Brandon Knight

Pacific Notes: Knight, Clippers, Lakers

As expected, Suns guard Brandon Knight will miss the entirety of the 2017/18 NBA season. The 25-year-old underwent successful ACL surgery on Friday, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops writes, after initially tearing the ligament last month.

While Knight’s name has been a mainstay in trade rumors over the course of the past few seasons, he remains a relatively valuable reserve asset. Last year Knight posted 11.0 points per game, shy of the 15.2 point career mark he’s posted across stints with the Pistons, Bucks and Suns.

Per Amico, the Suns could look to apply for an injury exception in order to free up room for a new backcourt option behind Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers have shuffled around their executive team this summer. Most recently, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets, the Clips have named Michael Winger their new general manager and Dave Wohl (their previous GM) a special advisor to the team.
  • The Suns have doubled down on their young core but aren’t exactly sure what they’re going to get out of it, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. The scribe also wonders if the club may have put too much stock in fourth-overall pick Josh Jackson, refusing to include him in a possible Kyrie Irving trade package.
  • The Lakers had a productive summer, NBA.com’s Shaun Powell writes. The club did well to position itself for the future by scrubbing Timofey Mozgov‘s contract off their books and, of course, drafting Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving doesn’t want to be in Cleveland as long as LeBron James is around, though that doesn’t mean he’s willing to commit long-term to another franchise should the Cavs trade him. According to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, Irving, who has two years before he can become a free agent, wants to keep his options open for the summer of 2019. Pluto adds that the former No. 1 overall pick isn’t ready to commit to any team at this point.

While an extension with a new team was never a likely outcome for Irving, the latest news could potentially suppress his trade value. Any team giving up a haul to acquire the point guard would want him around long-term and without that assurance, teams may think twice about mortgaging their futures to bring in the Duke product.

Here’s more from Pluto’s piece on Irving:

  • The Suns would be willing to deal Eric Bledsoe to the Cavaliers for Irving even if Irving makes no commitment to stay in Phoenix past his current deal. However, they would not want to include Josh Jackson in that scenario.
  • The Cavs would love to take back Devin Booker in an Irving-to-the-Suns deal, but Phoenix is unlikely to trade Booker since it already told the shooting guard that he wasn’t going anywhere. Phoenix would like to send a package of Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, and Brandon Knight to the Cavs for Irving and additional salary (Iman Shumpert or Channing Frye). That proposal is underwhelming to Cleveland’s front office.
  • The Nuggets remain a threat to trade for Irving, but Pluto hears that Denver will not give up both Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in a deal. Pluto adds that there are players on Denver’s roster who are attractive to Cleveland and because of that, the Nuggets could be involved in an Irving trade as a third team even if they don’t land the point guard themselves.
  • If Andrew Wiggins signs an extension with the Wolves, it’s unlikely that he gets dealt to Cleveland, a source tells Pluto.

Brandon Knight Expected To Miss Season

Suns guard Brandon Knight has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. An official announcement from the Suns states that Knight will undergo surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2017/18 season.

In six career seasons with three different teams, Knight has averaged 15.2 PPG and 4.3 APG on 41.5% shooting. Knight played by far the least minutes of his career this past season, averaging just 21.1 minutes per game and starting only five of the 54 games in which he played. His scoring average was also a career low at 11.0 PPG.

Knight was acquired by the Suns in February of 2015 in a three-team trade. Two years earlier, the guard had been traded from the Pistons to the Bucks. Knight’s best scoring season came with the Suns in 2015/16 when he averaged 19.6 PPG. However, he shot just 41.5% from the floor during the campaign.

With near-All-Star Eric Bledsoe and up-and-coming Tyler Ulis at point guard for the Suns and Knight likely to miss the entire 2017/18 season, it will be interesting to monitor the Kentucky product’s future in Phoenix. After an incredibly disappointing performance last season, Knight had already been on the outs with the Suns. This injury may have solidified the young guard’s future elsewhere.

Knight is owed $13.6MM this season, $14.6MM next, and $15.6MM more the following season.

Latest On Suns, Knicks Trade Talks

The Suns and Knicks have had trade talks involving Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe, but don’t appear to be close to a deal. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Twitter link), the two teams discussed a trade involving Knight, but the Knicks countered with a deal that included Bledsoe, which Phoenix declined.

We heard previously that the Knicks had contacted the Suns about Bledsoe. As Marc Berman of The New York Post observed at the time though, New York doesn’t have a ton of assets to offer up in a potential deal. Bledsoe isn’t a hugely valuable trade chip, but he’s a starting-caliber point guard coming off a career year and is under contract at a reasonable rate ($29.5MM for two years), so Phoenix would likely be seeking young players or picks, which the rebuilding Knicks would be reluctant to give up.

That’s not the case for Knight, who is coming off perhaps the worst year of his career, having recorded a career-low .398 FG% and 11.0 PPG. The Knicks wouldn’t have to give up as much for the former eighth overall, but Gambadoro suggests that the two teams were discussing a deal that would trade Knight “into cap space.” The Knicks no longer have space available, so it’s not clear what a Knight deal would look like at this point.

The Knicks explored signing a handful of veteran point guards in free agency, but ultimately used their cap space and room exception to sign Tim Hardaway and Ron Baker, respectively. That effectively took the team out of the market for any notable veteran free agents, but New York continues to seek out a veteran mentor for Frank Ntilikina, making the trade route a real possibility.

Suns GM Talks Offseason, Chandler, Bledsoe, Knight

Although the Suns’ 2016/17 season produced some memorable moments – most notably Devin Booker‘s 70-point game last month – it was a disappointing year on the whole for the club. With a 24-58 mark, Phoenix will finish with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Still, general manager Ryan McDonough remains optimistic about the team’s future. While he acknowledged that the Suns’ record this season was disappointing, he suggested this week that the club has been encouraged by the play of some of its young players since the All-Star break, which he believes bodes well for the future.

As Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic details, McDonough also spoke about the draft, some of his veteran players, and the team’s goals for 2017/18. The full piece is worth a look, especially for Suns fans, but here are a few highlights from the Phoenix GM…

On adding players in the draft and free agency this summer:

“We’ll have a high pick in the lottery. We’ll have two second-round draft picks as well. We have plenty of cap space, so we’ll have some options for this summer. We have a plan in our head right now in terms of continuing to add through the draft and build with youth, but we’ll also look at potential free-agent options. And then, the least predictable part of this, obviously, is the trades and what may swing our way. Those talks usually heat up closer to the draft.”

On how Tyson Chandler and Eric Bledsoe have handled being shut down for the season:

“Those guys have been great. Not just good, great. It was a difficult situation, but they reacted how we thought they would react. Especially Eric. He really wanted to play, and we get that. He’s a competitor. And those decisions aren’t easy to make. It’s not easy to be patient in the short term for something that will help long term.”

On Brandon Knight‘s future:

“He didn’t have the year that I think he would’ve hoped. He’s still 25 years old, I think a lot of people forget that. He’s a talented guy. Our main focus will be trying to figure out a way to put him in position to be more effective next season.”

On the Suns’ 2017/18 goals:

“We’re not as far away as it may appear given our record. We obviously made a difficult trade sending P.J. Tucker to Toronto and made some lineup adjustments that affected our win total in the short term. Hopefully, it will help our win total in the long term.

“The West is brutal, it’s hard to crack that (playoff) group. That’s kind of the way it has been in the Western Conference, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’re going to try and win as many games as we can and be as competitive as we can. We’ll see how the dust settles, but we’ll probably set making the playoffs as our goal again next year.”

Suns Notes: Chandler, Knight, McDonough

The Suns gave Tyson Chandler the option of being dealt prior to the trade deadline, but the center chose to stay in Phoenix and take on a role as a mentor. Chandler is a huge fan of the team’s young prospects and he expects to return to to the franchise next season, though nothing is set in stone, Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic relays.

“I think it all depends, honestly, on what direction the team is going in,” Chandler said. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible for any team just to go young because then you have a roster full of guys just competing with each other. I’ve had a good relationship with the owners here and management and even the coaching staff. There’s no doubt in my mind that whatever happens it will be a common agreement, whatever’s the best for myself and the organization.”

“So for me, I want what’s best for [the young guys on the team]. I’ve accomplished a lot throughout my career. At the end of the day, I want to see those young players grow.”

Here’s more from Phoenix:

  • Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played since the All-Star break, may be tough to trade because of his contract, Haller notes in the same piece. Knight has three years and slightly under $43.9MM left on his contract after this season.
  • The Suns must figure out what to do with their veterans, Keith P. Smith of RealGM contends. Smith believes GM Ryan McDonough is in a tough spot because a youth movement is a practical route for the team to go, but McDonough may not have the ownership support necessary to progress through that kind of rebuild.
  • Year three is when many NBA players go from being good, up-and-coming prospects to great, All-Star caliber players and Devin Booker is on the path to make that transition, Haller opines in a separate piece. Haller believes Booker will become Phoenix’s next big star for years to come.

Suns To Explore Eric Bledsoe Trade?

At 27, Eric Bledsoe doesn’t quite fit in with the Suns’ youth movement and the team may explore trading him for someone who does, suggests Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

Bledsoe, who has been shut down for the season because of “soreness” in his left knee, remains one of the best assets on the Phoenix roster. He averaged 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 66 games, and has an attractive contract totaling $29.5MM over the next two seasons.

Bontemps notes that the Suns’ future will be built around shooting guard Devin Booker, who is 20, power forwards Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, who will both turn 20 this year, and whomever they get with their first-rounder in June.

At 22-52, the Suns are third in our latest Reverse Standings, which puts them in the running for an elite point guard such as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. If that happens, parting with Bledsoe will be much easier.

Phoenix would also like to find a taker for Brandon Knight, who still has three seasons and nearly $43.9MM left on his contract. Knight has turned into a part-time player with the Suns, averaging 11.0 points and 2.4 assists this season, but Bontemps notes that he was a near All-Star with the Bucks two years ago. He writes that there won’t be many teams interested in Knight, but someone may take the gamble if Phoenix is willing to give him away.

Suns Notes: Bledsoe, Knight, Chriss

Despite the fact that he’s dealing with some knee soreness, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe didn’t seem thrilled with the team’s decision to shut him down for the season, a call that was made by management earlier this week. Speaking to Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports, general manager Ryan McDonough explained that there was little upside to continuing to lean on Bledsoe down the stretch with the Suns essentially eliminated from playoff contention.

“We’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but we’re getting close to that point and we have enough young players that we wanted to get them enough opportunity to play and also save some wear and tear on Eric as best we can,” the Suns’ GM said. “We do a lot of the sports science measurements and looking at those readings, Eric has some of the higher load numbers in the league. … We just didn’t want him to get worn down during a season where we’re not going to end up in the playoffs.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Within Haller’s piece linked above, McDonough also addressed Brandon Knight‘s decision not to play in the Suns’ game on Wednesday night, after telling the team he was battling back spasms. “He said before the game that his back was tightening up and he was feeling some pain,” McDonough said. “He wasn’t able to move as well as he would’ve hoped, so if he says he feels that way, we have to take his word for it.” At least one local analyst this week expressed skepticism that Knight’s injury was legit.
  • Marquese Chriss probably isn’t a viable candidate for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award, but 2016’s eighth overall pick has shown signs of improvement over the course of his first professional season, in the view of Suns head coach Earl Watson. Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic has the quotes from Watson.
  • With the Suns headed for another high lottery pick this year, Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at what steps Phoenix can take to move forward in the coming months.

Suns Shut Down Eric Bledsoe For Season

It appears that Eric Bledsoe has played his last game of the 2016/17 season. The Suns held Bledsoe out of their lineup on Wednesday night, and according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, the team intends to shut down him down for the season. Doug Haller of AZCentral (Twitter link) confirms as much, noting that the point guard has been battling knee soreness.

While Bledsoe’s knee issue may have played some part in the Suns’ decision, the club’s record almost certainly played a larger part. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Phoenix currently has the NBA’s third-worst record at 22-46. A few extra wins down the stretch would put the Suns at risk of passing the Magic and Sixers in the standings, reducing their odds of landing a top draft pick.

The Suns are the second Pacific team in the league’s bottom three to shut down veterans for the season. Earlier this week, reports indicated that Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng likely won’t play again for the Lakers in 2016/17, despite the fact that they’re healthy.

Of course, Mozgov and Deng haven’t produced at nearly the same level for the Lakers that Bledsoe has for the Suns this season. The seventh-year point guard has established new career highs in several categories this season, including PPG (21.1) and APG (6.3). Without him in their lineup, the Suns figure to lean more heavily on rookie guard Tyler Ulis, among others.

Brandon Knight, another veteran who had apparently been shut down by the Suns in recent weeks, could also see some minutes in Bledsoe’s absence, though there are hints that he hasn’t been thrilled by the way the team has handled his role. According to Gambadoro, the Suns asked Knight to play on Wednesday night and he told the team he was suffering from back spasms — Gambadoro expressed some skepticism regarding that self-diagnosis.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Deng, Mozgov, CP3, Kings

Veterans Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight were viewed as trade candidates for the Suns, but after both players stayed put at the deadline, it appears the team no longer feels the need to showcase them. As Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic outlines, Chandler and Knight have fallen out of the rotation since the All-Star break, giving way to younger players, and Earl Watson doesn’t intend to move away from that plan anytime soon.

“I’m not changing it unless management changes it,” the Suns head coach said. “I have a boss and my boss has a boss, so whatever comes from up top is what’s going to happen. And right now, that’s not even part of our equation.”

While Watson’s comments made it sounds as if the directive to focus on developing the young players down the stretch came from the Suns’ front office, he declined to confirm that: “I didn’t say that. I said if things change, it will be from management.” Either way, for now, it seems that players like Alan Williams, Tyler Ulis, and even Derrick Jones will receive more playing time at the expense of vets like Chandler and Knight.

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

  • From the moment they were agreed upon, the Lakers‘ lucrative four-year deals for Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov were viewed as questionable investments. However, Deng and Mozgov have tuned out that criticism, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. “I know people are on me,” Deng said. “I know everybody is talking about it. I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is coming to the gym everyday and working.”
  • It has been an eventful season for Chris Paul, who played an instrumental role in helping the Players’ Association negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NBA. Michael Lee of The Vertical takes a closer look at how Paul has been able to balance his role in the NBPA with his day job as the Clippers‘ star point guard.
  • Following last month’s DeMarcus Cousins trade, the Kings were considered likely to slide down the standings, but no one in the locker room wants to hear the “T-word” (tanking), says Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. In fact, Sacramento is still committed to competing for that No. 8 seed in the West, Jones writes in a separate piece for The Bee. Despite those ambitions, the club is 1-5 since moving Cousins, and now ranks seventh in our 2016/17 Reverse Standings.
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