Phoenix Suns

Suns Notes: Majerle, D-League, Goodwin

Dan Majerle said the Suns haven’t contacted him about their head coaching job, in spite of a report indicating that he’s among those the team is considering, according to Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic. Majerle, who coaches upstart Grand Canyon University, added that the Sixers haven’t spoken with him either, short-circuiting any speculation connecting him to Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, Sixers executives with whom he’s close, Obert writes. Majerle’s remarks came before he attended Monday’s Suns game to hand out an award for the organization (Twitter link).

While we wait to hear whether the Suns will ultimately reach out to their former player and assistant coach, see more from Phoenix:

  • The Suns bought out the local ownership of the Bakersfield Jam, their D-League affiliate, and are moving the team to Prescott Valley, Arizona, for next season, the D-League and the Suns announced. The D-League club will henceforth be known as the Northern Arizona Suns. An option in Phoenix’s operating agreement with Bakersfield ownership allowed the NBA team to make the purchase, and Phoenix team president Jason Rowley said the organization considered moving the affiliate to locations around Phoenix and Tucson before settling on Prescott Valley, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic details. It’s unclear how much money changed hands in the deal, but Adam Johnson of D-League Digest hears the former Bakersfield owners will seek to partner with another NBA team looking for an affiliate (Twitter link).
  • Archie Goodwin has seen more minutes and an increased role in the offense the past two games for the Suns, and he’s hopeful that it’s a harbinger of what’s to come, as Coro details in a separate piece. Goodwin, the 29th pick in 2013, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer heading into the final year on his contract, but he’s made just 15 career NBA starts. “I’ve always been confident in knowing that I work hard to where I can be a starter in this league,” Goodwin said. “I just have to remain patient, work hard and it’s going to happen for me eventually. Hopefully, it’s here. I just hope that the opportunity that I use won’t be wasted and I can go and continue to prove myself.”

Latest On Suns Coaching Search

The Suns are planning on casting a wide net this offseason in the search for their next head coach, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays. Interim coach Earl Watson will be among the candidates in the running, Stein notes, with Phoenix also considering Sixers assistant and former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, former Sun and current coach at Grand Canyon University Dan Majerle and Warriors assistant Luke Walton.

Villanova coach Jay Wright is also reportedly in the mix, though there have been conflicting reports about the Suns’ level of interest in the 2016 NCAA National Championship winner. For his part, Wright indicated that he wished to remain with the Wildcats, but did leave himself some wiggle room should he have a change of heart, saying “I can say right now that, in my mind, I plan to stay at Villanova. But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.

GM Ryan McDonough had said that Watson would be a candidate for the job shortly after he replaced former coach Jeff Hornacek, and Watson has the support of at least some of the players. Phoenix is just 7-23 since Watson took over, though injuries have limited Brandon Knight to 10 games and Eric Bledsoe to none during that stretch. While the team hasn’t climbed in the standings under Watson, he has improved the Suns’ defense as a unit, with Phoenix notching a defensive rating that is good for 12th best in the league over its past 10 contests. Before Watson arrived, the Suns were a lowly 29th in that category.

Walton is one of the hottest names around the league when potential coaching candidates are discussed. The 36-year-old guided the Warriors to a record of 39-4 in the absence of coach Steve Kerr, who was recovering from offseason surgery and was unable to meet the physical demands of the position during the first half of the campaign. But according to Stein’s sources, Walton departing the Warriors for the Suns is an extreme long shot at the moment.

Team owner Robert Sarver was reportedly interested in hiring former MVP Steve Nash to coach the team back in February, but Nash remains uninterested in going into coaching on a full-time basis, Stein notes. Nash currently wants to focus on fatherhood, his various off-court interests, the part-time consulting role with the Warriors that he took on at the start of this season and his duties as GM of Team Canada, Stein writes. Sarver has said that McDonough will definitely continue as the team’s GM next season, but there is some speculation that the franchise may look to install Nash in a front office position in the future, Stein adds.

Brandon Knight Underwent Successful Surgery

Point guard Brandon Knight underwent successful surgery to treat a sports hernia on Thursday, the Suns announced. Phoenix had already shut down Knight for the remainder of the season as he sought a second medical opinion after being limited to just 52 appearances on the campaign. No timetable was given for Knight’s return to action, but he is expected to begin his rehabilitation immediately, according to the press release. The 24-year-old finishes the 2015/16 season with averages of 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 36 minutes per outing. His slash line was .415/.342/.852.

Jay Wright Wants To Stay At 'Nova, Won't Entirely Dismiss Idea Of NBA Move

Villanova coach Jay Wright told Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com that he has a strong desire to remain with the school, but he left the door slightly ajar to the idea of jumping to the NBA. The 54-year-old who just led the Wildcats to the national title values the ability to fade from the spotlight during the offseason in Philadelphia and indicated that if that changes, it would be the most significant reason for him to leave, O’Neil writes. The Suns are reportedly interested in Wright for their head coaching job, but he said no team has made an offer. “I can say right now that in my mind I plan to stay at Villanova,” Wright said. “But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.”

Suns Target Jay Wright?

FRIDAY, 7:54am: Wright doesn’t appear to be Phoenix’s top choice, and many sense that Watson remains very much in the running, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Coro points to “insiders” who believe Wright will stay at Villanova and that it would take a heavy financial offer to pry him from the school. Watson meanwhile says he and McDonough have frequent conversations and good conversations in which they don’t always agree but share common goals.

THURSDAY, 11:02am: Villanova University coach Jay Wright is the top choice of the Suns for their head coaching job, league sources tell Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News (Twitter link). The 54-year-old Wright is fresh off leading Villanova to the national title.

GM Ryan McDonough said shortly after the team fired former coach Jeff Hornacek that Earl Watson, who’s been in charge on an interim basis, would be a candidate for the job, and Watson has the support of at least some of the players. Phoenix is just 6-23 since Watson took over, though injuries limited Brandon Knight to 10 games and Eric Bledsoe to none during that stretch. The Suns have also reportedly been poised to target former coach Mike D’Antoni, the lead assistant for the Sixers.

Two NBA GMs recently told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com they could envision Wright as an NBA coach, though he’s never held a job in the league. He’s instead coached exclusively at the college level, sending eight players, including Kyle Lowry, to the NBA. His first head coaching gig came at Hofstra, which he twice led to the NCAA Tournament during a tenure that ran from 1994-2001. He’s been at Villanova ever since, leading the Wildcats to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 14 seasons.

McDonough, the former Celtics assistant GM, has a history of mining the college ranks for coaching. He was the first to go after Brad Stevens, Goodman tweets.

Tyson Chandler Hopes To Improve Team Chemistry This Summer

  • Suns big man Tyson Chandler intends to host workouts over the summer to help him and his teammates develop better chemistry, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “I feel like this season got way off on the wrong foot,” Chandler said. “Even though we won some games, I didn’t like it even early. Even when we were 7-5, I didn’t like it because it’s important that you win the right way. When you’re playing at a high level, and I’ve been there, you know when you’re a good team. You can just feel it. I felt we had spurts but we were always kind of rocking. It’s important all of us are on the same page and we all truly come in with the same goal.

Sonny Weems, Quincy Miller To Play In Israel

THURSDAY, 1:19pm: Miller’s deal is a two-year, $2.1MM arrangement that includes an escape clause that would allow him to return to the NBA, a source tells Pick (Twitter link).

WEDNESDAY, 1:51pm: Recent Suns and Sixers swingman Sonny Weems is putting the finishing touches on a two-year guaranteed deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Philadelphia released Weems late last month a few weeks after claiming him off waivers from Phoenix, which signed him this past summer to a two-year deal worth about $5.755MM. The second year on his NBA contract was non-guaranteed.

The Israeli team, poised to lose Dragan Bender to the NBA draft, has also reached agreement with three-year NBA veteran Quincy Miller, Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi reports. The club had been a heavy favorite to land Miller, as Pick reported earlier this week (Twitter link). The Nets waived Miller in October, but he quickly latched on with Serbian team Red Star Belgrade.

Weems, 29, is headed back overseas after what appears to have been a brief return to the NBA. He started 29 games for the Raptors in 2010/11 but spent the next four seasons playing for Zalgiris in Lithuania and later CSKA Moscow. He put up 2.5 points in 11.7 minutes per game for the Suns this season, failing to secure a more significant role even amid a rash of injuries. The Sixers reportedly intended to take a hard look at him even though they acquired him chiefly to eclipse the minimum team salary, but his playing time in Philadelphia was almost identical to what it was in Phoenix as he averaged 2.4 points in 11.1 minutes.

Miller is only 23 and less than four years removed from having been the No. 38 pick in the 2012 draft, but he’s made it into only 69 NBA games, 10 of which came last season, when he split time between the Kings and Pistons. Detroit traded him to Brooklyn last summer for Steve Blake.

Suns Interested In Re-Signing Teletovic

Mirza Teletovic has indicated that he wants to remain with the Suns beyond this season and that feeling is shared by the team, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 relays (via Twitter). Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough said the Suns will attempt to re-sign the power forward this summer and that the interest was mutual, Gambadoro adds. Teletovic, who is earning $5.5MM on a one-year pact, has appeared in 75 games this season and is averaging 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 20.8 minutes per outing.

Brandon Knight Shut Down, May Need Surgery

  • Suns point guard Brandon Knight has been shut down the remainder of the season because of a sports hernia, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports. Knight will get a second opinion this week to determine if surgery is needed for the injury, which has limited him to 52 games this season, Coro adds.

Defense Improving Under Watson

  • Earl Watson has managed to get some defensive improvement out of the Suns since taking over as interim coach, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Under Watson, who has posted a 6-7 record after losing his first nine games, Phoenix has a defensive rating that is 12th best in the league over its past 10 contests. Before Watson arrived, the Suns were 29th in that category. “We have a lot we haven’t even touched,” he said.

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