Western Notes: Chriss, Jazz, Curry

The Suns primary target with the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft was Dragan Bender, due to his combination of size and skill, Ian Thomsen of NBA.com writes. But the franchise was also enamored with Marquese Chriss‘ potential, which prompted the team to work out a trade with the Kings to allow them to select the forward out of Washington, the scribe adds. “It’s an idea we came up with on the morning of the draft, once we had more information about who was likely to go where,” Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough said. “We felt like if the Celtics took Jaylen Brown at No. 3, which they did, and we took either Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss, the next three picks would be guards. That’s exactly the way it happened: Kris Dunn to Minnesota, Buddy Hield to New Orleans and Jamal Murray to Denver.

Discussions between Phoenix and Sacramento regarding the No. 8 pick began a week prior to the draft, Thomsen notes.. “It’s really hard to acquire picks in the mid-lottery,” said McDonough. “We knew Sacramento would consider dropping down from 8 to 13 if we made it worth their while. But both teams wanted to get on the clock in the draft to see who was still available on the board.  We took Dragan and said, let’s see what we can do to get No. 8 and get both of them. We think those two guys are perfect for the modern NBA, where athleticism and shooting and defensive versatility is at a premium, and they were the two best guys in the draft at those things.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Jazz have set themselves up for a big season, adding a number of veterans to their solid young core. But the talent the team has accumulated will become markedly more expensive over the next few season if the team wishes to keep the roster together, Tony Jone of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. “Post Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz have had some decent years, most notably with Deron Williams and Paul Millsap,” said Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. “They’ve done a great job in building this current team, but now this is a key moment. Gordon Hayward can leave, Rudy Gobert is up for an extension. The front office has to make decisions now for the long term. They need to show who they are, and the players need to show they are a core worth building around.”
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry finally made himself watch Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, telling Darren Rovell of ESPN.com that he is using the loss as motivation for the coming season. “I was a little mad at myself and getting back into the grind of working out for next season,” Curry said. “I think it was a good motivator to get back into the gym and keep working. I wasn’t 100%, but who cares? I was playing. I was out there trying to help my team win and that’s all that really matters. I’ve taken advantage of the summer to get right and I still have a little bit of work to go.
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