Suns Rumors

Suns Sign Tariq Owens To Two-Way Contract

JANUARY 15: The Suns have officially signed Owens to a two-way contract, the club confirmed today in a press release.

JANUARY 14: The Suns intend to sign Tariq Owens to a two-way contract in advance of Wednesday’s deadline, sources tell Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link). January 15 is the last day that teams can sign players to two-way deals this season.

Owens, a 6’10” forward, played college ball at Tennessee and St. John’s before joining Texas Tech for the 2018/19 season. He helped lead the team to the national title game by averaging 8.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 2.4 BPG in 38 games (25.4 MPG), then signed a training camp deal with the Suns last summer.

Although he didn’t make the team’s regular season roster, Owens has spent the year with Phoenix’s G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. He has recorded 9.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 23 NBAGL contests (24.3 MPG).

No corresponding roster move will be necessary to bring aboard Owens, since Jared Harper has been the Suns’ only two-way player all season long. Owens will be eligible to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the end of the G League regular season in March, though I imagine he’ll continue to spend the majority of his time with Northern Arizona.

Ayton Finds Himself In Reserve Role

Suns center Deandre Ayton finds himself in a reserve role for the time being and he admits it’s an adjustment, as he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Ayton is working his way back into top shape after a 25-game league-imposed suspension. “I’ve never been through this, but it’s new,” the top overall pick of the 2018 draft said. “I’m just holding my head high and just working.” Ayton had 18 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes against Charlotte on Sunday.

Two-Way Contract Situations To Watch This Week

January 15 is the last day that NBA teams can sign a player to a two-way contract this season. After that date, teams can still waive two-way players or promote them to their 15-man rosters, but they can’t bring aboard new players on two-way contracts as replacements.

[RELATED: 2019/20 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

With that deadline looming, we could get a mini-flurry of activity related to two-way deals this week. While it’s impossible to predict which teams will simply choose to replace one two-way player with a new one, there are a few specific situations worth keeping an eye on, based on certain players’ performances or teams’ roster situations.

Here are a few two-way contract situations to watch this week:

The Suns, Cavaliers, and Heat

The Suns and Cavaliers are currently the only two teams not carrying a pair of players on two-way contracts, while the Heat are expected to join them tomorrow.

Phoenix has only had one player (Jared Harper) on a two-way contract all season long, but it would still be a surprise not to see the team add a second two-way player by Wednesday. Cleveland, meanwhile, just waived Levi Randolph on Sunday, while Miami is poised to promote Chris Silva to the 15-man roster, opening up a two-way slot for each club.

Damion Lee / Ky Bowman (Warriors)

Rotation players Lee and Bowman have been two of the most likely candidates for promotions all season long. The Warriors have a pair of open roster spots, but based on their hard cap, they only have the flexibility to promote one of their two-way players for now.

Lee is expected to be first in line, as we heard when Golden State waived Marquese Chriss last week. A deal appeared imminent at that time, but nothing has been completed yet, even now that Lee has reached his 45-day NBA limit. It’s possible the two sides are still haggling over the length of the contract (the Warriors could offer as many as four years), but the team may just be taking its time to maximize its financial flexibility below the hard cap.

Assuming Lee is promoted by Wednesday, as expected, Golden State figures to add a new two-way player to pair with Bowman, who may get a promotion of his own later in the season. The Dubs’ new two-way player would be able to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the end of the G League season.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Nets)

Keith Smith of RealGM suggested on Sunday (via Twitter) that the Nets will likely move Luwawu-Cabarrot to the 15-man roster in the coming days, on either a standard contract or a 10-day deal.

Brooklyn won’t technically have a roster spot open until Justin Anderson‘s 10-day pact expires on Wednesday night, but could terminate that contract a day or two early in order to promote Luwawu-Cabarrot and sign a new two-way player by Wednesday’s deadline.

Norvel Pelle (Sixers)

Teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on Pelle, who only has a few NBA days left on his two-way deal, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links).

If the Sixers intend to promote Pelle, it’d be in their best interests to do it by Wednesday in order to sign a new two-way player to replace him. However, it remains unclear whether or not that will happen. After guaranteeing Trey Burke‘s salary last week, Philadelphia has a full 15-man roster and would probably have to release a player like Jonah Bolden, Raul Neto, or Kyle O’Quinn to make room for Pelle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Derrick Favors, Pelicans, 28, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $37.6MM deal in 2018
A power forward by trade, Favors has emerged as the Pelicans’ starting center. Over a nine-game span prior to Friday’s action, Favors posted six double-doubles while averaging 11.2 PPG and 14.4 RPG. With an expiring $17.65MM contract, Favors is a candidate to be dealt before February’s deadline. Favors left Friday’s game with a hamstring injury but as long as it’s not serious, he could be an intriguing rental. Several teams were already monitoring Favors prior to his recent productive run. Jaxson Hayes is the future center for the Pelicans and Favors doesn’t stretch defenses but his steady contributions will draw some attention in a weak free agent market.

Isaiah Hartenstein, Rockets, 21, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018
Hartenstein doesn’t get many opportunities but he puts up strong numbers when the Rockets are shorthanded in the frontcourt. In a three-game stretch in late December, Hartenstein averaged 14.7 PPG on 73% percent shooting and 11.3 RPG. In six G League outings this season, he has posted 21.3 PPG, 14.5 RPG and 4.7 APG in 33.3 MPG. The Rockets have a June 29 deadline to guarantee Hartenstein’s $1.66MM salary. It’s hard to see the Rockets letting the 21-year-old 7-footer walk away at that price.

Josh Jackson, Grizzlies, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $18.2MM deal in 2017
Following two troubled seasons with the Suns, Jackson was dealt to the Grizzlies during the offseason. Memphis decided to have Jackson work on improving his game and reputation at the G League level. The fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft has toiled there during the first three months of the season. Jackson was suspended two games for violating team rules last month, then went into an offensive funk until a 35-point outburst against the Iowa Wolves Monday. There’s no indication the Grizzlies have any interest in re-signing the unrestricted free agent this summer.

Ryan Broekhoff, Mavericks, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $2.25MM deal in 2018
Broekhoff suffered a fractured left fibula late last month and is out indefinitely. Tough break — literally — for the Australian swingman, who wasn’t playing much anyway. He has appeared in 10 games this season, averaging 3.7 PPG in 7.7 MPG, after playing 42 games with Dallas last season in his first NBA campaign. Dallas would have to extend a $1.9MM qualifying offer to him in June to make him a restricted free agent. It seems likely that Broekhoff will return overseas next season to resume his career.

Jakob Poeltl, Spurs, 24, C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.2MM deal in 2016
The Raptors’ 2016 lottery pick hasn’t really developed with a change of scenery over the past two seasons. Though Poeltl has made modest increases in his rebounding, assist and shot-blocking averages this season, his playing time remains limited to 15-20 minutes per game. The 7-footer doesn’t provide much offensively and has yet to develop a 3-point shot. He’s also a poor free throw shooter. San Antonio would have to extend a $5.1MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. That’s a reasonable price for a second-unit player but San Antonio may let him walk and seek an upgrade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

January is generally a month full of roster shuffling in the NBA. The opening of the 10-day contract period (January 5), the salary guarantee deadline (January 7), the two-way contract deadline (January 15), and the upcoming trade deadline (February 6) all incentivize teams to make changes to their rosters.

With those dates in mind, we’re taking a look today at which teams around the NBA still have openings on their 15-man rosters and which ones have a two-way contract slot available.

Listed below, with the help of our roster counts breakdown, are the teams that aren’t carrying full rosters.

Teams with an open 15-man roster spot:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Golden State Warriors
    • Note: The Warriors have two open roster spots.
  • Houston Rockets
  • Miami Heat
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Portland Trail Blazers

Not carrying a full 15-man roster saves a team some money and gives that team the flexibility to add a player in a trade or on the buyout market. For most the teams listed above, the financial factor probably outweighs the roster-flexibility factor — the Warriors, Rockets, Heat, Thunder, and Trail Blazers are all in tax territory, while the Nuggets are close. Only the Magic don’t have immediate tax concerns.

It’s worth noting that because Golden State has two open roster spots, the team has a two-week window after waiving Marquese Chriss on Tuesday to get to the required minimum of 14 players. They’re expected to promote two-way player Damion Lee, which would open up a two-way contract slot.

Teams whose full 15-man rosters include at least one 10-day contract:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers

Paul Watson is currently on a 10-day contract with the Hawks, while Justin Anderson has one with the Nets. Those deals will expire at the end of the day on January 15, so each team could open up a roster spot at that point by not re-signing Watson or Anderson to a second 10-day pact.

As for the Cavaliers, they have two players on 10-day contracts after re-signing Alfonzo McKinnie and Tyler Cook on Thursday. Those deals will run through January 18, at which time Cleveland could re-sign one or both players, or move forward with just 13 players for up to two weeks.

Teams with an open two-way contract slot:

  • Phoenix Suns

The Suns have been the only NBA team carrying just one two-way player all season long. Phoenix has its own G League affiliate and two-way contracts don’t count against the cap at all, so the franchise’s motivation for not filling that spot remains unclear. While there’s no indication a move is imminent, it would be surprising if the Suns don’t sign a second two-way player before the January 15 deadline.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Pacific Division has been the subject of a handful of trade rumors lately, including reports suggesting that the Kings and Lakers have touched base on a possible deal and that the Suns and Clippers might make good trade partners for a swap of big men.

As we wait to see whether any of these whispers actually turn into anything concrete, here are three potential trade candidates from around the Pacific:

Kyle Kuzma, PF
Los Angeles Lakers
$2MM cap hit; $3.6MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; RFA in 2021

As recently as last Friday, word was that the Lakers still viewed Kuzma as a core long-term piece and were focused more on upgrading their roster around the edges. However, Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested over the weekend that the club was open to listening to inquiries on Kuzma, and Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Monday that the Kings were among the teams with interest.

This may simply be a case of the Lakers doing due diligence. According to Amick, LeBron James remains supportive of Kuzma and general manager Rob Pelinka is believed to be the young forward’s biggest backer. The Lakers’ reported asking price, relayed by Sean Deveney of, is high and seems unlikely to be met. And moving Kuzma for an impact player would be tricky, given his small $2MM cap hit.

On the other hand, Kuzma’s fit in L.A.’s frontcourt is somewhat uncomfortable, since the club likes to use a traditional center. Playing Kuzma alongside, say, Dwight Howard, LeBron, and Anthony Davis isn’t ideal, so if the Lakers can move him in a deal for an impact wing player like Bogdan Bogdanovic or Robert Covington, it might make sense to do so.

I think Kuzma is probably still more likely than not to remain with the Lakers through the deadline, but a trade in the next month wouldn’t be at all shocking.

Dewayne Dedmon, C
Sacramento Kings
$13.3MM cap hit; $13.3MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13.3MM partially guaranteed salary ($1MM) in 2021/22

The Kings’ offseason commitments to Dedmon ($27.7MM in guaranteed money) and Richaun Holmes ($9.8MM) reflected the club’s belief that Dedmon would be the starting center for the foreseeable future, with Holmes playing a backup role. That view made sense — following two strong seasons in Atlanta, Dedmon was a popular mid-level free agent target for teams around the NBA, and the Kings were willing to go even higher than the mid-level to lock him up.

However, it only took four games for new head coach Luke Walton to move Holmes into the starting lineup, demoting Dedmon to a bench role. As Holmes as emerged as one of Sacramento’s most valuable contributors, Dedmon has fallen out of the rotation altogether, having been listed as inactive for the team’s last three games.

Dedmon has publicly confirmed that he’d like to be traded, receiving a $50K fine for his honesty. But his value is low at this point as a result of his struggles in Sacramento. The Kings are reportedly open to moving the big man, but won’t make a deal just to get rid of him.

A shoulder injury suffered by Holmes on Monday night may open up a path for Dedmon to get back into the rotation, which could be the opportunity he needs to show potential suitors he still has value.

Tyler Johnson, G
Phoenix Suns
$19.2MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Gina Mizell of The Athletic recently identified Johnson as the Suns’ most likely player to be dealt in the coming weeks. Unfortunately for Johnson, that’s not because contenders will be clamoring to add him to their rotations — it’s because of his $19.2MM contract, which will expire in the summer.

It remains to be seen which direction Phoenix will go at the trade deadline, but as long as the team remains in the playoff hunt, targeting an upgrade such as Danilo Gallinari is a possibility. If the Suns were to make a play for someone like Gallinari, who is earning more than $22MM this season, using Johnson’s $19MM+ expiring deal as a salary-matching chip would be the most logical move.

While Johnson is a trade candidate due to his contract situation, he may welcome a change of scenery. After starting the season as a regular contributor in Phoenix, Johnson has fallen out of the rotation, appearing in just six games since the start of December.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Edwards, Cap Room, Sellers, Betting

With LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton battling injuries this winter and James Wiseman leaving Memphis to begin preparing for the 2020 draft, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards is one of the few candidates for the No. 1 pick that NBA evaluators can actually watch these days. And, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated relays, scouts have been impressed so far by what they’ve seen from the freshman.

“[Edwards] is a pro, everything about him. Athleticism. Skill. The ability to score,” one NBA scout told Spears. “He can defend. He is one of those guys that will be better on the next level because he will be playing with better teammates. When he walks onto the floor, you have the feeling that you’re watching a pro. And then the game starts and he shows you he is one with his versatility and skill.”

While he currently ranks behind Ball on ESPN’s big board, Edwards is considered a candidate to be the first player drafted this spring. So far, there’s no consensus among experts on which prospect will be the top pick, and Edwards tells Spears that his goal is to become that player.

“That’s my dream, to be the No. 1 pick,” Edwards said. “So, all I’m doing is just working hard. And whoever gets the pick, they will do whatever they want to do with. I just pray it would be me.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Hawks, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Hornets, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Suns, and Pelicans are the teams expected to have cap room available during the 2020 offseason. Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines how much spending power those teams will have and what factors could affect their flexibility.
  • In his in-depth preview of the 2020 trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) breaks down the most and least valuable contracts for each team and speculates on the topics currently under discussion in each front office.
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer identifies 11 teams that may be sellers at next month’s trade deadline, including obvious candidates like the Knicks and Cavaliers, as well as teams that will be more reluctant to sell, such as the Kings and Timberwolves.
  • Wayne Parry of The Associated Press explores how professional sports leagues – including the NBA – are cashing in on legalized sports betting by selling data to bookmakers.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/6/20

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

  • The Hornets recalled forwards Caleb Martin and Jalen McDaniels from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. Martin, an undrafted rookie, has appeared in five games for the Hornets, averaging 1.8 PPG in 6.4 MPG. Martin has appeared in 17 games for the Swarm, averaging 19.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.8 APG in 35.1 MPG. McDaniels, a second-round pick who has made two cameos with the Hornets, has appeared in 20 games with the Swarm, averaging 17.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG.
  • Point guard Chris Clemons has been recalled by the Rockets, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Clemons had a 40-point game for the Rio Grande Vipers on Sunday. The previous Sunday he racked up 16 points and nine assists for the Rockets against New Orleans.
  • The Mavericks assigned small forward Isaiah Roby to the Texas Legends, the team’s PR department tweets. The second-round pick has been rehabbing a foot injury.
  • The Suns recalled Jalen Lecque from their Northern Arizona affiliate, the team tweets. The undrafted rookie guard has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Pacers recalled star guard Victor Oladipo from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. Oladipo practiced with the Mad Ants as he continues his rehab from a right knee ailment.
  • The Raptors assigned Matt Thomas to Raptors 905, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. He’ll play in a G League contest on Monday, then return to the NBA club and suit up against Portland on Tuesday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. The shooting guard has been sidelined by a finger injury and hasn’t played for the Raptors since November 23.
  • Raptors forwards Stanley Johnson and Malcolm Miller have also been assigned to Raptors 905, Murphy adds in another tweet. Johnson, who asked to be sent to the G League, will also play on Monday as he works his way back from a groin injury, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). Miller has appeared in 20 games with the NBA club this season but is only averaging 5.5 MPG.
  • The Lakers recalled Talen Horton-Tucker from South Bay, the G League affiliate tweets. The second-round rookie has appeared in two NBA games this season.

Pacific Notes: Baynes, Ayton, LeBron, Poole, Holmes

The Suns started both Deandre Ayton and Aron Baynes together for the first time when the team hosted New York on Friday, testing a larger lineup which resulted in a 120-112 win, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

Suns general manager James Jones and head coach Monty Williams discussed the possibility on Thursday, Rankin notes, with the team sporting the same frontcourt against Memphis on Sunday.

“We’ve been having discussions about it,” Williams said. “James and I had a long talk (Thursday). I had been thinking about it, but James kind of pushed me in the corner on the phone and started talking about DA (Ayton) and his ability to not just dive, but pick-and-pop and do some things a lot of fours can do.”

Baynes finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes of work against the Knicks, with Ayton recording 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. The coaching adjustment has drawn praise from many within the organization, including other players.

“I love it,” Suns wing Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “A lot of size. A lot of length, athleticism. You got athletes. You got strong, physical specimens like Aron Baynes. It’s just amazing we can switch up the lineups and still play the right way.”

After hosting Memphis on Sunday, Phoenix (14-21) will wrap up its five-game homestand with games against Sacramento on Tuesday, Orlando on Friday and Charlotte the following Sunday.

There’s more from the Pacific Division tonight:

  • LeBron James has remained at the center of the Lakers‘ revamped roster this season, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. The Lakers overhauled its roster by upgrading James’ supporting cast, pairing him with All-Star forward Anthony Davis and adding veterans such as Danny Green and Dwight Howard. “First and foremost, you have to be able to control the game from the mental aspect,” coach Frank Vogel said of James. “He was always able to do that as a young player — and particularly in his prime — but I think that’s boding well for him later in his career. Also, it’s the around-the-clock attention that he gives to his body just to make sure that he’s doing everything the right way to put his body in the best position to have success.”
  • Warriors rookie Jordan Poole rediscovered his shot during a recent stretch in the NBA G League, Marcus White of NBC Sports writes. Poole scored 24 points to help lead Santa Cruz to a 110-106 win over Salt Lake City on Friday, getting recalled by the team the following day. Poole has averaged seven points per game in 30 contests with Golden State this season, shooting just 26% from the floor and 24% from 3-point range.
  • Kings big man Richaun Holmes has acted as a much-needed anchor for the team this year, head coach Luke Walton said, as relayed by Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “He plays with that passion and fire that I think the Sacramento fan base really gets behind because he just leaves it all out there every time he plays,” Walton said, praising the 26-year-old. “He’s made a lot of winning plays for us. He’s having a heck of a year so far.” Holmes has averaged a career-high 13.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 29.6 minutes per game on the season.

Frank Kaminsky III Out Indefinitely With Patella Stress Fracture

Suns big man Frank Kaminsky III has been sidelined indefinitely with a right patella stress fracture, the team announced via press release on Saturday. There is no timetable for Kaminsky’s return and he will be re-evaluated in four weeks, the release noted.

Kaminsky, 26, had missed Phoenix’s previous three contests due to a right knee injury. Before he went down, the 2015 first-rounder draft pick was enjoying a solid season statistically off the Suns’ bench, averaging 11.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG. However, he had seen his minutes decrease in recent weeks, failing to play 20 or more minutes in a contest since mid-December.

With Kaminsky on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Cameron Johnson and Cheick Diallo are among the players who could see increased playing time, assuming the Suns don’t bring in outside reinforcements.