Phoenix Suns Rumors

Pacific Rumors: Morrises, Liggins, Gay, Kobe

September 30 at 12:39pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Marcus Morris says he thinks Markieff Morris should have received a greater share of the four-year, $52MM combined total of the extensions that agent Leon Rose negotiated for the twins, as he told reporters, including Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Markieff said it would be OK if he and his brother ended up on different teams, but he added that there was no reason for them to walk away from what the Suns had to offer.

“It’s a dream come true,” Markieff said. “We feel like we’re home together. When they offer us great money to stay together, why not take it instead of going through free agency? We’re both going to have great seasons. … The game is more fun together. It means more. We’re definitely past that point of not being able to play apart, but another four years definitely won’t hurt anything.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • DeAndre Liggins doesn’t appear on the training camp roster the Clippers released today, so it looks like he won’t be joining the team after all. There were conflicting reports about whether he had a deal to do so.
  • Rudy Gay said he briefly began extension talks with the Kings over the summer, but he put them on hold when he joined Team USA, notes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Still, Gay’s not opposed to having his agents at Octagon Sports resume talks, Jones adds.
  • Kobe Bryant isn’t ruling out the idea of playing beyond his contract, which ends in the summer of 2016, shortly before his 38th birthday, observes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports“Whether I do or not, we’ll have to see that two years from now,” Bryant said. “I don’t know, but I could [play longer]. Physically, I don’t see an end to the tunnel.”
  • Confidence in the continued development of the team’s young players made the Warriors hesitate to trade for Kevin Love, as GM Bob Myers told NBA TV, while Klay Thompson, in his NBA TV appearance, expressed appreciation for Steve Kerr‘s role in forestalling a swap. Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group provides a transcription. “If it is the truth, it’s awesome,” Thompson said of Kerr’s opposition to a move. “I appreciate Steve for that. It just makes me want to play even harder for him if he really did believe that, so it gives me a new sense of confidence, really.”

Contract Details: Papanikolaou, Suns, Sixers

September 30 at 11:00am CDT By Chuck Myron

Teams have made several roster moves in the past few days as they’ve prepared for camp, leaving a few loose ends to resolve contractually. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders provides a few answers to the questions left unresolved, so we’ll pass along his revelations here:

  • The Rockets essentially reversed the salaries in each year of Kostas Papanikolaou‘s deal after the league forced the team to sign him to a new contract. He’ll make slighly more than $4.591MM this year and nearly $4.798MM next season, Pincus reports (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether the contract has guarantee dates, like the original pact, but it does include a signing bonus of almost $207K, according to Pincus (Twitter links).
  • The extensions that Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris signed with the Suns include salaries that go down in year two before rising again in years three and four, Pincus reveals (Twitter links). An earlier report had indicated that they were all escalating salaries.
  • Zoran Dragic will only make $1.5MM this year and the same amount in 2015/16, so his Suns contract is slightly less lucrative than thought, as Pincus details (Twitter link). Those figures include a signing bonus of about $413K.
  • The Sixers used some of their cap space to give Jerami Grant, this year’s No. 39 overall pick, a four-year contract that’s fully guaranteed for the first two seasons and non-guaranteed thereafter, according to Pincus (Twitter link). The final season also features a team option, Pincus adds. The salary of nearly $885K in the first year is more than the rookie minimum, but it’s otherwise a minimum-salary arrangement.
  • Christian Watford‘s new deal with the Celtics covers one year at the minimum salary and is non-guaranteed, Pincus shows (Twitter link). That makes him eligible to have signed an Exhibit 9 Contract that would keep the C’s from paying him if he were to suffer an injury in preseason, though it’s not clear whether it is indeed one of those sorts of pacts.

Suns Rumors: Morrises, Bledsoe, Zoran Dragic

September 29 at 1:38pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby negotiated a total figure for Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris with agent Leon Rose, letting the twins decide how to split what turned out to be a $52MM pot, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic chronicles.

“They’re very close and we didn’t want to suggest anything that would be a disconnect to what they thought their value was,” Babby said. “I didn’t delegate the whole project to them but I did ask, ‘How would you divide it up?’ They’re so close and in it together that it was better to negotiate the total amount and then go to them for how to divide it. They desperately wanted to be together and they play better together. They motivate each other and it’s been fun for me to watch their maturation.”

There’s more from Coro’s piece amid the latest from the Valley of the Sun:

  • It would have been harder for the Morris brothers to stay together if they had hit restricted free agency next summer, GM Ryan McDonough said today, according to Coro, who writes in the same piece. That suggests the team pressured the twins to sign their extensions rather than let the October 31st deadline pass.
  • There are no option clauses or trade kickers in the deals for the Morrises, whose salaries will escalate each year, Coro adds.
  • Bledsoe largely repeated to reporters, including Coro, his assertion from the team’s statement on his new deal that he preferred to return to the Suns all summer, in spite of tense public negotiations (Twitter link).
  • Zoran Dragic was just a part-timer starter for his Spanish team the past two seasons, but McDonough is confident the new Suns signee’s game is on the upswing, as the exec tells Matt Petersen of Suns.com. “Guys mature and develop at different rates,” McDonough said. “Zoran is a bit of a late-bloomer, but I’ve seen rapid improvement lately. He was better when I saw him last year in Slovenia than what I’d ever seen before. He took another step and was even better this year in Spain than what I’d seen before.”
  • Suns owner Robert Sarver is calling for a new arena to replace the existing building, which opened in 1992, as Coro relays in a separate piece.

Suns Sign Zoran Dragic

September 29 at 12:37pm CDT By Chuck Myron

MONDAY, 12:36pm: The deal is official, the team announced.

“Zoran’s will to win and intensity stand out every time he steps on to the court,” GM Ryan McDonough said in the team’s statement. “He has been a very productive player in Euroleague, ACB and FIBA competitions. He excels defensively and in transition and I think our fans will quickly recognize his passion for the game.”

FRIDAY, 7:55am: Coro clarifies that a total of only $3.4MM will count against the cap for the Suns over the two seasons of the deal (Twitter link), so it appears as though the $4,012,500 figure that was reported earlier includes the $600K that Phoenix is allowed to contribute toward the buyout without it counting against the cap. That would mean the precise cap hits for Phoenix in 2014/15 and 2015/16 combined would come to $3,412,500, close to the figure that Amick reported, as we noted below.

Dragic confirmed the deal to Gal Zbačnik of Kosarki.si, while Unicaja Malaga formally announced Dragic’s departure from the team (on Twitter; translations via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia)

3:36pm: The total value of Dragic’s deal is $4,012,500, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link).

12:26pm: The amount buyout for the BDA Sports Management client was negotiated down to $1MM, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. It’s not entirely clear whether it was Dragic’s camp, the Suns, or both who pushed the Spanish team to lower its demand.

THURSDAY, 11:01am: The Suns are set to sign Spanish league shooting guard Zoran Dragic to a two-year guaranteed deal, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. It’ll be worth a total of $3.5MM, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (on Twitter). Multiple reports from earlier indicated that Dragic had informed Spain’s Unicaja Malaga that he was leaving the team and would pay a buyout of about $1.1MM, with the Suns having placed a two-year offer on the table. Phoenix appears to be using some of its approximately $5.7MM in cap space remaining after Wednesday’s re-signing of Eric Bledsoe.

The 25-year-old will join older brother Goran Dragic on the Suns, and the addition will ostensibly aid Phoenix in its efforts to retain Goran long-term. The Suns beat out the Pacers, Kings, Heat, Magic, Spurs and Mavs, all of whom appeared to show interest in signing Zoran Dragic within the past month. Houston, too, was in the mix earlier this year, and the Rockets were reportedly the leading contender for him as of May. The Rockets have also eyed Goran Dragic, who played a season and a half for Houston earlier in his career.

Zoran Dragic has longed to play in the NBA, though he appeared prepared to begin the season overseas. His buyout costs more than the $600K Excluded International Player Payment Amount that an NBA team can dole out without it counting against the salary cap and without the money essentially coming out of Dragic’s paycheck. Still, a report indicated that Goran Dragic, who’ll make $7.5MM from the Suns this season, would likely pay part of the buyout for his brother.

The recent FIBA World Cup helped the 6’5″ Zoran Dragic make his case for a spot on an NBA roster, as he averaged 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in more than 26 minutes per game and made 13 of 30 three-point attempts playing alongside his brother on the Slovenian national team. His numbers had been less impressive last season for Unicaja Malaga, when he put up 10.6 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 20.3 MPG while shooting just 32.7% from behind the arc.

The deal gives the Suns 15 fully guaranteed pacts, as our roster counts show, likely setting the roster for opening night. It further diminishes the chances that Earl Barron and Casey Prather, who’d been with the club on non-guaranteed arrangements, will make it to opening night.

Suns Sign Morris Twins To Extensions

September 29 at 9:17am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Suns have signed twins Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris to four-year extensions, the team announced. Markieff’s deal is worth a total of $32MM, while Marcus will see $20MM, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, who reported that the agreements had been struck (Twitter link). Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported that the team was close to a pair of deals totaling $52MM (All Twitter links).

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix SunsBoth 25-year-old forwards will spend the coming season on rookie scale contracts that pay them nearly $6MM combined, split almost evenly, and the extensions will kick in for 2015/16. GM Ryan McDonough, in the team’s statement, expressed belief that both will continue to improve, pointing out that they’re just entering their primes, while president of basketball operations Lon Babby spoke to their unusual brotherly connection.

“We are particularly pleased to have reached extension agreements with Marcus and Markieff before the start of training camp,” Babby said. “There is an extraordinary bond between these twin brothers; they make each other better players and better men. We take pride in their growth and look forward to their bright futures.”

Markieff earned the larger deal, having been more productive in his playing time last season. He averaged 13.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game, all career highs. Marcus put up 9.7 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 22.0 MPG, though he was significantly better from behind the arc, shooting 38.1% compared to Markieff’s 31.5%.

The deals for the Leon Rose clients are somewhat surprising, since most players who ink rookie scale extensions do so for eight-figure salaries, or close to it. Still, there are occasional examples of teams and players who’ve come to terms on extensions for even smaller amounts, including Quincy Pondexter‘s four-year, $14MM deal with Memphis last year and the three-year, $9MM extension that Kosta Koufos signed with the Nuggets in 2012.

The past week has seen the Suns invest heavily in their future. They struck a new five-year, $70MM deal with Eric Bledsoe, but even so, they still had only about $32.5MM in commitments for next season, leaving plenty of room for reasonable deals with both Morrises.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves, Ricky Rubio Progress Toward Extension

September 27 at 9:11pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Ricky Rubio and Wolves owner Glen Taylor had several phone conversations in the past week, and each has expressed intention to get a deal done on a rookie scale extension, reports Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Any such pact is expected to be for four years, Walters writes, which suggests that a five-year deal that would make Rubio the team’s Designated Player is unlikely. Agent Dan Fegan has reportedly asked for a five-year max deal, but the Wolves are willing to wait until next summer, when Rubio would be a restricted free agent, if his camp won’t accept four years, according to Walters. The sides have until October 31st to ink an extension.

The Wolves didn’t have serious interest in Eric Bledsoe, Walters also hears, which conflicts with rumors from earlier this month suggesting that the team made a max offer to the Suns point guard while he lingered in restricted free agency. The necessity for a deal with Bledsoe to take place as part of a sign-and-trade made it too complicated for the Wolves to pursue, as Walters writes, adding that Bledsoe nonetheless had interest in Minnesota depending on what happened with Rubio.

Walters says an extension for Rubio “could” be worth $11MM annually, which would line up with the figures the team is seeking in such a deal. The Wolves nonetheless have the capacity, if not the willingness, to go much higher than that in a four-year offer, with salaries likely starting at around $15MM, though the precise maximum won’t be set until next July.

It’s debatable whether Rubio is worth max money, as Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors wrote when he examined Rubio as an extension candidate earlier in the offseason, but perhaps the ultimate stumbling block will come down to the length of the deal, just as it did with Kevin Love. Former Wolves GM David Kahn balked at a five-year deal for Love in 2012 so that the team could go to that length with Rubio. However, it’s conceivable that current president of basketball operations Flip Saunders wants to reserve the Designated Player bullet for the newly acquired Andrew Wiggins, who’ll become extension-eligible three years from now. If the Wolves signed Rubio to a five-year extension, they couldn’t do so with anyone else they have on a rookie scale contract until Rubio’s would-be extension expired, or until they traded Rubio.

Suns Sign Joe Jackson

September 27 at 11:36am CDT By Zach Links

SEPTEMBER 27TH, 11:36am: The signing is official, the team has announced.

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 11:02pm: The signing has taken place, as the RealGM transactions log indicates.

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 4:55pm: Joe Jackson, an undrafted point guard out of Memphis, is finalizing a free agent deal with the Suns, a league source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (via Twitter).  Terms of the deal are not yet known.

Jackson worked out for the Wolves, Kings, Suns, Knicks, Rockets, Mavs, Grizzlies, and Jazz, but didn’t hear his name called in the 2014 Draft.  Apparently, Jackson was able to step out in his June 3rd audition in front of Phoenix brass where he worked out alongside Jerami Grant, Ronald Roberts Jr. and Cam Bairstow.

The 6’0″ guard was ranked as the 49th best senior in his NCAA class by DraftExpreess.  In 2013/14, Jackson averaged 14.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 3.6 RPG in 33.6 minutes per contest.

Suns Sign Barron, Prather

September 27 at 11:34am CDT By Chuck Myron

SEPTEMBER 27TH, 11:34am: The signings are official, the team has announced.

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 11:05pm: The signings have taken place, according to the RealGM transactions log.

AUGUST 26TH, 8:21am: The Suns have agreed to non-guaranteed deals with eight-year NBA veteran Earl Barron and undrafted rookie Casey Prather that will allow the pair to join the team for camp, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. They’re almost certainly on minimum-salary arrangements in spite of Phoenix’s ample cap flexibility.

The deal is Barron’s first in the NBA after he signed with the Knicks for the final game of the regular season and the playoffs in 2013. He didn’t see any postseason action that year, appearing in just that lone regular season game, and while the Knicks were reportedly split on bringing him back for last year’s camp, they decided against it, and he spent the season playing in China and Lebanon instead.

Prather made his first contact with the Suns through a predraft workout, though he spent summer league with the Hawks. The small forward from Florida entered the draft as the 83rd-best prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and No. 95 on Chad Ford’s ESPN.com board after a breakout senior season with the Gators. His 13.8 points in 27.9 minutes per game represented the first double-digit scoring average of his college career.

Barron and Prather will join 13 other Suns, all of whom have guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show. That doesn’t include Eric Bledsoe or second-round pick Alec Brown, though the Suns could make room for them if they cut Barron, Prather or both before opening night.

Suns, Jamil Wilson Reach Deal

September 27 at 11:17am CDT By Eddie Scarito

SATURDAY, 11:17am: The signing is official, the Suns announced via a press release.

WEDNESDAY, 9:25pm: The Suns have reached agreement with Jamil Wilson, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). The exact length and terms of the deal are unknown for the Relativity Sports client who is represented by Steve McCaskill. Odds are this is a minimum salary camp deal, with little-to-no salary guaranteed, but that’s just my speculation.

The 6’7″ Wilson went undrafted this year out of Marquette despite being projected as a possible late second-round pick by some. His college numbers, which include his freshman season at Oregon, are 8.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His college shooting statistics are .447/.336/.708.

This signing brings Phoenix’s preseason roster count to 18 players. Out of those 18, 14 players have fully-guaranteed deals on the books. Wilson is a longhshot to make the team, and will compete with Marcus Morris, T.J. Warren, and P.J. Tucker for minutes.

Reaction To/Fallout From Eric Bledsoe Deal

September 25 at 9:59pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Eric Bledsoe‘s contract situation was finally resolved yesterday when the Suns and the point guard agreed to a five-year, $70MM contract extension. The reactions from around the league are still pouring in and here is the latest news:

  • One of the major concerns about Bledsoe would be how he would recover from his meniscus injury, but GM Ryan McDonough didn’t seem all that concerned, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. McDonough said, “We would not have made this commitment in terms of years or money if we had significant concerns about Eric’s health. Nobody knows Eric’s medical history or where he’s at better than us.
  • In the same article McDonough notes the process took longer than they had hoped, but added, “He [Bledsoe] said all the right things to Lon [Babby], Robert [Sarver] and I about how he wanted to be here and take the next step as a leader and be a part of the community.”
  • Bledsoe chimed in on the deal in the team’s official statement, saying, “Lon, Ryan and the Suns have shown confidence in me, and I am looking to take that responsibility and help our team get better from last year and position ourselves to win an NBA championship. It’s why I came back to Phoenix. All summer, I knew that I really would be most comfortable coming back to Phoenix because of the great fans, my Suns teammates and our coaches. I am very happy it was able to work out this way.”
  • Bledsoe’s deal is an “emphatic win” for him and also a boon for extension-eligible point guards Reggie Jackson, Ricky Rubio and Kemba Walker, but it’s a gamble worth taking for Phoenix, Grantland’s Zach Lowe believes.
  • With the market seemingly barren for Bledsoe this late in the summer, Phoenix blinked first during the negotiations, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation.
  • The Suns scored a big victory in locking up Bledsoe for the next five seasons, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.