “It was funny,” Booker said. “They had a top-five pick. Obviously, I wasn’t being rated that high. But I’m good friends with [team owners] the DeVoses because we’re both from Grand Rapids, Mich. I was telling them, ‘I need to come to Orlando.’ But I knew it wasn’t going to happen. It was a long shot. I’m happy where I’m at.”
Markieff Morris, who complained frequently during his final season in Phoenix, now says he misses the city, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Before being traded to the Wizards at last season’s deadline, Morris publicly criticized the Suns on several occasions after his twin brother Marcus was dealt to the Pistons. But some time away has affected Markieff’s memories of Phoenix. “I had a wonderful time there,” Morris said. “It was a great experience. That’s a place that I might go back and live. It’s a great city. You have your ups and downs anywhere, but my five years there were some of the best times in my life.”
There’s more tonight out of the nation’s capital:
- Suns coach Earl Watson says it’s too early to judge the job that new coach Scott Brooks is doing in Washington, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Brooks has come under fire after a 3-9 start, but Watson, who played for Brooks in Seattle and Oklahoma City, believes his former coach will turn things around. “You can’t really judge him on this situation,” Watson said. “He inherited his entire roster. He had no imprint on this entire roster. So, moving forward, you will see the Scott Brooks effect take place. He understands what it’s like to have younger talent and build them to a winning mindset.”
- Rookie shooting guard Danuel House was happy to get some playing time in two recent D-League games, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. House, who was recalled for tonight’s game with Phoenix, is encouraged by the opportunity to get on the court. “I took it as a positive [the Wizards] actually thought about me,” House said, “because they could’ve just sat me here and put me in a coat but they decided to take time to keep me in mind, to send me down so I can get some reps so they can watch a little bit more game film and tell me what I need to work on in order to help this team.”
- Former Wizard Jared Dudley said he wasn’t Plan A, B or C for Washington this summer, tweets Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The 31-year-old swingman signed with the Suns and is averaging 9.0 points per night with seven starts in 14 games.