Suns Rumors

Suns Notes: Trades, Bagley, Coaching

Deandre Ayton is expected to be the selection for the Suns with the No. 1 pick, but Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic believes there’s a case to be made for the team to select Marvin Bagley III either with the top selection or as a result of trading down.

Moore suggests the team could send the No. 1 pick to Atlanta for the No. 3 and Dennis Schroder if Phoenix wants to get creative. In addition to the top choice, the Suns own the 16th, 31st, and 59th overall selections.

Here’s more from the franchise:

  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough recently compared Bagley to four-time All-Star Shawn Marion, Moore relays in the same piece.“We’ve seen a lot of that in our in-person scouting and on film,” McDonough said. “He’s really bouncy.” 
  • The Suns will add Jason Staudt as an assistant coach, John Gambadoro of Arizona’s 98.7 FM reports (Twitter link). Staudt has previously worked in various roles with the Magic, Blazers, and Rockets.
  • Devin Smith will join the Suns as a player development coach, Gambadoro adds in the same tweet.
  • We learned over the weekend that Phoenix won’t consider including the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft in any attempts to acquire Kawhi Leonard. The 2016/17 MVP candidate reportedly wants to the Spurs to trade him.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Suns won’t consider including the top pick in this year’s draft as part of a package to acquire Kawhi Leonard, writes Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Shortly after Leonard’s representatives announced Friday that he wanted out of San Antonio, rumors started flying that the Suns are interested and would be willing to part with their draft choice to make it happen.

The biggest obstacle to a deal, according to Bordow, is Leonard’s ability to become a free agent next summer and his expressed desire to join the Lakers. Phoenix isn’t willing to risk giving away a young building block like Deandre Ayton, along with the other assets it would take to complete a trade, if Leonard is only guaranteed to stay for one year.

San Antonio is reportedly seeking young players with star potential, which is a description that Bordow states describes just two Suns, Devin Booker, who is considered untouchable, and rookie forward Josh Jackson. If Phoenix does get involved in a Leonard deal, it will most likely be as a facilitator, according to Bordow. The Suns have enough cap space to take Luol Deng‘s contract from the Lakers, as long as they receive a young player in return, such as Lonzo Ball.

There’s more Leonard-related news tonight:

  • The Lakers may be the oddsmakers’ favorites to acquire Leonard, but a source close to the Spurs tells Frank Isola of The New York Daily News that the Celtics and Sixers can offer better deals. Isola speculates that Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward could be the asking price from Boston. Another source says Leonard enjoyed living in South Orange, New Jersey, and would be willing to play for the Knicks or the Nets. Isola lists the Heat and Clippers as other teams that could put together enticing trade offers.
  • Any team that trades for Leonard will be taking a significant risk because of his uncertain medical condition, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. ESPN reported last month that the Spurs believe the injury that limited him to nine games this season was just a deep bone bruise, while his representatives call it a hardening of the area after repeated bruising “and then an atrophy, which in turn affected the tendons connecting the muscle to the knee.”
  • In addition to the on-court factors that could affect Leonard’s destination, he is a free agent with shoe companies, tweets ESPN’s Nick DePaula. The size of the market Leonard goes to could affect the endorsement offers he gets. He reportedly turned down a four-year, $20MM extension offer this winter from Jordan Brand, a division of Nike.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Sexton, Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamet

The names of several green room invitees for Thursday night’s draft have been leaked, relays Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Only college players will be in the room this year, as Luka Doncic is still involved with his season for Real Madrid.

The projected top picks will be well represented with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba, Alabama’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr., Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges all on hand.

Joining them will be Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams, Miami’s Lonnie Walker, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, Boston College’s Jerome Robinson, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.

There’s more pre-draft news to pass along:

  • Sexton doesn’t have any more workouts on his schedule after completing today’s session with the Magic, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Sexton has been limiting his workouts to teams in his projected range, as the only others were for the Cavaliers (No. 8 pick), Knicks (No. 9) and Hornets (No. 11).
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a rare mid-level prospect who hasn’t conducted a single publicized workout, notes Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Although a team or two may have brought him in for a secret session, there are also organizations that tried to work him out but were denied. Kalbrosky speculates Gilgeous-Alexander’s representatives may be trying to steer him to a large-market team like the Clippers, who hold the 12th and 13th picks.
  • The Sixers will work out Wichita State’s Landry Shamet on Tuesday, Kalbroksy tweets, adding that Philadelphia may consider him at No. 26.
  • The Suns held a workout today with Texas Tech’s Smith as the biggest name in the group. Also participating, according to a tweet from the team, were Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks and Bosnia’s Markus Loncar. This is the Suns’ final scheduled session before the draft, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

NBA: Draft Eligibility Rules Could Change By 2021

The NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams on Friday telling them that draft eligibility rules could change by 2021, but no earlier, reports ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The memo indicates that the league is reviewing issues “related to player development and the corruption investigation in college basketball.”

According to Lowe, the memo doesn’t mention the one-and-done rule specifically, but reports have suggested that the NBA is considering making changes to that rule, which requires prospects to be 19 years old or at least one year removed from high school in order to become eligible to enter the draft.

The league presumably wants to give teams plenty of warning if such a change is coming, since allowing prospects to enter the draft directly out of high school could create one year when the draft class is especially loaded. For instance, if the NBA eliminates the one-and-done rule for the 2021 draft, the final group of one-and-done players and the first group of high school prospects could both be draft-eligible that year. The NBA’s memo says that the eligibility rules aren’t expected to undergo any changes for the 2019 or 2020 drafts.

While teams still have plenty of time to prepare for potential changes to draft eligibility rules, the timing of the memo is worth noting. As Lowe observes, we’ll likely see some clubs trade future picks as part of draft-night deals next week, so the league wants those teams to have as much information as possible about the potential makeup of future draft classes.

The Heat, in particular, could be impacted by this news, since they’ve already sent their unprotected 2021 first-round pick to the Suns. The Grizzlies and Bucks could also end up surrendering unprotected first-rounders in ’21 to the Celtics and Suns, respectively, but those traded picks – which are protected in 2019 and 2020 – will likely change hands before then.

According to Lowe, the memo indicates that the NBA will discuss draft eligibility issues further at the league’s annual meetings at the Las Vegas Summer League next month.

Draft Notes: Bagley, DiVincenzo, Sexton, Brunson, Gabriel, Bates-Diop

Duke University product Marvin Bagley III is expected to sign an endorsement deal with Puma, tweets JonKrawczynski of The Athletic. The deal is over five years and is expected to be the largest shoe deal signed by a rookie since Kevin Durant inked a seven-year, $60MM deal with Nike, Krawczynski adds.

The deal is historic as Puma has not represented an NBA player in nearly two decades. The last time Puma signed an NBA player was Vince Carter in 1998, per Yahoo! Sports. Bagley is widely expected to one of the top five picks in the draft.

Puma has also expressed interest in Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, another likely top-10 pick, per ESPN’s Nick DePaula.

Check out more draft notes below:

  • Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo is in Phoenix to interview with the Suns, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. DiVincenzo has already worked out for the Timberwolves, Bulls, Pacers, and several other clubs.
  • Fellow Villanova guard Jalen Brunson completed a previously-reported workout with the Pacers on Thursday, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Brunson now has scheduled visits with the Spurs and Celtics.
  • Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, who has been selective with the teams he works out for, is scheduled to meet with the Magic on Saturday, tweets Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Possible first-round pick Keita Bates-Diop will work out for the Hawks soon, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Ohio State forward worked out for the Wizards on Thursday.
  • After working out for the Raptors on Thursday, Wenyen Gabriel has scheduled visits with the Sixers, Pistons, and Hornets on tap, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
  • The Hornets will work out six players on Friday, the team announced in a press release. The scheduled participants include Xavier’s Trevon BluiettMississipi’s Markel Crawford, Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks, Nebraska’s Anton Gill, Virginia’s Nigel Johnson, and Wichita State’s Shaquille Morris.

Scotto’s Latest: Parsons, Hawks, T. Young, Nets

The Grizzlies may be using their No. 4 choice as a way to get rid of Chandler Parsons‘ huge contract, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who passes on a few pre-draft rumors along with his latest mock draft. Memphis is reportedly calling around the league to see what kind of deal it can get in return for Parsons and the pick.

Parsons has missed 94 games because of injuries since signing a four-year, $94MM contract with the Grizzlies in 2016. He still has two seasons and $49.2MM left on that deal, making it extremely hard to move. With Mike Conley and Marc Gasol also holding sizable contracts, Memphis is already over the projected cap for next season and has little flexibility as it tries to improve on a 22-60 record.

Parsons, 29, appeared in just 36 games last season, averaging 7.9 points in about 19 minutes per night.

Scotto shares a few more rumors a week away from draft night:

  • The Hawks are willing to help teams unload bad contracts to open up cap space. However, the level of compensation they will ask for depends on how much money they’re being asked to absorb. That could be significant for teams like the Rockets, Sixers or others who want to create room to make a max offer to LeBron James or Paul George.
  • Trae Young has canceled an individual workout with the Sixers that was scheduled for Friday, which may be an indication he is confident he won’t be on the board when Philadelphia picks at No. 10.
  • The Nets are hoping to trade up into the teens and are willing to take on an unwanted contract to make it happen. They are offering the 29th pick and Spencer Dinwiddie in return.
  • Several teams are willing to make their second-round picks available, including the Suns‘ selections at 31 and 59 and all four of the Sixers‘ choices at 38, 39, 56 and 60. Philadelphia would reportedly part with this year’s picks in exchange for future second-rounders.
  • The Clippers are hoping to package their picks at 12 and 13 in exchange for a higher selection.
  • The Suns‘ likely choice of DeAndre Ayton at No. 1 is bad news for free agent centers such as Clint Capela, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly DeAndre Jordan. Phoenix could have as much as $30MM to spend and needs help in the middle. However, Ayton has only worked out for the Suns and seems like a sure bet to be taken first overall.

Josh Okogie To Work Out For Suns

  • Josh Okogie‘s busy workout schedule includes visits to the Suns, Jazz, Clippers, and Pacers, with possible returns to the Lakers and Celtics also possible, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Okogie is considered a potential first-round pick.

Suns Work Out Tryggvi Hlinason, Dusan Ristic

2018 NBA Head Coaching Carousel Recap

After a 2017 offseason in which no NBA team made a head coaching change, the coaching carousel started spinning again once the 2017/18 regular season got underway. The Suns fired Earl Watson just four games into the season, and the Bucks and Grizzlies followed suit with in-season changes of their own.

At the end of the 2017/18 campaign, six more teams made coaching changes, meaning nearly one-third of the league’s 30 clubs will enter next season with head coaches who have been on the job for less than a year.

Here’s a recap of which teams have made head coaching changes during the ’17/18 NBA league year:

Atlanta Hawks

  • Hired: Lloyd Pierce (story)
  • Replaced: Mike Budenholzer (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal; fourth-year team option (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Nate Tibbetts, Stephen Silas, Jay Larranaga, Jarron Collins, Darvin Ham, David Fizdale

Pierce has an extensive résumé as an NBA assistant, having worked for the Cavaliers (2007-10), Warriors (2010-11), Grizzlies (2011-13), and Sixers (2013-18). His time in Golden State overlapped with Travis Schlenk‘s tenure in the Warriors’ front office. This will be Pierce’s first NBA head coaching job.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Hired: James Borrego (story)
  • Replaced: Steve Clifford (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Jay Larranaga, Jerry Stackhouse, Ettore Messina, David Fizdale, Ime Udoka, David Vanterpool, Jim Boylen, Nick Nurse

Although he earned a little experience as an interim head coach in Orlando in 2015, Borrego has primarily served as an NBA assistant throughout his coaching career. He was previously an assistant for the Spurs (2003-10; 2015-18), Hornets (2010-12), and Magic (2012-15). This will be Borrego’s first permanent NBA head coaching job.

Detroit Pistons

  • Hired: Dwane Casey (story)
  • Replaced: Stan Van Gundy (story)
  • Contract details: Five-year deal, $35MM+ (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Kenny Smith, Juwan Howard, Ime Udoka, John Beilein, Jason Kidd, Nick Nurse
    • Note: The Pistons reportedly wanted to interview Mike Budenholzer before he was hired by the Bucks.

The 2018 recipient of the National Coaches Basketball Association’s Coach of the Year award, Casey is coming off a successful seven-year run as the Raptors’ head coach. A former assistant for the SuperSonics (1994-2005) and Mavericks (2008-11), Casey also had a head coaching stint with the Timberwolves (2005-07). This will be his third NBA head coaching job.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Hired: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
  • Replaced: David Fizdale (in-season change)
  • Contract details: Three-year deal; third-year team option (link)

Of the nine teams who named new permanent head coaches this spring, Memphis was the only one not to conduct a full-fledged search. The Grizzlies opted to remove Bickerstaff’s interim tag, despite his 15-48 record last season. Bickerstaff was the Rockets’ interim head coach in 2015/16, but this will be his first role as a permanent head coach.

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Hired: Mike Budenholzer (story)
  • Replaced: Jason Kidd (in-season change); Joe Prunty (interim coach)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Joe Prunty, Ettore Messina, Steve Clifford, Monty Williams, David Blatt, Becky Hammon, Jay Larranaga, Jim Cleamons
    • Note: The Bucks reportedly wanted to interview James Borrego before he was hired by the Horents.

Budenholzer began interviewing for other head coaching positions while still under contract with the Hawks, but eventually he and Atlanta formally parted ways. The Milwaukee job will give Budenholzer the chance to avoid going through the rebuild in Atlanta. A longtime Spurs assistant (1996-2013), Budenholzer led the Hawks for five seasons. This will be his second NBA head coaching job.

New York Knicks

  • Hired: David Fizdale (story)
  • Replaced: Jeff Hornacek (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, Mike Woodson, Kenny Smith, Mike Budenholzer, David Blatt, James Borrego, Jay Larranaga, Juwan Howard (story), Mike Brown

Fizdale, a veteran assistant with the Warriors (2003-04), Hawks (2004-08), and Heat (2008-16), received his first shot as an NBA head coach in Memphis in 2016. He was fired just 19 games into his second season with the Grizzlies, but was a popular candidate for teams with coaching openings this spring. This will be Fizdale’s second NBA head coaching job.

Orlando Magic

  • Hired: Steve Clifford (story)
  • Replaced: Frank Vogel (story)
  • Contract details: Four-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: David Vanterpool, Ime Udoka, Kelvin Sampson, David Fizdale

The Magic conducted the longest-lasting head coaching search of any team and ultimately landed on Clifford, who is coming off a five-year stint as the head coach in Charlotte. Prior to joining the Hornets, Clifford worked as an assistant for the Knicks (2001-03), Rockets (2003-07), Magic (2007-12), and Lakers (2012-13). This will be his second NBA head coaching job.

Phoenix Suns

  • Hired: Igor Kokoskov (story)
  • Replaced: Earl Watson (in-season change); Jay Triano (interim coach)
  • Contract details: Three-year deal (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: David Fizdale, Frank Vogel, Steve Clifford, Vinny Del Negro, James Borrego, Nick Nurse, Chris Finch, Jason Kidd, Mike Budenholzer

Kokoskov has been an assistant coach for several NBA teams, including the Clippers (2000-03), Pistons (2003-08), Suns (2008-13), Cavaliers (2013-14), Magic (2015), and Jazz (2015-18). He also has some international head coaching experience, having coached the Serbian, Georgian, and Slovenian national teams. This will be Kokoskov’s first NBA head coaching job, and he also becomes the league’s first European-born head coach.

Toronto Raptors

  • Hired: Nick Nurse (story)
  • Replaced: Dwane Casey (story)
  • Contract details: Three-year deal, $10MM (link)
  • Also reportedly interviewed: Rex Kalamian, Jerry Stackhouse, Ettore Messina, Ime Udoka, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Mike Budenholzer

Nurse coached outside of the NBA for much of his career, spending more than a decade in the British Basketball League and six seasons in the G League. He arrived in Toronto as an assistant in 2013 and has spent the last five years on the Raptors’ bench. This will be his first NBA head coaching job.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Workouts: Brown, Lakers, Grizzlies, Alkins

Oregon shooting guard Troy Brown worked out for the Spurs on Sunday, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. The Spurs hold the No. 18 pick and Brown is ranked No. 19 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Brown then worked out for the Wizards Monday and is headed to Milwaukee for an evaluation by the Bucks, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Washington owns the No. 15 selection with the Bucks at No. 17.

We have plenty of other workouts to pass along: