Phoenix Suns Rumors

Phoenix Suns trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Brandon Knight

April 10 at 10:25am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Suns have plenty invested in Brandon Knight, having relinquished a potential lottery pick from the Lakers as well as Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis, both of whom have shown promise and are on rookie scale contracts. Knight is also on a rookie scale contract, but unlike Plumlee and Ennis, his deal expires this summer, when the Suns figure to have to shell out eight-figure salaries to keep him. Several GMs told Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops earlier this spring that they believe Knight is worth $12MM a year. Suns GM Ryan McDonough referred to Knight as the best player in the trade, though it’s unclear if he was merely referring to the Knight trade itself or the series of moves the Suns made on deadline day, when they shipped Goran Dragic to Miami in a separate trade. It’s nonetheless clear that McDonough thinks highly of Knight, a former eighth overall pick, having referred to him as a “23-year-old who is a borderline All-Star in the East.”

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Orlando MagicMcDonough and president of basketball operations Lon Babby will have to go chiefly by what Knight did while he was in the East with the Bucks as they wade through his restricted free agency, since a heel injury has ended the season for Knight after he played only 11 games as a Sun. The point guard took just 4.6 shots per game during that small sample size, a figure that would be a career low if extrapolated over a full season. He looked every bit the part of the budding All-Star that McDonough envisions in a 28-point performance against the Magic, but that was less than a week after a one-point, 0-for-6 clunker against the Spurs.

Knight has struggled over the course of his NBA career to become a true point guard, though he’s expressed a desire to embrace the role. The Suns don’t have to worry too much about that with Eric Bledsoe around. He and Bledsoe fit the mold of the small backcourt that’s marked McDonough’s Suns teams, and Bledsoe’s presence also takes pressure off Knight to improve defensively. Bledsoe is second among point guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus this season, while Knight languishes at No. 50, well into the minus side of the ledger. Knight has been a minus defender in all four of his NBA seasons, according to Basketball-Reference’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus.

There’s still potential for growth on that end of the floor, since he’s only 23, as McDonough notes. He certainly wouldn’t be the only one-way player making $12MM a year if that’s what he ends up with, and he helps in other areas. He averaged 5.2 rebounds per game this season, the 12th most among any player 6’3″ or shorter who saw at least 500 minutes, as Basketball-Reference shows. Bledsoe is third on that list. Knight also bumped his three-point shooting to a career-high 38.9% this season after last year’s regression to 32.5%, and he was at 40.9% in that category this year before his disjointed 11 games with the Suns. His PER was 18.5 with Milwaukee, and though that shrunk to 17.2 thanks to his brief time playing with Phoenix, it’s still a career high.

The Arn Tellem client has validated his draft position, and while he doesn’t seem the sort who’ll ever be one of the top two players on a contender, he could certainly be the third. Bledsoe’s ceiling is beginning to emerge as a No. 2 on that kind of team. So, the Suns have the groundwork for a contending core, but they lack the superstar piece that’s almost always the hardest to obtain.

A new deal for Knight would essentially put the Suns out of the running to acquire a superstar in free agency this summer, since Phoenix already has about $41MM on the books. It wouldn’t be much of a setback for the franchise if it comes up empty in its star search this summer, since the top five players in the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings all seem likely to stay put. It’s the summer of 2016 when the Suns appear positioned to make their move, as they only have about $28MM committed, and even with an eight-figure salary for Knight, they should have no shortage of flexibility with the cap set to catapult to around $90MM. The Valley of the Sun looms as an attractive destination for top free agents as long as the roster infrastructure is there for a superstar to contend immediately upon joining the team, and Knight’s presence helps the Suns toward that roster prerequisite.

Phoenix also has its share of trade assets, with the Heat’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick perhaps the juiciest. The Suns took a step back at the deadline this season, as Babby has acknowledged, with the long term in mind, and that’s why keeping Knight is more or less imperative. There’s been chatter connecting the Lakers to Knight, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some team with aspirations of contending in the West in the near future pitch an outsized offer sheet to Knight this summer, just to force the Suns to pay a premium. That would carry risk for a team like the Lakers, since it would be difficult for any team to end up paying a defensive minus a salary approaching the max in case Phoenix doesn’t match, but it’s a distinct possibility nonetheless, given the consequences for the Suns if they let Knight walk.

Knight might not be the best player involved in Phoenix’s deadline trades, but he’s the best the Suns have to show from a pivot point in their rebuilding. Phoenix, which still hasn’t made the playoffs since Steve Nash left town, can’t afford to take a step back in both the short and the long term, so expect Knight’s Suns tenure to last a lot longer than 11 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Bogut, Green, Suns, Lakers

April 10 at 9:00am CDT By Chuck Myron

Trading for Andrew Bogut in 2012 was a turning point for the Warriors, who clinched the league’s best record Thursday, writes USA Today’s Sam Amick. Bogut, who signed a rare veteran extension in 2013, credits the owners and GM Bob Myers for reviving a team that was “in shambles” upon his arrival. That certainly makes it easier to stomach paying the 15% bonus that Bogut appears poised to trigger. There’s more on the Warriors amid the latest from the Pacific Division:

  • It’s been a “fitful” season for the Suns, as president of basketball operations Lon Babby puts it, and he acknowledges that the team’s deadline trades were made with the long term in mind and compromised the team this season, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. Babby also said he continues to support GM Ryan McDonough and coach Jeff Hornacek.
  • Myers makes it clear in a long piece from Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams that the Warriors are thinking of soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green as a part of the team beyond the end of his contract this summer. “We really like him,” Myers said. “We believe he’s a core member of our team and we believe he’s a big part of our future.”
  • Management, and not Kobe Bryant, is to blame for the inability of the Lakers to attract marquee free agents the past two summers, as Matt Barnes opines to Chris Ballard of SI.com. Barnes spent 2010/11 and 2011/12 with the Lakers before moving on to the Clippers. A report in October cited agents and team sources who said Bryant was driving free agents away from the Lakers.

Pacific Notes: Green, Bogut, Scott

April 9 at 11:17am CDT By Chuck Myron

Agent Kevin Bradbury is upset with Suns coach Jeff Hornacek‘s criticism of client and soon-to-be free agent Gerald Green, as Bradbury makes clear in his comments to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Hornacek brought up Green’s defense as one reason why the swingman hasn’t seen as much playing time as he’d like, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic relayed earlier this week, and that in particular drew Bradbury’s ire.

“It’s completely unfair to misrepresent Gerald and his game like this,” Bradbury said. “You’re talking about a player that wants to win at any cost and is a tremendous locker guy and teammate. I don’t see the benefit for the coach to go about things this way.” 

Bradbury told Deveney that opposing teams were willing to give up assets in significant trade offers for Green at the deadline, only to have the Suns turn them down. Green, who hits free agency this summer, said that in spite of his lack of minutes that he wants to re-sign with Phoenix and retire as a Sun, though he’s not sure if Phoenix feels the same way, as Coro relays. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Andrew Bogut is closing in on a key milestone tied to a bonus clause in his deal, as Tim Kawakami of The Bay Area News Group points out. He played his 63rd game of the season Tuesday, so if he plays in two of the Warriors‘ last four regular season contests, he’ll hit the first criteria for triggering the bonus. He’d need to either win Defensive Player of the Year or make one of the league’s two All-Defensive teams for the bonus to kick in, but Bogut will almost certainly earn an All-Defensive nod, Kawakami writes.
  • The prospect of Bogut triggering the bonus, worth 15% of his $12.973MM salary this season, was one reason why the Warriors didn’t give serious thought to adding a veteran the past few months, according to Kawakami. Golden State is well shy of the tax threshold for this season. Bogut’s cap figure for 2015/16 will be higher if he earns the bonus this year, but it won’t count toward the team’s salary for tax purposes next year unless he again hits the same benchmarks next season.
  • Lakers coach Byron Scott on Wednesday tempered his earlier remark that he “wouldn’t want to be in a fox hole with” many of his players, which seemed to indicate a desire for an offseason overhaul. Scott said that he made that comment out of frustration and that he’s been pleased with the effort of his players for most of the year, as Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com details.

Western Notes: Ginobili, Lakers, Green

April 7 at 8:34pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Manu Ginobili says he plans to retire either this coming offseason or next, as he tells Diego Morini of Argentina’s La Nacion (translation via HoopsHype). Ginobili, 37, has spent his entire 13-year NBA career with the Spurs, who he joined after playing four years in Italy and three years in his native Argentina. His contract expires at the end of the season.

“Every retired [player] tells me, ‘Enjoy it, play one more year.’ And, well, I’ve been doing this for 19 years and if it’s not at the end of the season, it will be the following year,” Ginobili said. “Then it’s over and it won’t come back.”

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers coach Byron Scott has a good idea which of his players are still fighting this season and which he wouldn’t like to see return to Los Angeles next season, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes. “I got a sense of a whole lot of them I wouldn’t want to be in a fox hole with,” Scott said. “I think they’d end up shooting me in the back. So I’ve got a pretty good sense of the guys that I think are going to be around, that we will build around, build together in this process and go through it.
  • Nick Young has taken Scott’s comments, which he believes were partly directed at him, with a grain of salt, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com relays. “Nah,” Young said of buying into Scott’s coaching advice to become a more complete player. “I don’t know. I feel like it’s just a target toward me. It’s a little unfair. But it’s cool.
  • Gerald Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, said he is frustrated with his lack of playing time since the end of January, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. The Suns reportedly made Green available before the deadline, and the Clippers were among teams that expressed interest. Since Green was benched on January 30th, the Suns are 11-18 with Green appearing in 22 of those games and averaging 14.7 minutes in them, Coro notes.

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Robinson, Bullock, Ellington

April 3 at 8:16pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Clippers are keeping close tabs on the health of guard Nate Robinson, and if he is healthy enough to play by next week the team will consider re-signing him, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. Robinson has already had two 10-day contracts with the team, so any new deal would need to cover the remainder of the season. Los Angeles currently has 15 players on its roster, so a corresponding personnel move would be required. The most likely candidate to go would be Lester Hudson, who is inked to a 10-day pact that expires on Tuesday.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Reggie Bullock is finally getting some playing time for the Suns, and the swingman is using the exposure to show Phoenix why he should be part of its plans for next season, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “I wanted to play when I first got here but I’m still a young player in this league,” Bullock said. “The coaches know what I’m capable of, defending and shooting the ball. I’m just staying ready for when my name is called and continue to build and take this confidence to next season.
  • Injured Lakers guard Wayne Ellington is done for the season courtesy of a separated right shoulder, and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Los Angeles’ coach Byron Scott says that the team’s rebuilding plan hinges on the NBA draft and pursuing marquee free agents, but the Lakers’ front office would “absolutely” consider re-signing Ellington, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes.
  • When Sim Bhullar signed his 10-day deal with the Kings he made history as the first NBA player of Indian descent, the significance of which is not lost on the big man, Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press writes. “It’s a big moment in the history of the NBA and the history of my country in India,” Bhullar said. “I know my family’s going to be proud of me and everybody’s going to be proud of me and cheer me on the court.”

2015/16 Salary Commitments: Suns

April 3 at 7:01pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the NBA trade deadline passed, teams are focusing on locking down playoff spots or vying for a better chance in the draft lottery. Outside of the players who are added on 10-day deals, or those lucky enough to turn those auditions into long-term contracts, teams’ rosters are relatively set for the remainder of the season.

We at Hoops Rumors are in the process of taking a look ahead at each franchise’s salary cap situation heading into the summer, and the free agent frenzy that occurs every offseason. While the exact amount of the 2015/16 salary cap won’t be announced until July, the cap is projected to come in somewhere around $67.4MM, with the luxury tax threshold projected at approximately $81MM. This year’s $63.065MM cap represented an increase of 7.7% over 2013/14, which was well above the league’s projected annual increase of 4.5%.

We’ll continue onward by taking a look at the Suns’ cap outlook for 2015/16…

Here are the players with guaranteed contracts:

Here are the players with non-guaranteed contracts:

  • None

Players with options:

The Suns’ Cap Summary for 2015/16:

  • Guaranteed Salary: $41,038,578
  • Options/Non-Guaranteed Salary: $2,170,465
  • Total: $43,509,043

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

Western Notes: Pekovic, Saunders, Suns

April 2 at 7:47pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Wolves big man Nikola Pekovic will undergo surgery next week to remove damage and repair his right Achilles tendon, the team announced via Twitter. Pekovic is out of action indefinitely, and it’s not yet known if the injury is career-threatening, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. Coach/executive Flip Saunders had all but ruled out Pekovic for the season last week, saying, “We’€™ve got to do something. We’€™re not just going to sit there. We tried different ways to let it heal, trying to be as proactive as we can. We have to re-evaluate what we do with him. He’€™s constantly seeing doctors the last three weeks. We’€™ll see where it takes us.”€

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Saunders said that he and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor haven’t addressed whether or not Saunders would coach the team next season, Andy Greder of The Pioneer Press relays. “I’m gonna coach until I tell you I’m not the coach, so you can take it that way,” Saunders said. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done this year. It’s been a trying year from the injury standpoint, but our staff, we feel when we look at the progress of what our young players have made, that we’ve done what we set out to do when things changed over the first month of the season.” The coach/executive and Taylor reached a deal that’€™s €œopen-ended€ in terms of length last offseason. Saunders also serves as the team’€™s president of basketball operations.
  • The Suns‘ injury issues have led to increased playing time for rookies Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren, giving the team a chance to see them shine, Matt Petersen of NBA.com writes. Phoenix’s president of basketball operations Lon Babby is especially happy with what he’s seen of Warren. “He’s just an amazingly efficient scorer,” Babby said. “Every game, [he shoots] 6-for-9, 5-for-7, he’s just around the basket and it seems to come easily to him. Both of those draft picks [referring to Goodwin and Warren], along with Alex Len…are all doing well and bode well for the future.”
  • Gordon Hayward said Enes Kanter’€™s critical comments angered the Jazz and that the players took his remarks personally, Doug Robinson of The Deseret News writes. After defeating the Thunder 94-89 last week, the first time Kanter returned to Utah after his remarks, Trevor Booker said, “€œI definitely wanted to kick his butt. He got his stats and he got his L [loss] as always.

Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Crawford, Len

April 1 at 9:20pm CDT By Chris Crouse

The Lakers believe they have a potential All-Star in Jordan Clarkson, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles News writes. “The more he gains experience, he will learn the pace of the game, how to slow it down and use his speed when he has to do so,”coach Byron Scott said. “His ceiling is pretty high.” Clarkson will make roughly $845K next season, although his salary is non-guaranteed.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jamal Crawford is nearing a return to the court, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports. If the shooting guard continues to progress the plan is for Crawford to play against the Lakers on April 7th, according to Markazi. The 35-year-old has missed the last 14 games because of a calf injury and it was previously reported that there was a chance he wouldn’t return at all this season.
  • Alex Len is expected to miss a week because of a broken nose, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports. Len should only miss two games, but the team doesn’t have an easy path to add a free agent big man if they find it necessary. The Suns currently have a 15-man roster, after inking Jerel McNeal to a 10-day contract earlier today. Phoenix is four and a half games behind Oklahoma City for the eighth seed in the conference with seven games remaining.
  • Eric Bledsoe started more games this season than in his first four seasons combined and the team believes he is still getting acclimated to the increase in playing time, writes Paul Coro in a separate piece“Sometimes, you just don’t have the energy. We ask him to do a lot defensively and offensively. The great players will do it and they’ll bring it every night. He’s on that verge,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. Bledsoe has played 2.1 more minutes per game since the Suns dealt Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas at this year’s deadlines.

Suns Sign Jerel McNeal To 10-Day Contract

April 1 at 2:38pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

WEDNESDAY, 2:38pm: The deal is official, the team announced.

TUESDAY, 7:07pm: The Suns intend to sign Jerel McNeal to a 10-day contract, and they will not re-sign A.J. Price, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic reports (Twitter link). Price’s first 10-day deal with Phoenix expired last night. The Suns’ roster count will move back to 15 players once McNeal is officially signed.

McNeal is a 6’3″ shooting guard who went unselected back in the 2009 NBA draft. The 27-year-old had been playing for the Bakersfield Jam, the Suns’ D-League affiliate. In 27 games for the Jam, McNeal averaged 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in 32.6 minutes per contest. He has previously had NBA training camp stints with the Clippers, Raptors and Rockets. The Pelicans and Jazz have briefly carried him on regular season rosters in the past, but he didn’t see action during either stint, so he’s technically a two-year veteran even though he has yet to make his official NBA debut.

Price had also played for the Pacers and Cavaliers this season. He appeared in 10 games with Indiana, averaging 10.5 points, 2.7 assists and 19.3 minutes, before the club waived him in late November. Cleveland then claimed him off waivers and he appeared in 11 games with the Cavs, averaging just 2.0 points, 1.2 assists and 7.9 minutes, until they waived him in early January. In five appearances for the Suns, Price notched 1.2 PPG and 1.2 APG in 8.8 minutes per contest.

Western Notes: Durant, Kanter, Frazier, Kings

March 31 at 10:53pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Rumors are already suggesting that Kevin Durant might be eyeing an exit from Oklahoma City in the summer of 2016, but the reigning MVP spoke out and expressed an interest in spending the rest of his career with the Thunder, as Royce Young of ESPN.com transcribes.

“I love it here, man. I love my teammates, I love the city, I don’t really think about anywhere else,” Durant told Revolt TV. “I love staying in the moment, and I’m one of those guys that would love to stick it out with one team my whole career; Kobe [Bryant], Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki type. That’s awesome. But you never know what the future holds sometimes and how teams may feel about you after a while, but I love it here and I would love to get my jersey retired here.

While Durant’s comments are far from a guarantee that he’€™ll stick around in OKC for life, they certainly must provide a level of comfort for Thunder fans who have seen reports linking KD to several different clubs. We’€™ve got more on the bunch from Oklahoma City in tonight’€™s look out west:

  • The candid way in which Enes Kanter has spoken about the Jazz since Utah traded him to the Thunder at the deadline has some executives wondering if the big man will be able to land a lucrative new deal this summer as a restricted free agent, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Concerns about his attitude coupled with his less-than-stellar defense might scare some teams off, the executive suggests.
  • Tim Frazier will have a chance to remain with the Blazers beyond this season, hears Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, who says Portland’€™s latest addition will get the opportunity to appear with the team in training camp next fall. However, it’€™s unclear if Frazier has a non-guaranteed year tacked on to his deal or if he’€™s merely a just lock to garner an invite to camp before next season begins.
  • Chris Mullin’€™s recent departure from the Kings organization isn’€™t a total shock, given that Mullin opposed the pursuit of George Karl, hoping he could land Sacramento’s vacant coaching position himself, as Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee observes. If Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro can’€™t mesh with Vlade Divac, the team’€™s new VP of basketball operations, D’€™Alessandro might not be long for the organization either, Voisin writes.
  • Holly Mackenzie of Triangle Offense chronicles Brandon Knight’s evolution as a player and steps through the series of events that brought him to the Suns. Knight is poised for a significant raise as a restricted free agent this summer, Mackenzie believes.