Isaiah Canaan

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Suns, Bjelica, Green

Tyson Chandler, poised to suit up for the Lakers on Wednesday night against Minnesota, said he picked Los Angeles among about five potential teams, according to Joey Ramirez of Lakers.com. Speaking today to reporters, including Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, Chandler said he knew his days with the Suns were numbered and jumped at the chance to join his hometown team.

“I figured if things didn’t go right it would be my final year in Phoenix, you know, especially in the final year of my contract,” Chandler said. “But when things came up and I looked at the teams, I couldn’t honestly pass up this opportunity and be a part of something that I felt was going to be great.”

According to head coach Luke Walton, there are “no expectations” for Chandler’s first game, but the team would like him to eventually help out with rebounding, provide more protection, and play the sort of rim-running role that JaVale McGee has assumed, writes Goon.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report believes that Chandler could be the “missing piece” in the Lakers’ rotation, writing that the signing will pay immediate dividends and help the team climb up the Western Conference standings. I’m a little less bullish about the sort of impact the 36-year-old will have, but his strengths certainly match up nicely with many of the Lakers’ early-season weaknesses.

As Chandler prepares to make his Lakers debut, let’s round up a few more items from out of the Pacific…

  • The Suns are still seeking more stability out of the point guard position, having resorted to running the offense through Devin Booker when needed, writes Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic. Head coach Igor Kokoskov said he’s looking for more out of Isaiah Canaan: “We know he is a fearless shooter and he is capable of making those shots, but he’s got to also give us stability when it comes to (running the) team, keeping us organized.”
  • It was an eventful offseason for Nemanja Bjelica, who backed out of a deal with Philadelphia and appeared on the verge of returning to Europe before he signed a three-year contract with the Kings. Now, the veteran power forward is finding his stride with his new team, according to Alex Kramers of Kings.com.
  • X-rays on the injured right foot of Warriors big man Draymond Green came back negative, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays. However, while Green appears to have avoided a serious injury, having been diagnosed with a right toe sprain, he won’t be available for Golden State’s Thursday game against Milwaukee (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).

Suns Notes: Chandler, Canaan, Crawford, Ayton

At 36, Tyson Chandler may seem out of place on the rebuilding Suns, but he remains focused on providing the best possible example for his young teammates, writes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. Chandler, who is beginning his 18th NBA season, admits the process of getting ready is much different now than when he entered the league in 2001.

“When I was a rookie, I just had a bunch of nervous energy. You’re young and you can move all over the place,” he said. “Now everything is precise. Everything has a time. Even energy output, you just kind of measure everything you do now in this league. I used to get so pumped up. Now it’s all mental where I analyze what’s going on.”

Even so, Chandler isn’t ready to give up the NBA lifestyle. He hopes to reach at least 20 years in the league, although with an expiring contract that may happen somewhere other than Phoenix. He will help mentor No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton for now and may be a popular target at the trade deadline among teams that need frontcourt depth.

There’s more today out of Phoenix:

  • After experimenting with several options at point guard during the preseason, Isaiah Canaan will be the starter in tonight’s season opener, Mizell tweets. Coach Igor Kokoskov indicated that Devin Booker may finish out games at the position in an effort to get the best offensive lineup on the court.
  • Jamal Crawford finalized his contract with the Suns just in time for tonight’s game and is eager to get started with his new team. In a video posted by The Arizona Republic, the 38-year-old expressed confidence that Phoenix is moving in the right direction. “I feel re-energized, to be honest with you,” Crawford said. “I just like what the organization’s doing. I like the moves they’re making. I love the young players, I love the vets they brought in, so I’m excited.” Crawford said Kokoskov just asked him to be the same type of player he has been throughout his career.
  • Booker believes the addition of Ayton provides the chance to build a winner, relays Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Although Booker has blossomed into one of the NBA’s best young players, the Suns haven’t been competitive since he arrived. “It’s a start of his legacy,” Booker said of Ayton. “His new career. My job is to make it special for him and not make it like my first three years. So turn it around. Let him be known as a winner. Let our whole organization turn around to a winning franchise.”

Suns Waive Shaquille Harrison, Darrell Arthur

The Suns waived a pair of players on Monday to reach the regular season roster limit, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Shaquille Harrison and Darrell Arthur have been cut by the team.

Arthur’s release comes as no surprise, since he was never part of the Suns’ plans for this season. Still, by waiving him now, before receiving resolution on their disabled player exception request, the Suns are no longer eligible for that DPE, as Keith Smith of RealGM confirms (via Twitter). Given that there was little evidence that Arthur had recently sustained a season-ending injury, that DPE was unlikely to be approved anyway.

[RELATED: Suns apply for disabled player exception for Arthur]

Harrison’s release is a little more surprising, given the Suns’ lack of depth at point guard. However, he was one of three players – along with Richaun Holmes and Isaiah Canaan – who was on a non-guaranteed contract, making him somewhat expendable. The Suns will now retain Canaan, Elie Okobo, and De’Anthony Melton at the point, with combo guard Jamal Crawford set to enter the mix as well.

Speaking of Crawford, the Suns will need to make one additional roster move when he officially signs his contract, which hasn’t happened yet. Davon Reed is expected to be traded or waived to accommodate Crawford.

With today’s moves, the Suns will create $7.5MM+ in additional dead money on their cap for 2018/19 — Harrison had a modest $50K guarantee, which Phoenix will eat, along with Arthur’s $7,464,912 salary.

And-Ones: Barkley, J. Smith, D. Johnson, L. Brown

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been outspoken about his desire to run an NBA team and he said in a recent interview that he thought the Magic were going to give him a chance last year, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Barkley told radio station 98.7 FM Arizona that he was hoping for an interview in Orlando before the organization decided on Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and John Hammond as GM.

“They hired another one of those analytical idiots instead of just getting the best players,” Barkley said.

Barkley expressed interest in taking over the Sixers‘ front office in 2012 and the Suns‘ in both 2010 and 2013. Barkley didn’t indicate whether he wants to be a candidate to replace Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, who was fired earlier this week.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • At age 32, Josh Smith hasn’t give up hope of an NBA comeback, tweets Ben Stinar of AmicoHoops. Smith played three games for the Pelicans last year, but otherwise hasn’t been in the league since the end of the 2015/16 season. However, a source tells Stinar that Smith is working out and waiting for an opportunity.
  • Most teams made their final roster cuts before yesterday’s waiver deadline at 5pm Eastern, but a few still have decisions to make, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Players with non-guaranteed salaries have begun to receive daily payments that will count against their teams’ salary caps. The Suns, for instance, will owe Isaiah Canaan $19,858 if they wait until Monday to waive him.
  • The NBA has changed the way it will count days of service for two-way players, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Travel days to and from the G League will no longer count against the 45-day limit.
  • Former Thunder center Dakari Johnson has opted to remain with Qingdao in China, contrary to a report earlier this week that he planned to leave, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The team’s GM confirmed Johnson’s decision.
  • Former NBA and NCAA coach Larry Brown recently traveled to the United States for minor surgery, Carchia tweets. Brown currently coaches Fiat Torino and will be re-evaluated by doctors next week to determine when he can return to Italy.

Suns Rumors: Nash, Morris, Connelly, Point Guards

Former Suns guard and Hall of Famer Steve Nash has no interest in replacing GM Ryan McDonough, who was abruptly dismissed on Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Though Nash is a favorite of owner Robert Sarver, Nash does not want the time-consuming responsibility of running a front office, Wojnarowski adds. Nash is currently a Warriors consultant. Vice president of basketball operations James Jones and assistant GM Trevor Bukstein have taken over GM duties in Phoenix on an interim basis.

We have more from Phoenix:

  • Former Suns Markieff Morris and Mike James voiced their distaste for McDonough on social media, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. McDonough infuriated Morris, currently with the Wizards, and his brother Marcus Morris by trading Marcus to the Pistons in the summer of 2015 after they signed team-friendly contracts with Phoenix. “Bout time lol,” Morris tweeted after learning of McDonough’s dismissal. James, who was waived last December after signing a contract two weeks earlier, tweeted, “I don’t think he was the right person for that job.”
  • Suns assistant GM Pat Connelly and director of scouting Courtney Witte were also fired on Monday, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. Connelly was the Wizards’ director of player personnel before he was hired by Phoenix in 2013. More front office changes could be on the horizon, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Isaiah Canaan, Shaquille Harrison and rookies De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo continue to compete for point guard duties and none has emerged, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. First-year coach Igor Kokoskov admits that he needs to see much more from all of them. “A lot of mistakes,” he told Rankin and other media members. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
  • The timing of McDonough’s firing is an example of how Sarver has made a mess of the franchise, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. The Suns will probably never reach their potential with Sarver heading the organization, Bontemps adds.

Pacific Notes: Ball, James, Canaan, Marjanovic

Lonzo Ball is expected to make his preseason debut Wednesday, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, which will also mark his first time on the court with LeBron James as a teammate. The Lakers have been careful with Ball as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, even as they have raved about his progress. Ball and James were both held out of tonight’s contest against the Clippers, but coach Luke Walton plans to use them in the next game against the Warriors.

“That’s one of the things I still need to see that we haven’t had is what lineups look like when both of those guys are playing,” Walton said. “I’m excited and hopeful, but again, we’re going to take it day by day. If any setbacks or whatnot, then we won’t rush it, again. But I would expect Wednesday that happens.”

Ball has received medical clearance to play and participated in full-court, four-on-four matchups with contact this week. The Lakers have been resting James, playing him about 15 minutes in the first half of each of their first three games.

There’s more tonight from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns‘ inexperience at point guard has been on display through the preseason, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. With no established veterans at the position, coach Igor Kokoskov has been using a committee approach, giving playing time to  Shaquille Harrison, Isaiah Canaan and rookies Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton. The results have been ugly as Phoenix is averaging more than 20 turnovers per game and had power forward Ryan Anderson handling the ball for part of Friday’s contest.
  • Canaan was on the court Friday for the first time since fracturing his ankle in January, writes Cody Cunningham of NBA.com. Canaan, who had 11 points for the Suns in 32 minutes and drilled three 3-pointers, was grateful to be back in action. “I could barely sleep last night just knowing that I would have the chance to play again,” he said. “It just means a lot to me personally and I just give a lot of credit to this organization and to this training staff for doing an unbelievable job getting me, not only back on my feet, but also competing at a high level.”
  • It shouldn’t be hard for Boban Marjanovic to increase his playing time with the Clippers this season, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Marjanovic averaged 8.3 minutes in 20 games after coming to L.A. in a January trade, but coach Doc Rivers said all he has to do for more court time is “Just keep being big.”

Pacific Notes: Suns, Canaan, Durant, Klay, Lakers

When training camp opened for the Suns earlier this week, multiple reports – including ones from Bob Baum of The Associated Press and Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic – noted that the most pressing issue facing the franchise in the short term was its hole at the point guard spot.

That hasn’t changed within the last few days, with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writing today that it remains unclear which way Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov might be leaning. Shaquille Harrison, De’Anthony Melton, Elie Okobo, and Isaiah Canaan are among the point guards vying for playing time. In comments on Thursday, Kokoskov spoke in general terms about those four players when he addressed the traits he’s looking for from a starting point guard.

“Just being solid overall,” the Suns’ new coach said, per Rankin. “The four guys we’ve brought to this camp, our guys are pretty solid. That’s a quality they’re bringing to this team. Just being solid. We’re not asking for anything extraordinary. Just be solid overall when it comes to defensive stops, when it comes to running the team. Putting the guys in the right spots. The key word is being solid.”

As Rankin outlines in a separate article for The Arizona Republic, Canaan easily has the most NBA experience of the Suns’ four in-house point guards and believes he’s capable of taking the reins as the starter. Canaan continues to make his way back from a broken left ankle that ended his 2017/18 season, and Rankin believes that the veteran will likely get the first crack at the starting job if Phoenix doesn’t trade for a point guard.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Like LeBron James has done in the past, Warriors forward Kevin Durant has decided to sign short-term contracts with opt-outs in order to maximize his flexibility, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I could have easily signed a long-term [contract], but I just wanted to take it season-by-season and see where it takes me,” Durant said earlier this week. The two-time Finals MVP will be eligible for free agency again in 2019, but isn’t talking about that decision at this point.
  • Durant’s teammate Klay Thompson will also be eligible for free agency in 2019 and has been more willing to talk about his desire to stay with the Warriors long-term — he reiterated that preference on Thursday, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. “It’s hard to walk away from something — you were here when it started and yeah, you just want to stay on the train as long as you can,” Thompson said.
  • After LeBron James spoke earlier this week about the Lakers having a long way to go before they can seriously challenge the Warriors, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com explores what “success” might look like for LeBron’s Lakers, this season and beyond.
  • Rajon Rondo brings extensive big-game experience and a much-needed “hard edge” to the Lakers, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register.

Western Notes: Okafor, White, Canaan, Curry

The signing of big man Jahlil Okafor is a low-risk, high-reward proposition for the PelicansScott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate opines. The former No. 3 overall pick was signed this week to a partially guaranteed two-year, $3.27MM contract, which includes a team option for the second year. That means Okafor can easily be cut loose if he doesn’t impress in training camp, Kushner notes. If he sticks, Okafor’s scoring ability could allow him to carve out a niche role off the bench behind starters Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic, Kushner adds.

We have more from around the Western Division:

  • The losses of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson, Danny Green and Tony Parker should expand Derrick White‘s role with the Spurs next season, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio News Express. The 6’4” guard appeared in just 17 games last season but the 2017 first-rounder is poised to be a rotation player after a strong showing in summer-league play. “It’s nice to know they have faith in me, that they are confident in me,” White told Orsborn. “It’s tough to see all those guys go. They did so much for the organization. But I’ve got to make the most of my opportunities.”
  • Point guard Isaiah Canaan wants to repay the Suns organization for helping him recover from a fractured left ankle, Clevis Murray of the Arizona Republic reports. Canaan re-signed with Phoenix this summer after rehabbing the injury with the team’s medical staff. Canaan was waived in February after playing 19 games with the Suns but they committed to helping him with his recovery. “The Suns organization helped me get back on my feet and back to doing what I love to do,” Canaan said. “I couldn’t ask for anything else but an opportunity and I told them they won’t regret it and I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry was both surprised and delighted that DeMarcus Cousins signed with the club in free agency, according to an Associated Press report“It’s interesting because nobody going into free agency thought about DeMarcus as an option then all of a sudden he found his way onto our team,” Curry said. “So for us to have a new dynamic, a new look, whenever he’s fully healthy it should be amazing. I think we got better.”
  • The addition of LeBron James has made the Lakers national TV darlings once again, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. The team will have 43 nationally-televised games, three more than the two-time defending champion Warriors.

Suns Re-Sign Point Guard Isaiah Canaan

The Suns have re-signed point guard Isaiah Canaan, the team announced in a press release.

It’s unspecified whether Canaan received any guarantees in his contract, though point guard is considered a weak spot for the Suns. They also have Brandon Knight, second-round pick Elie Okobo and Shaquille Harrison at that position but Canaan’s experience will make him a contender for a roster spot.

Canaan played in 19 games with the Suns after joining them in mid-December last season, averaging 9.1 PPG and 4.0 APG in 22.0 MPG. They signed him through the hardship exception when multiple injuries struck, then guaranteed his contract for the remainder of the season in early January.

He suffered a fractured left ankle against the Mavericks in late January and underwent season-ending surgery on February 1st.

The Suns waived him a week later but fully committed to helping him with his rehab and recovery.

The 6-foot Canaan has posted career averages of 8.4 PPG and 1.8 assists in 20.3 MPG over 205 games. The journeyman has also played for the Rockets, Sixers and Bulls.

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.