Suns Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/18/20

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Clippers have assigned Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the team announced. Kabengele was the team’s first-round draft pick back in June.
  • The Rockets have assigned Chris Clemons and Isaiah Hartenstein to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Fox 26’s Mark Berman tweets. Hartenstein, who is one of two seven-footers on the team, has started two games for the NBA club this season.
  • The Lakers have assigned Talen Horton-Tucker to the G League, according to the league’s transaction log. Horton-Tucker was the team’s only draft pick back in June.
  • The Nets have assigned Dzanan Musa to the Long Island Nets. Musa has appeared in 35 NBA games this season.
  • KZ Okpala has been sent to the G League by the Heat, per the league’s transaction log. Okpala was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft.
  • The Suns have sent Jalen Lecque to the Northern Arizona Suns. The rookie has appeared in just four games for the NBA club this season.

Southwest Notes: Kleiman, RoCo, Melli, Grizzlies

Grizzlies executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman spoke with select media on Monday about an exciting Memphis season. Part of the gathered scrum included Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“I think the secret’s out on the Grizzlies at this point,” Kleiman said. “Just watching them night in and night out, these guys really like playing with each other, and from our perspective, that’s great to see.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The early returns on the fit of new Rockets power forward Robert Covington are encouraging, at least to Covington and defensive coach Elston Turner, according to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko“Still getting comfortable with everything but I feel really confident and we’ve been playing well the past couple [of] games,” Covington said.
  • Rookie Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli will be joining his teammates Zion Williamson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker in tomorrow’s All-Star Rising Stars Game, according to an official NBA release. Melli will replace second-year Suns center Deandre Ayton, out with a sore ankle. Since Ayton was representing the World Team, his replacement had to come from that group as well.
  • With a 28-26 record heading into the All-Star break, the Grizzlies are rounding into form with a four-game lead for the West’s No. 8 seed, per Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. They have become one of the NBA’s best defensive teams this month. Their exciting youth movement will be well-represented in the All-Star weekend’s Rising Stars game.

Devin Booker Replacing Lillard In All-Star Game, 3-Point Contest

The NBA has announced that Suns guard Devin Booker will replace injured Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in this weekend’s All-Star Game and 3-point contest. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 first reported (via Twitter) that Booker would be Lillard’s replacement for both events.

Booker, 23, was widely considered the most notable Western Conference snub when the 2020 All-Star reserves were revealed last month. He took the exclusion hard, publicly suggesting the picks were about entertainment, drama, and politics rather than rewarding the NBA’s best players. Now, after Lillard suffered a groin injury that will sideline him through the break and specifically endorsed Booker as his replacement, the Suns star will get a chance to play in his first All-Star Game.

In 52 games (35.9 MPG) this season, Booker has averaged 26.4 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.2 RPG with a shooting line of .496/.358/.920. Considering his scoring numbers are more impressive than those put up by several All-Stars, Booker presumably didn’t make the initial cut due to Phoenix’s poor record and his limitations on defense. Bradley Beal, the biggest snub in the Eastern Conference, was omitted from the list of All-Star reserves for similar reasons.

Beal was ineligible to step in for Lillard since the replacement had to come from the Western Conference, despite the fact that the All-Star Game won’t actually pit the East vs. the West. Booker will join LeBron James‘ team, since LeBron selected Lillard in last week’s All-Star draft.

Lillard had also been scheduled to put on a rap performance during Saturday night’s festivities in Chicago, but it’s safe to say Booker won’t be replacing Dame D.O.L.L.A on stage as well. Lillard still intends to perform, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Suns Sign Jonah Bolden To 10-Day Contract

5:00pm: The signing is now official, per NBA.com’s transactions log.

2:40pm: The Suns have agreed to sign free agent big man Jonah Bolden to a 10-day contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Phoenix has an open spot on its 15-man roster after releasing Tyler Johnson, so no corresponding roster move will be required.

Bolden, 24, was the 36th overall pick in the 2017 draft and joined the Sixers for the 2018/19 season after spending one year as a draft-and-stash prospect. He showed signs of promise in his rookie season, averaging 4.7 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a .494 FG% and .354 3PT% in 44 games (14.5 MPG). Suns head coach Monty Williams was a 76ers assistant at the time.

However, Bolden was not part of Philadelphia’s rotation in 2019/20, appearing in just four games and logging 14 total minutes. When the Sixers decided to promote two-way player Norvel Pelle to their 15-man roster following the trade deadline, Bolden was the odd man out. He was waived last Friday and became an unrestricted free agent on Sunday.

Phoenix is currently dealing with some injuries in its frontcourt. Frank Kaminsky (knee) and Aron Baynes (hip) have been out for weeks, Dario Saric (ankle) has been ruled out for Wednesday, and Deandre Ayton (ankle) is banged up as well. As such, Bolden should get the opportunity to have an immediate role for the Suns.

Because 10-day contracts must cover at least three games, Bolden’s will run through February 22, technically making it an 11-day contract, assuming it’s officially finalized today. He’d be eligible to play against the Warriors tonight, the Raptors following the All-Star break next Friday, and the Bulls next Saturday.

Suns Want 15th Man Who Could Stick With Team Beyond Season

After the Suns waived Tyler Johnson earlier this week, head coach Monty Williams said Johnson’s replacement on the roster will get the chance to be part of the team’s longer-term plans rather than just being a rental for the rest of the 2019/20 season, as Gina Mizell of The Athletic relays.

Word broke this afternoon that, for now, Jonah Bolden will be the player occupying the roster spot that Johnson previously held. Bolden is only getting a 10-day contract and could end up being a short-term solution as the Suns deal with a bevy of frontcourt injuries. However, if he makes a strong impression during his first few games with the team, a second 10-day contract and perhaps even a multiyear deal could follow. If not, Phoenix may look elsewhere for a player that can fit into the club’s plans beyond this season.

Magic Discussed Aaron Gordon Trades Before Deadline

Aaron Gordon remained with the Magic through last week’s trade deadline, but Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that Orlando discussed the sixth-year forward with a handful of teams. According to Deveney, the Warriors and Timberwolves were among the clubs that spoke to the Magic about Gordon. There was also “chatter” involving the Suns.

Although the Magic ended up having a fairly quiet deadline, executives around the NBA think the team may end up revisiting Gordon trade talks this summer, says Deveney.

“They were trying, and they tried hard to get something done with him at the deadline,” one source told Deveney. “All that gets brought back into focus once the season is over and you have a good idea what the market is for him.”

This is hardly the first time we’ve heard Gordon-related trade chatter this season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported back in November that teams were monitoring the former No. 4 overall pick, and Deveney wrote shortly thereafter that there may be some long-term concerns in Orlando about Gordon’s frontcourt fit with with cornerstone player Jonathan Isaac.

A pair of January reports even connected both the Warriors and Wolves to Gordon. Those teams ultimately made a blockbuster deal with one another instead, swapping D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins in a trade that included other players and draft picks.

Gordon has had a down year in Orlando, with his scoring average slipping to 13.9 PPG and his shooting percentage dropping to a career-worst .422 FG%. Still, he’d be a coveted player on the trade market, given his versatility, his age (24) and his relatively team-friendly contract ($34.5MM over two years after 2019/20).

According to Deveney, the Mavericks are another team that has “long had interest” in Gordon, but they might have a hard time putting together a competitive package. Deveney writes that “buzz around the league” suggests the Nets and Nuggets – perhaps with a package featuring Spencer Dinwiddie or Gary Harris – would be teams to watch if Gordon is made available this summer.

Forbes Releases 2020 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have had a miserable 12 months, finishing the 2018/19 season with a league-worst 17 wins, missing out on their top free agent targets, and then firing head coach David Fizdale and president of basketball operations Steve Mills during the 2019/20 season.

None of that seems to have had a noticeable impact on the team’s market value though. Once again, the franchise is considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Lakers and Warriors aren’t far behind, having both surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time this year.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.3 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. Every team’s value increased by at least 6% since Forbes put out their 2019 valuations last February, with a handful of franchises jumping by 20% or more.

The NBA-wide average of $2.12 billion per team in 2020 is also a new record — that league-wide average surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time. NBA franchise values are up almost sixfold over the last decade, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.1 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $1.95 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.85 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.8 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.775 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.75 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.625 billion
  18. Denver Nuggets: $1.6 billion
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.58 billion
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  21. Utah Jazz: $1.55 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.525 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.51 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  27. Orlando Magic: $1.43 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.375 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

The Raptors are among this year’s big “winners,” with their value rising 25%, from $1.675 billion a year ago to $2.1 billion this year following their first NBA championship. The Clippers also had a noteworthy bump, moving from ninth place on Forbes’ list to sixth after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.

Although every franchise’s value increased, the Nets had the smallest jump, just 6%. The Magic‘s modest 8% increase resulted in the team slipping from 23rd on last year’s list to 27th this year.

It’s worth noting that when a franchise has been sold in recent years, the price often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures are just estimates.

Suns Waive Tyler Johnson

FEBRUARY 10: The Suns have officially released Johnson, the team confirmed today in a press release.

FEBRUARY 9: The Suns are waiving guard Tyler Johnson, freeing up a roster spot to use in free agency, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Johnson, who has averaged 5.7 points, 1.6 assists and 16.6 minutes in 31 games this season, will become an unrestricted free agent upon clearing waivers. He has missed the last four games with knee soreness and saw his minutes decline in recent weeks. The Suns planned to move on from him after the season and didn’t have a concrete role for him going forward, according to Wojnarowski,

The 27-year-old went undrafted back in 2014 and holds previous experience with the Heat. His best season with Miami came during the 2016/17 campaign where he averaged 13.7 points and four assists per contest, earning a four-year, $50MM deal during the summer.

The Suns have the third-worst record in the Western Conference at 21-32, going 3-7 in their last 10 games. They have upcoming games against the Lakers on Monday and Warriors on Wednesday.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

And-Ones: Free Agency, Goodwin, Robinson, Brown

An active 2020 trade deadline has likely watered down the free-agent market this summer, a pattern far from the norm after a combined $4 billion was spent on more than 150 players last July, Bobby Marks of ESPN.com explores.

There were a total of 12 trades within the 48-hour window of the trade deadline this year, with high-profile players such as D’Angelo Russell, Andre Drummond, Andrew Wiggins and Clint Capela switching teams.

As Marks notes, the 2020 free agency class is projected to be mediocre for the most part. The Knicks could have upwards of $50MM to spend (though they’ll likely wait until the following summer for stronger talent), with the Hawks, Pistons, Hornets, Suns, and Heat also set to have north of $20MM.

Beyond Anthony Davis, some of the top unrestricted free agents this summer include Fred VanVleet, Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari and Serge Ibaka. Drummond ($28.7MM), DeMar DeRozan ($27.7MM) and Evan Fournier ($17MM) all have player options in their contracts, while Brandon Ingram and Bogdan Bogdanovic are set to enter restricted free agency.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent guard Archie Goodwin has signed in Germany with Ratiopharm Ulm, the team announced, as relayed by Sportando. Goodwin, 25, holds NBA experience with the Suns, Pelicans and Nets, most recently playing in Turkey. Goodwin was drafted with the No. 29 overall pick by Oklahoma City back in 2013.
  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson has signed in Russia with BC Khimki, the team announced on social media. Robinson signed a one-month deal with an extension until the end of the season. The 28-year-old has played for Sacramento, Houston, Portland, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Los Angeles across his professional career, spending time with the Spurs during summer league in 2019.
  • Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown has agreed to be the head coach of the Nigerian men’s basketball team, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated (Twitter link). Brown will coach Nigeria during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer, with Nigeria BB president Musa Kida reportedly looking for a high-profile coach that holds NBA experience.