Suns Rumors

David Fizdale To Remain With Suns As Assistant Coach

After the Suns made a head coaching change this spring, dismissing Frank Vogel and hiring Mike Budenholzer, the team had been expected to fully revamp its coaching staff. However, one of Vogel’s top assistants will remain with the organization in a “prominent” role on Budenholzer’s staff, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that David Fizdale is returning to Phoenix.

Fizdale is a longtime NBA assistant who has also had multiple stints as a head coach. He spent time on the Warriors’ and Hawks’ staffs from 2003-08 before working as an assistant under Erik Spoelstra from 2008-16 in Miami, where he won a pair of championships with the Heat.

Fizdale was subsequently hired as the Grizzlies’ head coach in 2016, but lasted just one full season in Memphis before being fired during the first half of the 2017/18 season. His next head coaching stint followed the same trajectory, as he spent one full season with the Knicks in ’18/19 before being let go 22 games into his second season.

Fizdale worked under Vogel with the Lakers in 2021/22, but left the team when Vogel was dismissed in ’22 and spent the ’22/23 season in Utah’s front office. When Vogel was hired by the Suns in 2023/24, Fizdale rejoined him as an assistant, but Vogel’s stint in Phoenix lasted just a single season, leaving Fizdale’s future with the franchise uncertain.

Reports at the time of Budenholzer’s hiring indicated that Fizdale would be offered a position in the Suns’ front office but that he wasn’t expected to accept that offer. Fizdale also reportedly received interest from the Bulls as they revamped Billy Donovan‘s staff, but it seems he has opted to remain on the sidelines in Phoenix under a new head coach.

A report earlier this week stated that Phoenix was hiring former Bucks assistant Vince Legarza but that the team was having a “tough time” filling out Budenholzer’s new coaching staff.

Bronny James To Remain In 2024 NBA Draft

As expected, Bronny James, the son of longtime NBA superstar LeBron James, will keep his name in the 2024 NBA draft pool, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility, agent Rich Paul confirmed to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

The deadline for NCAA early entrants who are testing the draft waters to withdraw from the pool and retain their college eligibility is 11:59 pm Eastern on Wednesday. While several players have pulled out in recent days in order to return to school, Bronny won’t be among them after having improved his draft stock at this month’s combine and a recent pro day.

Bronny, who suffered cardiac arrest last July, was eventually cleared to return to the court and suited up in 25 games for USC as a freshman. However, he averaged just 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes per game, with a .366/.267/.676 shooting line.

That underwhelming performance in his first college season hurt Bronny’s draft stock, but it has rebounded as of late, with Givony suggesting that the 19-year-old has risen from fringe prospect to draftable prospect. The 6’2″ guard now ranks 54th overall on ESPN’s big board after displaying his explosiveness and an improved three-point shot during the pre-draft process.

Although LeBron has previously expressed a desire to play with his son, Paul has repeatedly stressed in recent weeks that the primary goal is to get Bronny into the best possible developmental situation, not on the same roster as his father. The veteran agent has also stated that the younger James won’t sign a two-way contract.

“The Lakers need to look at Bronny like everyone else,” Paul told ESPN. “If they value him enough and he’s there, that’s great. If it’s not the Lakers, that’s great. I won’t be mad if it’s not. It’s obvious that people hear the conversation around the dad and son playing together, but that’s not our focus. If it happens organically, great. I’m not building on that.

“I’m not putting unrealistic expectations on Bronny. He’s far from a finished product. But he has a hell of start. He’s positioned well. … I don’t see him not getting drafted, but if it got to a point where the situations didn’t make sense and we needed to go undrafted, that’s fine.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last week that at least 10 teams have invited Bronny to participate in private pre-draft workouts, but Paul is expected to pass on a number of those invites — the Lakers and Suns are the only teams confirmed to have secured workouts with his client. Phoenix holds the No. 22 pick in next month’s draft, while L.A. will pick at No. 55 and possibly No. 17 as well, if the Pelicans opt to defer the Lakers’ first-rounder they control until 2025.

Paul told ESPN that he’s still in the process of figuring out whose interest is real and whose isn’t as he considers potential workouts for Bronny.

Pacific Notes: Legarza, Nurkic, Clippers’ Offseason

The Suns have added Vince Legarza as an assistant coach, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports.

Legarza has a history with new head coach Mike Budenholzer. He was an assistant in Milwaukee in Budenholzer’s final season there in 2022/23 but wasn’t retained when the Bucks hired Adrian Griffin as their new head coach going into this past season.

Legarza was an assistant with the Jazz for four seasons (2018-22) and a player development coach with the Timberwolves for three seasons (2015-18).

The Suns didn’t retain any assistants from Frank Vogel’s staff and are having a tough time filling out a new coaching staff, Rankin adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • With severe cap limitations, Jusuf Nurkic may be the Suns’ most likely trade candidate, according to Gerald Bourguet of Nurkic has two years left on his four-year, $70MM contract. By attaching draft assets, Bourguet writes, the Suns might be able to find an upgrade at his position. Bourguet explores 20 potential trade ideas involving Nurkic.
  • In his first mailbag since the beginning of the season, The Athletic’s Law Murray answers a number of questions involving the Clippers. Among the topics are free agency, Kawhi Leonard‘s health, James Harden‘s free agency, whether Joshua Primo could return, and the usage of the team’s younger players going forward.
  • In case you missed it, J.J. Redick has some prominent assistants in mind if he gets the Lakers’ head coaching job.

Pacers Notes: Game 4, Haliburton, Nembhard, McConnell

The Pacers can’t stand the thought of watching another team celebrate an Eastern Conference title on their home court, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That will add to Indiana’s motivation for Monday’s game against the Celtics in the face of a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 deficit. Players and coaches understand they face long odds to win the series, but they’re focused on taking Game 4 to give themselves a chance.

“The important thing for us is to learn, to be resilient and stay in this fight and find a way to extend the series,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We want to keep playing. We want to get back on that plane and go back to Boston.”

Even though Boston has won the first three games, it hasn’t been a one-sided series so far. Two critical turnovers late in Game 1 cost the Pacers a chance to win the series opener, and they led by eight points with 2:38 remaining in Game 3 before letting it slip away.

“There are a lot of correctable things that we’ve got to get better,” Carlisle said. “There are some mistakes defensively that are fixable and some things offensively that we have to do better. We did a lot of things very very well. We led for a great majority of the game. There certainly are positives. So we always show our guys things that need to be corrected but also always show our guys the things we do well and that we need to continue to do well.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Despite a weekend report that Tyrese Haliburton may miss the rest of the series due to an injured left hamstring, no decision has been announced on his status for tonight. Carlisle refused to provide an update on Haliburton when meeting with reporters on Sunday, Dopirak adds, but he said he’s comfortable with T.J. McConnell or Andrew Nembhard running the offense. “(Nembhard’s) played plenty of point guard for us,” Carlisle said. “There have been stretches when Ty’s been unable to play both last year and this year. He has experience there. Guys who put the work in and are prepared tend to have more confidence because they’ve done the work. He’s one of those guys, and our team really as a group, we have really conscientious guys who are great workers who love to compete.”
  • The Suns inquired about McConnell during the season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, but the Pacers weren’t – and aren’t – interested in moving their backup point guard. McConnell is a valuable member of Indiana’s bench, and he has one year left on a team-friendly contract that will pay him $9.3MM next season. “He’s one of the heartbeats of that team,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “He just makes winning plays. He’s really good at the end of quarters, which is a way that teams can keep momentum, start momentum, chip away at momentum.”
  • Nembhard sparked the Pacers’ offense with 32 points and nine assists in Game 3, but he committed a costly turnover when Jrue Holiday took the ball from him with just under 10 seconds remaining (video link). Holiday slipped on the play, notes Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe, but he was able to recover in time to poke the ball out of Nembhard’s hands. “I tried to get a shot up and he got in front of me. I lost the ball, slipped, turnover,” Nembhard said.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Paul, Lakers, Beal Trade, Kamagate

Lakers superstar LeBron James holds a $51.4MM player option for ’24/25. If he declines the option, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Appearing on TNT Sports’ altcast on truTV (Twitter video link), James’ agent Rich Paul stated that his client was a free agent this summer. When Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT pointed out what Paul said and followed up by asking if James plans to decline the option, Paul attempted to walk back the comment.

Chris, you know I don’t do my business over the airwaves, man,” Paul said. “I don’t know what he’s gonna do. We’re gonna do what we do every year. We’re gonna evaluate the situation and we’re gonna make the best decision.”

If James does opt out, it would come as no surprise. The oldest player in the league remained incredibly productive, extending his own NBA record by making his 20th consecutive All-NBA team in 2023/24. The 39-year-old also had an excellent playoff series despite losing to the defending-champion Nuggets in five games, averaging 27.8 PPG, 8.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 SPG and 1.0 BPG on .566/.385/.739 shooting in 40.8 MPG.

For what it’s worth, a recent report stated there’s been no indication James plans to leave L.A. even if he does decline the option. Becoming a free agent would give him the option of negotiating a no-trade clause on a new deal with the Lakers.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • In a fresh piece, Keith Smith of Spotrac previews the Lakers‘ offseason. After finishing with a 47-35 record and snagging the West’s No. 7 seed thanks to a play-in game victory, Los Angeles fell in five games to the Nuggets. The club quickly responded by firing head coach Darvin Ham after just two seasons. In addition to finding a replacement for Ham, the team will await the decisions of starters D’Angelo Russell and James with regard to their player options for 2024/25.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports lists five reasons why it’s too early to label the SunsBradley Beal trade a mistake. The capped-out club finished as the sixth seed in the West this season and was swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Beal, a three-time All-Star, appeared in just 53 regular season contests this season, averaging 18.2 PPG on .513/.430/.813 shooting splits, along with 5.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 0.5 BPG.
  • French center Ismael Kamagate, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Clippers, will stay on loan with Tortona in 2024/25, according to Sportando.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this report.

Draft Notes: Bronny, Hawks, Sheppard, Thomas, Felton

The Suns will hold a workout with Bronny James at some point before next month’s draft, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, James has received workout invitations from over 10 teams but is expected to visit only a handful of clubs, including Phoenix and the Lakers.

The Suns hold just one pick in the 2024 draft and it’s a first-rounder, at No. 22. Charania suggests that James is among the players in consideration with that pick, but Doug Haller of The Athletic is skeptical that Phoenix will use its first-rounder on Bronny, given that the team probably needs to turn that pick into a player who has a better chance of contributing immediately, whether that’s in the draft or on the trade market. The former USC guard is ranked 54th on ESPN’s big board of 2024 prospects.

Speaking to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, James’ agent Rich Paul stressed that his client won’t sign a two-way contract and expressed a belief that Bronny going as high as No. 22 isn’t out of the question.

“Bronny’s range has been all over. Some teams think he goes 20 to 40, some say 30-50, and some teams think he’ll go undrafted,” Paul said. “It just takes one team. This is something I do every year during the draft process. This is not Bronny-centric. He’s a part of our draft class. I have to try to help find the right fit for all my guys as well as the right deal. So that’s how I’m looking at it.”

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo have updated their list of the top 100 prospects for the 2024 draft and shared new intel (Insider link) on their top 25 players. Among the notable tidbits from their latest update: Givony and Woo say that Zaccharie Risacher, Alexandre Sarr, and Donovan Clingan are among the players on the Hawks‘ short list at the top of the draft, with Clingan believed to have some fans within Atlanta’s front office. Givony adds that it’s hard to see Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard falling further than No. 5 in the draft.
  • After testing the draft waters this spring, former Northern Colorado forward Saint Thomas will transfer to USC and continue playing college ball, a source tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Thomas had a breakout junior year that saw him average 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game for the Bears across 32 starts.
  • East Carolina guard RJ Felton has withdrawn from the NBA draft pool as well, tweets Rothstein. Felton, who has spent the last three seasons with the Pirates, will remain at East Carolina for his senior year.

CEO Josh Bartelstein Played A Role In Suns Losing Their Last G League Affiliate

  • Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein, who played a role in purchasing the franchise’s former G League affiliate when he was working for the Pistons, helped to unveil its replacement today, notes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. The Valley Suns give Phoenix a G League partner for the first time since 2021 when the Northern Arizona Suns were sold to Detroit and renamed the Motor City Cruise. “Ironically enough, I was the one on the other side buying the team from the Suns and getting it to Detroit, and now three years later, I’m here,” Bartelstein said. “It’s really, really important. I mean, the G League is a staple of many NBA franchises.”

2023/24 All-NBA Teams Announced

The All-NBA teams have been announced for the 2023/24 season (Twitter link).

A total of 99 media members voted on the honors, with players receiving five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote and one point for a Third Team vote. This year’s All-NBA teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Third Team

Gilgeous-Alexander and Jokic were the only two unanimous First Team selections, receiving 99 of 99 possible votes. Doncic earned 98 First Team votes but was named to the Second Team on one ballot. Antetokounmpo (88), Tatum (65), Brunson (37), Edwards (3), and Durant (2) were the only other players to receive multiple First Team votes.

Others receiving votes and their point totals are the CelticsJaylen Brown (50), the ClippersPaul George (16), the SixersTyrese Maxey (16), the TimberwolvesRudy Gobert (12), the SpursVictor Wembanyama (11), the PelicansZion Williamson (11), the Magic’s Paolo Banchero (10), the KingsDe’Aaron Fox (9) the Heat’s Bam Adebayo (7) and the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1).

This is the first season that a minimum number of games was required to qualify for most postseason awards under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Among the stars who might have received All-NBA consideration if they had reached the 65-game threshold are Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was the 2023 MVP, along with Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Knicks forward Julius Randle and Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis.

This was also the first season that voting for the All-NBA team was positionless, though that didn’t have a huge impact on the results, as the top two teams still feature two guards, a pair of forwards, and a center. The Third Team is made up a center, three guards, and just one forward.

Wembanyama, who received two votes for the Second Team and five for the Third Team, was the only rookie named on any of the ballots. Earlier this week, he became the first rookie to earn a spot on an All-Defensive First Team.

The Lakers with Davis and James and the Suns with Durant and Booker were the only teams to have multiple players honored. They were both eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Several players became eligible for salary increases or earned a bonus by achieving All-NBA honors. Read more here.

Valley Suns Announced As Phoenix’s G League Affiliate

Phoenix’s new NBA G League affiliate will be known as the Valley Suns, the team announced today in a press release. In addition to revealing the team name, the franchise revealed the Valley Suns’ colors and logo, which can be viewed here.

The Suns ran an online contest that gave fans the opportunity to submit ideas for the G League team’s name. According to today’s announcement, more than 12,000 fans submitted ideas, with “dozens” of those respondents suggesting the Valley Suns.

“The Valley Suns is the community’s team and will provide fans an energetic and family-friendly atmosphere while developing aspiring talent on and off the court,” Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein said in a statement. “We’re excited to launch the new G League team with a name and identity chosen by our fans and inspired by the unique desert landscape that we call home.”

The team will play its home games at Mullett Arena at Arizona State University. The facility is about an 11-mile drive from the Footprint Center, where Phoenix plays its home games, so the NBA and G League Suns will have no problem shuttling players back and forth frequently during the season.

The Suns had been the last NBA franchise without a G League affiliate. They announced in February that they’d acquired the right to own and operate an NBAGL team and that it would debut in 2024/25, which will be the first season in which all 30 NBA teams have G League affiliates of their own. The league will have 31 teams in total, including the unaffiliated Mexico City Capitanes.

Phoenix actually had a G League affiliate known as the Northern Arizona Suns from 2016-21, but former team owner Robert Sarver sold the franchise to the Pistons, who relocated it to Michigan and rebranded it as the Motor City Cruise. Current owner Mat Ishbia stated shortly after officially assuming majority control of the Suns in 2023 that reestablishing a G League team was a priority.

Western Notes: Conley, Wolves, Mavs, Suns, Billups, Warriors

The calf/Achilles issue that sidelined Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals hasn’t gone away — he’s listed as questionable for Game 1 of the Western finals. Conley will play on Wednesday, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), but the team will keep a close eye on that injury going forward.

“It honestly depends on if you can get through the game without having any small setback,” Conley said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “You have some movements that really kind of jar it or cause the pain to go up really quickly and kind of stays there for a little while. Some games I get through the whole game and you don’t have any setback and so you just kind of keep building upward and forward. So I’m just trying to stack as many of those days together as I can.”

Keeping Conley healthy will be crucial for the Wolves as they look to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. In the series vs. Denver, the team had a +13.6 net rating in the 196 minutes he played, compared to a -6.7 mark in the 140 minutes he wasn’t on the floor.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference: