The Suns‘ run to the NBA Finals in 2021 caught some NBA fans and observers off guard, but team owner Robert Sarver is confident that his club is well-positioned to “compete at a very high level again,” as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic relays. Sarver believe Phoenix has a solid foundation in place and that a handful of offseason roster tweaks will help the team remain in title contention.
“We added a few players that I think will help us,” Sarver said. “I think you’re seeing a little bit of that in the preseason so far. So I think between the additions, between the foundation and then between what I call the organic growth, which is just our younger players keep getting better and better and developing year by year, I think we have an opportunity to make another step.”
One of those “younger” players the Suns are counting on to play a big role is three-and-D wing Mikal Bridges, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension. Bridges and the Suns have until Monday evening to work out a new deal that would keep him off the restricted free agent market next summer, and he told reporters on Friday that his priority is to remain in Phoenix (video link via Rankin).
“We want to be here,” Bridges said of himself and teammate Deandre Ayton, who is also up for an extension. “Plain and simple. We love this team, love this organization, what it’s done for us.”
Here’s more from around the Pacific:
- Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Suns point guard Chris Paul said he’s not thinking about retiring anytime soon and doesn’t have a specific goal in mind for what how many more years he’ll play. “I don’t know how long I’m going to play,” said Paul, who signed a new four-year contract in the offseason. “I’m going to play until God willing, and he says, ‘You need to sit down somewhere,’ or my kids tell me, ‘Daddy, you’re embarrassing us.'”
- Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson is expected to be cleared to practice in full within the next month or so, says Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). That’s a pretty vague timeline, and Charania cautions that Thompson will require a ramp-up period once he begins practicing, so it remains unlikely that he’ll be back in Golden State’s lineup before sometime in December.
- The Clippers would rather have Kawhi Leonard on the floor, but while he’s recovering from ACL surgery, the team is glad he’s able to serve as a de facto coach on the sidelines, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “He’s not like the loudest one, but no, he knows what to say, what to do,” Nicolas Batum said of his star teammate. “When he has (something) to say, especially on the side when we play five-on-five … he’ll take guys on the side and tell you what he sees, what he just saw the last previous play.”