Suns Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/23/18

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

  • The Lakers recalled rookie center Thomas Bryant from the South Bay Lakers, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 28 games with South Bay.
  • The Magic reassigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac,  who missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action this weekend for the G League squad.
  • The Spurs assigned rookie guard Derrick White to the Austin Spurs, according to a team press release. He has averaged 15.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.6 APG in 13 games with Austin.
  • The Suns assigned Davon Reed to the Northern Arizona Suns, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports. In seven games with the G League squad, Reed has averaged 10.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG.
  • The Cavaliers assigned guard Marcus Thornton to the G League’s Canton Charge, according to a team press release. Thornton has averaged 18.8 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 37 games with Canton.
  • The Thunder have assigned center Dakari Johnson to the G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue, per a team press release. Johnson has appeared in five games with the Blue, averaging 24.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG.

Suns Notes: Tanking, Triano, Len, Harrison

Suns GM Ryan McDonough promises there won’t be a repeat of the “strategic resting” that saw Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler held out of the lineup late last season, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix reached the All-Star break tied with the Hawks for the top spot in our Reverse Standings, but McDonough said the team won’t make any changes to try to improve its odds for the No. 1 pick.

“We’re planning on doing what we have been doing, that’s playing our young players. For us, that’s not a change,” he said. “… We want to continue to have them improve and get minutes and try to win as many games as we can.”

Interim coach Jay Triano echoed those sentiments and recalled that Bledsoe was angry about being forced to sit out the final 15 games last season, which played a part in his request to be traded. “I think we learned from last year with guys sitting out,” Triano said. “I don’t think that was real productive for us.”

There’s more tonight out of Phoenix:

  • Triano, who has served as interim coach since Earl Watson was fired in October, would like to be considered for the full-time job after the season ends, Bordow adds in the same story. “Listen, I love coaching, I love it here, I love the relationship I’m starting to develop with these players, so I’d like to keep it going and be a part of their development because I see a lot of positives,” Triano said. … “So there’s no reason I would not want to be [the coach].”
  • Fifth-year center Alex Len no longer seems to be in the Suns’ plans for the future, Bordow notes in a separate story. The plan for the final 23 games of the season is to start Chandler at center with Dragan Bender as the primary backup as Marquese Chriss gets another shot at the starting lineup. Len will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after agreeing to the Suns’ qualifying offer last year. He is averaging 8.4 points and 7.7 rebounds in 49 games, but the organization doesn’t seem to think his future will be in Phoenix.
  • Shaquille Harrison is thrilled to make his NBA debut after spending two seasons with the Suns’ G League affiliate in Northern Arizona, relays Craig Grialou of ArizonaSports“I’m just trying to seize the opportunity,” said Harrison, whose 10-day deal became official today. “I’m very grateful to be here. It’s a great organization, that’s why I stuck with them the past year-and-a-half, two years. I’m loving it and enjoying the process.”

Suns Sign Shaquille Harrison To 10-Day Deal

FEBRUARY 21: The Suns have officially signed Harrison to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. As expected, Gray has been waived.

FEBRUARY 20: The Suns will make a change to their roster this week, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, who tweets that the team is signing guard Shaquille Harrison to a 10-day contract. Phoenix will waive Josh Gray to create a roster spot, per Gambadoro.

Harrison, 24, went undrafted out of Tulsa in 2016 and caught on with the Suns for training camp later that year. He was cut before the regular season began, but landed with Phoenix’s G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns.

Harrison has spent the last two years with Northern Arizona, averaging 11.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.9 SPG in 36 G League games this season.

Gray had been on a 10-day contract of his own with the Suns — actually, it was technically a 12-day contract. Even though he signed that deal on February 12, Gray was on track to remain under contract through Friday, since 10-day pacts must cover at least three NBA games. Assuming he’s waived before his deal expires, Gray will still be paid for the full 12 days.

Suns, Mavs Among Potential Aaron Gordon Suitors

The Suns and Mavericks are among the teams viewed as potential offseason suitors for Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Gordon will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

As Deveney outlines, the Suns should have cap space this offseason and are in need of “more proven” players, making the former Arizona Wildcat an intriguing target. As for the Mavs, they should also have cap space for 2018/19, and they’ve been eager to find a rising star to team up with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes, Deveney writes.

Gordon, 22, has enjoyed a breakout season for the Magic in 2017/18, though injuries have limited him to just 39 contests. In those 39 games, the former fourth overall pick has averaged an impressive 18.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG, and 2.2 APG.

Because Gordon will be coming off his rookie contract, the Magic will be able to make him a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer. That will give Orlando the right of first refusal, meaning that even if a team like the Suns or Mavs puts a lucrative offer sheet on the table for Gordon, the Magic would have the opportunity to match it.

While we don’t know for sure that the Magic’s front office intends to match any offer for Gordon, parting ways with the fourth-year forward would leave the club without many young building blocks outside of Jonathan Isaac. As such, I’d be surprised if Orlando simply lets Gordon walk in free agency.

Josh Jackson Drastically Improved In New Year

  • Since the new year, Suns rookie Josh Jackson has averaged 16.1 points per game. That’s a notable increase from the 9.0 he averaged through the first three months of his NBA career. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype recently shed light on the Kansas product’s in-season improvement.

Marqueese Chriss Has Seemingly Regressed

Elfrid Payton Talks Trade, Suns, Future

The Cavaliers’ series of deadline-day trades dominated headlines last Thursday, overshadowing one of the most interesting moves of the day, as the Suns’ acquired Elfrid Payton from the Magic in exchange for a second-round pick.

With Payton’s restricted free agency around the corner, Orlando’s decision to send the 23-year-old to Phoenix signaled that the Magic didn’t view him as part of their future. Still, it was somewhat surprising to see the former 10th overall pick traded straight up for a lone second-round selection.

Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Payton shared several thoughts on how the trade went down, how he feels about being the newest member of the Suns, and what he thinks his future may hold. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but we’ll relay some of Payton’s most interesting answers in the space below…

On whether he felt disrespected by being traded for a mere second-round pick:

“A little bit. I think a lot of other people were more upset about it than I was, though. Others took it to heart more than I did, but that’s just because of the type of person I am. I’m pretty nonchalant and I don’t really get worked up, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I’ve always felt underrated and felt like I have to prove myself. I’m the kind of player who feels like you have to prove yourself every single night – no matter what you’ve done or who you are – because in this league everyone is thinking, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ So it wasn’t too big of a deal to me.”

On the trade in general:

“I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was a steal for Phoenix and stuff like that; I guess time will tell. I heard [the Magic] were offered a lot more than a second-round pick [from other teams], but they just didn’t decide to do one of those other trades… I don’t know all of the details, but I know they had offers from a team in the East and a different West Coast team other than Phoenix.”

On being surprised by the trade:

“About 30 to 45 minutes before the trade actually went down, my agent told me, ‘It seems like the talks are over and it looks like you’ll be staying in Orlando, at least until the end of the season.’ They had heard from [GM] John [Hammond] or [president of basketball operations] Jeff [Weltman] – I don’t know which one exactly, I’m not sure. But they were basically saying the talks were done and a trade was unlikely. Then, maybe seven or eight minutes before the deadline, the deal happened.”

On where his career will go from here:

“I feel like I still have a very high ceiling. Obviously, my shooting has gotten better this year, but I still feel like I can become a way better shooter. And there are still so many different things that I’m learning about the game and so many areas where I know I can improve. For example, I’m finding little tricks to get to the free-throw line more and get my team in the bonus. I’m also working hard to improve on the defensive end. I feel like my ceiling is still pretty high and I have a lot of room for growth.”

On whether he can see himself sticking with the Suns beyond this season:

“Yeah, I really could. Obviously, it’s not only up to me and I understand the business side of the NBA, but this is definitely somewhere I could see myself being for a long time.”

Elfrid Payton Could Be Renounced

  • Forward T.J. Warren is making the four-year, $50MM contract extension the Suns gave him look like a bargain, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. He’s averaging 19.7 PPG and making over 50% of his field-goal attempts. “Coming into the league, I was known for being a scorer,” Warren told Bordow. “Just getting the opportunity and staying consistent is big for me. I’m just trying to get better, make my way in this league and earn the respect of my peers.”
  • It’s no sure thing that the Suns will try to re-sign restricted free agent point guard Elfrid Payton this summer, as Bordow explains in a separate story. Phoenix, which acquired Payton for a second-round pick from the Magic, could free up $10MM in salary-cap space by renouncing Payton’s rights, Bordow continues. With Brandon Knight expected to return next season from a knee injury, the Suns could then draft a point guard as Knight’s eventual replacement and pursue a center in free agency. Bordow adds.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

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