Suns Rumors

Chris Paul Ruled Out For Game 1 Of The Western Conference Finals

7:33pm: Paul has been ruled out for Game 1, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.


6:16pm: Suns guard Chris Paul remains in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and his availability for Game 1 is still uncertain, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Coach Monty Williams provided an update on Paul’s status after today’s practice.

“Because of the climate that we live, things change from day-to-day,” Williams said. “I try to take it one day at a time. I certainly understand the line of questions, but for me, based on the information and based on the history of this particular protocol, everything is day-to-day. So that’s how I have to approach it.” 

Paul received the COVID-19 vaccination, but he still returned a positive test earlier this week. He was required to quarantine and will have to register multiple negative tests and be given medical clearance before he can play.

Paul is coming off his best game of the playoffs, scoring 37 points Tuesday as the Suns completed a sweep of the Nuggets. He appeared to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that slowed him in the first-round series against the Lakers.

Phoenix had been hoping for a seventh game in the semifinal series between the Clippers and Jazz to give Paul more time, but L.A.’s win Friday night means the Western Conference finals will start Sunday.

Cameron Payne will likely take Paul’s place in the starting lineup if he’s not active, Rankin adds, with E’Twaun Moore and Jevon Carter possibly getting more playing time. Devin Booker may also see a few minutes at point guard.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Haliburton, Wiseman, George, Kings, Lakers

Suns guard Chris Paul entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Wednesday morning, and has been ruled out indefinitely pending his COVID-19 test results. With the Clippers defeating the Jazz on Saturday night to advance to the Western Conference Finals, head coach Monty Williams and the Suns are now preparing to enter their series against the Clippers without their star point guard.

While Williams wasn’t ready to give up on the idea of Paul playing, he is preparing to have to name another starter and Cameron Payne seems the likely replacement, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Cam has played with the starters a lot this year,” Williams said. “So it’s not anything that he hasn’t done or he’s not used to. So that part won’t change.”

Payne is coming off a breakout season following a strong performance in last year’s summer restart, and will soon face his biggest test as a pro.

I’m just getting ready like any other series,” said Payne, as reported by Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin. “Just being ready to play when my name’s called. If I get an opportunity, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready.”

We have more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton is fully healthy and ready to begin his offseason training, he reported on a recent episode of JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast. Haliburton also underwent Lasik eye surgery to avoid needing contacts moving forward, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Former Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa weighs in on number two pick James Wiseman‘s rookie season, his struggles and his promise heading into year two, as covered by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock. “It’s complicated, but at the end of the day he’s a talent, he’s a guy that if he works, he’s going to be a very good player,” said Barbosa. “He’s able to do a bit of everything on the court. He’s just gotta understand the offense and the way we like to play.” Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that there’s still a chance Wiseman works out with Kevin Garnett this offseason, which was the plan before Wiseman suffered a knee injury. “It should still happen. For sure,” says Wiseman.
  • Paul George and the Clippers rallied following news of Kawhi Leonard‘s ACL injury, winning two straight games to advance to the Western Conference Finals. George, who hasn’t reached a Conference Finals since 2014, discussed the relief of getting past the second round, as tweeted by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “It was a special night,” George said. “You felt the monkey off of the Clippers’ back in terms of getting out of the second round.”
  • NBC Sports Bay Area’s James Ham discusses the Kings‘ hopes for a little extra luck during Tuesday’s draft lottery. He also suggests that if the Kings fail to move up (they have a 20% chance to jump into the top four), everyone will potentially be available for trades outside of De’Aaron Fox and Haliburton.
  • Following a season ravaged by injuries, the Lakers have decided not to renew the contract of their trainer, reports ESPN’s David McMenamin. Nina Hsieh was hired two years ago after being the head trainer for the Lakers’ G League team. McMenamin says to expect more changes as the Lakers continue to try to revamp their staff to focus on player health.

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Carlisle, Mavericks, Celtics

The Magic have requested permission to interview three assistants with no previous NBA head coaching experience, sources tell Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The requests involve Suns assistant Willie Green, Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Nets assistant Ime Udoka.

Orlando may be seeking a younger coach to oversee its rebuilding process after moving many of its veteran players at this year’s trade deadline. Former head coach Steve Clifford reportedly decided to part ways with the team because he didn’t want to commit to a rebuilding situation.

Green, 39, came to Phoenix in 2019 when Monty Williams was hired as head coach. He also served as an assistant coach with the Warriors and finished out his 12-year NBA career with the Magic in 2014/15.

Lee, 36, has been an assistant for seven seasons, working under Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks. He has also been mentioned as a candidate for head coaching vacancies in New Orleans, Boston and possibly Milwaukee if the organization decides not to bring back Budenholzer.

Udoka, 43, has been a candidate for several openings in recent years. He is in his first season with Brooklyn after previously serving as an assistant with the Sixers and Spurs. Robbins notes that the Magic interviewed Udoka after Frank Vogel was fired in 2018, but Clifford was chosen for the job.

Orlando has already sought permission to interview Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and Nuggets associate head coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Robbins speculates that Rick Carlisle, who resigned as Mavericks coach on Thursday, could be another name to watch because he and general manager John Hammond spent two years together in Detroit. However, Carlisle is expected to receive offers from teams that are ready to be competitive right away.

There’s more on the NBA’s coaching search:

  • Carlisle could be the Bucks‘ top candidate if they fall short in the playoffs and decide to replace Budenholzer, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to Real GM). MacMahon also cites rumors about Carlisle returning to the Pacers, where he coached from 2003-07, and speculates that he never would have left Dallas unless he was sure that another opportunity was awaiting.
  • On the same podcast, MacMahon named Jamahl MosleyTerry Stotts and Kidd as three likely candidates to replace Carlisle with the Mavericks. Mosley, who is also a candidate for other openings, has been an assistant in Dallas since 2014. Stotts served as an assistant to Carlisle with the Mavs before the Trail Blazers hired him as head coach.
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic considers the Celtics‘ job the best one available in his coaching vacancy power rankings. He names Carlisle as the best choice for Boston.

Suns Don't Expect Chris Paul To Miss Much Of Conference Finals

  • The Suns are optimistic that Chris Paul won’t miss significant time after being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. However, Wojnarowski adds that Phoenix is hoping the Jazz-Clippers series gets extended to a seventh game so the Suns won’t have to play again until Tuesday. He cautions that Paul and the team are “at the mercy of the testing” and have no control over what those results will show.

Chris Paul Enters Health And Safety Protocols

1:29pm: The Suns have put out a brief press release confirming that Paul is in the health and safety protocols and announcing that the next update will come on Saturday.


11:22am: Paul has registered a positive COVID-19 test, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

Gambadoro adds that Paul was vaccinated earlier this year. However, the 36-year-old would still require a quarantine period and would need to return multiple negative tests and receive medical clearance before he returns to the court.


7:42am: Suns point guard Chris Paul has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols related to COVID-19, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, Paul will be sidelined for an indefinite period of time, and his status for the start of the Western Conference Finals is up in the air.

For most of the 2020/21 NBA season, a player who tested positive for the coronavirus was typically sidelined for at least 10-to-14 days, while a player who was deemed a close contract of someone who tested positive generally had to quarantine for a week.

It’s not clear, however which of those categories Paul may fall into. Depending on the circumstances, CP3’s isolation period could also be shorter if he has been vaccinated, Charania notes.

The NBA had managed to successfully navigate the coronavirus during the postseason up until this point, reporting in recent weeks that no new players had registered positive tests since the playoffs began. But if Paul has to miss any of the Suns’ next series, it would be a brutal break for the him and the team, especially given how thoroughly Phoenix dominated the Nuggets in a four-game sweep in round two.

If the series between the Jazz and Clippers requires seven games to determine a winner, it would benefit the Suns by potentially pushing back the start of the Western Finals. Game 5 of that Utah/L.A. series will be played tonight, with Game 6 on Friday. If a Game 7 is necessary, it would take place on Sunday.

Paul helped lead the Suns to the NBA’s second-best record this season, averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game with a shooting line of .499/.395/.934 in 70 contests (31.4 MPG). He was named to the All-NBA Second Team on Tuesday.

If Paul has to miss any time, Phoenix would lean more heavily on backup point guard Cameron Payne, who had some big games in the first round when CP3 was battling a shoulder injury.

And-Ones: Rule Changes, Tatum, Goodwin, Cavanaugh, Options

The NBA’s competition committee met on Monday to discuss rule changes that would address how fouls are called, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The proposed rule changes would focus primarily on limiting players’ ability to draw fouls by leaning to the side or backwards on shot fakes, a direct response to some of the more unnatural foul-baiting that has become common in recent years, especially with players such as Trae Young, James Harden and Luka Doncic.

The competition committee assembled a collection of clips of the shooting motions deemed to be “unnatural,” according to Wojnarowski. The committee, the NBA, and the league’s GMs will discuss specific recommendations next week as they look to address the growing perception that the rules are slanting too much towards giving advantage to the offensive players, especially superstars. The committee hopes these rule changes can be instituted as early as during this year’s Summer League.

We have more odds and ends from around the NBA.

  • Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum has committed to playing for Team USA in Tokyo, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Tatum joins Damian Lillard and Draymond Green as the first group of players to commit to USA Basketball’s Olympic squad.
  • Former Suns guard Archie Goodwin has signed with Eberlein Drive of The Basketball Tournament, tweets JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors. Goodwin played four seasons in the NBA, most recently in the 2016/17 season for the Pelicans and Nets. He joins former Jazz forward and NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Jeremy Evans on the Drive.
  • Former Jazz forward Tyler Cavanaugh has signed with BC Zalgiris, a Lithuanian-based team that is one of the oldest in the EuroLeague. Cavanaugh previously played for Iberostar Tenerife, a Spanish club that made it to the semifinals of the ACB last year before losing to powerhouse Barcelona.
  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger goes through every possible team and player option decision heading into the offseason with predictions as to whether those options will be exercised or declined. Some predictions of note: Hollinger thinks that Suns guard Chris Paul will opt in and sign an extension. He also predicts Kawhi Leonard will opt out, and notes that if Leonard chooses to sign a one-plus-one contract with the Clippers (a two-year deal with a player option in the second year), he would be eligible for a five-year deal worth a projected $246MM in 2022 due to the Clippers having his full Bird rights, as opposed to the four-year, $175MM deal he could sign this summer.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

Suns Notes: Craig, Crowder, CP3-Williams, Defense

Athletic Suns reserve swingman Torrey Craig is finding his form in the playoffs with his new club, writes Gina Mizell of Suns.com. Mizell notes that Craig as a defender has proven his value by guarding multiple positions. With Phoenix, Craig has also been able to showcase his game as a shooter and rim roller.

“We would be in a different place if we didn’t have Torrey Craig on our team,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “It was the right spot for Torrey. We needed him, and he needed us.”

“To me, it’s mental,” Craig said of his active brand of play with the Suns. “Even if I’m looking tired, I’m breathing hard, I’m still gonna go after the ball and do the extra dirty work. … If I’m gonna play 15 minutes this game, I’m gonna make sure I empty the tank in 15 minutes.”

Craig inked a veteran’s minimum one-year contract with the Bucks as a 2020 free agent. Craig found himself out of the rotation after being waylaid by a broken nose early in the 2020/21 season. He was relieved when he learned he was being traded to the Suns in March.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In comments to reporters Sunday, veteran Suns starting power forward Jae Crowder said that many associates questioned his decision to join the Suns during the 2020 offseason after a Finals run with the Heat, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Before this season, the Suns had not earned a playoff berth since 2010. Now they are headed to the Western Conference Finals, having swept the Nuggets in a second-round series. “I know I look like a genius a little bit with my decision,” Crowder said. “I felt like (the Suns) were hungry. They want to do some special things, and I just want to be a part of it.”
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams and All-Star point guard Chris Paul are cherishing their shared journey to the Western Conference Finals after a decade-long friendship, per Royce Young of ESPN. Williams served as Paul’s head coach with the then-New Orleans Hornets during the 2010/11 season. “One of the highlights of my career, (Chris is) right there,” Williams said.
  • The Suns have excelled on both sides of the ball to return to their first Western Conference Finals in 11 years, but their intense defense will prove crucial throughout the rest of their playoff run, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The club’s 104.7 defensive rating is a significant improvement over their already-impressive 110.4 regular season defensive rating. “Shout-out to our coaches,” Paul said. “We’re prepared every game. Win or lose, one thing we won’t be is underprepared. And just attention to detail — we have slip-ups here and there, but the signs of a good team is when you can lock in defensively. And that’s where we try to hang our hat.”

Crowder A Stabilizing Two-Way Presence For Suns; CP3 Achieving New Milestones

Suns forward Jae Crowder is hoping to make his second consecutive NBA Finals appearance during his first season with Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Crowder signed a three-year, $29.2MM deal in the 2020 offseason with Phoenix after a productive 2019/20 run with the Heat, in which Miami eventually fell 4-2 to the Lakers in the 2020 Finals.

  • Veteran Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul has achieved a first-time playoff series advantage this season in taking his first 3-0 start in any postseason matchup, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha notes that Paul, an 11-time All-Star, shows no signs of slowing down just yet, employing his veteran savvy to help propel Phoenix to the cusp of the Western Conference Finals. “He was using the clock well, coming off pick-and-roll getting into his spots, but it helps when you have guys like [Crowder] and [Devin Booker] and [Mikal Bridges] stretching the floor, and then [Deandre Ayton] puts pressure on the rim,” head coach Monty Williams said. “Defensively, he understands the moment. And offensively, just managing the game really well. But that’s what he’s done for a long time.” The 36-year-old Paul has been a steady presence to close out all three games in the final quarter. Buha notes that, in his 20 minutes logged across the series’ three fourth quarters thus far, Paul has tallied 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting from field, eight dimes, and zero turnovers. Paul has a $44.2MM player option for the 2021/22 season, though he may opt out in pursuit of a longer-term deal.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Western Conference

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players from the Western Conference:

Andre Drummond, Lakers, 27, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $794K deal in 2021

Drummond had a golden opportunity to show he could perform in the biggest moments. He was reportedly promised a starting spot by the Lakers after he reached a buyout agreement with Cleveland and cleared waivers. Drummond withered in the spotlight and was benched for Game 6 of the first-round series with Phoenix.

Coach Frank Vogel lavished praise on Drummond after the season, saying “We’re hopeful that he’s a Laker for a long time.” That seems like a long shot, considering how the postseason played out.

The two-time All-Star is still only 27 but his status has fallen dramatically over the past two seasons. He might be fortunate to receive the mid-level from a team seeking an elite rebounder.

Serge Ibaka, Clippers, 31, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $19MM deal in 2020

Ibaka said last month he’s been dealing with back pain all season caused by a pinched nerve. It continued to hamper him to the point where he underwent back surgery on Thursday. He only appeared in 41 games during the regular season and had been limited to two postseason games.

Several contenders were interested in Ibaka during free agency last year due to his postseason track record. He was considered the Clippers’ most important addition during the offseason but now they’ll have to strive for a championship without one of their top frontcourt players. Ibaka holds a $9.72MM option on his contract for next season and it’s a safe bet he’ll take the guaranteed money.

Langston Galloway, Suns, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2020

Galloway signed a one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum to join an improving team seeking a second-unit shooter. He was Detroit’s top reserve a season ago but the opportunities haven’t been there in Phoenix. He only saw action in 40 games during the regular season and has made two cameos in the playoffs. The Suns have gone with a three-man rotation in the backcourt – Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Cameron Payne – rendering Galloway as a spectator. Galloway will likely have to settle for a similar contract next season from a team that promises to give him more playing time.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks, 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $71MM deal in 2017

The Mavericks need to improve their supporting cast around Luka Doncic but they don’t want to lose Hardaway. Despite his Game 7 clunker (11 points, 1-for-9 on threes), Hardaway and Dorian Finney-Smith were the team’s most impactful players besides Doncic during the first-round series against the Clippers.

The Mavericks have made re-signing Hardaway a high priority. They’ll have some competition for his services and they to be cognizant of weighing down their future cap with enigmatic Kristaps Porzingis on the books for three more seasons (including a player option). But Hardaway is in a good spot to get another lucrative multiyear deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.