Phoenix Suns

Wizards Ask About Anderson, Tucker, Booker

The Wizards have inquired about Ryan Anderson, P.J. Tucker and Trevor Booker as they search for help at power forward, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who writes in his NBA AM piece. Washington hasn’t gained much traction in talks thus far, Kyler cautions, having heard that the team believes the serious talk will take place during the All-Star break. The Wizards have been disappointing this season, sitting one game in the loss column behind the eighth-place Pistons in the Eastern Conference, but they’re unlikely to break up their core, Kyler writes.

Multiple reports within the last month have indicated that the Pelicans are more willing to trade other players than they are with Anderson, and coach Alvin Gentry has said he’s unlikely to end up in a deal, even though NBA executives reportedly believed, at least as of January, that if the Pelicans were to make a trade this season, Anderson would be in it. Stretch fours appeal to Washington, according to Kyler, and Anderson, a career 38% 3-point shooter, fits that bill. New Orleans reportedly made Anderson available earlier this season, but the team wasn’t anxious to trade him, as Kyler reported, later noting that the Rockets “kicked the tires” on him. New Orleans apparently had talks with the Suns about Markieff Morris that involved Anderson. Reports conflict on whether New Orleans turned down an offer from the Kings of Rudy Gay for Anderson

Tucker has consistently been attracting interest on the trade market, with the Raptors among those eyeing him, multiple reports have said. The Suns were reportedly holding off on trade discussions involving him as of last month, waiting to gauge their postseason hopes, but Phoenix has fallen 12 games behind the eighth-place Rockets. He’d be an undersized option at the four, since he’s 6’6″ and primarily plays small forward, but Washington has used 6’7″ Jared Dudley extensively at power forward this season. Tucker, unlike Anderson and Booker, has one more year left on his contract, but it’s only partially guaranteed for $1.5MM, so it wouldn’t take a significant chunk out of Washington’s cap flexibility for the summer ahead.

Rumors about Booker have been sparse, even though he’s on an expiring contract with the Jazz that gives him $4.775MM this season. Washington’s interest in Booker is somewhat curious, even though he spent his first four NBA seasons there, since the Wizards elected not to tender a qualifying offer to him when he was eligible for restricted free agency in 2014.

What should the Wizards do at the deadline? Leave a comment to share your ideas.

Pacific Notes: Karl, Griffin, Cousins, Watson

The fast pace of the Kings under George Karl has perturbed players and management, and concerns exist over the effect of the two-time cancer survivor’s health on his ability to coach, according to Sam Amick of USA Today. It’s hard for players to hear Karl, who endured neck and throat cancer while with the Nuggets, over the din of NBA arenas, Amick writes. Owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly hired Karl in part to run an up-tempo offense, so it’s odd to see pace become an issue. Still, the Kings have apparently committed to keeping Karl, in spite of reports that they planned to fire him.

“If they let George do his job and coach this team like he’s done in the past, they will get what they are both always seeking, respectability as a team and organization,” Karl’s agent, Warren Legarie, said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

See more on the always-entertaining Kings amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • Blake Griffin has been suspended for four games without pay and fined him the equivalent of a fifth game check for reportedly hitting assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi, an incident that left Griffin with a broken right hand, as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reported and the Clippers shortly thereafter confirmed (Twitter links). It’s officially a team suspension, Amick reports (Twitter link), so the Clippers won’t reap any tax savings as they would have if it were an NBA suspension. The team suspension also allows the Clippers some leeway in determining whether it’ll start before or after Griffin is fully recovered from his hand injury, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times points out (on Twitter), though the team has no plan to do so, Woike relays (via Twitter).
  • The Kings still aren’t seriously considering any DeMarcus Cousins trade before the deadline, but they’re expected to decide soon whether to use the months after the deadline to “lay the groundwork” for a later trade of the star big man, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. That process could take a while, Deveney writes, pointing to Minnesota’s months-long effort to find a suitable Kevin Love deal in 2014.
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson spent only one season with the Spurs organization, as a D-League coach last year, but San Antonio’s philosophy has a clear influence on the style he’s bringing to Phoenix, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

And-Ones: Jackson, Walton, Westbrook, Colangelo

A “strong belief” persists that Knicks team president Phil Jackson will wind up back with the Lakers organization with fiancee Jeanie Buss, and it’s a safe bet that the Zen Master’s tenure in New York won’t outlast whomever he picks as the team’s next coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. That leads Wojnarowski to wonder why Knicks coaching candidate Luke Walton would head to New York this summer. Walton, like Tom Thibodeau, looms as a candidate for the Lakers job, Wojnarowski writes, with Byron Scott not assured of lasting past the season, so Walton could eventually reunite with Jackson, his former coach, in L.A. Regardless, Jackson’s stubborn refusal to look outside his own sphere of influence for coaches and other employees isn’t in the best interests of the Knicks, Wojnarowski contends. See more from New York amid the latest from around the league:

  • Kristaps Porzingis and the allure of New York have Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook‘s attention as he thinks ahead to his free agency in 2017, Wojnarowski notes in the same piece.
  • Former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo is the early favorite to land the Nets GM job, sources tell NetsDaily, which confirms that Colangelo is among several candidates interviewing with the team this week.
  • The Suns signed Jordan McRae to a second 10-day contract Monday, but it’s effectively a 12-day contract. That’s because all 10-day pacts are required to encompass at least three games, and Phoenix’s loss to the Thunder on Monday was one of only two games the team had left before the All-Star break when it re-signed McRae. The Suns open the second half of the season against the Rockets on March 19th, which will be the 12th day of McRae’s contract. He’ll make $37,065 instead of the standard $30,888 he’d see on a conventional 10-day deal.
  • The Hawks assigned Edy Tavares to the Spurs affiliate in the D-League on Monday, Atlanta announced. It’s the 10th time this season that the Hawks, who are without a D-League team of their own, have used San Antonio’s affiliate. Tavares will likely spend two games with the Austin Spurs on his latest stint, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Nash, Hill, Divac

Warriors assistant Luke Walton has hired the Wasserman Media Group to represent him in negotiations, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Walton is reportedly a top candidate for the newly created Knicks vacancy, but the prospect of Walton ending up in New York is a long shot, tweets Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com. See more from the defending champs amid the latest from around the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors part-time player development consultant Steve Nash said he wouldn’t be closed to the possibility of working for the Suns in the future, but he’s not willing to become the team’s coach for now, calling the notion of the team’s apparent interest in him for its head coaching vacancy “a moot point at this point.” The two-time MVP made his comments on J.J. Redick‘s podcast for The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (audio link, scroll to 7:45 mark).
  • Interim Suns coach Earl Watson told new assistant Bob Hill when Hill was Watson’s coach on the SuperSonics from 2006 to 2007 that he’d like to coach with him someday, and that longstanding desire brought Hill back into NBA coaching after a nine-year absence, as Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic details. Hill still has some bitterness toward Spurs coach/president Gregg Popovich about Popovich’s decision to remove him as head coach of the Spurs nearly 20 years ago, Coro also relays. “I guess I didn’t do good enough. I don’t know. He wanted to be the coach,” Hill said of Popovich. “And as soon as he had an opportunity to get rid of me, he did it. It’s too bad. The league’s like that sometimes. You’re going to run into people like that sometimes and that’s part of life. It was a great experience. I’m happy I had that. It hasn’t affected my coaching. I continued to coach and always will.”
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac is only willing to make a trade if it’s a significant upgrade for the team, in spite of a report indicating that Sacramento is actively shopping many of its players, as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee wrote today in a chat with readers.

Knicks Notes: Hornacek, Walton, Fisher, ‘Melo

Jeff Hornacek and Knicks team president Phil Jackson share a rapport and a respect for each other, leading one source to tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that it’s worth keeping an eye on the recently fired Suns coach as the Knicks consider candidates for their newly vacant head coaching job (Twitter link). One of the reasons the Knicks fired Derek Fisher today is because they wanted to get a head start on recruiting Luke Walton, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports says in a video report, but Walton is reportedly determined to remain with the Warriors through the rest of the season. See more on a noteworthy day in New York:

  • Fisher strayed too much from the triangle offense, Jackson believed, and players were increasingly upset with Fisher over confusion about their roles, Wojnarowski says in the same video, citing additional reasons why the Knicks made the change.
  • Jackson said members of Fisher’s coaching staff weren’t on the same page with each other, suggesting a chasm that had experienced hands Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons on one side and relative neophytes Brian Keefe and Joshua Longstaff on the other, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily notes. “I was able to surround [Fisher] with some very experienced coaches, and he had support staff, that was really important too. If he didn’t take advantage of it, maybe that’s part of it, too,” Jackson said. “Kurt, Jim Cleamons, some of the guys that have experienced, detailed experience. Derek hired some young guys who have helped him, have great work ethic and kind of meet the standard that he likes. But there wasn’t a consensus in our staff and we decided we needed to have a real good consensus in our staff, interchanging of ideas and communication.”
  • Rambis, in one of his first comments as interim coach to reporters today, said making the playoffs this season is the goal for the team, notes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link). That’s in stark contrast to Fisher’s remark last week on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM that failing to make the playoffs wouldn’t be disappointing.
  • Jackson cited Carmelo Anthony‘s no-trade clause when asked if ‘Melo is off-limits for a trade, and the Zen Master also dismissed any notion that he’d trade Kristaps Porzingis, notes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link).

Suns Sign Jordan McRae To Second 10-Day Contract

MONDAY, 12:04pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

SUNDAY, 5:08pm: The Suns will sign Jordan McRae to a second 10-day contract, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). The shooting guard’s original 10-day deal is set to expire today. The Suns play Monday and Wednesday before the break.

The Suns have been decimated by injuries and combo guard Brandon Knight is expected to be out through the All-Star break. McRae has played decently for the Suns, appearing in five games. He scored 12 points against the Knicks in his season debut on January 29th. He is averaging 5.8 points per game.

McRae, 24, played for Philadelphia’s D-League affiliate late last season after spending the first part of 2014/15 playing overseas in Australia. In September, he signed the required tender of a one-year, non-guaranteed, minimum-salary deal that Philadelphia had to offer to retain his draft rights. The Sixers waived him during the preseason this year after he averaged 7.1 points over seven appearances.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Tucker, Simmons

Clippers power forward Blake Griffin underwent a second surgical procedure this week on his broken right hand, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com relays. The latest procedure was related to his initial one and isn’t considered a setback, Shelburne notes. The original expectation that Griffin will miss approximately four to six weeks is still currently in place, according to the ESPN scribe. The Sixers and Nuggets have reportedly checked on Griffin’s availability, though the Clippers have no active interest in trading him in spite of offers that several teams have made. A report from Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports noted that L.A. plans a concerted effort to look for Griffin trades in the offseason if they disappoint in the playoffs this spring. While Griffin waits to learn if he’ll be facing discipline from the NBA, here’s more of what’s happening in the Pacific Division…

  • P.J. Tucker, who is the subject of recent trade rumors involving the Raptors, says he wants to remain with the Suns, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays. “I love being in Phoenix,” Tucker said. “It’s been my longest stop of my career and hopefully it continues.” This desire to remain in Phoenix is dampened by the team’s struggles this season, Coro adds. “It would suck,” Tucker said about a potential trade. “I’m not going to lie. I was here when it was down. We came up and now we’re having a tough year this year. Seeing it full circle and not obtaining the goal of making the playoffs since I’ve been here, that wouldn’t be the top of my list of things that I like.
  • The Lakers currently hold a 19.9% chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick this June and there are questions if Ben Simmons, the projected top pick in this year’s NBA draft, and power forward Julius Randle would fit well together, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. “Julius Randle is that 4 guy who handles the basketball,” NBA TV analyst Steve Smith opined. “It would be interesting if they would play them together or not together.” If the Lakers did select Simmons in the draft it would raise questions regarding Randle’s future with the franchise considering the number of similarities between the players’ games, Medina notes. “He has to be the secondary ball-handler,” an NBA executive said of Simmons. “If you’re not going to use him as a point forward, you’re wasting your time.

Suns Sign Orlando Johnson To 10-Day Contract

12:28pm: The signing is official, the team announced. It’ll cover three games, against the Jazz, Thunder and Warriors, the only ones Phoenix has left until the All-Star break, and expire before the February 18th trade deadline.

7:57am: The Suns will sign former Pacers and Kings shooting guard Orlando Johnson to a 10-day contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The two-year NBA veteran has been playing for much of this season with the Spurs affiliate in the D-League. He’s poised to go into the open spot on Phoenix’s roster and add depth on the wing to compensate for the loss of T.J. Warren, who suffered a season-ending broken foot.

Johnson, 26, averaged 4.0 points in 12.1 minutes per game with 38.3% shooting from behind the arc as a rookie in 2012/13 for the Pacers, who had acquired him via trade shortly after the Kings drafted him 36th overall in 2012. His minutes fell the next season and the Pacers waived him at the trade deadline in 2014 to accommodate their deal for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. He resurfaced on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Kings later that season but has been out of the NBA ever since, though it appeared the Pelicans were considering him last month.

The former UC Santa Barbara player spent the last year and a half playing in Spain, the Philippines and the D-League. He’s averaging 15.2 points in 31.4 minutes per game and hitting 3-pointers at a scintillating 48.6% clip for the D-League Austin Spurs this season. He was slated to take part in the D-League All-Star Game and 3-point shooting contest, but he’ll be ineligible to participate in either if he indeed joins the Suns.

Phoenix already has Jordan McRae on a 10-day contract, as only 13 Suns have deals that run through at least the end of the season. The Suns are reportedly a strong bet to make at least one trade before the February 18th trade deadline, so they have plenty of flexibility to do so. Johnson’s contract would lapse and leave an open roster spot for the trade deadline as long as Phoenix signs him by the end of Monday.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, McDonough, Cauley-Stein

Clippers team owner Steve Ballmer said that Blake Griffin needs to be disciplined for his role in the altercation with equipment manager Mathias Testi that left the power forward with a broken shooting hand, Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times relays. “There needs to be consequences,” Ballmer said. “It’s the right thing to do.” The owner was also quick to note that Griffin is a significant part of the organization’s plans, Hernandez adds. Ballmer said Griffin would be welcomed back once he is medically cleared to play and has served any potential suspension the league may hand out, according to Hernandez.

You know, everyone’s going to heal, and we’re going to have an opportunity to move forward,” Ballmer said.”We’re going to finish our investigation, decide what needs to happen and move forward. Blake’s a key part of our team. There’s no question about that. He certainly has been remorseful, which is great, and we’ll find a way to move past it. That’s part of life. An important part of life is learning how to have consequences.

Here’s the latest from out of the Pacific Division:

  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough accepts his share of the blame for the franchise’s current woes and vows to hold himself, along with everyone else in the organization, more accountable moving forward, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic relays. “I take a lot of responsibility, most of the responsibility for what has gone on and what has gone wrong with this organization over the past few months,” McDonough said. “I know I need to do a better job. My staff needs to do a better job. What’s happened recently has been a collective failure. All of us have not done well enough and that starts with ownership, goes to the front office, the coaching staff and the players. We need to do better.
  • Kings rookie Willie Cauley-Stein is driven to become a star in the NBA, and despite the negative predraft rumors regarding his love for the game, he has been one of the team’s hardest workers this season, James Ham of CSNBayArea.com writes. “For me to take the step that I want to take and the step that I think I need to take, I have to become an all-around basketball player or it’s not going to be fun for me,” Cauley-Stein said. “Playing this game won’t be fun for me if I don’t become the player that I know I can become and the player they know I can become. If I settled and was just a rim protector and an under-the-basket guy, then I cheated myself in life, that’s how I look at it.

And-Ones: Morris, Dunleavy, Korkmaz, Labor

Markieff Morris said he “never had a problem” with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. The incident in which he threw a towel that connected with Hornacek after the pair exchanged words during a game in December, prompting a two-game suspension for the power forward, was “misperceived,” Morris said. With trade rumors continuing to surround the Suns, see more from around the NBA:

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