Abdel Nader

Suns Notes: Jack, Payne, Nader, Shamet

The Suns announced some coaching changes this week, stating in a press release that Kevin Young has been promoted to associate head coach and Bryan Gates and Steve Scalzi have officially joined Monty Williams‘ staff.

Perhaps the most notable name included in the announcement was that of Jarrett Jack, a longtime NBA guard who has been hired as an assistant in Phoenix. The 37-year-old, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA, hasn’t been in the league since he appeared in 62 games for the Knicks in 2017/18.

However, Jack spent last season on the G League Ignite, acting as a mentor to the young prospects on the developmental squad, including eventual lottery picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga. After serving as something of an informal coach on the Ignite, Jack will officially take on that role in Phoenix under Williams, whom he played for in Portland (2005-08) and New Orleans (2010-12) early in his career.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Cameron Payne‘s three-year, $19MM contract with the Suns is partially guaranteed in its final year, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac, who tweets that the point guard is only assured of $2MM of his $6.5MM salary in 2023/24.
  • Abdel Nader‘s two-year deal with the Suns includes a team option on year two, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
  • The Suns ended up not making any picks on draft night after attaching the No. 29 pick to Jevon Carter in a trade with Brooklyn. However, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details, the player Phoenix acquired in that trade – Landry Shamet – has a more versatile offensive game than Carter and should immediately step into a regular rotation role.

Suns Re-Sign Abdel Nader

AUGUST 6: Nader’s deal is now official, the Suns announced in a press release.

AUGUST 3: The Suns and Abdel Nader are in agreement on a two-year, $4.2MM deal that will ensure the forward remains in Phoenix, agent Cervando Tejeda tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Nader, the 58th overall pick in the 2016 draft, was sent last offseason from Oklahoma City to Phoenix in the blockbuster Chris Paul deal. While he didn’t exactly make the impact that the Suns’ other acquisition in that trade did, Nader played well in limited rotation minutes, averaging 6.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG on .491/.419/.757 shooting in 24 games (14.8 MPG).

Nader dealt with some health issues this season and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late April. He was cleared to return to action late in Phoenix’s postseason run.

A two-year, minimum-salary contract for Nader would be worth about $3.8MM, so it’s possible the Suns were willing to go a little higher than that using the 27-year-old’s Bird rights to make sure he remains on the roster. It’s also possible this is some generous rounding at work and Nader’s deal is actually worth the minimum. We’ll keep an eye out for further confirmation.

Suns Notes: Kaminsky, Craig, Nader, Bridges, Crowder, Ayton

Torrey Craig, Frank Kaminsky and Abdel Nader could all pick up minutes during the remainder of the Finals in the aftermath of Dario Saric‘s knee injury, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Saric suffered a torn ACL during the opening quarter of Game 1. Kaminsky played four minutes in Game 1 while Craig received 16 minutes of floor time. “Frank gives us quality size and playmaking ability,” coach Monty Williams said. “He’s smart.”

We have more on the Western Conference champions:

  • Mikal Bridges has developed into one of the league’s top 3-and-D wings, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. Bridges makes the team’s pick-and-roll offense lethal due to his cutting, screening and spot-up shooting. His ability to guard multiple positions is another underrated aspect of the team’s success, Buha adds. Bridges is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • Jae Crowder is another one of those top-level role players and ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the forward, who is appearing in his second straight Finals. Crowder has played an average of 31.7 MPG in the postseason despite modest offensive numbers. He scored just one point in Game 1 but was on the floor for 33 minutes. “You don’t even know what position Jae is,” Williams said. “But you know this: It becomes really hard to take him off the floor.”
  • Williams isn’t sure what Deandre Ayton‘s ceiling is but the coach wants his young center to focus on the present, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. “It’s important to embrace where he is and embrace the work that he has to do today,” Williams said.

Suns Notes: Paul, Ayton, Booker, Nader

Although Chris Paul has put together a Hall of Fame career, there’s one significant thing missing — he’s never been to the NBA Finals. The Suns are one victory away after defeating the Clippers Saturday night, and Paul’s teammates are determined to get him there, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, and I’ve learned so much from him this year, and I always talk about off the court how he carries himself, and he’s just a true professional at every level at all times,” Devin Booker said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a man, not even as a basketball player, just understanding how bad he wants this and how much time he’s put into it … 16 years, that’s a long time.”

Paul has experienced a lot of playoff misfortune during his career, from numerous injuries to blown leads. The closest he came to playing for a title was in 2018 when the Rockets took a 3-2 advantage over the Warriors in the conference finals. Paul hurt his hamstring late in Game 5 and missed the rest of the series as Golden State rallied to win.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “Don’t dwell on things, you always remember, but I’m here now, excited about this opportunity, and all I can worry about right now is Game 5.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Center Deandre Ayton has been outstanding throughout the playoffs and seems well positioned to get a max extension this offseason, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Ayton is averaging 20.3 points and 13.5 rebounds in the four games against the Clippers and contributed 19 points, 22 rebounds, four blocks and three assists Saturday night. He credits the addition of Paul with unlocking his full potential, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “He was the best thing that happened to my career,” Ayton said.
  • Booker started wearing a mask after breaking his nose in Game 2, but he got rid of it in the third quarter Saturday night. He had a sub-par shooting game on Thursday, but told sportswriter Gina Mizell that the mask wasn’t the only reason (Twitter link). “I’m not blaming anything on the mask, but I haven’t played basketball with the mask ever in my life,” Booker said. “It takes some getting used to and, at that point in that time, I didn’t want it.”
  • Abdel Nader saw his first game action since March 21, playing 5:22 in Game 4. Nader, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in April and just received clearance to play, tweeted afterward about how good it felt to be back.

Suns Forward Abdel Nader Cleared To Play

Suns forward Abdel Nader is expected to be available for Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Clippers on Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Nader underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late April. Nader was also sidelined for several games early in the regular season due to a concussion.

Nader appeared in 24 games this season, averaging 6.7 PPG while making a career-best 41.9% of his 3-point attempts. He hasn’t seen any action since March 21.

It’s unlikely that coach Monty Williams will play Nader at this stage of the postseason, but it does give him another wing option at his disposal. Nader will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Schröder, Holmes, Nader

Lakers star LeBron James could be back on the court next week, a source tells Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The source has received reports from James’ workouts and said he has shown progress in his rehab from a high-ankle sprain. Goon lists possible return dates as Monday against the Nuggets, next Thursday against the Clippers or next Friday against the Trail Blazers.

Goon’s story echoes a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski over the weekend that James was close to returning. He has been sidelined since suffering the injury in a March 20 game.

Coach Frank Vogel told reporters there’s still no firm date for James to start playing again. He also refused to speculate on whether James will be used in back-to-back games for the rest of the regular season.

“He’ll tell me when he’s ready,” Vogel said. “He and the medical team will tell me when he’s ready. They’re having conversations about it each day. They’re monitoring his progression each day, seeing where he’s at and when he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Dennis Schröder is playing in his 58th game tonight, which moves him closer to a couple of contract bonuses, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. He will be eligible to receive a $250K bonus if the Lakers make the NBA Finals and another $250K if they repeat as champions. Schröder must play in at least half of the team’s postseason games to receive the money.
  • Kings center Richaun Holmes is campaigning for a spot on the All-Defensive Team, writes Jordan Ramirez of NBA.com. Holmes is valuable on both ends of the court, averaging 1.6 blocks per night and ranking second in the league in field goal percentage at 64.4%. “I just want to show the type of player that I am, just show that I’m one of the best two-way players, just show that I’m deserving of the All-Defensive Team and just continue to show (what I can do),” Holmes said. “I want to continue to get better on the floor and just let my numbers and things of that sort prove my case.”
  • Suns forward Abdel Nader is out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this week, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Fox, Nader, Warriors Staff, Curry

Marvin Bagley III‘s father created a stir when he tweeted that he wanted to see his son traded, something the younger Bagley refused to talk about. The Kings’ star, De’Aaron Fox, insists the controversy hasn’t bothered the team, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes.

“I don’t think anybody’s out there playing basketball worried about two tweets,” Fox said of the Kings. “And if you are, this ain’t what you should be doing because (people are going) tweet you every day of your life while you’re playing in this league. If that’s what you’re worried about, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams said Abdel Nader is “a full go” after recovering from a concussion, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. Nader hasn’t played since the preseason after taking hard fall at Utah. Nader was tossed into the Chris Paul trade with the Thunder and had his $1.75MM salary for this season guaranteed in November.
  • Josh Proctor has been named chief financial officer for the Warriors, the team announced in a press release. Proctor, who has over 20 years of financial management experience, will oversee all financial operations related to the Warriors and Chase Center. Liz Cardenas has been promoted to VP of financial planning & analysis, according to another press release.
  • Stephen Curry and the Warriors might find it beneficial to explore a trade down the road, Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated opines. Curry turns 33 in March and Golden State might need to consider a rebuild by 2022, when his contract expires. Pina speculates that many teams would be interested in Curry and would surrender major assets for the two-time MVP.

Pacific Notes: Green, Wiseman, Whiteside, Clippers, More

The Warriors haven’t publicly announced which two players on their roster tested positive for the coronavirus, but head coach Steve Kerr “spelled it out pretty plainly” on Monday, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Seventeen of the team’s 20 players participated in the first practice of the season. Besides Klay Thompson, the only players missing were Draymond Green and James Wiseman.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said, per Slater. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions … I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and has figured out what is happening here.”

Assuming Green and Wiseman are indeed the two players who tested positive for COVID-19, the Warriors are expected to be without them until at least next week, Slater notes. That will give some of Golden State’s other frontcourt players a chance to play more significant roles during the preseason as they potentially audition for regular season minutes.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • New Kings center Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a mild calf strain and likely won’t be available for the team’s preseason opener, head coach Luke Walton said on Monday (Twitter link via Jason Jones of The Athletic).
  • Analytical data provided by new Kings general manager Monte McNair is expected to influence Walton’s new uptempo offensive system, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. “It’s been great working with Monte,” Walton said. “We’ve talked and he’s going to bring ideas analytically to what he sees, and then at the end of the day I can take what ideas I want and leave the ones I don’t.”
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said that assistant coach Larry Drew is focusing on the team’s offense, while Dan Craig is leading the defense with the help of Roy Rogers. Chauncey Billups is focusing on both sides of the ball, while Kenny Atkinson is leading player development, Lue added, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • Abdel Nader isn’t concerned about being considered “the other guy” sent to Phoenix in the Chris Paul trade and is looking forward to playing for the Suns, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I haven’t really spent time in Phoenix but I knew (the Suns) had a nice, young unit with a lot of talent,” Nader said. “Ability to grow. Also the city sounds like a nice place to me. I wasn’t complaining too much.”

Suns To Guarantee Abdel Nader’s Salary

Abdel Nader‘s salary for the 2020/21 season is set to become fully guaranteed on Saturday, and the Suns won’t waive him before then, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). As a result, the small forward’s $1,752,950 salary will be locked in for ’20/21.

The 58th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nader played for the Celtics as a rookie and has spent the last two years in Oklahoma City. He averaged a career-high 15.8 minutes per game in 55 contests for the Thunder last season, recording 6.3 PPG and 1.8 RPG with a respectable .468/.375/.773 shooting line.

Traded from Oklahoma City to Phoenix last week, Nader was obviously overshadowed by that deal’s headliner, Chris Paul. However, based on Gambadoro’s report, it sounds like the 27-year-old in the Suns’ plans for the coming season.

Nader will provide depth on the wing for the new-look Suns, who have reportedly reached deals to sign Jae Crowder, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, and Damian Jones in free agency.

All-Star Guard Chris Paul Traded To Suns

8:07pm: The trade is official, per a Suns press release.

12:11pm:  The Suns and Thunder are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send All-Star point guard Chris Paul from Oklahoma City to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Thunder will receive Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and draft compensation in the deal. Wojnarowski adds that the Suns will also get Abdel Nader in the blockbuster swap (Twitter link).

The draft pick being sent from Phoenix to Oklahoma City in the trade is the Suns’ 2022 first-rounder, per Wojnarowski. Charania reports (via Twitter) that the pick will be top-12 protected. If it doesn’t change hands in 2022, it’ll be top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024, and unprotected in 2025.

The Suns, whose interest in Paul was first reported last week, are hoping that the veteran guard can help the team build upon its 8-0 showing during the Orlando restart and make the postseason in 2020/21. Paul, who will reunite with his former Pelicans coach Monty Williams, will join an intriguing core that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, and promising young wings Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges.

While bigger-market teams (like the Knicks) and stronger contenders (including the Bucks) were cited in recent weeks as potential suitors for CP3, the 35-year-old won’t object to joining the Suns. The Thunder worked with Paul and his reps at CAA to get him to a preferred destination, per Woj (Twitter link). A report last week suggested that Phoenix’s proximity to Los Angeles appealed to Paul, who has a home in the L.A. area.

Phoenix will complete the trade without using the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft, so the club will have the opportunity on Wednesday to add another young prospect to that group. The Suns also have a couple different directions they could go in free agency.

Remaining over the cap and attempting to bring back Dario Saric and Aron Baynes is one option for the organization — the other would be to let those free agents go to open up cap room, then using up that space before officially finalizing the deal for CP3. In that scenario, Phoenix would only have the $4.8MM room exception left over, whereas if the team remains over the cap, the mid-level ($9.3MM) and bi-annual ($3.6MM) could be in play.

Meanwhile, the Thunder appear to be shifting into full-fledged rebuilding mode after outperforming expectations in 2019/20. They’ve now reached deals to move both Paul and Dennis Schröder. Steven Adams remains a trade candidate, as are the veterans Oklahoma City will receive in the two agreed-upon trades (Rubio, Oubre, and Danny Green).

Having acquired a pair of first-round picks and two future pick swaps in last year’s Paul/Russell Westbrook trade, the Thunder were able to parlay CP3’s strong season (17.6 PPG, 6.7 APG, 5.0 RPG) into yet another first-round selection. The franchise now owns three 2022 first-rounders and holds multiple first-round picks every year through 2026, as Tommy Beer of Forbes details (via Twitter).

By taking on Paul’s contract, the Suns will be on the hook for his $41.4MM salary in 2020/21 and his $44.2MM player option for ’21/22. Nader has a minimum salary for ’20/21 which will remain non-guaranteed even after his team option is exercised to complete this trade.

As for the Thunder, they’ll take on Oubre’s expiring $14.4MM salary and will be on the hook for $34.8MM over two years for Rubio. Jerome, who has a $2.3MM cap charge in 2020/21, is in the second year of a rookie scale contract, while Lecque has a guaranteed $1.5MM salary for ’20/21 and a non-guaranteed $1.8MM for ’21/22.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.