Jay Triano

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Jordan, Clippers

A difficult string of games in which the Suns were noticeably better without Josh Jackson than with him precipitated a change in his relationship with head coach Jay Triano. Now, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes, the first-year forward has started to regain the coaching staff’s trust.

When Triano told Jackson that he was losing his confidence in him, he asked the player what he might suggest to repair the situation. Since then, the two have watched film of Suns games.

[Jackson suggested they watch film of Suns games] just to see what [Triano] sees,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, two people look at the same play and see two totally different things. He has a basketball mind and he’s really smart, so just trying to see what he sees and trying to pick his brain a little bit.

In the three games since, Jackson has averaged 14 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Suns, shooting an impressive .486 from the field and .556 from three.

There’s more from the Pacific Division this afternoon:

  • The Clippers were treated to some good news on Thursday when it was revealed that Blake Griffin could return to action following a concussion and Milos Teodosic after another bout of plantar fascia issues (NBA.com report). Of course, in true Clippers fashion, DeAndre Jordan sprained his ankle hours later and had to leave the match (ESPN report).
  • The NBA fined Warriors forward Draymond Green $25K for comments critical of officials on Saturday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Dubs took down the Clippers that night.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thinks that NBA players seem to get injured more often than they used to because they’re not playing basketball enough. Per Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register, Rivers posits that players do more things outside of the sport these days and that consistently reliable Jamal Crawford is one example of a guy that is constantly playing the game outside of his professional commitment.

Booker, Len Want Suns To Retain Jay Triano

The Suns have gone just 11-18 since Jay Triano took over as the club’s interim head coach in October, but his performance on the sidelines has impressed multiple Suns players, including standout guard Devin Booker. As Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic details, Booker says he’d like to see Triano assume the job on a permanent basis.

“Me and Triano have that relationship. He’s somebody I’m comfortable with and somebody I’ve been around for a long time,” Booker said. “I love Triano. I don’t make those calls, but he’s been doing a wonderful job since he’s been here and I would vouch for him. He’s been really good.”

Booker isn’t the only young Sun who has become a bigger fan of Triano in recent weeks. Fifth-year center Alex Len, who re-signed with the club this past offseason, said that he loves playing for the team’s interim head coach.

“Jay is always putting in new things. He’s very creative offensively,” Len said. “It’s not that we’re even better from the first three games. We’re better than we were a couple of weeks ago. He’s doing a great job.”

Players’ opinions aren’t always weighed heavily by a team’s front office when it comes to head coaching decisions. However, as Bordow observes, Booker’s stance shouldn’t be understated. The 21-year-old will become extension-eligible in 2018 for the first time, at which point he and the Suns figure to reach a lucrative, long-term agreement. It will be important that the centerpiece of the club’s rebuild is on the same page as the new head coach.

When the Suns fired Earl Watson and installed Triano as the interim head coach in October, the assumption was that they’d survey their options at season’s end. Triano is expected to be among the candidates, but if he makes a strong enough impression this season, perhaps the club will forgo a full-fledged search in the spring.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Booker, Jordan

When Stephen Curry and the Warriors brought Kevin Durant to the Bay Area they did so with situations like the one the team is going through right now in mind. Marcus Thompson of The Athletic writes that having Durant available to lead the way while Curry recovers from an ankle injury can be a game changer for the franchise.

Prior to Durant’s arrival, the Warriors struggled to win with Curry on the sidelines, let alone dominate. Having the two available to support each other – as Curry did when Durant was out toward the end of last season – could extend both of their primes.

As Thompson writes, we may not remember this particular stretch of games where Durant filled in for Curry but the fact that we’ve seen the two stars willingly share the offensive load at different times over the course of the past two seasons will benefit the team for years.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • While he’s still expected to miss two-to-three weeks with an abductor strain, Suns guard Devin Booker is already up and walking, Jose Romero of the Associated Press writes.
  • The Clippers may look to move DeAndre Jordan at the deadline if they’re not pleased with their chances of competing in the Western Conference. This ESPN Insider piece explores four possible trade scenarios, including one that would see Jordan land with the Bucks in exchange for Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova.
  • Former Raptors coach Jay Triano has the personality to develop young basketball players, something that will come in handy as he serves as the interim head coach of the Suns. DeMar DeRozan witnessed as much during the coach’s tenure in Toronto from 2002-11. “There’s a personality about Jay that’s so positive, it makes you want to be at work, makes you want to do all the things that he asks from you,” DeRozan told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. “[He’s] kind of a player’s coach. The things he was doing, it was so long ago and I was so young, I didn’t understand. I thought the whole league was like that. Now looking back on it, Jay was definitely one of them guys.”

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Durant, Triano

The Clippers have struggled to get reliable production from the point this season, largely because Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley have been sidelined extensively and Austin Rivers is better suited to play the role of combo guard. Stepping up as a playmaker then, has been power forward Blake Griffin. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that Griffin has manned the point not unlike standout rookie Ben Simmons has to much fanfare.

Not only do guards on the roster consciously look to feed Griffin the ball to bring up the court, the 28-year-old has done well to create offense when he gets it. Through 18 games this season, Griffin leads the Clippers with 5.0 assists per game, all while posting his highest scoring average in five years and chipping in 7.7 rebounds per contest for good measure.

He’s always been able to handle the ball and he’s always been a real Mack truck coming down the floor in transition with the ball,” division rival Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “If he gets a rebound and he’s breaking out, he’s hard and it’s difficult to guard.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The young Suns are learning first-hand just how much head coaching matters in the NBA, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes. After replacing Earl Watson following a disastrous first three games to start the season, Jay Triano has guided Phoenix to a 7-10 record.
  • The Warriors may have prematurely allowed Kevin Durant to suit up on an injured ankle, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. The forward sprained his ankle last weekend but played in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup with the Thunder, something head coach Steve Kerr now regrets. “I’m sure the league is happy with us because we played him on their ‘marquee’ game with and all that stuff. But he came out sore the next day. So we shouldn’t have played him,” Kerr said.
  • Well-suited for his elder statesmen role on the Warriors bench, David West has made an impact with his veteran leadership, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t speak unless it’s necessary. He understands when it’s necessary,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s not doing it to hear himself talk. He’s not one of those guys. He’s doing it to impart some knowledge and wisdom. So he picks his spots wisely.”

Suns Notes: Chandler, Triano, Monroe, Jones

In the wake of Eric Bledsoe‘s now-infamous “I don’t wanna be here” tweet on the first weekend of the 2017/18 season, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough received a call from Jeff Schwartz, Tyson Chandler‘s agent, and admitted to ESPN’s Zach Lowe that he was expecting the worst when he got that voicemail.

“Given the way our season had started, it wouldn’t have been shocking if Tyson wanted to be moved,” McDonough said.

However, Schwartz expressed the opposite sentiment, assuring McDonough that his client was “fine” and enjoys mentoring the young players in Phoenix. “It was a breath of fresh air,” the Suns GM said. Chandler remains a trade candidate, since he probably doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans, but unlike Bledsoe, he’s in no rush to leave.

Lowe’s deep dive into the Suns – which is worth checking out in full – includes several more tidbits out of Phoenix, including some details on the changes that Jay Triano has made since replacing Earl Watson. Triano, who has been focused on accountability, has impressed the Suns so far and has a chance to earn the head coaching job on a permanent basis, per McDonough.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic passes along more comments from McDonough, who said after Tuesday’s Bledsoe trade that the move could speed up the team’s timeline. As Bordow details, even though McDonough suggested that Phoenix has the flexibility to make a major roster addition in 2018, he said multiple times that the club is “more likely” to pursue a top free agent in 2019.
  • Within Bordow’s piece, McDonough also talks about the newest Sun, Greg Monroe, indicating that he’s open to a trade but that a buyout is less likely. The Suns GM intends to discuss all the possibilities with Monroe’s agent, David Falk.
  • The Suns’ vice president of basketball operations, James Jones, is taking many of the lessons he learned during his years as a player in Miami and applying them to his new job in Phoenix, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Suns Notes: Bledsoe, Chandler, Watson, Okur

Although the Suns have been exploring trade options involving disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe, the team will likely have to lower its asking price if it hopes to get anything done, one general manager tells Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. While the Bucks, Nuggets, Knicks, and Clippers have all expressed interest in Bledsoe, according to Amico’s sources, that general manager believes Phoenix’s asking price is unrealistic.

“Right now, it’s borderline preposterous,” the GM tells Amico. “It should come down eventually. It has to.”

Bledsoe and his agent Rich Paul expressed a desire for a trade during the offseason, but the Suns have ramped up their efforts this week, with the Nuggets and Bucks among the most viable potential landing spots, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Trade scenarios are still evolving, and it’s not clear how long it will take for Phoenix to find a satisfactory deal, according to Kyler, who adds that the club appears to be looking into moving Tyson Chandler too, perhaps in the same trade.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN chimes in on Bledsoe as well, tweeting that the Suns’ goal of landing a high-upside young player in any deal has been an impediment, since Bledsoe’s value isn’t exactly at its peak.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • In the wake of the Suns’ horrible start to the season and Earl Watson‘s dismissal, Greg Moore of AZCentral.com wonders why owner Robert Sarver hasn’t made any public comments about the team’s situation.
  • In a separate piece for Basketball Insiders, Kyler wonders whether Watson was essentially set up to fail in Phoenix as the club struggles through a rebuilding process.
  • Shortly after Watson was fired, Dan Majerle became the subject of speculation as a possible target for the Suns, but the team hasn’t contacted the Grand Canyon University coach, writes Richard Obert of AZCentral.com. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic, who tweets that the Suns haven’t contacted anyone, with Jay Triano expected to run the show for the rest of the season.
  • Ken Berger of Bleacher Report takes a deep dive into the Suns’ situation and passes along a few interesting tidbits. Among them: James Jones, who joined the franchise this offseason as an executive, figures to have “significant input” when Phoenix decides on a permanent head coach.
  • Former NBA big man Mehmet Okur, who was one of multiple assistants let go along with Watson, became the second member of the organization to direct a less-than-flattering social media post at the Suns this week. Chris Cole of AZCentral.com has the details, along with a screenshot of Okur’s since-deleted Instagram post.
  • Speaking of assistants, the Suns have called up multiple coaches from their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to fill out their NBA coaching staff, per Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Northern Arizona head coach Ty Ellis is among the coaches headed to Phoenix.

Suns Notes: Assistants, Watson, McDonough, Bledsoe

Three Suns assistants were fired Sunday along with head coach Earl Watson, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPNNate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser were all dismissed after a meeting with management Sunday night. Bjorkgren served as a bench coach, while Okur and Fraser were part of player development.

Bjorkgren is a former G League head coach and an original member of Watson’s staff. Okur, who played 10 years in the NBA, joined the Phoenix staff at the start of last season. Fraser had been with the team since 2015.

Tyrone Corbin will be promoted to lead assistant under interim coach Jay Triano. A former head coach with the Jazz and Kings, Corbin is in his second season on the Suns’ staff.

There’s more news this morning out of Phoenix:

  • Watson had a tumultuous relationship with GM Ryan McDonough during his two and a half seasons as head coach, Wojanarowski writes in the same story. They clashed frequently over a variety of topics, and owner Robert Sarver ultimately sided with McDonough. Watson, who leaves with an 87-142 record, offered a farewell message to the team and his fans. “Thank you to my Suns family, the Phoenix community and everyone who has supported me through this journey,” he said. “Life has unpredictable pivots that I embrace humbly and with great purpose.”
  • Suns star Eric Bledsoe received a lot of attention for Sunday’s tweet that read, “I don’t wanna be here,” but it wasn’t the first time he expressed a desire to get out of Phoenix, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). The eighth-year guard met with with management before the season started to tell them he wanted to be dealt. On top of the losing, Bledsoe was unhappy when the team decided to shut him down because of soreness in his knees last March.
  • Bledsoe was excited about the possibility of being traded to Cleveland over the summer as part of a rumored deal for Kyrie Irving, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. The teams were close to completing the trade and Bledsoe was “depressed” when it fell through, a source tells Amico.
  • The Suns’ problems stem more from the roster McDonough put together than Watson’s coaching, writes Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. Phoenix is trying to compete with four rookies and four second-year players, including a 19-year-old in Dragan Bender and three 20-year-olds. Lawrence states that Bledsoe and fellow veteran Tyson Chandler aren’t pleased with the youth movement. He also notes that McDonough hasn’t been able to find a franchise player despite picking fourth twice, fifth and eighth in the past five drafts.
  • Former Suns stars Steve Nash and Dan Majerle are among the potential replacements for Watson suggested by Jordan Greer of The Sporting News. Others are Adrian Griffin, Ime Udoka, Monty Williams, Sean Miller, Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson and Brent Barry.

Suns Fire Earl Watson

The Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). After a 2016/17 season in which no head coaches were fired, Watson’s dismissal comes just three games into the 2017/18 regular season.NBA: Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Suns owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough are meeting with the club’s assistant coaches. Associate head coach Jay Triano is expected to take over the head coaching duties on an interim basis, says Woj.

While Watson didn’t get much of a leash to start the year, it’s hard to think of many teams that have come out as flat as the Suns to open a season. The team has already lost to the Trail Blazers by 48 points and to the Clippers by 42. Those blowout losses sandwiched a narrow defeat to the Lakers, who beat the Suns in Phoenix.

The Suns’ slow start has also led to one of the team’s veteran players apparently expressing his displeasure publicly, with Eric Bledsoe tweeting earlier today, “I don’t wanna be here.” Although Bledsoe’s tweet lacked context, a report out of Phoenix from local radio host John Gambadoro suggests it’s just what it sounds like — the point guard is unhappy with the Suns and would like to be traded.

Watson initially joined the Suns’ coaching staff as an assistant in 2015/16 before the mid-season firing of Jeff Hornacek prompted his promotion to the helm. In 33 games that year and then the entire 2016/17 season, the 38-year-old coach posted a .287 win percentage, having dropped 82 games along the way.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texas Notes: Bogut, Barea, Nene, Ennis

Mavericks center Andrew Bogut, who has been sidelined since December 5th with a bone bruise on his right knee, could be back on the court this week, tweets Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com. Coach Rick Carlisle announced the news today on Bogut, who started 16 games before the injury. The 32-year-old, who was acquired in a trade from Golden State to sure up the Mavericks’ interior defense, is averaging 3.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per night. He was considered a prime candidate to be traded again when Dallas was at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but Mavericks may consider keeping him as they inch back toward playoff contention. The way he and the team play between now and the February 23rd trade deadline could determine how long he stays in Dallas.

There’s more basketball news out of Texas:

  • Carlisle also indicated good news might be coming about J.J. Barea, according to Sneed (Twitter link). The backup guard, who has been out with a muscle strain in his left leg, still has no timetable to return, but his coach says it’s “on the shorter end of things.” Barea has only been available for 11 games this season.
  • The Rockets‘ plan for veteran center Nene involves more games and fewer minutes, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. With starting center Clint Capela out a month or more with a fracture in his left fibula, Houston needs Nene to play in back-to-back games. The Rockets play the Suns tonight and the Mavericks on Tuesday, and coach Mike D’Antoni plans to limit him to fewer than 20 minutes in the second game. “I think it’s working out,” D’Antoni said. “I talked to him [Monday]. He said he’s feeling great. I would like to avoid some back-to-backs, but we can’t right now. The sooner we get Clint back the better.”
  • Tyler Ennis hasn’t played much since coming to Houston in a September trade, but he is hoping to be part of the Canadian National Team, Feigen relays in a separate story. Ennis met tonight with Suns assistant Jay Triano, who serves as Canada’s coach, to discuss his future role with the squad. “I’ve always played for the national team,” Ennis said. “With the Canadian guys we have in the NBA now, there’s more interest in playing. Hopefully, one summer, we’ll get everybody to come and play. We’re all pretty young.”

Pacific Notes: Gay, Pierce, Calathes, Kings, Suns

After Rudy Gay made some interesting comments that conveyed his dissatisfaction with his situation in Sacramento, Kings general manager Vlade Divac was asked about the disgruntled forward. As James Ham of CSN California details, Divac downplayed Gay’s comments about a lack of communication between him and the Kings as trade rumors swirl.

“He has my number,” the Kings GM said. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything. … I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing. Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”

Let’s check in on a few other items from out of the Pacific division…

  • Paul Pierce has yet to formally announce a decision one way or the other about his future, and a source tells Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links) that the veteran forward will take a few more weeks to weigh his options and make a final call. However, another source suggests to Turner that Pierce is planning to return to the Clippers for one more season.
  • As we heard earlier this week, the Kings made an effort to land Nick Calathes, but the former Grizzlies guard is “bound to return” to Panathinakos in Greece, according to international journalist David Pick.
  • The Suns have officially announced Earl Watson‘s coaching staff, confirming in a press release that Tyrone Corbin and Nate Bjorkgren will be assistants, with former Raptors coach Jay Triano serving as the club’s associate head coach.
  • After signing a three-year deal with the Suns, Jared Dudley has penned a piece for The Players’ Tribune about returning “home” and aiming to get the Suns back to their “2010 vibe.”
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