Isaiah Canaan

Suns Notes: Booker, Draft, Canaan, Coaching Candidates

The question of whether to give Devin Booker a maximum extension is easy, but convincing him to wait another year may not be, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Booker will be eligible for an $157MM extension this summer that would start his annual salary at about $27MM. However, there are benefits for the Suns in waiting for 2019, and they have to convince Booker it’s best for him as well.

Because Booker wasn’t drafted in the top 10 in 2015, he would have a $9.9MM cap hold next summer, roughly $17MM less than his salary under an extension. Phoenix has the potential to be a player in the 2019 free agent market, with roughly $35MM to $40MM available once contracts expire for Tyson Chandler and Chris Dudley. However, if Booker insists on an extension this year, that number would be cut roughly in half.

Marks recommends negotiating with Booker as though he were a free agent the Suns are trying to recruit. He says GM Ryan McDonough and his team should present a salary-cap breakdown and a list of potential 2019 free agent signees to Booker’s representatives, explaining why it’s in his long-term interests to have the best possible teammates around him.

There’s more this morning out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns should explore moving up in the draft to make sure they can fill their two greatest needs, Marks adds in the same piece. With Phoenix holding the top spot in our latest Reverse Standings, the franchise is in good position to land a center early in the draft. With first-rounders also coming from Miami and Milwaukee, Marks believes the team should package its assets and try to get another pick in the top 10 to grab a point guard, possibly Alabama’s Collin Sexton.
  • Isaiah Canaan is making rapid progress in his recovery from a dislocated left ankle, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Canaan, who signed with Phoenix in mid-December, played just 19 games before suffering the season-ending injury January 31. He has progressed past crutches and an ankle boot and hopes to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September. “I’m at home sitting around and thinking, ‘Wow, just two months ago I had two right feet and now I’m walking around doing strength training,’” Canaan said. “Obviously all the strength is not there yet but I’m feeling fine.”
  • In a separate story, Bordow lists David Fizdale, Jason Kidd and Villanova’s Jay Wright as potential candidates to be the Suns’ next coach.

Suns Waive Isaiah Canaan

8:50pm: The Suns have officially waived Canaan, the team announced today in a press release.

“We still consider Isaiah to be a member of the Phoenix Suns family,” GM Ryan McDonough said in a press release. “In speaking with Isaiah and his agent, we are fully committed to doing everything we can to help him with his rehab and recovery from his injury. This move is being made strictly to create a roster spot with Isaiah being out for the remainder of the season.”

4:27pm: The Suns will waive point guard Isaiah Canaan in order to clear a roster spot for newly-acquired point guard Elfrid Payton, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

[RELATED: Suns to acquire Elfrid Payton from Magic]

Canaan, 26, appeared in 19 games for the Suns, averaging 9.1 PPG and 4.0 APG with a .382/.333/.902 shooting line. However, his season was cut short when he suffered a brutal ankle fracture last week. Canaan immediately underwent surgery to repair the damage, ending his season.

Although the Suns love Canaan as a player and person and wanted to keep him around, they couldn’t justify using one of their 15 roster spots on him for the rest of the season, per Bordow. The veteran guard, who will still receive his full salary for 2017/18 despite being waived, will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so there was little incentive for Phoenix to keep him on the roster.

Canaan’s roster spot has undergone plenty of turnover this season — the Suns waived Mike James in order to create room for Canaan after initially waiving Derrick Jones to open up a spot for James.

Isaiah Canaan Fractures Ankle, Out For Season

FEBRUARY 1, 3:24pm: Canaan underwent his surgery this afternoon and will miss the rest of the season, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic confirms (via Twitter). The Suns expect him to be ready for the start of training camp next season, per Bordow. As noted below though, Canaan’s contract with Phoenix will expire before then.

JANUARY 31, 11:48pm: Canaan has a fractured fibula and will require surgery, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. The injury seems to be very similar to the one suffered by Gordon Hayward earlier this season, right down to the gruesome nature of the video.

11:23pm: Suns point guard Isaiah Canaan has been diagnosed with a left ankle fracture after taking a brutal fall during the first quarter of Wednesday night’s game against Dallas, the team announced tonight (via Twitter). No recovery timetable was announced for Canaan, but his season appears to be over.

Canaan, 26, initially joined the Suns when the injury-ravaged team was granted a hardship exception to carry an extra player in December. By the time that exception expired, Canaan had earned himself a rest-of-season roster spot, with Phoenix opting to keep him around and waive Mike James instead.

Heading into Wednesday’s contest, Canaan had appeared in 18 games for the Suns, averaging 9.4 PPG and 4.2 APG with a .381/.323/.902 shooting line. He also played in one game for the Rockets at the start of the season before being cut by Houston.

With Greg Monroe having reportedly reached a buyout agreement with the Suns, the team will soon open up a roster spot and could use it to add a replacement for Canaan. Simply waiving the veteran guard is also an option, since Canaan’s contract doesn’t include any guaranteed money beyond this season. Phoenix won’t be able to re-sign James though, since he’s now on a two-way deal in New Orleans.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Phoenix Suns

The Suns have salvaged what initially looked like a lost season and that has done wonders for their direction heading forward. While nobody is going to confuse interim coach Jay Triano‘s team of upstarts for a contender in the making just yet, the new regime immediately changed the culture of the young organization.

Whether or not Triano remains at the helm, the Suns are in an enviable position with a lengthy list of promising prospects that Triano has helped develop. As a result, Phoenix is a semi-intriguing free agency destination that will, conveniently, have boat loads of cap space to boot.

While it may not seem like much yet, the Suns are slowly building toward something. A summer of shrewd, responsible decisions could put them in an even better position for the future.

Isaiah Canaan, PG, 27 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.1MM deal in 2017
Canaan has bounced around over the course of a five-year NBA career and may have found himself a home in Phoenix. The point guard immediately usurped Mike James as the club’s primary backup point guard, and his skills as a volume scorer off the bench have come in handy. Even if Brandon Knight figures to factor into the club’s 2018/19 point guard rotation, there will be plenty of room for Canaan to slot in somewhere as a functional combo option. Expect him back at a reasonable price.

Alex Len, C, 25 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $4.2MM deal in 2017Alex Len vertical
It’s hard to know what the Suns truly think of Len as a low-post building block. This year, with over $30MM tied up in between Greg Monroe and Tyson Chandler, it’s a wonder Len even makes his way onto the court at all. Despite the logjam, and a head coach that seems genuinely intent on getting the most out of his roster, Len has earned a consistent reserve role and has been modestly productive in it. Len signed a qualifying offer last summer which will make him an unrestricted free agent. There may not be a long list of suitors willing to bid for his services in the summer, but don’t be surprised if another team looks to poach him considering his upside.

Greg Monroe, C, 28 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $50MM deal in 2015
There has been no player whose value has been impacted by the dawn of the small ball era more than Monroe. The lumbering big man has gone from being a revered young beast with the Pistons in 2011 to a stalwart reserve for the Bucks in 2015 to a barely playable expiring contract on the Suns in 2017. When the monster deal he inked with Milwaukee three years ago is officially off the books though, common sense will prevail and he’ll sign with a contender for dirt cheap and punish your favorite team in the playoffs. It doesn’t make sense to build an NBA team around a heavyweight in 2018, but that doesn’t mean those players can’t still be effective in select situations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns To Guarantee Isaiah Canaan’s Contract

The Suns have guaranteed point guard Isaiah Canaan‘s contract for the rest of the season, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports.

Canaan, 26, is dealing with a left adductor strain that sidelined him for Phoenix’s last game. In 10 games for the Suns this season, the former second-round has averaged 10.0 PPG and 4.9 APG in 23.2 minutes per night.

Canaan was originally signed using the Suns’ hardship exception due to four players being out with injuries  Last month, the Suns elected to keep Canaan over Mike James, who the team waived in favor the fifth-year guard. He was signed to a minimum deal after James’ release but did not see his contract guaranteed until today.

Suns Notes: Canaan, Booker, James, Monroe

Isaiah Canaan‘s playmaking and defense helped him win a roster spot in Phoenix, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. After joining the Suns when they were granted a hardship exception 10 days ago, Canaan has been rewarded with a contract for the rest of the season.

“I wasn’t caught up in how many days and how long I might be around here,” he said. “Make a splash and showcase what I can do. I was going to come in, do what I knew I was capable of doing and what I needed to do to stay around.”

Canaan earned the nod over incumbent starting point guard Mike James, who was waived Friday. The Suns see Canaan as more of a natural point guard than James, Bordow explains, and were happy with how he ran the offense. He also exhibited a willingness to fight through screen-and-rolls and helped Phoenix hold its opponents under 100 points twice in his first four games with the team.

There’s more tonight out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns expect Devin Booker back in the lineup Tuesday, Bordow relays in the same story. That will mark exactly three weeks since he suffered a left adductor strain. Booker will participate in Sunday’s practice, then will be medically evaluated to see how he responds. “He’s moving well, but it’s a tough situation because I’m not one of the guys that’s going to make the decision on that,” coach Jay Triano said. “And I think we’re going to be cautious more than anything else. With where we are and where he in this franchise history, I think it makes sense to be cautious.”
  • With Booker returning soon and rookie guard Davon Reed expected back around the first of the year, the Suns chose to waive a player from their backcourt rather than seek a buyout with Greg Monroe, Bordow adds. Monroe sat out three straight games before playing 27 minutes Thursday, but was back on the bench tonight. However, Triano wants to keep him around for depth so Tyson Chandler won’t have to play on back-to-back nights.
  • Monroe hasn’t given up hope of returning to the rotation and has played pretty well when given the chance, Bordow notes in a separate piece. He is averaging 11.2 points and 8.3 rebounds and is shooting better than 60% from the field in 11 games since being acquired from Milwaukee. “I want to play,” Monroe said. “But I’m just trying to control what I can. That’s all I focus on. But it definitely is hard. I’d definitely like to be playing consistently.”

Suns Sign Isaiah Canaan For Remainder Of Season

The Suns have signed point guard Isaiah Canaan to a minimum deal for the remainder of the 2017/18 season, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter).

Canaan was originally signed using the Suns’ hardship exception due to four players being out with injuries. In four games since joining the Suns, the 26-year-old has averaged 13.0 PPG and 5.0 APG. Earlier this week, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said that Canaan’s performance earned him a longer look, possibly for the rest of the season.

“I think with what Isaiah’s done, we should plan on having him in Phoenix for the rest of the year, if not longer,” McDonough said (via Arizona Sports).

Phoenix waived Mike James — who had his two-way deal converted to an NBA deal — yesterday despite the 27-year-old rookie’s own success this season. In 32 games (10 starts), James averaged 10.4 PPG and 3.8 APG. Canaan — despite having played for five teams in five seasons — is still younger than the rookie James and the Suns elected to go with the younger, more experienced player.

Mike James Waived By Suns

The Suns have waived guard Mike James, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 27-year-old rookie had initially been signed to a two-way contract with the franchise but had that deal converted into a regular season contract.

The decision was likely a difficult one for the organization to make, considering that James had thrived on a young team that found stability in the mature first-year player. We discussed on Wednesday, however, that such a decision may have been looming for the franchise.

With four players sidelined due to injury, the team had recently been granted a hardship exception and used it on December 13 to sign journeyman point guard Isaiah Canaan. Canaan’s play in the four games since has essentially forced the team’s hand.

In four matchups this season, playing 25.0 minutes a night, Canaan has averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. While James’ numbers were respectable in their own right, Canaan may have the higher ceiling, not least because despite being a five-year veteran, he’s still actually younger than James.

James, who went undrafted in 2012, will now turn his attention to finding a new home, a task that may be a bit easier now that he has a quarter of a season of big league games under his belt.

McDonough: Isaiah Canaan Likely To Stick With Suns

After a pair of impressive performances for the Suns, point guard Isaiah Canaan has likely earned a spot on the roster going forward, general manager Ryan McDonough confirmed today during a radio appearance, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link).

Canaan, who signed with Phoenix last week, has played in two games so far, and has a major impact in both contests. On Saturday, he posted 15 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in a win over the Timberwolves. Two days later, he put up 17 points, six assists, four rebounds, and three steals to help the Suns beat the Mavericks.

Because Canaan was signed using a hardship exception, the Suns will have to trade or waive another player if they intend to keep him when one of their injured players (likely Devin Booker) returns. I covered this topic in detail earlier today, suggesting that Mike James, who recently had his two-way contract converted into a standard NBA deal, may be in danger if Canaan sticks around.

However, Bordow suggests that retaining Canaan may instead force the Suns to finally clear their logjam at center, where Greg Monroe, Tyson Chandler, and Alex Len are all vying for minutes. If the team goes in that direction, Monroe would probably be the odd man out, Bordow tweets.

With a decision due soon and no leverage to speak of, the Suns will find it difficult to trade Monroe, so it will be interesting to see if the club is willing to waive him outright. He has been very productive since coming over from Milwaukee, but hasn’t played in three of Phoenix’s last four games, with Chandler and Len splitting the minutes at the five.

Another Roster Decision Looming For Suns?

It was just a couple weeks ago that the Suns were forced to make a roster decision — in order to make room on their 15-man squad to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract into a standard NBA deal, the team had to trade or waive another player. Ultimately, Phoenix opted to waive Derrick Jones to open up that roster spot.

In that case, the Suns’ decision was fairly simple — Jones’ salary was non-guaranteed and he had only appeared briefly in six games all season. He didn’t have a key role in Phoenix, and his upside wasn’t so substantial that he was a crucial part of the team’s long-term plans. It made sense that he’d be the man out.

Now though, another roster decision may be approaching for the Suns, and this one may not be quite as simple.

With four players on the shelf due to injuries, the Suns were recently granted a hardship exception, giving them an extra roster spot, and used it to sign point guard Isaiah Canaan. Since joining the club, Canaan has played a crucial role in a pair of Suns wins, averaging an impressive 16.0 PPG with 6.5 APG and a .600/.600/.917 shooting line in his two games.

Obviously, that sample size is extremely small. It’s entirely possible that Canaan will struggle in his next couple games and the Suns will simply opt to let him go when their hardship exception expires and Booker – or another player – is ready to return. Still, Canaan is making a strong case for a permanent spot on the roster, and if he keeps it up, the Suns would have to trade or waive another player to get back down to 15 players.

Players with modest salaries or non-guaranteed contracts are generally the most vulnerable in this sort of situation, but after waiving Jones, Phoenix doesn’t have any other players on non-guaranteed deals. And most of the team’s lowest-paid players are promising youngsters that the club wouldn’t want to waive — that list includes Davon Reed, Tyler Ulis, Booker, Marquese Chriss, T.J. Warren, Troy Daniels, Alex Len, Dragan Bender, and Josh Jackson, in ascending salary order.

The Suns’ roster also features high-priced veterans like Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler, and Jared Dudley, plus injured big man Alan Williams, whose $6MM salary puts him squarely between the pricier vets and the inexpensive young players. Knight, Chandler, and Dudley all have significant guarantees beyond this season, Monroe has been playing too well to simply be cut, and waiving Williams – who has yet to play a single game since signing a three-year deal in the offseason, doesn’t seem logical either.

So who’s left? Only James, whose minutes have been significantly reduced during the past two games since Canaan arrived.

Since the Suns won’t have much leverage to push for a trade in the coming days, waiving a player seems more likely. Phoenix’s decision might ultimately come down to the point guard whose impressive play on a two-way deal earned him a full-fledged roster spot earlier this month vs. the point guard who has had only played two games (albeit two very good games) for the team so far. We may soon find out whether Canaan has made a strong enough impression to win that battle.