Mehmet Okur

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 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 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 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 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 Add Mehmet Okur To Coaching Staff

Former center Mehmet Okur has found a new NBA home. However, he’ll be transitioning into a coaching role rather than making a comeback as a player. The Suns announced today in a press release that the Turkish big man will be joining the club’s staff as a player development coach.

Okur spent 10 seasons in the NBA, with the Pistons, Jazz, and Nets, before announcing his retirement in 2012 at age 33. For his career, Okur averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 634 regular-season games. He spent six of his NBA seasons in Utah, playing alongside current Suns head coach Earl Watson near the end of his stint with the Jazz. Both Okur and Watson played for current Suns assistant Tyrone Corbin, who was Utah’s head coach at the time.

In Phoenix, Okur will get the opportunity to work with a group of young bigs that include Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, the fourth and eighth overall picks in this year’s draft.

In addition to hiring Okur, the Suns also announced that they’ve added Jason Hervey to their staff as an advance scout. Hervey previously worked in the Timberwolves’ scouting department and in the Pistons’ basketball operations department.

Mehmet Okur Announces Retirement

Mehmet Okur has decided to end his basketball playing careeer, announcing his retirement, according to (Turkish link; translation via Sportando). According to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, Okur cited his recent injury history as the primary reason for his retirement — he was limited to 13 games in 2010/11 and 17 in 2011/12.

"I want to thank my family, my coaches, my teammates, the officials who have contributed to my career," Okur told NTVSpor, according to Sportando's translation. "And then I want to say thanks to the fans who always supported me."

Okur, 33, spent 10 seasons in the NBA, with the Pistons, Jazz, and Nets. He was also traded to the Trail Blazers last season, though that was just for salary purposes, and he didn't play a single game for Portland. For his career, Okur averaged 13.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG, compiling a 17.1 PER. According to Basketball-Reference, he earned upwards of about $73MM during his NBA career.

While Okur seems to be ending his playing career, it wouldn't be a shock to see him attempt a comeback at some point down the road. At just 33 years old, he still appeared to be drawing a little NBA interest this offseason, though not at the price he was seeking, which was more than the minimum.

Odds & Ends: Wiggins, Howard, Bynum, Kings

With David Stern's retirement at the forefront of talks this week at the NBA's Board of Governors meetings, a number of other topics being pushed to the back burner. One such subject, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, is the issue of advertising on uniforms. The NBA's owners have agreed to table the issue for now, and likely won't revisit it until the board meets again in April, says Berger (Twitter links). Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

Poll: Which FA Will Make An Impact In 2012/13?

The Celtics recently snatched Leandro Barbosa off the free agent market, ensuring that perhaps the most prominent name among the remaining unsigned players has a job this season. However, there are still a number of players who not only are free agents, but haven't even participated in training camp with a team.

Along with the players who have yet to sign a contract this offseason, plenty of recent camp cuts have become unrestricted free agents again, further saturating the market. While many of the names on our list of free agents likely won't play for NBA teams this year, odds are that at least a couple will sign with contenders and potentially have an impact later in the season.

So today's poll question is this: Which of the remaining free agents do you expect will make the most significant impact this season? Make your pick below and feel free to explain your choice in the comments section.

Free Agents Seeking More Than The Minimum

With free agents like Jonny Flynn, Louis Amundson, and Anthony Tolliver coming off the board this week, there aren't many recognizable names left on our list of available players. Of the unrestricted free agents still on the market, a handful stand out: Leandro Barbosa, Kenyon Martin, Mehmet Okur, Mickael Pietrus, and Tracy McGrady.

There's no question that any of these players could help an NBA team. None of them are stars or maybe even starters anymore, but they're solid role players that won't hurt you off the bench. So why are they still on the market? I don't have any inside info about their contract negotiations, but I'd guess it's because their asking prices remain too high. Here's what we've heard this offseason about the contracts these guys are after:

  • Leandro Barbosa: Barbosa was looking for a multiyear contract earlier this summer, and his interest in the Cavs, who have a ton of cap space, suggested he didn't want to take a huge pay cut. It looks like he won't have much choice in the matter, but I'm not sure he's willing to settle for the minimum yet, or he'd already be signed.
  • Kenyon Martin: We've heard multiple times this offseason that Martin is seeking more than the veteran's minimum. Most recently, Timberwolves assistant coach Bill Bayno said Martin's asking price is the reason his team isn't pursuing the former first overall pick.
  • Mehmet Okur: The Timberwolves were linked frequently to Okur this offseason, but the team's inability to offer more than the minimum was a roadblock. It seems Okur's best shot at a bigger payday may come from a Turkish team.
  • Mickael Pietrus: Agent Bill McCandless stated pretty unequivocally back in July that his client wouldn't be signing for the veteran's minimum. With Pietrus still unsigned, you have to wonder if recent reports of the former Celtic drawing heavy interest and possibly closing in on a deal were floated by McCandless to try to drum up last-minute interest from teams with some spending room.
  • Tracy McGrady: There haven't been any reports this offseason explicitly suggesting that McGrady isn't interested in the veteran's minimum, but after a solid 2011/12 season in Atlanta, I would think there'd be plenty of teams interested in signing him at that price. The Knicks, for instance, are reportedly willing to take a flier on Rasheed Wallace, but are no longer interested in McGrady. It could just be a matter of Wallace being a better fit, but it wouldn't be surprising if T-Mac's asking price was still too high.

There are a number of other players on our list of free agents who could still be after more than the minimum — Derek Fisher, Michael Redd, and Josh Howard, to name a few. But it appears the five listed above are the best bets to force a team to dip into its cap space, mid-level exception, or bi-annual exception.

Still, we're at a point in the offseason where very few, if any, players are receiving more than minimum-salary offers. So if these free agents don't receive any NBA offers they like, perhaps they'll seriously consider signing overseas, an option that could appeal in particular to players like Barbosa, Okur, and Pietrus, who have international roots.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Harrellson, Pittman, Miller

The Heat have concluded an audition of Hassan Whiteside that lasted several days, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Now, the team will decide whether to sign him, Josh Harrellson, or neither player. Whether or not cost is an issue, Miami appears to be focused on youth in its search for a big man, having passed on auditioning veterans like Chris Andersen or Mehmet Okur. Here are a few other Monday morning notes out of Miami:

  • Within Jackson's piece, the Herald scribe writes that a Heat official says the team was disappointed with Dexter Pittman's summer league play. Pittman is on a guaranteed contract and seems likely to remain on the roster, but nothing is assured yet. "This is a crucial training camp for him," said the team official. "But the slate is clear."
  • Pittman will need to improve his rebounding and cut back on his fouls to stick with the Heat, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • Asked whether the Heat can count on Mike Miller this season, Winderman notes that the club won't necessarily have to count on him for major production with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis on board. Anything Miller provides will be a bonus, says Winderman.

International Rumors: Okur, Mirotic, Owens, Uzoh

At various points during the offseason, Mehmet Okur has been linked to the Timberwolves and other clubs, but the reports usually point to the same roadblock: Okur is seeking more than the minimum salary. It's possible some NBA team makes Okur an offer worth more than the minimum, but it appears he may have a better chance at that kind of money overseas. passes along a Turkish report suggesting that Galatasaray Medical Park of Turkey is interested in Okur, and could potentially offer him $2-3MM per year. Here are a few more of the morning's international notes and rumors:

  • Nikola Mirotic tells Enric Corbella of (English link via HoopsWorld) that the Bulls know his situation with Real Madrid and respect his contract. Mirotic, the 23rd overall pick in 2011, has a number of years left on his contract in Spain, but will have the opportunity to opt out and join the Bulls before it ends.
  • Two players that received 10-day contracts in 2011/12 may be on the verge of leaving their French teams. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passes along French reports suggesting that Gravelines may part ways with Larry Owens, and that Ben Uzoh's time with Cholet may be nearly over.
  • Unicaja Malaga coach Jasmin Repesa said that his team would love to add Bojan Bogdanovic, who is under contract for two more years with Fenerbahce (link via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Bogdanovic was drafted with the 31st overall pick in 2011's draft, with his NBA rights now held by the Nets.

Eastern Notes: Nets, Heat, Dyson, Pistons

There have been plenty of newsworthy items out of the Eastern Conference today, with the Knicks unveiling new uniforms, the Nets possibly having signed Andray Blatche, and the league's most popular 12th man landing a TV gig with the Celtics. Here are a few more Eastern-related links we've yet to cover: