Phoenix Suns

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/21/17

Here are the D-League transactions for the day:

  • The Suns have recalled Derrick Jones Jr. from their D-League affiliate, the team announced via Twitter. Jones Jr. has averaged 14.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 18 games in the D-League.
  • The Thunder have recalled Josh Huestis and Semaj Christon from their affiliate in the D-League, according to a press release issued by the team. The pair have averaged 18.7 points and 14.2 points respectively during their stints in the D-League.
  • The Sixers have recalled big man Richaun Holmes, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Holmes hasn’t played in an NBA game since suffering a concussion on December 14.

Tucker Familiar With Suns Trade Rumors

  • No stranger to trade rumors, P.J. Tucker is well aware of the business side of basketball, writes Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. “It’s part of business,” the Suns forward said Thursday. “Contract year. Being a defensive player, a lot of teams are looking to make an addition to (help) fight for a championship.”

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Korver, Tucker, Shumpert

It will be a long time before J.R. Smith is back in uniform for the Cavaliers, writes Joe Vardon of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Smith, who broke his right thumb December 20th, has a doctor’s appointment today and hopes to be cleared to start cardio work. But basketball drills are a long way off as the thumb continues to heal. Smith was given a 12- to 14-week prognosis after suffering the injury, which would put him on track for a return in late March or early April, right before the playoffs begin. “I need to be able to do something to get my heart rate up before I can even think about playing again,” said Smith, who signed a four-year, $57MM deal before the season started. “It’s crazy cuz it’s still a long ways away. From when I start being able to work out, it’s still a long ways away from me being able to get on the court.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Smith gave his approval to the deal that brought Kyle Korver to the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same piece. Korver is averaging 8.4 points in five games since the trade and has given the team another outside shooter to make up for Smith’s absence. “He’s good,” Smith said. “Space the floor. Gives a great effort on the defensive end. And we really need the shooting.”
  • The Cavaliers are among the teams rumored to be interested in Suns’ forward P.J. Tucker, but Sam Amico of Amicohoops doesn’t see Tucker as a good fit in Cleveland. Phoenix is looking for young players and draft picks, which the Cavs don’t really have to offer, and he wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time with Cleveland’s current roster.
  • Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures in all three games since replacing DeAndre Liggins in the starting lineup last week, notes Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer. Shumpert had a season-high 17 points in Thursday’s win over Phoenix. “He started off the season shooting the ball great and I thought in the second lineup trying to have him play the backup point asking him to do too much,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “Now he’s back in his comfort zone.”

Stein’s Latest: Nurkic, Millsap, Gay, Tucker

The latest column from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is filled with fresh rumors as next month’s trade deadline approaches. We’ve already shared the Bulls’ interest in Chris Bosh and the Magic’s offer for Goran Dragic. Here are some more intriguing trade tidbits:

  • Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic is almost certain to be traded before the February 23rd deadline. Denver officials admitted that pairing Nurkic with Nikola Jokic didn’t work, and they want to ship him to a team where he has a chance to be a starting center.
  • Teams are very skeptical about the Hawks‘ assertion that All-Star forward Paul Millsap has been pulled from trade consideration. The 31-year-old has a player option worth nearly $21.5MM for next season and is expected to test the free agent market.
  • The Kings had numerous offers for Rudy Gay, mostly during the offseason but also more recently, but elected to keep him in hopes of earning a playoff spot. The Thunder, Heat and Blazers were the most interested teams last summer. Gay is out for the season after tearing an Achilles tendon Wednesday night.
  • The Kings would like to find teams willing to take Ben McLemore and Arron Afflalo.
  • The Clippers offered the Suns a future second-round pick for P.J. Tucker, but Phoenix is holding out for a first-rounder. The Clippers owe their first-round pick this year to Toronto and in 2019 to Boston, so the next first-rounder they could offer would be in 2021.
  • Tucker and Brandon Knight are considered the most available Suns. Coach Earl Watson said this week that the team will not trade veteran center Tyson Chandler.
  • The Nuggets would like to sign Alonzo Gee to another 10-day contract once Mo Williams clears waivers. Gee’s first 10-day contract expired Wednesday, the same day Williams was waived after being acquired in a trade with the Hawks.

Trade Candidate: Brandon Knight

As the February 23 trade deadline nears, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at several players we consider trade candidates, discussing their value, speculating on potential destinations, and explaining why they are – or should be – available. These players won’t necessarily be dealt in advance of the deadline, but it won’t be surprising if they are.
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Brandon Knight
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Phoenix Suns
2016/17 salary: $12,606,250
Eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020
Trade restrictions: None

Brandon Knight finds himself in an awkward position with the Suns. As a 25-year-old former lottery pick, Knight should be enjoying the prime of his career.

Instead, he’s on the fringes of the rotation for a rebuilding team. Thanks to the last contract he signed, Knight has financial security. What he needs now is a chance to revive his career but that contract could prevent that from happening.

The Suns are actively shopping the combo guard, which they already were doing prior to the season, but they’re having difficulty finding a taker. Knight is making $12.6MM this season and has three years remaining on the deal, which will pay him approximately $13.6MM, $14.6MM and $15.6MM the next three seasons.

On draft status alone, Knight projected to be one of the league’s best point guards by this time. He was selected eighth overall in 2011 by the Pistons, who were in desperate need of a floor leader and viewed Knight as the long-term solution.

Knight got a trial-by-fire introduction into the NBA, jumping right into a starting role on one of the league’s worst teams. After just two seasons, the Pistons soured on Knight’s ability to run their offense. His assist-to-turnover ratios — 3.8-2.6 and 4.0-2.7 — spoke of Knight’s struggles as a floor leader.

During the 2013 off-season, he was shipped along with Khris Middleton to the Bucks for Brandon Jennings. Knight immediately became the Bucks’ lead point guard and lasted 1 1/2 seasons there before they, too, decided they needed an upgrade at that spot. Milwaukee acquired Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers in a three-way, trade deadline deal and sent Knight to Phoenix.

With Eric Bledsoe already in place as the starting point guard, Knight was shifted to shooting guard. He averaged a career-high 19.6 points while starting in 50 of 52 games during an injury-riddled 2015/16 campaign.

The biggest problem for Knight is that the Suns made a wise draft choice prior to last season. They uncovered a gem with a 13th overall pick, selecting offensively-gifted two guard Devin Booker.

Knight has been relegated to a bench role this season and the adjustment hasn’t gone well. Advanced statistics rate Knight’s offensive performance as the worst of his career and his always suspect defense has also suffered.

He has lost playing time to rookie Tyler Ulis and veteran Leandro Barbosa because coach Earl Watson was unhappy with Knight’s defensive effort. He hasn’t played the last two games, apparently because of wrist tendinitis, though he has played sparingly over the past month anyway.

Undoubtedly, Knight needs another fresh start. He may not have lived up to his draft status but he can be a productive rotation player in the mold of a Jamal Crawford, providing instant offense off the bench.

Knight may be turnover prone but he’s a solid shooter — 41.4% overall, 35.9% percent from long range and 81.0% from the free throw line during his career. He posted positive Offensive Box Plus.Minus ratings over the last three seasons, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0, according to Basketball Reference.

Any potential suitor will have to value his offense over his defensive shortcomings. His career Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating is minus 1.9 and he’s never finished on the positive side in any season.

The length of his contract, if not the salary commitment, is the biggest impediment to trading Knight. The dollar figures aren’t as scary as they might have been a couple years ago, thanks to the ever-rising salary cap. But a contract with three years left and no team options has to give pause to any GM or team president that might see a role for Knight on his club.

An unnamed front office exec told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro that there is virtually no trade market for Knight.
In order to rid himself on Knight’s contract, Suns GM Ryan McDonough will probably need to package a desirable young player or draft pick with him. Phoenix drafted two power forwards — Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender — and taking on Knight’s contract could be a stipulation for any team that desires one of those young bigs.

The Suns could alternatively try to boost Knight’s trade prospects by packaging a first-round pick. They’ll obviously have a juicy lottery pick this summer and don’t owe anyone a future first-rounder at the time being. They could also dangle the protected 2018 first-rounder that the Heat owe them.

With aging Tyson Chandler still in the starting lineup, the Suns could be in the market for a center. They might also seek an upgrade over their small forward duo of T.J. Warren and P.J. Tucker.

Right now, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious landing spot for Knight. The Cavaliers are the only contender known to be shopping for point guard help but their salary-cap issues make that an unlikely scenario.

The Grizzlies might want some backcourt help behind Mike Conley and Tony Allen, taking into account Conley’s recent injury history. Knight could also give a bench boost to the Wizards behind the John WallBradley Beal duo.

Non-contenders like the Knicks, Kings and Heat could also emerge if a young big or high draft pick is part of the proposal. Sacramento reportedly has shown interest for months but the loss of Rudy Gay to an Achilles tendon tear could change their priorities.

If the Suns are unable to move Knight before the trade deadline, he’ll simply have to live with a backup role for at least the remainder of the season.

What do you think? Should the Suns trade or keep Knight? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts and possible trade ideas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

P.J. Tucker Drawing Trade Interest

The market for P.J. Tucker, who is on track for unrestricted free agency this summer, is growing and several teams hold interest in acquiring the veteran small forward, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports. The Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks all have interest in trading for Tucker, who is known for is defensive prowess, Gambadoro reports.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Knicks had interest in Tucker as well, but Gambadoro did not add New York to his list. Gambadoro cautions that a trade may not get done for a few reasons. The main one seems to be that Phoenix is also interested in re-signing Tucker because it does not have another player like him with his defensive and rebounding abilities, Gambadoro writes. Unless the Suns are confident they can re-sign him, however, it makes to shop him around.

The Suns likely aren’t willing to part with Tucker unless they can get a first-round pick or good prospect in return, Gambadoro reports, and for a team like the Clippers, that may be a deal-breaker, considering Tucker is only a marginal upgrade over someone like Wesley Johnson. This is simply my speculation, but of the teams listed, a larger trade would likely have to take place for it to make sense because those clubs do not have much to offer in terms of draft picks or young talent.

Tucker has made only 17 starts for the Suns this season, but has appeared in 41 games. His minutes are down a bit at 27.4 per game. Never known as a particularly strong shooter, Tucker is averaging 6.3 points per game and is attempting 5.7 field goals per game. His 5.7 rebounds per game is lower than any of his averages in that category in his three previous seasons with the Suns.

Hoops Rumors Retro: Penny Hardaway To The Suns

The mandate at Hoops Rumors is to consolidate news from throughout the professional basketball world, but nobody ever specified from which decade. Join us as Austin Kent, a grown man with a binder of 1996/97 NBA trading cards beside his desk, cannonballs down the rabbit hole of nostalgia to give significant trades of yesteryear the modern media treatment.

It’s early August 1999 and the world is racing to prepare for the turn of the millennium. Jerry Colangelo, owner and president of the Phoenix Suns, has other plans.

Sure, the 59-year-old Godfather of Phoenix Basketball reads the papers, he watches the news – but while rest of the country braces for the pandemonium of Y2K, Colangelo and the executive team with whom he manages the organization decide to take the offensive.

The wheels are in motion for a scheme so grand and so bold that it will get the Suns to the top of a mountain they’ve longed to climb since the franchise – and Colangelo along with it – first hit the scene in 1969.

They call it: Backcourt 2000.

The Penny Hardaway that takes a seat at the press conference announcing his arrival in Arizona isn’t the one that you might remember – the last Lil Penny TV spot aired several years prior – but he isn’t the tragic hero that you’ve grown to mourn either.

Not yet at least.


In 1999, Hardaway is coming off a decent lockout-shortened 1998/99 campaign, an abbreviated season in which he suited up for every game. That bolded 50 you see in the ‘G’ column of his Basketball Reference profile means more than just league leader – it means hope.

To recap, Hardaway was named to the All-NBA 1st team two times before his 25th birthday. Put another way it’s even more impressive; after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1994, he finished 1995 and 1996 as one of the top two guards in the NBA. Not bad young blood1.

What came after the early accolades but before his exit from Orlando is all too familiar. In the first year after Shaquille O’Neal’s departure, Hardaway would miss 23 games to injury. The following season a pair of knee surgeries would limit him to just 19 total.

At the time of the injuries, few knew what to make of the All-Star’s frequent stints on the sidelines. Doctors barely knew what the future would hold for NBA players with degraded knee cartilage, never mind teammates or fans.

Nobody bonded with me at that time,” Hardaway has since told SLAM. “No support. It was weird. Nobody would say, ‘Hey man, are you OK?’ Nothing. It was more that people thought I was faking.”

Suffice it to say, Hardaway’s once meteoric star faded as quickly as it appeared on the NBA horizon. In its wake, a once beloved superstar with an elite ceiling but mysteriously compromised body.Read more

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/9/17

Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

7:55pm:

  • After assigning them to the D-League earlier today to practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, the Jazz have recalled Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto, the team announced in a press release. None of the three Utah players have seen much playing time recently, so the brief NBADL assignment allowed them to get some practice reps in.
  • The Spurs have recalled Dejounte Murray from the D-League, a day after he picked up 31 points and 12 boards for Austin, San Antonio’s affiliate. The club announced the transaction in a press release.

1:17pm:

  • The Jazz have assigned Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto to the D-League, according to a press release issued today by the team. It sounds like the trio will participate in practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, but won’t be on assignment for long. Meanwhile, Utah has also recalled Joel Bolomboy from the D-League.
  • The Raptors have assigned Delon Wright to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). That’s positive news for the 2015 first-round pick, who is recovering from a major shoulder injury. However, Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic notes (via Twitter) that Wright hasn’t yet been cleared for full practice, so he’s not close to seeing the court in Toronto yet.
  • NBADL regulars Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet will join Wright on assignment, having also been sent to the D-League by the Raptors, per the team (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics have recalled rookie guard Demetrius Jackson from the Maine Red Claws, according to the team (Twitter link). On his one-day D-League assignment, Jackson scored 26 points to help lead Boston’s affiliate to a Sunday victory over Fort Wayne.
  • The Suns have sent Derrick Jones back to the D-League, the club announced today (via Twitter). Jones, who has barely seen the floor for Phoenix, has averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 15 NBADL games this season.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/7/17

Here are the D-League assignments and recalls from Saturday:

10:11pm:

  • The Bulls have recalled forward Bobby Portis from their Windy City affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Portis had 32 points and nine rebounds in Friday’s game.
  • The Spurs have recalled rookie guard Dejounte Murray from their affiliate in Austin, the team posted on its website. Murray is coming off a 25-point performance Friday and is averaging 16.6 points per game in 12 D-League contests. He has played 18 games for San Antonio, getting 5.6 minutes per night.
  • The Pacers have recalled Georges Niang from their Fort Wayne affiliate, according to the team’s website. He connected on five 3-pointers and scored 23 points in his last game for the Mad Ants.

2:07pm:

  • The Suns have recalled Derrick Jones Jr., according to a team-issued press release. Jones comes off of his fourth assignment to the club’s D-League affiliate this season.
  • The Lakers have assigned center Ivica Zubac to the D-League, reports Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times via a team press release. Zubac has already played 11 games for the team’s affiliate, averaging 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
  • The Nuggets have recalled Juan Hernangomez from their D-League affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Hernangomez appeared in just one game for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

11:30am:

Trail Blazers Eye Tyson Chandler

Consider the Trail Blazers one team that could make a push for Suns center Tyson Chandler, ESPN’s Marc Stein reports. The 34-year-old has quietly put forth a 2016/17 in line with some of the best seasons from his prime.

In 27.3 minutes per game for Phoenix, Chandler is averaging 11.6 rebounds per game, his highest such total since averaging 11.7 for the Pelicans in 2007/08. His presence as a defensive stopper would be tremendously valuable for a Trail Blazers team that has struggled on that side of the ball. Earlier this week, John Schuhmann of NBA.com wrote about Portland’s “disastrous” defense.

Owed $12.4MM this season and signed through the the 2018/19 campaign, the 16-year-veteran is a stark contrast from the predominantly young and raw players that make up the Suns roster.  Perhaps it’s for that reason that the franchise has been so aggressively showcasing Chandler while they stumble out the gates to a 12 and 25 record.

Portland may not be much higher in the win column, but the team already boasts a core of solid veterans coming off of three consecutive postseason appearances and Chandler could very well be a difference maker in the second half of the season.

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