Phoenix Suns

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Butler, Kobe, Dawson, Wilcox

The negative experience he had with the Mavericks left Rajon Rondo “hungrier” than before, though he never doubted himself, as he told Tim MacMahon of Rondo contends the back injury the Mavs said he suffered in the playoffs this past spring, reportedly a ruse that Rondo and the Mavs concocted to allow Rondo to save face, was legitimate, though he admitted to MacMahon that he probably could have played through it. The point guard who signed with the Kings on a one-year deal has “nothing but love” for the Dallas organization, he said to MacMahon, and doesn’t hold a grudge even toward Rick Carlisle, with whom he clashed.

“Every relationship doesn’t work,” Rondo said to MacMahon. “It just didn’t work. No excuses. No pointing the finger at anybody. It made me stronger, made me appreciate just playing the game, especially playing at a high level. I never doubted myself. It just didn’t work. Try to keep staying positive, but things just didn’t work out for the best for either side. And that’s just part of it. Every player, every coach doesn’t always see eye to eye. Every team doesn’t fit every person’s style of play.”

See more out of the Pacific Division here:

  • Caron Butler grew up in Wisconsin as an admirer of George Karl‘s turn-of-the-century Bucks teams and sees a lot of the rumors surrounding Karl and DeMarcus Cousins as hype, as the Kings small forward told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. “Everybody is not going to be comfortable with everything, whether it’s with their roles or whatever,” Butler said. “But if you come together and find the median in it, you can find ways to win. And that’s what’s we’re trying to do and that’s what all NBA teams try to do. Opinions are going to be voiced at times and sometimes they’re well-documented because they come from certain people. I don’t think that’s fair all the time. We had a great team meeting and got things together and have been moving forward ever since.’’
  • Kobe Bryant‘s accomplishments on the basketball court speak for themselves, but it’s his relentless will that sets him apart, observes Eric Koreen of The National Post.
  • The Clippers recalled C.J. Wilcox and Branden Dawson from the D-League late Monday, the Suns affiliate announced. Wilcox and Dawson went to Phoenix’s D-League team because the Clippers don’t have an affiliate of their own, and the pair hooked up with the Suns through the league’s flexible assignment system.

Pacific Notes: Carroll, Clippers, Kobe

Mutual interest existed between the Suns and DeMarre Carroll over the summer, and a signing was close, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. Phoenix was intrigued after landing Tyson Chandler and before LaMarcus Aldridge signaled that he would strongly consider the Suns, while Carroll liked the idea of playing for Jeff Hornacek and assistant coach Earl Watson, according to Coro. Ultimately, the possibility of landing Aldridge made it too tough for the Suns to commit, Coro writes, and Carroll signed with the Raptors on a four-year, $58MM deal.

“They [the Suns] were going to come visit me,” Carroll said. “It was going to be my third or fourth visit and they were going to come to my house but I ended up signing with Toronto. LaMarcus had everybody held up. But I felt like Toronto was making me a priority and was a team that really wanted me. There were only a couple of those teams, outside of LaMarcus. Toronto was one of those teams. They chose me over LaMarcus so it made me feel wanted.”

Carroll, who played under Hornacek and with Watson on the Jazz, wouldn’t rule out the possibility of signing with the Suns later, saying “Maybe next go-around,” as Coro also relays. See more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers are making exploratory calls about potential trades amid their displeasure over a surprisingly poor 9-8 start, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link). It’s unclear if the calls have been any more substantial than conversations of due diligence. Jamal Crawford‘s name came up in more trade rumors than any other Clipper over the offseason, but coach/executive Doc Rivers said in September that he’d be “very surprised” if Crawford weren’t still a Clipper at season’s end. The Clippers are deep in the tax, limiting their maneuverability, and they have a single trade exception worth less than $1MM.
  • Kobe Bryant is “at peace” with his decision to retire at season’s end, coach Byron Scott observed, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, and it was meditation that helped the 37-year-old decide to end his career. Bryant told reporters that his mind had always drifted to basketball when he meditated until he recently, when he noticed that was no longer the case, as Mike Trudell of relays (on Twitter).

Pacific Notes: Bryant, Leuer, Johnson

Despite shooting guard Kobe Bryant‘s early season struggles, Lakers coach Byron Scott said that he doesn’t intend to cut down on the veteran’s minutes, Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times relays. “I have not considered that yet. It’s too early in the season,” said Scott, who also noted that he doesn’t believe Bryant is suffering from fatigue. “I think he’s averaging about 30 minutes a game. He’s still getting plenty of rest.  I don’t think so — maybe [he] is, but in my opinion watching it, I don’t think so. Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot. In the last few days, he said he feels great.  I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired, or his legs behind tired, I think it’s just a matter of his timing being a little off.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jon Leuer, whom Phoenix acquired in a draft day trade this year from Memphis, has been a hidden gem off the Suns‘ bench this season, writes Ben York of Over his last three appearances, Leuer is averaging 10 points per game while shooting 63% from the floor and an amazing 60% from beyond the 3-point line.
  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to experiment with his rotation in an effort to find the right mix, and swingman Wesley Johnson may be utilized as a starter more often going forward thanks to the energy he brings to the court, notes Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times. “I like Wes the most because of his size and his ability to shoot, but there’s nights where you play a great offensive player at that spot and we may go with a defensive guy. We’re going to just keep moving it around,” Rivers said. If Johnson is moved into a more prominent role with the team it may affect his decision regarding exercising his $1,227,286 player option for 2016/17, especially with the salary cap set to increase markedly, though that is merely my speculation.
  • Kings coach George Karl is still acclimating himself to the team’s new players, but Karl does believe that Sacramento’s current roster is far superior to last season’s squad as far as talent goes, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes.

Suns Sign Bryce Cotton

7:30pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

2:31pm: The Suns are in the midst of calling up point guard Bryce Cotton from the D-League affiliate of the Spurs, sources tell Marc Stein of (Twitter link). Signing Cotton to an NBA contract wouldn’t require a corresponding move, since Phoenix has an open roster spot beneath the 15-man limit. Phoenix already has three point guards, with Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price, but Bledsoe is questionable for tonight’s game with sore right knee. Bledsoe missed Monday’s game, when coach Jeff Hornacek gave lottery pick Devin Booker his first start since high school in Bledsoe’s place, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Cotton, 23, finished last season with the Jazz after signing a pair of 10-day contracts and a three-year deal. However, that three-year contract didn’t include any guaranteed salary beyond last season, and Utah released Cotton during the preseason last month, choosing to give more time to wing players instead of carrying a third healthy point guard. He joined the D-League shortly thereafter, heading back to the Spurs affiliate, which had acquired his rights when San Antonio designated Cotton as an affiliate player in 2014.

The undrafted former Providence player averaged 5.3 points, 1.0 assist and 0.8 turnovers in 10.6 minutes per game across 15 NBA appearances with Utah last season. He’s been impressive against D-League competition in his two seasons as a pro, piling up 22.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.5 turnovers in 39.8 minutes per contest during 38 total games, four of which have come this month.

Do you think Cotton can help the Suns? Leave a comment to let us know.

Western Notes: Rondo, D-League, Bledsoe

The one-year, $9.5MM deal that the Kings inked Rajon Rondo to this past offseason looks like a bargain based on the point guard’s early season play, James Ham of writes. Rondo gives much of the credit for his hot start to embattled coach George Karl, Ham notes. “Coach, it has to do with coach, it has to do with team, it has to do with freedom,” Rondo said. “They all play a role. I worked my butt off this summer and I’m continuing to get better.” Despite leading the NBA in triple-doubles, Rondo believes he can get better , the CSN scribe relays. “Now, I still have room to improve,” Rondo said. “I want to improve my shooting, my free-throw shooting, keeping my turnovers down. I still have a lot of room to grow. Like I said, it starts with your coach. If your coach doesn’t believe in you, then as you see, it can happen to anybody.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Mavericks assigned swingman Justin Anderson and center Salah Mejri to the Texas Legends, their D-League affiliate, the team announced via a press release. These are the first D-League assignments of the season for Dallas.
  • The Suns‘ backcourt tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight is beginning to show promise, with Bledsoe playing some of the best basketball of his career, something the front office credits to his offseason work ethic, writes Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic. “None of us were happy with the way last season ended, losing 10 of 11 games,” GM Ryan McDonough said. “But Eric was in the gym five days a week, showing up at eight in the morning during the dog days of summer. He told us, ‘Just let me know what you need me to work on.’ It’s something Eric really took seriously.
  • Bledsoe’s maturation as a player has silenced a number of his critics, and McDonough believes the young point guard’s struggles of a season ago were directly related to the unsettled roster and personnel changes, Bickley notes in the same piece. “It’s important to remember last year was his first full season as a starter,” McDonough said. “I think he was just trying to figure it out. There was also a lot of turmoil with our team internally. Some players didn’t accept their roles as well as they should’ve and were shipped out at the trade deadline. So we put a lot on Eric’s shoulders. And I thought he handled it well. Eric kept his mouth shut and played hard, giving great effort defensively.

Western Notes: Harden, Knight, Dekker

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony believes that Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Thunder next summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, citing Durant’s ties to the Oklahoma Cty community, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “C’mon, man, he just got into the [Oklahoma] Hall of Fame,’’ Anthony said. “He brought this team here [from Seattle]. He didn’t bring this team here, but he’s a big part of Oklahoma as a whole, not just from a basketball standpoint but from an economic and business standpoint. He’s a major part of what goes on here.’’

Anthony also noted that Durant doesn’t need to play in a larger city  in order to maximize his earning potential, Berman adds. “Nowadays with the way social media is, I don’t think you have to be in a major market to get those opportunities,’’ Anthony said. “The way our TV deal is, you’re seen all the over the world now. Not just in big markets.’’

Here’s more from out West:

  • Durant and Russell Westbrook “weren’t big fans” of James Harden during their time together with the Thunder, writes Sam Smith of Smith, writing in his mailbag column, takes Harden to task for what he sees as an individualistic playing style. The Rockets will presumably be one of the many suitors for Durant when he hits free agency this summer, and Harden is under contract with Houston through the 2017/18 season.
  • Brandon Knight understands the business side of the game, but that didn’t prevent him from being deeply disappointed when the Bucks dealt him to the Suns last season, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. “I wouldn’t say it hurt,” Knight told Lee. “It was more about the brotherhood we had built. Being on the worst team in the league and being able to turn that around. And for them to try to step on that, based on whatever the case may be – money or whatever it is – what’s the point in that?” Knight also noted that he doesn’t harbor any bad feelings toward the Bucks or Pistons, who also traded him, Lee relays. “In the long run, I know the type of player I am, can be, or that I will be,” Knight said. “I’m not out to prove this guy wrong, or that guy wrong, because then, you get caught up in failure. I’m just focused on myself, making sure I’m not cheating myself. In turn, I know that I’ll prove the people wrong that doubt me.
  • Rockets rookie combo forward Sam Dekker underwent successful surgery today to repair damage to his back, the team announced. Houston did not provide a timetable for Dekker’s return, though Jeff Goodman of reported that the rookie would miss approximately three months of action.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Brown, Goodwin, Bryant

Suns shooting guard Archie Goodwin has seen his role in the team’s rotation expand this season, something GM Ryan McDonough credits to Goodwin strengthening himself over the offseason, Matt Petersen of writes. During an appearance on the “Burns & Gambo Show,” McDonough said of Goodwin, “I think it’s easy to forget that he’s still one of the younger players in the league. He just recently turned 21 years old. He’s gotten stronger. That allows him to fight through screens, defensively. Offensively, as you guys know he’s got a quick first step and long strides, but when you can’t absorb the contact as well going to the basket, it’s hard to finish in this league, especially through contact.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers coach Byron Scott said that he has high expectations for rookie swingman Anthony Brown, and he hopes the young player can follow the path of Jordan Clarkson, who had a breakout 2014/15 campaign for the team, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter links). Brown was assigned to the team’s D-League affiliate specifically to work on creating his own shot off the dribble, and the team is interested in seeing if he can learn to play guard in addition to his natural small forward position, Pincus adds.
  • The Clippers intend to leave Branden Dawson and C.J. Wilcox in the D-League through the end of November, Rowan Kavner of notes. Dawson is thankful that Wilcox is alongside him because of his previous D-League experience, Kavner adds. “It’s definitely helpful for him to be going through this process with me,” Dawson said. “He was there last year, so having someone to go through this experience with is definitely helpful. He’s told me all about it, about what to expect and what to prepare for.
  • Kobe Bryant acknowledged that his career is likely to end without him winning another NBA title, but the veteran understands he has a duty to help the Lakers develop their younger talent, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “Of course I want love to win another championship. But my responsibility now is to think outside of what I want,” Bryant said. “My responsibility is to these young players.

Western Notes: Powell, Aldridge, Knight

The strong play of Dwight Powell for the Mavericks has given the franchise some enduring benefit from last season’s trade for Rajon Rondo, Tim MacMahon of writes. Powell has worked extremely hard to develop his game, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed or unappreciated by his teammates, MacMahon adds. “The kid basically sleeps in the gym,” Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “He never goes home. It seems like every time I come in, he’s in there working, either lifting or running or shooting. He just wants to get better all the time. Now that he’s got some playing time, he’s still working harder than everybody else.” The 24-year-old is averaging 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds thus far this season, well above his career numbers of 5.2 PPG and 3.5 RPG.

Here’s more from the West:

  • The Suns‘ decision to acquire Brandon Knight from the Bucks last season is finally starting to pay off, with Knight playing some of the best basketball of his young career as he and Eric Bledsoe mesh perfectly together, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation in his analysis of Phoenix’s backcourt duo.
  • The Spurs have recalled Jonathon Simmons from their D-League affiliate in Austin, the team announced via press release. Simmons notched 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in one contest on his assignment.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge remains happy with his decision to join the Spurs over the offseason, and he is pleased with his relationship with coach Gregg Popovich thus far, Ananth Pandian of writes. “He’s very particular as far as basketball, you know, doing things right,” Aldridge said about his new coach. “But as soon as the game is over, he’s on to a different thing, making sure we are good as human beings. I think that’s a really good balance. He doesn’t burn you out. He’s not always basketball, basketball, basketball. He actually gives you the time to be free.
  • It’s the play and “aloofness” of James Harden that’s frustrated Rockets teammates, Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today write, clarifying Zillgitt’s earlier tweet that Harden’s “style” had created tension.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Knight, Porter, Jackson

Bucks coach Jason Kidd discussed why the team dealt Brandon Knight to the Suns last season, and noted that the reasoning was purely financial, with Milwaukee not wanting to have two max salary players in its backcourt, Charles F. Gardner of The Journal-Sentinel writes. “I wouldn’t say we gave up a lot,” Kidd said. “He [Knight] was having a great season, and he’s having a great season this year. But it wasn’t we gave up Brandon. We had a decision to make between our backcourt. It wasn’t Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry. We weren’t going to max out our backcourt. As an organization, we had a decision to make, and we made it.” The Bucks re-signed Khris Middleton this summer to a five-year, $70MM deal, while Knight re-signed with Phoenix for the same terms.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are gaining trust in young small forward Otto Porter, and his playing time has increased as a result, J. Michael of writes. It’s Porter’s ability to do the little things as well as make his teammates around him better that has impressed the team, Michael adds. “He does a great job of pushing the pace. He’s comfortable putting the ball on the floor and making plays for other people,John Wall said of Porter. “Always going to be averaging around nine or 10 rebounds because he’s always in the right position at the right time. He’s always in helpside defense. He’s does the little things on the basketball court that people don’t get noticed for.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson has not been more involved with the team this campaign despite his offseason statement indicating that he intended to take a more active role, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. “Maybe a couple times earlier in training camp, we had some kind of sat down and talked about some things visually at the same time. So far, it’s our typical mornings-after-the-game conversations or email exchanges,” coach Derek Fisher told Bondy. “Sometimes before practice we’ll visit for a few minutes. But not really any hardcore film sessions together. Although when those opportunities do present themselves, I’ll definitely be happy to participate.
  • Joe Johnson is struggling to find other ways to help the Nets as he deals with the cumulative effects of age and injuries, and the veteran has gone from a scoring threat to more of a facilitator in the team’s offense, Mike Mazzeo of writes. “People make such a big thing about him being such a dominant scorer, but being his teammate these past two years, he’s such a willing passer.” Jarrett Jack said of Johnson. “Joe being selfless enough to make those plays and take advantage of those opportunities speaks volumes about him as a person and a player.

2015/16 Salary Cap: Phoenix Suns

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM.

With the October 26th cutoff date to set regular season rosters now past, we at Hoops Rumors are in the process of running down the current salary cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the 2015/16 campaign. Here’s the cap breakdown for the Phoenix Suns, whose regular season roster can be viewed here:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $73,710,254*
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $0
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $845,059
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $74,555,313
  • Remaining Cap Room= $4,555,313
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $9,632,776

*Note: This figure includes the $777,778 due Michael Beasley, who was waived via the stretch provision.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Room Exception= $2,814,000

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

Last updated: 11/17/15 @ 6:00pm

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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