Phoenix Suns Rumors

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Eric Gordon Plans To Opt In With Pelicans

March 19 at 2:45pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Eric Gordon gave a clear signal this week that he intends to pick up his player option for next season, worth more than $15.514MM, and stay with the Pelicans, referring to next season as a “contract year” in remarks that John Reid of The Times-Picayune relays. Player option aside, next season is the last on Gordon’s contract. The shooting guard echoed coach Monty Williams, who recently praised Gordon for putting off surgery on the torn labrum in his left shoulder.

”When I came back, I didn’t want to give up on this year because next year is a contract year for me,” Gordon said. ”I definitely didn’t want to give up on this team. I thought this was a special team and it’s just good to see where we’re at right now.”

It’s certainly no surprise that the Rob Pelinka client would choose to opt in, even though he’s played better since returning from the injury in January. His 13.3 points per game this season represent a fourth straight year of decline in his scoring average, and though his shot attempts have also gone down each of those years, his PER of 12.7 indicates that he’s not playing efficiently. He’s not the star that many thought he’d become when he was the jewel of the trade package New Orleans received for him in the Chris Paul deal. That reputation helped him earn the offer sheet, a four-year maximum-salary arrangement, that he signed with the Suns in the summer of 2012 and that the then-Hornets matched even after he’d played only nine games in 2011/12 because of injury.

The 26-year-old shooting guard is nonetheless draining 45.3% of his three-pointers, a career-best mark by far for the career 38.0% three-point shooter, and, as Reid points out, he’s been turning it on of late, scoring 16 points or more in five of his last six games. Williams is optimistic that Gordon is turning a corner, Reid notes.

“This is the guy that we thought we were going to have fortunately; he had so many injuries and it was hard for him to get the work in,” Williams said. “I think you are starting to see a part of it but not all of it. I think Eric, because A.D [Anthony Davis] is playing so well and Tyreke [Evans] has the ball a lot, he doesn’t get as many opportunities. I’ve got to find more ways to get him the ball. The thing I like about Eric is he tries to make the right play. Eric has so much in his game that people haven’t seen what all he can do with his ability to score and play off the dribble.”

Gordon expressed regret this week for saying when he signed the offer sheet that “Phoenix is just where my heart is now,” Reid notes. It’s the latest step Gordon has made to distance himself from that comment, an effort that began soon after New Orleans matched the offer. Regardless, it appears he’ll remain with the Pelicans for at least one more season. New Orleans would have about $55.8MM in guaranteed salary against a projected $67.4MM salary cap next season if Gordon were to indeed opt in.

Pacific Notes: Robinson, Goodwin, Kuzmic

March 18 at 4:07pm CDT By Chris Crouse

Nate Robinson‘s energy off the bench played a vital role in earning his second 10-day contract, which he signed on Tuesday, writes Rowan Kavner of The guard hasn’t played his best lately, but he believes he can contribute to the team without touching a basketball. Doc [Rivers] gave me a great opportunity to come in and showcase my talent and be here for these guys and be a veteran leader,” Robinson said. “That’s what I’m working on now, maturing myself and my game and helping our younger guys and leading by example by just playing hard. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic examines the development of 2013 29th overall pick Archie Goodwin, who’s seeing more playing time for the Suns of late, a couple of months after he vented about his lack of minutes. The Suns drew trade suitors for Goodwin but let them know that he remains a significant part of their plan.
  • The Warriors have assigned Ognjen Kuzmic to their D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, according to the team’s Twitter feed. To date, the 7’1″ center has only played in 16 games this season, totaling 72 minutes of NBA action.
  • Chris Paul elevated his game and kept the Clippers afloat in the Western Conference while Blake Griffin was out due to an injuryTom Ziller of SB Nation believes Paul deserves to receive the NBA’s MVP award. Ziller points out that in addition to scoring 18.4 points per game, the point guard creates 23.4 points per game off of his assists. This, along with Paul’s low turnover rate and quality defense, makes the 29-year-old a dark horse contender in the wide open MVP race.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Jordan, Price, Suns

March 17 at 6:00pm CDT By Zach Links

Most people who saw Shaun Livingston‘s brutal left knee injury from eight years ago thought his playing days were over.  Now, as Marcus Thompson II of Bay Area News Group writes, the Warriors guard is in his tenth season, making his highest salary, and playing his most important role.  Here’s more from the Pacific Division..

  • In the latest edition of their A to Z podcast (audio link), Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan told Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports that the incumbent team won’t necessarily have a head start on the rest of the field in free agency.  “I mean I’ve obviously been here seven years, and the past two have been great,” he said. “[Coach Doc Rivers] has been my biggest supporter and the best coach I’ve ever had. The team is great. The guys are great. We have great camaraderie. But the free agency process is definitely going to be a fun one. I want to experience it and see what it’s like because before I was restricted so I just kind of had to wait it out.  I definitely want to experience it, but I’m happy being a Clipper and I’ve been here for seven years, so this is definitely what I’m used to.”
  • Ronnie Price wants to return with the Lakers next season and it sounds like the feeling is mutual, as Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes.  Coach Byron Scott said that he’s “definitely a guy [the Lakers] will consider” and that the guard has proven himself to be the “type of guy you want on a team.”  The nine-year veteran has averaged just 5.1 PPG off of 34.5% shooting with 3.8 APG, but he’s become a favorite of Scott’s thanks to his toughness  and locker room leadership.
  • Suns owner Robert Sarver made it clear to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports (via Twitter links) that he is strongly in favor of playoff reform. “I am in favor of what’s best for the fans and players who do the competing. I am looking forward to seeing the analysis of the pros and cons of a change from the league office,” Sarver wrote to Amick via email.

Serge Ibaka Out Up To Six Weeks

March 17 at 3:26pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Serge Ibaka is out for approximately four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to address soreness in his right knee today, the Thunder announced via press release. The news is troublesome for Oklahoma City, which holds just a half-game lead on the Pelicans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with four weeks and one day to go until the end of the regular season. The team is already missing Kevin Durant, who hasn’t played since February 19th after injuring his right foot. Durant is expected back soon, but another significant injury adds to a season of ill health for the Thunder that threatens to keep them from the playoffs.

Oklahoma City has 15 players signed through at least the end of the season, as our roster counts show, and it’s too late for the team to apply for a disabled player exception. The Thunder don’t have enough missing players to apply for a hardship exception that would give them a 16th roster spot, either, so their avenues for injury relief are limited. The team used hardship to sign Ish Smith as a 16th man earlier this season, but that was a temporary measure, and two more players would have to turn up with long-term injuries to put the team back in line for that provision.

It’s conceivable that Ibaka’s expected absence would encourage the Pelicans to make a move to try to pass the Thunder. New Orleans has one of the league’s most flexible rosters, with 14 players and only 13 of them signed through the season, and the Pelicans have a sliver of their mid-level exception to dangle on one of the more sought-after free agents if they choose. The Suns loom two and a half games back of Oklahoma City, and Phoenix has more than $3MM in cap room along with only 14 players signed through the end of the season. The Thunder have portions of their mid-level and biannual exceptions remaining, but they’d have to waive a player and risk eating his salary to sign anyone else, and they’re already a taxpaying team.

And-Ones: Wright, Kuzmic, McAdoo, Cooley

March 14 at 11:06pm CDT By Arthur Hill

After changing teams twice this season, Brandan Wright hopes his long-term future is in Phoenix, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Wright started the year in Dallas, was traded to Boston on December 18th and then shipped to the Suns on January 9th. He believes he has found a home in Phoenix, even with the team’s recent struggles. “It’s been unfortunate where we’ve had a lot of change around here and haven’t got into the best of rhythms,” Wright admits. “I’m looking forward to the future. Hopefully, I’ll re-sign here and we’ll move forward.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Warriors recalled center Ognjen Kuzmic from the D-League, the team announced in a press release Saturday. In 24 games with the team’s Santa Cruz affiliate, Kuzmic is averaging 12 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.08 blocks per game. He has been in 16 games with Golden State this season, averaging 4.5 minutes of playing time with 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds.
  • James Michael McAdoo, who was sent to the D-League Saturday, is apparently still in the Warriors‘ plans, tweets Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He could absolutely play in the playoffs,” said coach Steve Kerr.
  • The Warriors are  staying with the original timeline for completion of their new arena, tweets Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group. Majority owner Joe Lacob says the arena remains “on target” for a 2018/19 opening.
  • Jack Cooley set a D-League record with 29 rebounds Friday night, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Cooley, playing for Utah’s affiliate in Idaho, is averaging 23 points and 19.6 boards in his last five games. He was with the Jazz on a 10-day contract last month.

Suns Sign Earl Barron For The Season

March 13 at 1:22pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

FRIDAY, 1:22pm: The deal is official, the team announced. The Suns refer to it a contract for the remainder of the season rather than a multiyear arrangement.

THURSDAY, 7:39pm: The Suns intend to sign Earl Barron to a contract for the remainder of the season, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). It’s unclear if the deal stretches into next season and if so, if any guaranteed money is involved. Barron’s second 10-day pact expires today.

This move will give Phoenix 14 players on its roster with fully guaranteed deals for this season. The team also has Seth Curry, whom they recently signed to a 10-day pact. Phoenix will still be able to offer Curry another 10-day deal before having to decide to sign him for the remainder of the season.

The 33-year-old out of Memphis has appeared in eight contest for Phoenix, including one start. Barron is averaging 1.1 points and 0.8 rebounds in 5.6 minutes per night. His career numbers are 4.7 PPG and 3.6 RPG, with a slash line of .374/.071/.717.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Warren, Livingston

March 11 at 6:04pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The reinvention of the Suns‘ backcourt has been put on hold temporarily, courtesy of Brandon Knight being out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, Paul Coro of The Arizona Repulic writes. “Finally was figuring out how we’re going to play,” Knight said. “Like I said, that’s going to take time and that’s not going to be perfect right away. I was finally figuring that out. Hopefully, once I do come back, we continue to work on that.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have brought rookie T.J. Warren along slowly this season, including four trips to the NBA D-League, to create a smooth transition from college for Warren and to avoid a small forward logjam with P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris, Coro adds. “It feels good to get an opportunity and get comfortable out there,” Warren said. “Just trying to build my confidence as we move forward and just go play hard every time I get a chance.”
  • Warriors guard Shaun Livingston credits his former head coach with the Wizards, Flip Saunders, for his opportunity to work his way back into the league after his gruesome knee injury way back in 2007, Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders writes. “Flip Saunders, he revived my career,” Livingston said. “He believed in me and gave me a chance, one. Two, it was after the whole Gilbert Arenas fiasco. We were young, it was a rebuilding situation. He taught me the game, he’s an offensive genius. He kind of changed his offense to tailor [to] my game, so he really put me in a position to excel.
  • David Lee would take issue with his reduced role if the Warriors weren’t so successful this season, Monte Poole of writes. “We’re winning and we’re having fun,” Lee said. “It’s hard at times. I couldn’t do this if we weren’t winning. But we are. I’m not going to put myself ahead of that.”

Suns Sign Seth Curry To 10-Day Contract

March 11 at 1:45pm CDT By Chuck Myron

WEDNESDAY, 1:45pm: The deal is official, the team announced.

TUESDAY, 2:32pm: The Suns and shooting guard Seth Curry have reached agreement on a 10-day contract, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). Phoenix has been carrying 14 players, including Earl Barron on a 10-day contract of his own, so the team has plenty of flexibility to add Curry, the younger brother of Warriors star Stephen Curry. The Curry who’s apparently heading to the Suns has been playing for the Magic’s D-League affiliate.

Seth Curry has gained a toehold in the league on previous occasions, joining his brother on the Warriors for camp in 2013, spending a brief tenure with the Grizzlies over the holidays that year, and signing a 10-day contract with the Cavs nearly a year ago. His first tie to the Suns came when he joined the team for summer league action this past July. Curry inked a training camp deal with the Magic that had him on Orlando’s NBA roster with a $100K partial guarantee this past fall. He didn’t make it to opening night, but the Magic’s D-League affiliate traded for his D-League rights before the season, and Curry has spent the season with the Orlando-controlled Erie BayHawks, averaging 23.5 points in 37.0 minutes per game with impressive 48.2% three-point shooting.

Phoenix’s second 10-day contract with Barron expires after Thursday night, so it’s unclear if the Suns intend to replace him with Curry or re-sign Barron for the season and start carrying 15 players. Barron’s a center, so it would seem the addition of Curry wouldn’t be directly related to his status, though that’s just my speculation.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, Granger, Divac

March 10 at 12:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Doc Rivers and Flip Saunders hold the dual titles of coach and president of basketball operations for the Clippers and Timberwolves, respectively, but they’ve encountered vastly different jobs, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune explores.

“It’s not been hard, Flip’s had to do a lot more,” Rivers said. “They have a lot more work, far more assets than they have to try to get in and out. He has a ton of [financial] flexibility. When I came here, I looked at our roster and flexibility and there was not a lot we could do. We were more in the minimum contract and mid-level [exception] stuff. You’ve got to have assets and we do, but none that we want to trade. He has had a lot more work to do than I have. He’s trying to rebuild an entire team.”

Rivers signed a new deal worth more than $50MM over five years with the Clippers this past summer. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Danny Granger says he considered retirement after undergoing knee surgery when he was with the Pacers in 2013, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. He’s never been the same since missing all but five games of the 2012/13 season, but the Suns trainers have told him “it can be fixed,” as Coro details. The 31-year-old with a player option of more than $2.17MM for next season explored options to buy his way off the Suns and join a contender shortly after the deadline-day trade that sent him from Miami to Phoenix, but he decided against it, Coro writes.
  • Granger added that he wants to get “extremely healthy” before playing again, and while Suns coach Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t rule out his return before season’s end, as Coro relays in the same piece, the chances don’t appear overwhelmingly strong. “As we go on, if we’re still in the race, yeah, why not get a veteran guy like that in there?” Hornacek said. “If somehow we’re out of it, then maybe it makes more sense to play the young guys. Our thoughts right now are we’re still in the playoff hunt and we’re still going to go after it. If he can give us something toward the end there, maybe that happens.”
  • Vlade Divac turned down other opportunities to work in NBA front offices before he joined the Kings as vice president of basketball and franchise operations last week, as he tells USA Today’s Sam Amick.

And-Ones: Kerr, Jones, Embiid, Wade

March 9 at 10:49pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Steve Kerr still has a small ownership stake in the Suns, notes Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Kerr was required by the NBA to sell his investment in Phoenix after he became the coach of the Warriors, but he’s been unable to complete the divestiture to this point. Here are more miscellaneous notes from around the league..

  • The NBA fined Dahntay Jones $10K for bumping into Draymond Green during a postgame interview after the Warriors’ victory over the Clippers on Sunday, as Greg Beacham of  The Associated Press details.
  • Joel Embiid suffered a “minor setback” in his recovery from the broken right foot that’s kept him from debuting in the NBA this season, reports Tom Moore of Calkins Media (on Twitter). While a report in January indicated Embiid could potentially play this season, Brett Brown cast doubt on the possibility of such a scenario late last month.
  • Dwyane Wade expressed disappointment in Hassan Whiteside‘s lack of maturity following a Heat loss in which Whiteside was ejected after committing a flagrant-two on Kelly Olynyk, observes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter link). “Very [disappointed],” said Wade. “We all are. As a Heat fan you are. In this locker room we are. Everybody.”  Whiteside, who’s put up impressive numbers with Miami, is signed through the 2015/16 season on a minimum salary deal.
  • John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders looks back at the path that led Khris Middleton to the Bucks and explores the unexpected value he’s been able to provide to Milwuakee. The 23-year-old swingman is poised to hit restricted free agency this summer.