Suns Rumors

Jamal Crawford “Baffled” By Lack Of Opportunity

Does anyone need a three-time Sixth Man of the Year who’s still capable of a 50-point night? Jamal Crawford tells Shaun Powell of that he’s working out in Seattle and trying to be ready in case an NBA team comes calling.

At age 39, Crawford isn’t ready to retire, not after putting up 51 points in the final game of last season. That capped off an uneven year in Phoenix where Crawford seemed out of place as a veteran on a rebuilding team. He averaged just 18.9 minutes per night and scored 7.9 PPG, the lowest since his rookie season in 2000/01.

Crawford watched two other veteran free agents get back in the league this week as Brooklyn signed Iman Shumpert and Portland reached a deal with Carmelo Anthony. Crawford tweeted messages of support for both players and hopes he’ll be next in line for an opportunity.

“I know I can play,” he said, “and I would think my reputation is still solid. It’s baffling to me.”

Crawford started last season as part of a group of veteran leaders in Phoenix. However, by mid-December, the Suns had traded Trevor Ariza and bought out Tyson Chandler, leaving Crawford alone in that role. He also played most of the year out of position, spending time at point guard where the Suns were desperate for help, rather than his natural position of shooting guard.

Still he had bursts of productivity that suggest he could still fill a role on an NBA roster. The 51-point night wasn’t a fluke, as he scored 19, 28 and 27 points in the three prior games.

“I’m kind of an outlier because you don’t see anyone my age having games like that,” Crawford said. “And I did it off the bench. A year earlier, in my 18th year, I was still averaging double figures. I can bring a multitude of things. I’ll be ready for whatever team decides how I can fit into what they’re trying to do.”

Summer was quiet for Crawford as the Suns moved in a different direction, and he didn’t receive even a text message from anyone during July’s free agency sweepstakes. He’s part of a large group of over-30 players still on the open market and notes that many teams take a “wait and see approach” with athletes once they reach a certain age.

Crawford understands that there are a limited number of roster spots available, but he hasn’t lost the belief that he belongs in the NBA. He plans to be ready if the chance arises.

“Physically, I feel better than I did last season,” he said. “I’m able to get my body together. My skill set is sharp. I feel that I’m good. My mindset is be patient and hopefully something good comes about it. I’ll be ready for the opportunity.”

Aron Baynes Boosting Stock In Contract Year

  • Some potential contenders – such as the Lakers – were hoping that the Suns viewed Aron Baynes as a salary dump when they acquired him on draft night and would eventually buy him out, Charania writes. Instead, the veteran center has emerged as a key part of Phoenix’s lineup. Baynes is on an expiring contract and one team executive believes the big man is “positioning himself for well over $10MM per year,” as Charania relays.


Few Roster Spots Still Open Around NBA

Once the Trail Blazers make their deal with Carmelo Anthony official, only seven teams around the NBA will have open spots on their rosters. Six of those clubs have openings on their standard 15-man squads, while the seventh has an available two-way slot.

Typically, in the first half of an NBA season, some teams keep a roster spot open to retain flexibility and to avoid paying a player who hardly ever actually sees the court. However, whether it’s a result of an increased focus on player development or a steady stream of injuries league-wide, most clubs this season have taken advantage of all 17 roster spots (15 standard, two two-way) available to them.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the six teams that haven’t signed a 15th man are all somewhat limited by their cap situations. Here are those six teams:

  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Miami Heat
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic

The Heat and Warriors literally can’t sign a 15th man unless they cut salary costs elsewhere, since they’re right up against the hard cap. The Thunder are already in the tax and – as Marks notes – the Cavaliers and Nuggets would go into the tax by signing one more player. The Magic wouldn’t technically become a projected taxpayer by adding a 15th man, but they’re close enough to that threshold that it makes sense for them to hold off until they really need to fill that spot.

There’s just one team that hasn’t used both of its two-way contract openings:

  • Phoenix Suns

The Suns have their own G League affiliate, so it’s not clear why they haven’t yet taken advantage of that second two-way contract slot. The deadline for teams to sign players to two-way contracts is January 15 — it’s a pretty safe bet that Phoenix will sign a second two-way player by that point.

In total, 450 standard roster spots and 60 two-way slots are typically available during the NBA season, for a total of 510 players on 30 teams. Currently, 504 players are on standard contracts or two-way deals (the Nets are carrying an 18th man while Wilson Chandler serves his 25-game suspension), leaving few NBA job opportunities up for grabs unless teams start making cuts.

Monty Williams Says Lakers Never Made Offer, Calls Organization “Gracious”

After a year on the Sixers‘ bench assisting Brett Brown, Monty Williams went into the offseason as a highly coveted coaching candidate and had meetings with the Suns and Lakers. While the Lakers reportedly had Williams near the top of their wish list, Phoenix ended up hiring him, and the Suns’ coach said that Los Angeles never officially made him an offer, as Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Time relays.

“They didn’t make me an offer, Mr. Sarver [Robert Sarver, the Suns’ owner] made me an offer, so it wasn’t part of my thinking,” Williams said. “I had conversations with the Lakers, they were really gracious. I was humbled to sit down with [Lakers owner] Jeanie Buss and that whole crew but it never came down to that. The Suns offered me a great opportunity and I took it.”

Williams joined Phoenix on a five-year contract and early returns have been promising. The Suns are off to their best start in the Devin Booker era and Anthony Davis, who played under Williams when he was the coach of the Pelicans, was among the few to see this coming.

“The league wasn’t as fast as it is now with the way things have changed,” Davis said. “He always wanted to play fast. He brought guys in who knew the game of basketball who were tough and physical and surrounded Devin Booker with a lot of guys that know how to play the game. So I expected nothing less from him coming in.”

The 2019 offseason won’t be remembered for the fierce battle (or lack thereof) for Williams’ services but it’s turning out to be among the major storylines early in the 2019/20 season. Phoenix has a 6-3 record heading into its matchup with Los Angeles.

“He wanted to be back on the front of the bench and be a head coach,” Davis continued. “He’s proving why he should be there.”

Poll: Is Phoenix For Real?

The injury-depleted Warriors’ shocking stumble (2-5 and fading fast) out of the gate isn’t the only Western Conference development to stun many in the early throes of this NBA season. A positive surprise has been the remarkable early run by the Suns (5-2). Phoenix’s management and ownership groups in recent years have been notoriously dysfunctional (shout-out to Kevin Arnovitz), but suddenly, the team’s production may be catching up to their promise.

Heading into the season, expectations for Phoenix were low. The team has won 24 or fewer games in each of the last four seasons (i.e. every prior year of Devin Booker’s NBA career). The Suns’ talented young core of Booker and 2018 No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton (currently serving a 25-game suspension after violating the league’s drug policy) underwhelmed together last season. But that was last season.

Now, under the stabilizing stewardship of new head coach Monty Williams, and with the Suns’ solid offseason veteran additions in point guard Ricky Rubio and center Aron Baynes exceeding expectations, things are finally looking sunny in Phoenix.

Phoenix currently stands at second place in the Western Conference and could move into a tie for first if the Lakers lose tonight. The Suns have racked up quality wins against the Clippers and Sixers (still formidable, even sans a suspended Joel Embiid).

As The Ringer’s  noted today, Phoenix has been impressive on both ends of the floor. The Suns are among just two teams (the other being the 5-1 Miami Heat) currently occupying the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. Their plus-8.6 point differential ranks fourth in the league. Booker, perpetual All-Star-in-waiting, appears to have taken another leap. New young forwards Dario Saric (acquired in a summer trade) and Kelly Oubre (added in a trade last season) have offered other competent scoring options.

Baynes, though, has been a particular revelation, as Cody Cunningham details on The Australian center’s three-point shooting has taken an astronomical leap. He is currently connecting on 48.4% on his looks from deep across 4.4 attempts per game, far eclipsing his career averages of 33.3% from long distance on 0.3 tries per contest. His scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks are all at career marks. His numbers will come back down to earth once he returns to the bench, but his terrific start makes him look a steal for Phoenix nevertheless.

What do you think? Can Phoenix make the playoffs this season?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your prediction.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Nets, Suns Eligible To Add 16th Man

The Nets and Suns are now each eligible to add a 16th man to their standard roster if they so choose. Brooklyn would be able to carry a 16th player up until the team’s December 15 game against the Sixers, while Phoenix could carry a 16th man until its December 17 contest vs. the Clippers.

Both teams have players serving 25-game suspensions, with Wilson Chandler sitting out for the Nets while Deandre Ayton is sidelined for the Suns. NBA rules permit a team with a suspended player to move that player to the inactive “suspended list” once he has served five games of his ban. The fifth game of Chandler’s suspension happened on Friday, while Ayton’s fifth missed game was on Saturday.

Since both clubs have used up all their cap room and have no other cap exceptions available, they’d be limited to the minimum salary exception if they were to sign a free agent.

Of course, neither team is obligated to use its temporary roster flexibility to add a new player. Acquiring a 16th man would create a roster decision in mid-December, when those suspensions are due to end.

For instance, if the Nets sign a free agent, they’d have to get their roster back to 15 players on December 15, when Chandler comes off the suspended list. They could do so by trading or waiving their temporary 16th man, or by trading or waiving another player, including Chandler.

For now, there’s no indication that a signing is imminent for either team, but if the Nets or Suns do make a roster addition in the near future without a corresponding move, you’ll know why.

Suns Can Now Replace Ayton On The Roster

  • Deandre Ayton has served five games of his 25-game suspension, giving the Suns an opportunity to add another player to the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Ayton is now on the suspended list, where he will remain until December 17 unless his appeal is successful. Phoenix already has 15 players with guaranteed contracts, and there has been no indication on whether the team plans to make a roster move.

Grizzlies Notes: Bradley, Oubre, Morant, Melton

Avery Bradley only played 14 games with the Grizzlies, but he tells David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal that short stretch in Memphis helped him revitalize his career. Bradley re-emerged as a scorer after the Clippers shipped him to the Grizzlies at February’s trade deadline. He increased his average from 8.2 PPG in L.A. to 16.1 in Memphis and credits the freedom offered by then-coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

“J.B. gave me an opportunity to go out there and play my game,” Bradley said. “I’m thankful for that, I’m thankful for the city of Memphis. It’s home for me. My family is from Memphis and Mississippi. I’m going to miss it. It’s going to be nice when I come back and we play them there.”

The Grizzlies parted with Bradley in a cost-cutting move, waiving him in July and paying a $2MM guarantee instead of his $12.96MM salary. He signed with the Lakers a few days later for $4.8MM.

“Things were just unfortunate,” Bradley said of the end of his stay in Memphis. “There were a lot of changes. My time there was special.”

There’s more from Memphis:

  • Confusion shut down the Grizzlies’ attempts to trade for Kelly Oubre last season, and the roster would look much different now if that deal had gone through, Cobb notes in a mailbag column. Memphis believed it was parting with Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks, while the Wizards were expecting to receive Dillon Brooks. Washington wound up moving Oubre to Phoenix, where he has played well. But Cobb notes that if the Grizzlies had taken on his $15MM salary, they probably couldn’t have made room for Andre Iguodala in a deal that landed them a future first-round pick from the Warriors.
  • The Grizzlies are thrilled with the start by first-round pick Ja Morant, whose 70 points are the most in four games by any rookie in team history, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. In addition to his obvious athleticism, Morant has impressed coaches with how quickly he has adapted to the NBA game. “He’s got great chemistry with his teammates,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “His IQ is kind of helping him navigate day in and day out, game after game after game and the sky’s the limit for the guy.”
  • De’Anthony Melton considers his rookie year with the Suns to be a “learning experience” about life in the NBA (video link from The Arizona Republic). After playing 50 games and starting 31 in his first season, Melton was sent to Memphis in July in a four-player deal. It marked the second time he had been traded, after being dealt from Houston to Phoenix before playing his first game. “I’m not worried about one year; I’m worried about 10 years, 15 years,” Melton said. “People have had crazier stories.”

Youngest, Oldest NBA Rosters For 2019/20

The Suns currently have the NBA’s youngest roster, according to the NBA’s official roster survey. The league’s data shows that the average age of a Suns player this season is just 24.49 years. On the other end of the spectrum, the Rockets have the league’s oldest roster, with an average age of 30.24.

[RELATED: Oldest, Youngest Players On NBA Rosters For 2019/20]

Houston also has the NBA’s oldest roster in terms of years of experience — the average Rocket has played in the NBA for 8.93 seasons. The Celtics beat out Phoenix for the league’s least experienced roster, at an average of 2.73 seasons per player.

The NBA’s full roster survey, which includes every player on a standard contract (ie. not two-way players), is packed with interesting data, including the official heights and weights for every player, as well as each player sorted by jersey number and by home country. It’s worth checking out in full, but here are the rest of the league’s findings on the youngest and oldest NBA rosters:

Youngest rosters by average age:

  1. Phoenix Suns (24.49)
  2. Chicago Bulls (24.83)
  3. Golden State Warriors (24.87)
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves (24.91)
  5. New York Knicks (24.98)

Least experienced rosters by average seasons of NBA experience:

  1. Boston Celtics (2.73)
  2. Phoenix Suns (2.80)
  3. Chicago Bulls (3.07)
  4. Minnesota Timberwolves (3.40)
  5. Indiana Pacers (3.53)

Oldest rosters by average age:

  1. Houston Rockets (30.24)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers (29.07)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (28.73)
  4. Dallas Mavericks (27.40)
  5. Utah Jazz (27.08)

Most experienced rosters by average seasons of NBA experience:

  1. Houston Rockets (8.93)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers (8.07)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (7.07)
  4. San Antonio Spurs (5.67)
  5. Portland Trail Blazers (5.57)

Deandre Ayton, NBPA To Meet With NBA

According to Sean Deveney of Heavy.comSuns big man Deandre Ayton is scheduled to meet with the NBA by the end of this week to discuss his 25-game suspension for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program by testing positive for a diuretic.

Per Deveney’s league source, Ayton’s camp and the NBPA will present their case for a reduction of the suspension, arguing that Ayton ingested the banned diuretic by mistake.

[RELATED: Deandre Ayton Hit With 25-Game Suspension]

As we noted in our original piece regarding this story, part of the parties’ argument that the diuretic was taken unwittingly is based on Ayton’s drug test showing no traces of any other banned substances.

When asked yesterday if he had an update on the situation involving Ayton, Suns’ GM James Jones said the following:

“I don’t… that’s in the Player’s Association’s hands. We’re supporting Deandre. We’re focused on the team continuing to focus on the next game. That’ll take care of itself. I know he misses being out there with his teammates and whenever he comes back, we’ll be ready to re-integrate him and continue with this forward movement and momentum.”