Suns Notes: Crowder, Okogie, Warren, Payne, Bridges

A rift with head coach Monty Williams over the loss of his starting spot led to the end of Jae Crowder‘s time with the Suns, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Williams informed Crowder during the offseason that Cameron Johnson would be replacing him in the starting lineup, sources told Fischer. While Crowder didn’t go into detail, he confirmed that a strained relationship with Williams prompted him to ask for a trade.

“Yeah, we had differences,” Crowder said. “They asked me to keep it in-house, I’ll keep it in-house. I’m now gone, same thing I’ve told everybody else: I’ve moved on from the situation. I wish them the best, I’m leaving that behind.”

Crowder was initially on track to be shipped to the Nets as part of the Kevin Durant trade, but he ultimately wound up with the Bucks, who had been attempting to acquire him from the Suns. Phoenix gave permission to Milwaukee to meet with Crowder, and several trade scenarios had been discussed that included players such as Grayson Allen, Serge Ibaka, George Hill and Jordan Nwora.

“I landed where I wanted to land at the end of the day,” Crowder said. “I think I gained just knowing myself as a player and my mental. I never wavered. Never wavered on the process. From a month, to two months … I stayed with the plan of what it was and what I wanted to accomplish. So I give kudos to my mental and me staying sane throughout the entire process, because I did want the process to end fairly sooner than when it did.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Phoenix will undergo a major lineup change tonight when Durant makes his debut with the team, and it appears Josh Okogie will be the fifth starter alongside Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Okogie has made five consecutive starts and is averaging 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds over his last six games while shooting 53.4% from the field. “We’ve been looking forward to (Durant’s first game) since the trade, but we had to wait a little bit,” Okogie said. “We’re excited to finally get him in the mix of things, show him how we play. Show him the love that we play with, the passion and the unselfishness that we play with.”
  • T.J. Warren hasn’t played in the two games since the All-Star break, Rankin notes in another Arizona Republic article. Warren was productive in Brooklyn, but Williams points out that he’s already using a 10-man rotation and someone else will be bumped now that Durant is active.
  • Tania Ganguli of The New York Times looks at the long friendship between Cameron Payne and Mikal Bridges, who are no longer teammates since Bridges was sent to Brooklyn in the Durant deal.
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