Phoenix Suns – Hoops Rumors Legitimate NBA free agent and trade rumors. 2018-04-21T03:00:48Z Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns To Interview Jazz Assistant Igor Kokoskov]]> 2018-04-20T13:12:34Z 2018-04-20T13:12:34Z Another potential head coaching candidate has entered the mix in Phoenix, as John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports (via Twitter) that the Suns will interview Jazz assistant Igor Kokoskov for the open job.

Kokoskov, a member of Quin Snyder‘s staff in Utah, was recently identified by league executives as one of the top head coaching candidates among NBA assistants, and has been mentioned as a possible dark-horse candidate for the Orlando job. It’s not clear when Kokoskov will get a chance to interview with the Suns, since the Jazz remain alive and well in the postseason — presumably though, Utah has already granted Phoenix permission to meet with the veteran assistant.

Before arriving in Utah, Kokoskov worked as an assistant for several other NBA teams, including the Clippers, Pistons, Suns, Cavaliers, and Magic. While he doesn’t have any NBA head coaching experience, Kokoskov has served as the head coach for the Georgian and Serbian national teams.

The Suns are conducting an extensive head coaching search, so even though Mike Budenholzer reportedly withdrew from consideration on Thursday, there are still several names to watch for the vacancy.

Gambadoro confirms that Spurs assistant James Borrego and former Rockets head coach Kevin McHale are being considered. Ex-NBA head coaches like David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Frank Vogel, and David Blatt are also said to be in the mix, along with interim coach Jay Triano, who will interview for the permanent position.

Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Latest On Suns' Head Coach Search]]> 2018-04-20T12:33:30Z 2018-04-20T03:54:36Z Earlier tonight, it was reported that Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach position. It’s unclear why Budenholzer made the decision, but it shrinks the Suns’ pool of candidates. Per tonight’s report, the Suns continue to consider interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel.

Before tonight’s news, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports examined all of the potential candidates and their strengths related to the Phoenix organization. One scout told Bordow that the Suns need a “true teacher” to fill the role.

“The Suns need a true teacher,” the scout said. “A patient coach who understands the environment and history, willing to take lumps and teach the game (through) losses … similar to what occurred recently in Philly. Things will not change overnight but through resolve and commitment, it can happen within a reasonable timeframe.”

There is still the rest of the postseason and the offseason for the Suns to decide on their next coach. After tonight, however, their list of candidates is one name shorter.

Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Budenholzer Withdraws From Consideration For Suns Coach Job]]> 2018-04-20T20:09:58Z 2018-04-20T02:32:08Z Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer has withdrawn from consideration for the Suns‘ head coach vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Budenholzer met with the Suns on Monday and Tuesday and was expected to reach a decision this week.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer still has two years and $13MM+ left on his deal with the Hawks.

With Budenholzer off the board, the Suns are considering interim coach Jay Triano, David Fizdale, Steve Clifford, Kevin McHale and Frank Vogel to fill the position, Wojnarowski adds.

Budenholzer, 48, has been the Hawks’ head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

The Hawks played to an Eastern Conference-worst 24-58 this season as the organization cut payroll and gathered young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk‘s vision.

Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, O’Quinn, Noah]]> 2018-04-19T03:55:15Z 2018-04-19T03:55:15Z The Knicks aren’t afraid to take their time as they look for their next coach, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Today was Mark Jackson‘s turn to interview with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry in Los Angeles, one day after Jerry Stackhouse. News broke tonight that TNT analyst Kenny Smith will be interviewed Friday. Sessions are also scheduled for David Fizdale, Mike Woodson and David Blatt, and Isola states that more candidates could emerge.

Fizdale had an interview today with the Suns and seems to have emerged as the most popular coach on the market. He has a connection with James Jones, a former Heat player who now works in the Phoenix front office and is reportedly a strong advocate for Fizdale. The Knicks are attracted to Fizdale because he has experience with a winning organization in Miami and he has a strong connection to LeBron James, whom the Knicks haven’t given up hope of someday acquiring, Isola adds.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Jackson’s aversion to analytics may doom his chances with the Knicks, writes Gary Peterson of The San Jose Mercury News. Jackson had a reputation as an old-school coach with the Warriors and was often dismissive of modern techniques. “The [Golden State] analytics staff encountered more resistance than they anticipated,” said Erik Malinowski, author of a book on the building of the Warriors.
  • Backup center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t ready to make a decision on his player option, relays Jordan Lauterbach of Newsday. O’Quinn, who recently changed agents, will earn $4.26MM if he decides to opt in for next season. “I came into the season, I don’t want to say without a role, but knowing that anything can happen,” he said. “Whether it be trade talks or things like that, I think I handled it well by putting myself in a solid position where I could display what I could do.”
  • The Knicks should resist the temptation to stretch Joakim Noah‘s contract over the next five seasons, advises Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks points to Deron Williams in Brooklyn and Josh Smith in Detroit as instances where teams have regretted compromising their long-term flexibility. Marks also recommends delaying an extension for Kristaps Porzingis to create more cap room for next summer.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Suns’ Head Coaching Search]]> 2018-04-18T13:32:49Z 2018-04-18T13:32:49Z We passed along several updates on the Suns‘ search for a new head coach on Tuesday night, relaying reports on the club’s plan to interview former Magic coach Frank Vogel, along with details on an upcoming meeting with former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale. We also noted that Phoenix’s interview with Mike Budenholzer took place on Monday and Tuesday this week, as the current Hawks coach sat down with Suns GM Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver over those two days.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes, the Hawks and Budenholzer are open to ending their partnership, so if the Suns decide he’s their man, there could be a path to making it happen. Still, there are roadblocks that would need to be cleared, as Atlanta would likely require compensation in order to let Budenholzer out of his contract with the team, which still has two years and $13MM left on it.

Here’s more on the Suns’ head coaching search:

  • While the Suns have mostly focused on getting to know Budenholzer so far this week, they’re considering several other candidates, including Steve Clifford and David Blatt, according to Wojnarowski, who says the team has been in contact with both of those former NBA coaches.
  • Confirming the Suns’ contact with Clifford, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes that the ex-Hornets coach is expected to interview with Phoenix. A source tells Bordow that the club hasn’t yet ruled out any candidates, and expects to have “many conversations” with prospective hires.
  • Spurs assistant James Borrego has drawn interest from the Suns as a potential target, per Bordow. It’s not clear whether the team has received permission from San Antonio to meet with Borrego, or if Phoenix’s discussions about the veteran assistant remain internal for now.
Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[David Fizdale Plans To Interview With Knicks, Suns]]> 2018-04-18T03:53:24Z 2018-04-18T03:52:43Z APRIL 17, 10:52pm: Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that Fizdale will interview with the Suns tomorrow.

APRIL 14th, 1:00pm: Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic has confirmed that Phoenix plans to interview Fizdale sometime this week.

APRIL 14th, 10:14am: Former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale plans to interview with the Knicks and Suns next week, tweets Mark Medina of the Mercury News.

Fizdale coached the Grizzlies to a 43-39 record during the 2016/17 season but the team was eliminated in the first round of the postseason. He was relieved of his duties after just 19 games this season as Memphis struggled to win and Fizdale’s relationship with Marc Gasol reportedly deteriorated.

However, Fizdale has been a popular name for many teams with head coaching vacancies. As we relayed this week, Heat guard Dwyane Wade — who played in Miami when Fizdale was an assistant coach — advocated for him as a potential target for the Knicks.

The Suns were granted permission to interview Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, and are also set to meet with interim head coach Jay Triano and Fizdale.

Before his tenure with the Grizzlies, Fizdale served as an assistant coach with the Heat, winning two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

Clark Crum <![CDATA[Suns Plan To Interview Frank Vogel]]> 2018-04-18T01:11:28Z 2018-04-18T01:11:28Z The Suns plan to interview former Magic head coach Frank Vogel, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Fired by Orlando last week (link), Vogel compiled a record of 54-110 (.329) during his two seasons with the Magic. The Suns obviously hope that they could recreate the success Vogel had in Indiana, where he posted a record of 250-181 (.580) with five playoff appearances during six years as head coach of the Pacers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier tonight that Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer met with the Suns today and yesterday with an imminent deal possible, but Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic relays that GM Ryan McDonough was planning on interviewing multiple candidates, so it’ll be an interesting story to keep an eye on.

Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Mike Budenholzer Interviews With Suns]]> 2018-04-20T20:09:48Z 2018-04-18T00:45:54Z APRIL 17th, 7:45pm: Wojnarowski is now reporting that Budenholzer met with Suns management and ownership today and yesterday, and a sense is expected to emerge soon whether there is a pathway to Budenholzer becoming the Suns’ next head coach.

APRIL 14th, 9:06am: The Hawks granted Mike Budenholzer permission to interview with the Suns for their head coaching vacancy, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Budenholzer, the Hawks’ current head coach, still has two years and $13MM+ left on his contract.

A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer plans to meet with Suns officials early next week.

Budenholzer, 48, has been Atlanta’s head coach since 2013, leading the team to a 213-197 record in that span. He won Coach of the Year for the 2014/15 season, a year in which the Hawks went 60-22 and went to the Eastern Conference finals.

This season, the Hawks entered a rebuilding stage by cutting payroll and gathering young assets under general manager Travis Schlenk. The team went just 24-58, coming in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Budenholzer is among several candidates the Suns plan to interview, Wojnarowski notes. Interim head coach Jay Triano, who took over after the dismissal of Earl Watson, will also be considered. The Suns finished in last place in the Western Conference, going 21-61, the worst record in the league.

Luke Adams <![CDATA[2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]]> 2018-04-20T20:23:03Z 2018-04-17T20:02:12Z After a period of virtually unprecedented stability in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, the coaching carousel started spinning again during the 2017/18 league year. Three teams made in-season coaching changes, installing interim replacements, and three more clubs have dismissed their head coaches since the regular season ended.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-20-18 (3:22pm CT)

Charlotte Hornets

  • Out: Steve Clifford (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story), Ettore Messina (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: David Fizdale (story)
  • The Hornets also made a change in their front office, hiring Mitch Kupchak as their new president of basketball operations and general manager. Kupchak will lead the search for a new head coach, with fellow UNC alum Stackhouse among the first candidates who will interview for the job.

Memphis Grizzlies

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Out: Jason Kidd (in-season change)
  • Interim coach: Joe Prunty
  • As long as the Bucks remain alive in the playoffs, the team won’t actively move forward with its coaching search. If Prunty can get the club through the first round, he’d become a stronger candidate for the permanent job.

New York Knicks

  • Out: Jeff Hornacek (story)
  • Interviewed: Jerry Stackhouse (April 16), Mark Jackson (April 18), Mike Woodson (April 18)
  • To interview: Kenny Smith (April 20), David Fizdale (story), David Blatt (story), Mike Budenholzer (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Jay Wright (story), Doc Rivers (story), Craig Robinson (story)
  • Not in running: Jeff Van Gundy (story)
  • The Knicks’ search has focused primarily on former head coaches so far, including Jackson, Fizdale, and Blatt. Those three candidates are considered part of the team’s “top tier” along with Stackhouse. Wright and Rivers are probably long shots, given their current employment situations, while Robinson – a former college coach who is already part of the Knicks’ front office – is considered a “dark horse.”

Orlando Magic

  • Out: Frank Vogel (story)
  • To interview: Jerry Stackhouse (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Nick Nurse (story)
  • The Magic plan to take their time with their search, so there haven’t been a ton of rumors about their targets so far. They’ve been linked to a couple coaches in the Raptors organization, given president Jeff Weltman‘s connection to Toronto.

Phoenix Suns

Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Southeast Notes: Budenholzer, Scott, Clifford, Weltman]]> 2018-04-17T01:05:05Z 2018-04-17T01:05:05Z The Hawks can expect a first-round pick if coach Mike Budenholzer bolts for another team, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Budenholzer, who has two years left on his contract, was granted permission to interview for the Suns job. The Celtics received an unprotected first-round pick in the 2015 draft when the Clippers hired Doc Rivers in 2013, Cunningham notes. The Suns own extra first-round picks in the 2019 and 2021 drafts from previous trades, Cunningham adds.

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • Forward Mike Scott has emerged as a key member of the Wizards’ second unit in their playoff series against the top-seeded Raptors, Chase Hughes of notes. Scott was the only productive bench player Washington had in Game 1, as he scored 14 of its 21 points. A productive series would help Scott land a contract this summer. He signed a one-year, $1.47MM deal with the Wizards last summer.
  • Steve Clifford, who was fired as the Hornets coach last week, believes the team didn’t play with the same attitude it showed in previous years. Clifford made the comments during a press conference posted on the team’s website. “We’ve always had spirit. We didn’t have that this year,” he said. “Some games (we did), but not nearly the togetherness and spirit we’ve had in other years. They know that.”
  • The Magic are in no rush to hire a new coach after firing Frank Vogel following the regular season, John Denton of the team’s website reports. President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman indicated that during a postseason press conference. “It is something that you’d rather do sooner than later so that we can get a guy in place and have our new staff around so that they can get their arms around our players, develop relationships and develop our young guys,’’ Weltman said. “All of that factors in. It would be better sooner, but as I always say … `we’re going to get it right before we get it fast.’ Hopefully, we can do both on this.’’
Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Heat Notes: Whiteside, McGruder, Draft Pick]]> 2018-04-16T12:48:39Z 2018-04-15T15:04:39Z After lashing out at coach Erik Spoelstra two weeks ago over a lack of playing time, Heat center Hassan Whiteside isn’t finding his situation any better in the playoffs, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Whiteside was on the court for just 12:26 in the Game 1 loss at Philadelphia, even though the Sixers were missing injured center Joel Embiid. Whiteside played just four minutes in the second half and didn’t return after being replaced early in the third quarter.

“I think coach wanted some change,” said Whiteside, who was fined for his earlier comments. “[Kelly Olynyk] was playing well. Of course, I would love to be out there rebounding and blocking shots and be out there with my teammates. But I think K.O. was playing well, so coach just wanted to get him out there.”

Saturday’s benching may or may not be an indication that the Heat have moved on from Whiteside, but it continues a season-long trend in which his minutes per game have fallen to 25.3 after a career-high 32.6 last season. Olynyk, a free agent addition, and rookie Bam Adebayo have performed well at center and Whiteside has Miami’s most expensive contract. He is signed for more than $25.4MM next season with a player option worth $27MM for 2019/20.

There’s more this morning out of Miami:

  • The Heat and Whiteside seemed to quit on each other last night, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman states that the organization made an error in not assigning someone to help Whiteside stay focused after giving him a four-year, $98MM contract in 2016. He contends a “blueprint of motivation” should have been created for Whiteside, whether it was by Spoelstra, assistant coach Juwan Howard, team president Pat Riley or chief executive officer Nick Arison.
  • Spoelstra should have given Rodney McGruder more than two minutes in Game 1, Winderman adds in the same story. McGruder missed most of this season after surgery in October for a left tibia stress fracture, but played a key role in last year’s stretch drive.
  • The Heat will only have to part with a mid-level first-rounder this summer as part of the payment for Goran Dragic, Winderman writes in another piece. Miami finished with the 16th pick in this year’s draft, which Winderman notes often produces journeyman players. The Heat’s roster is already stocked with youth, so surrendering the pick shouldn’t do much to affect the future. The team still owes the Suns an unprotected first-round selection in 2021.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Rumors: Coaching Search, Booker, Knight]]> 2018-04-13T15:19:21Z 2018-04-13T15:19:21Z As we relayed earlier today, the Suns reached out to former assistant Dan Majerle to see if he’d have interest in the head coaching position in Phoenix, but were turned down. Despite Majerle’s lack of interest, the club should have no shortage of candidates for the position. GM Ryan McDonough said this week that there are at least five to 10 names on the Suns’ list of targets, per Bob Baum of The Arizona Republic.

While it’s not clear just how quickly the Suns intend to conduct interviews and narrow down their list of candidates, McDonough said that he’d like to have a head coach in place before the draft combine and lottery in May. The lottery is scheduled for May 15, with the combine to follow from May 16-20, so we can probably count on the Suns making a hire within the next month or so.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In the wake of another losing season, Devin Booker says he’s “done with not making the playoffs,” as Baum details. “I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs. If that’s putting pressure on myself, I’m going to take this summer and work that hard so that it doesn’t happen again.”
  • Speaking of Booker, he’ll become extension-eligible for the first time this offseason. While the standout guard didn’t formally commit to inking a new deal in the coming months, he dismissed the speculation that he’s unhappy in Phoenix, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “Don’t believe in nonsense,” Booker said. “With TV, they need something to talk about. I’ve always mentioned since my first day here that I fell in love with this city, I fell in love with the fan base and the dedication they showed to the team.”
  • Brandon Knight is looking forward to getting back on the court in 2018/19 after missing the entire 2016/17 season with a torn ACL, Baum writes. Knight still has two fully guaranteed seasons on his contract, so he figures to be a part of the Suns’ rotation going forward. “I’m just trying to help the Suns in any way I can,” Knight said this week.
  • Having finished first in the lottery standings, the Suns are assured of a top-four pick in the first round of this year’s draft. McDonough said this week that he wouldn’t trade that selection unless it’s for a young superstar, tweets Bordow.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Dan Majerle Turns Down Meeting With Suns]]> 2018-04-13T13:27:50Z 2018-04-13T13:27:50Z It appears the Suns can take one name off their list of potential head coaching candidates. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Grand Canyon head coach – and former Suns star – Dan Majerle has turned down a request from the club to meet about the head coach position.

“(Suns GM) Ryan (McDonough) reached out and asked to meet, but I told him that I was going to stay at Grand Canyon,” Majerle said, per Richard Obert of The Arizona Republic. “I’m not ruling it out in the future. But there are still things I want to do here.”

As Obert notes, Majerle has some history coaching the Suns, having served as an assistant from 2008 to 2013. He left the team on bad terms in ’13 when Lindsey Hunter was named the interim head coach in Phoenix. Majerle blasted the organization on his way out, criticizing the Suns for passing over him and Elston Turner for the job and calling the process a “charade.”

Of course, that situation played out under an old regime in Phoenix, led by then-GM Lance Blanks. According to Obert, Majerle’s messy exit from the team in 2013 has nothing to do with his decision to turn down an opportunity in 2018 — the former Suns All-Star says his relationship with the franchise was repaired by McDonough two years ago.

The Suns were said to be getting an early head start on their head coaching search in March, so Majerle certainly isn’t the only candidate to hear from the club so far. Reports have suggested that Phoenix is likely to reach out to David Fizdale, Jason Kidd, and Jay Wright, among others. Interim coach Jay Triano will also be considered for the permanent job.

Luke Adams <![CDATA[Details On Traded Picks, Upcoming Draft Tiebreakers]]> 2018-04-12T15:56:54Z 2018-04-12T05:20:17Z With the 2017/18 NBA regular season in the books, the postseason matchups are set in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

More importantly for fans of most non-playoff teams, the end of the regular season means that the 2018 NBA draft picture is clearer than ever. The 2018 draft order is close to being set and – with a small handful of exceptions – most of this year’s traded draft picks with protections on them have now officially changed hands or officially stayed put.

However, there are still some major question marks surrounding the draft order, since several clubs finished the regular season with identical records, and draft tiebreakers don’t work like playoff tiebreakers do. In order to break these ties, the NBA will conduct random drawings this Friday, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN notes (via Twitter).

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings]

For lottery teams, such as the 24-58 Mavericks and Hawks, who finished tied for third in the lottery standings, the implications of those drawings are huge. Whichever team wins that tiebreaker will have ever-so-slightly better odds at the first overall pick (13.8% to 13.7%), and will be in position to claim the higher first-round pick if neither team lands in the top three.

For instance, if the Suns and Grizzlies remain at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lottery and another team leapfrogs the Mavs and Hawks, the winner of the tiebreaker between Dallas and Atlanta would claim the No. 4 overall pick — the loser would get No. 5. For the second round, the loser of the tiebreaker would receive the higher selection.

Here are the draft tiebreakers that will be conducted on Friday:

  • Mavericks vs. Hawks for Nos. 3, 4.
  • Kings vs. Bulls for Nos. 6, 7.
  • Bucks vs. Heat for Nos. 16, 17.
  • Spurs vs. Timberwolves for Nos. 18, 19.
  • Pacers vs. Pelicans vs. Thunder vs. Jazz for Nos. 20-23.

Several of those tiebreakers will also affect this year’s traded picks. Most notably, the Bucks/Heat drawing has massive implications for Milwaukee and Phoenix — the Bucks’ first-round pick will head to the Suns if it lands at No. 16, but Milwaukee would keep it if it ends up at No. 17. In other words, each team has a 50/50 shot at the pick. If the Bucks keep it, they’d owe their 2019 first-round selection to Phoenix, albeit with somewhat similar protections.

Here’s a breakdown of the traded first-round picks for 2018. A check mark indicates the pick will definitely be sent to the indicated team:

  • Nets pick to Cavaliers (✔️): Eighth in lottery standings
  • Lakers pick to Sixers (97.1%) or Celtics (2.9%): 10th in lottery standings
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via the lottery.
  • Pistons pick to Clippers (97.5%): 12th in lottery standings
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it lands in top three via the lottery.
  • Heat pick to Suns (✔️): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
  • Bucks pick to Suns (50%): No. 16 or 17 (tie)
    • Note: Bucks will keep pick if it lands at No. 17 via a random drawing.
  • Timberwolves pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 18 or 19 (tie)
  • Thunder pick to Timberwolves (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Pelicans pick to Bulls (✔️): No. 20, 21, 22, or 23 (four-way tie)
  • Cavaliers pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 25
  • Raptors pick to Nets (✔️): No. 29
  • Rockets pick to Hawks (✔️): No. 30

Here’s a breakdown of the traded second-round picks that will change hands in 2018:

  • Bulls pick to Knicks (✔️): No. 36 or 37 (tie)
  • Nets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 38
  • Knicks pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 39
  • Lakers pick to Nets (✔️): No. 40
  • Hornets pick to Magic (✔️): No. 41
  • Clippers pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 43
  • Bucks pick to Nets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Heat pick to Rockets (✔️): No. 45 or 46 (tie)
  • Nuggets pick to Lakers (✔️): No. 47
  • Trail Blazers pick to Mavericks (✔️): No. 54
  • Cavaliers pick to Hornets (✔️): No. 55
  • Celtics pick to Thunder (✔️): No. 57
  • Warriors pick to Nuggets (✔️): No. 58
  • Raptors pick to Suns (✔️): No. 59
  • Rockets pick to Sixers (✔️): No. 60
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Rumors: Len, House, Booker, Fizdale]]> 2018-04-10T21:01:25Z 2018-04-10T21:01:25Z As we detailed last month, fifth-year center Alex Len seems like a good bet to leave the Suns as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Len reinforced that idea this weekend by talking like a player who is preparing to move on from his current situation.

“I had a great five years here,” Len said of his time in Phoenix, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “I had ups and downs but I feel like it’s been a great time and a great learning experience with everything I’ve had thrown at me so I feel like anywhere I go or stay here from here on out I’m going to keep rising and get better.”

A year ago, Len became one of the few restricted free agents who sign a one-year qualifying offer rather than negotiating a longer-term deal with his current team or a rival club. Generally, players who take that approach don’t stick with their current club when they become eligible for unrestricted free agency a year later, so it’s not a real surprise that Len is already talking about his time with the Suns in the past tense.

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • While Len may be on his way out, two-way player Danuel House hopes that his recent play has shown the Suns – or another team – that he deserves a spot on an NBA roster next season, as Bordow details. “I think I’ve proven a lot,” said House, who has averaged 12.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG in his last five games. “I’m just going to play hard, try to make the right plays, that I’m able to step up and do things for the team that they need me to. That’s my main objective to show that I belong in this league and that I deserve to be here.”
  • In a separate article for The Arizona Republic, Bordow touches on a few topics, including Devin Booker‘s upcoming extension window, T.J. Warren‘s future role, and the Suns’ coaching search. Notably, Bordow fully expects Booker to sign a max deal with the club sometime after he becomes extension-eligible on July 1.
  • The Suns are among the teams expected to show “serious interest” in former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes in his latest email newsletter. As Stein notes, James Jones has an “increasingly loud voice” in Phoenix’s front office, and Fizdale coached Jones for several years as an assistant in Miami.
  • For more Suns stories, including an explanation of how the “starter criteria” impacts Elfrid Payton and the details on the team locking up the top spot in the lottery standings, be sure to check out their team page right here.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Potential 2018 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria]]> 2018-04-10T19:56:09Z 2018-04-10T19:56:09Z The NBA’s rookie scale, which dictates how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though. Last offseason, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,333,931.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Parker, whose torn ACL made him fall short. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 2 overall pick likely would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth about $8.851MM. Instead, his QO will be worth less than half of that.

Major injuries also prevented Exum and LaVine from meeting the starter criteria, while Celtics guard Marcus Smart stayed just healthy enough to meet the necessary benchmarks — he totaled 4,013 minutes played over the last two seasons, barely averaging more than 2,000 per year.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

The players listed below were picked between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2014 draft and will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,749,591.

Anderson is the biggest winner here, with his projected qualifying offer of $3.23MM set to increase by more than $1.5MM. However, Anderson, Capela, and Nurkic shouldn’t have any issue landing long-term deals, making the value of their QOs somewhat irrelevant. I wonder about Payton though — he didn’t exactly finish this season strong in Phoenix and could be a candidate to accept his increased QO.

Rodney Hood, the 23rd overall pick in 2014, can blame injury luck and lineup decisions for missing out on the starter criteria. He started 78 of 119 total games for Utah and Cleveland over the last two seasons, averaging 27.0 minutes per contest during that span. Without health issues, he almost certainly would’ve logged 82+ starts or 4,000+ minutes during those two years.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this year.

Initially signed to a 10-day contract in 2017, Ferrell parlayed that audition into a multiyear deal and has become an integral part of the Mavericks‘ rotation this season. He has appeared in all 81 games for Dallas, averaging 28.1 minutes per contest — that’s good for 2,274 total minutes, boosting his qualifying offer from $1,699,698 to $2,919,204.

The rest of this year’s restricted free agents won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Secure Top Spot In Lottery Standings]]> 2018-04-09T13:19:57Z 2018-04-09T13:19:57Z Following the Grizzlies’ win over Detroit and the Suns‘ loss to Golden State on Sunday, Phoenix has locked up the NBA’s worst record for the 2017/18 season. As our Reverse Standings show, the Suns’ 2.5-game lead for that top lottery spot ensures that they’ll head into next month’s draft lottery with a 25% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick. They’ll also be guaranteed a top-four pick in the 2018 draft.

The Suns will be hoping for better luck this year than they had last spring — after finishing with the NBA’s second-worst record in 2016/17, Phoenix slipped out of the top three of last year’s lottery, ultimately landing Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick. This time around, the Suns will have a 64.3% chance of securing a top-three selection.

Although the Grizzlies are no longer in the running for the No. 1 spot in the lottery, they look like a good bet to wind up at No. 2 in the lottery standings — they have a 22-58 record, putting them 1.5 games ahead of the 24-57 Hawks and Mavericks with three days left in the season.

Unlike in the NBA’s playoff race, where ties are broken based on each team’s performance in certain regular-season matchups, lottery ties are broken via coin flips. If Atlanta and Dallas ultimately finish tied for third in the lottery standings, they’d receive nearly equal odds of landing the No. 1 pick. Rather than 15.6% for third place and 11.9% for fourth, one team would have a 13.8% chance for the No. 1 pick and one team would have a 13.7% chance. In that scenario, the winner of a coin flip would receive the slightly higher lottery odds, and would get the higher draft pick if neither team ends up in the top three.

2018 represents the last year that the NBA will use its current draft lottery format. Starting in 2019, the lottery odds will be smoothed out, reducing the “top” teams’ chances of landing the highest picks. If the Suns had finished No. 1 in the lottery standings under that new format, they’d only have a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick – plus a 40% chance at a top-three selection – and could have fallen as low as No. 5.

Austin Kent <![CDATA[Suns Notes: Jones, Booker, Cousins]]> 2018-04-07T04:57:28Z 2018-04-07T01:20:52Z Fourteen-year NBA veteran James Jones hasn’t had much time to acclimate to his new role as vice president of basketball operations for the Suns but, as Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes, the 37-year-old has fallen in love with the position just one year removed from his playing career.

Jones, who focuses on player development while team general manager Ryan McDonough tackles scouting, believes that the club is closer to winning than their record suggests and implies that they need to surround their solid young core with players committed to winning.

Our young guys have talent that needs to be realized,” Jones said. “I think we need to challenge them to be better, to be great and to continue to put them in a winning environment and surround them with players that want to win at all costs and raise the bar for them from a performance and conditioning standpoint.

If taken at face value, the club could be looking to take the next step in its rebuild, progressing from the asset accumulation stage that saw them acquire valuable young players like Devin Booker and Josh Jackson to the stage of actually starting to build a winning environment.

The Suns have failed to win 25 games in each of the past three seasons, so a conscious commitment to winning would be a notable development.

We’ll look to add guys that bring that type of mentality but also we have to create it internally by putting our guys in tough situations, putting our guys in strategic situations that will test their mental toughness, test their level of competitiveness and push them and reveal who they are,” he said.

There’s more out of Phoenix tonight:

  • The Suns were said to have an interest in DeMarcus Cousins when he came available for trade during the 2016/17 season. This summer he’ll be a free agent and HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky suggests that Phoenix, replete with several other former Kentucky Wildcats, could once again explore such an option.
  • Count Devin Booker among those confident that the Suns will be aggressive this offseason. “This summer is a big summer for us,” Booker told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “You hear our GM come out and say he’s going to be super aggressive. We have young talent, we have a lot of picks, with a lot of money too. So I think there’s definitely going to be a lot of moves made this summer.
  • The Suns have a pile of interesting young assets and a mandate to capitalize on them so expect an interesting summer in the desert. Did you know that you can get a sneak peek at any rumors that start to swirl in the weeks leading up to the much anticipated 2018 offseason? Follow our Phoenix Suns page or, if you’re using the Trade Rumors app, add the dedicated team feed to your account.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Suns, Knicks]]> 2018-04-06T21:00:30Z 2018-04-06T21:00:30Z When Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports polled executives around the NBA recently on rising head coach candidates, Raptors assistant Nick Nurse and Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse were among the top names on the list. According to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times, both Nurse and Stackhouse will likely be among the the candidates the Magic consider if the club elects to replace Frank Vogel this offseason.

In addition to the fact that current Magic president Jeff Weltman was formerly the GM in Toronto, Stackhouse also has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond, who was the GM in Milwaukee when Stackhouse played for the Bucks. Woelfel adds that some NBA officials believe the Magic are “leaning toward” replacing Vogel with Stackhouse, though Orlando’s list of preferred targets figures to become clearer if and when the club formally moves on from its current head coach.

Here are a few more coaching notes and rumors from Woelfel:

  • Multiple sources tell Woelfel that Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer would have “more than a passing interest” in the Bucks‘ position if they move on from their current teams this offseason. Some NBA officials believe that Budenholzer wouldn’t want to be part of an “extensive” rebuild in Atlanta, according to Woelfel.
  • While the Suns are expected to conduct a wide-ranging head coaching search, multiple NBA executives and coaches think David Fizdale, Jason Kidd, and Villanova’s Jay Wright will receive strong consideration, says Woelfel.
  • Besides Wright, Virginia’s Tony Bennett is among the college coaches expected to draw NBA interest. “Everybody knows he’s an exceptional defensive coach, but he does some really nice things offensively, too. He can flat-out coach.” one longtime NBA executive told Woelfel. “I think almost every team that is in the market for a new coach will take long, hard looks at Wright and Bennett. They’re both great coaches and they’re both great guys.”
  • A league source expects Mark Jackson and David Blatt to be among the finalists for the Knicks‘ job if the team dismisses Jeff Hornacek, according to Woelfel.
Luke Adams <![CDATA[And-Ones: Wright, 2K League, EuroCamp, Fines]]> 2018-04-06T01:11:47Z 2018-04-06T01:11:47Z After leading his Wildcats to their second NCAA title in the last three years, Villanova head coach Jay Wright figures to draw interest from NBA teams this spring. Three NBA clubs currently have interim head coaches in place and will be in the market for full-time solutions in the offseason, and a handful of other franchises could make changes on the sideline too.

Still, it may be difficult to pry Wright away from Villanova, as Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes. The school’s athletic director Mark Jackson acknowledged that NBA interest in Wright will be “inevitable,” but he has “no sense” that the head coach wants to go anywhere, he tells Eisenberg. Assistant coach Ashley Howard agrees with that sentiment.

“I think he loves it here at Villanova,” Howard said of Wright. “He’s shown that. He’s had opportunities to go in the past, and he’s shown that he’s committed to staying here at Villanova and continuing to make this program great.”

Wright is currently making $2.6MM per year, Eisenberg notes, but a raise figures to be on the way after the latest championship if he remains at Villanova. Since the Suns are one team that may have interest in hiring Wright, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 did some digging and was told that Wright is expected to have his salary increased to at least $4MM, making it harder for him to walk away from the Wildcats (Twitter link).

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

  • The draft for the NBA’s new 2K eLeague took place this week, and the league is putting its weight behind the new esports venture — as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, Shaquille O’Neal will run the Kings‘ 2K squad (Kings Guard Gaming), while commissioner Adam Silver is looking to make his mark on North American esports, per Ohm Youngmisuk and Jacob Wolf at We won’t be covering the league on a regular basis, but for more details on the NBA’s foray into professional gaming, check out Alex Kennedy’s FAQ at HoopsHype.
  • As Adidas withdraws its support from the annual EuroCamp for international prospects, the NBA is looking to salvage the event, reports Jonathan Givony of The Eurocamp will take place from June 2-5 in Treviso, Italy and will be rebranded as the NBA Elite International Camp, according to Givony. In a separate story, Givony also takes a closer look at the new Next Generation program, an event organized by the NCAA, NBA, and USA Basketball for prospects during the Final Four.
  • Nets forward Quincy Acy and Pistons center Andre Drummond were fined $25K and $15K by the NBA earlier this week, according to the league. The two players engaged in a shoving match during Sunday’s game in Brooklyn, resulting in ejections for both.
  • Grand Rapids Drive center Landry Nnoko, who was in camp with the Pistons in the fall, was named the NBA G League’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2017/18. Peter J. Wallner of has the details.
Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Ayton-Booker Combo Resembles Shaq-Kobe?]]> 2018-04-02T22:32:22Z 2018-04-02T22:32:22Z Potential top pick DeAndre Ayton indicated during a radio interview that he and Devin Booker could form a duo similar to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant during their Lakers years if he winds up with the Suns, the team’s SB Nation blog The Bright Side tweets“Honestly, I could see myself in Phoenix,” the University of Arizona freshman center said in a CBS Sports Radio interview. “I could see a little Shaq and Kobe 2.0.” The Suns currently have the worst record in the league and will likely remain there. If they get the No. 1 selection, they could draft Ayton and then trade the first-rounders owed to them by the Heat and Bucks to move up and draft a point guard, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. If they fall to the No. 2 pick and Ayton is off the board, they would be happy to land Euro guard Luke Doncic and then move those same picks to get frontcourt help, Bordow adds.

Luke Adams <![CDATA[Five Traded 2018 Draft Picks With Protections To Watch]]> 2018-04-02T18:30:51Z 2018-04-02T18:30:51Z A ton of 2018’s first- and second-round picks have been included in trades already, and many of those traded picks have protections on them. In those instances, the pick only changes hands if the protection conditions are met — for example, the Hawks traded their second-round pick to the Clippers, but included top-55 protection on it, meaning L.A. would only receive it if it falls between 56 and 60. Given Atlanta’s record, that obviously won’t happen.

For many of this year’s traded picks, there’s not much drama left related to those protections. Either they definitely won’t change hands, like that Hawks second-rounder, or they definitely will — like the Rockets‘ first-round pick, which is headed to Atlanta with top-three protections on it.

However, there are a handful of traded draft picks whose status remains up in the air. The season’s final few games will determine which teams end up with those picks, or whether they change hands at all.

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at five of those protected picks worth watching down the stretch…

  1. Pistons‘ first-round pick (to Clippers; top-4 protection)
    • The Pistons are likely to finish the season 12th in the lottery standings, so this pick is extremely likely to end up with the Clippers. But that could change if Detroit lucks out in the lottery — at No. 12, the Pistons would have a 2.5% chance of jumping into the top three and keeping their pick.
  2. Bucks‘ first-round pick (to Suns; top-10 protection and 17-30 protection)
    • As of today, the Bucks’ 41-36 record has them tied with the Heat for the 15th or 16th pick in the draft. That would mean the Suns receive Milwaukee’s selection. That could change though, if the Bucks get hot to finish the season, pushing the pick back to 17th or 18th overall. Milwaukee has games left against Boston, Philadelphia, and three lottery teams, so that scenario is in play. If it happens, Milwaukee would keep its 2018 first-rounder and owe the Suns a protected first-rounder (protected for 1-3 and 17-30) in 2019.
  3. Timberwolves‘ first-round pick (to Hawks; top-14 protection)
    • At 44-34, the Timberwolves are up one game in the loss column on the ninth-seeded Nuggets, and two on the tenth-seeded Clippers. The Wolves’ remaining two games against Denver will be crucial for determining whether they make the playoffs and lose their pick or miss the playoffs and keep it (they’d owe their 2019 lottery-protected first-rounder to Atlanta in that case).
  4. Thunder‘s first-round pick (to Timberwolves; top-14 protection)
    • The 45-33 Thunder are slightly better positioned than Minnesota to clinch a playoff spot, but that could change quickly — Oklahoma City has games against Golden State, Houston, and Miami on tap, and doesn’t hold a tiebreaker edge over most of the other Western Conference playoff contenders. I expect the Thunder to hang onto a playoff spot, but if they don’t, they’ll keep their 2018 first-rounder and owe their 2019 lottery-protected first-rounder to Minnesota. Interestingly, if the final playoff spot comes down to the Thunder and Wolves, Minnesota could end up with two first-round picks for 2018 or none.
  5. Bucks‘ second-round pick (to Nets if in 31-47 range; to Suns if in 48-60 range)
    • As is the case with their first-round pick, the Bucks’ second-round selection is right on the edge here, currently projected to be 45th or 46th. A strong finish for the Bucks could mean that second-rounder lands with Phoenix, but for now it seems more likely to head to Brooklyn.
Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Booker Says Talent Upgrade More Important Than New Coach]]> 2018-04-01T00:02:15Z 2018-04-01T00:02:15Z
  • The Suns may have a new coach next season, but Devin Booker places a higher priority on who’s on the court than who’s running the team, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Booker believes coaching won’t be a concern if the talent level is upgraded. “I’ve had three coaches since I’ve been here and I’ve never blamed anything on one of the coaches as an individual,” Booker said. “I’ve had great relationships with all the coaches. I think the NBA just overall, when you need somebody to blame the first person that you go to is the coach. But at the end of the day you need the right players that match each other. Not just the best players. Chemistry helps.”
  • Booker refused to say if he stands by a statement he made in October that he would sign a five-year, $156MM extension if the Suns offered it this summer, Bordow adds in the same story. “I mean, that’s a whole other discussion,” Booker said. “A lot goes into that. When that time comes I’ll have to make a decision. … I’ve always said this is the place I want to be so if everything works out, yeah.”
  • ]]>
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[RFA Rumors: Parker, Gordon, Exum, Smart, Randle]]> 2018-03-30T17:09:16Z 2018-03-30T17:09:16Z Only about a quarter of the NBA’s teams are expected to have meaningful cap room this summer, so restricted free agents hoping for a major payday could have a tough summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Last week, we identified eight RFAs we believe have positioned themselves well for long-term contracts, and while we’re still bullish on those players, the RFA market may not be as active overall as it has been in some previous offseasons.

    Within his latest piece, Kyler took a closer look at a few specific 2018 restricted free agents, so let’s round up some highlights from his breakdown…

    • Most NBA insiders believe the Bucks will ultimately retain Jabari Parker, according to Kyler, who suggests that – with a new arena on the way – Bucks ownership may not be as worried about the rising cost of team salary as you’d expect.
    • The Bucks and Magic may let the market drive the respective prices on Parker and Aaron Gordon, according to Kyler. With Orlando’s new management group looking to shed cap dollars, the team will be wary of overpaying Gordon. Kyler also notes that the Magic could be open to the possibility of a sign-and-trade if Gordon wants to play elsewhere. However, sign-and-trades can be particularly tricky to pull off for RFAs getting big raises due to the Base Year Compensation rule, so that may be a long shot.
    • The prevailing thought on Dante Exum is that he’ll be back with the Jazz, though likely not on a long-term deal, says Kyler.
    • In order to pry Marcus Smart away from the Celtics, it might take an offer sheet at least in the range of $12-14MM per year, per Kyler.
    • The Kings are worth watching as a possible suitor for Lakers big man Julius Randle, though many people expect the Mavericks to be the team “on Randle’s doorstep” when free agency opens on July 1, Kyler writes.
    • Clint Capela (Rockets), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Cavaliers) are among the RFAs considered more likely than not to stay with their current teams, according to Kyler. For more details on those players – along with an item on Suns guard Elfrid Payton – be sure to check out Kyler’s full piece.
    Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Suns Notes: Booker, Draft, Canaan, Coaching Candidates]]> 2018-03-29T15:20:23Z 2018-03-29T15:20:23Z The question of whether to give Devin Booker a maximum extension is easy, but convincing him to wait another year may not be, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Booker will be eligible for an $157MM extension this summer that would start his annual salary at about $27MM. However, there are benefits for the Suns in waiting for 2019, and they have to convince Booker it’s best for him as well.

    Because Booker wasn’t drafted in the top 10 in 2015, he would have a $9.9MM cap hold next summer, roughly $17MM less than his salary under an extension. Phoenix has the potential to be a player in the 2019 free agent market, with roughly $35MM to $40MM available once contracts expire for Tyson Chandler and Chris Dudley. However, if Booker insists on an extension this year, that number would be cut roughly in half.

    Marks recommends negotiating with Booker as though he were a free agent the Suns are trying to recruit. He says GM Ryan McDonough and his team should present a salary-cap breakdown and a list of potential 2019 free agent signees to Booker’s representatives, explaining why it’s in his long-term interests to have the best possible teammates around him.

    There’s more this morning out of Phoenix:

    • The Suns should explore moving up in the draft to make sure they can fill their two greatest needs, Marks adds in the same piece. With Phoenix holding the top spot in our latest Reverse Standings, the franchise is in good position to land a center early in the draft. With first-rounders also coming from Miami and Milwaukee, Marks believes the team should package its assets and try to get another pick in the top 10 to grab a point guard, possibly Alabama’s Collin Sexton.
    • Isaiah Canaan is making rapid progress in his recovery from a dislocated left ankle, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Canaan, who signed with Phoenix in mid-December, played just 19 games before suffering the season-ending injury January 31. He has progressed past crutches and an ankle boot and hopes to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September. “I’m at home sitting around and thinking, ‘Wow, just two months ago I had two right feet and now I’m walking around doing strength training,’” Canaan said. “Obviously all the strength is not there yet but I’m feeling fine.”
    • In a separate story, Bordow lists David Fizdale, Jason Kidd and Villanova’s Jay Wright as potential candidates to be the Suns’ next coach.
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Alan Williams Returns To Action For Suns]]> 2018-03-27T19:00:57Z 2018-03-27T19:00:57Z
  • After missing nearly the entire 2017/18 season with a knee injury, Suns big man Alan Williams returned to action on Monday night, putting up three points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. Williams has a non-guaranteed $5.52MM salary for 2018/19, so team management will want to take a close look at him down the stretch this season.
  • ]]>
    Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/25/18]]> 2018-03-26T03:16:04Z 2018-03-25T21:58:11Z Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

    • The Rockets have recalled center Zhou Qi from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The 7’1” center has made 14 brief appearances with the Rockets this season. He’s averaging 11.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 2.3 BPG in G League play.
    • The Raptors recalled forward Nigel Hayes from their Raptors 905 affiliate, the team’s media relations staff tweets. Hayes has appeared in 43 G League games this season, averaging 15.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG. He’s also made two cameo appearances for Toronto, which signed him to a second 10-day contract on March 16th.
    • The Timberwolves recalled rookie center Justin Patton from their Iowa affiliate, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The 7-footer averaged 12.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG for the Iowa Wolves, who did not qualify for the G League playoffs. Patton has yet to make his NBA debut.
    • The Warriors recalled Damian Jones from the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced in a press release. The center has averaged 15.0 points and 8.1 boards in 44 games with the affiliate. Also, two-way forward Chris Boucher has also been recalled from Santa Cruz. He appeared in one game with the Warrior.
    • The Suns recalled veteran big man Alan Williams from their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, as part of his rehab process in returning from a torn right meniscus, per an official press release.
    Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Devin Booker Could Be Back Monday; T.J. Warren Remains Out]]> 2018-03-25T00:00:24Z 2018-03-25T00:00:24Z The hip injury that caused Lakers guard Isaiah Thomas to miss nearly the first half of the season appears to be acting up again, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. Thomas woke up this morning with stiffness in his right hip and will be held out of the final two games of the team’s road trip.

    Thomas first suffered the injury last year in Boston, and the Cavaliers held him out of the first 36 games of this season while he was recovering. The latest flare-up could be a warning sign for any team interested in the 29-year-old guard when he becomes a free agent this summer.

    There’s more news on the NBA injury front:

    • Down to eight players for tonight’s game, the Lakers will get some help tomorrow when two-way player Gary Payton II joins the team after the G League regular season ends. However, fellow two-way contract holder Alex Caruso is sidelined by a concussion, according to Bill Oram of The SoCal News Group (Twitter link).
    • Rockets guard Chris Paul will be held out of tonight’s game, but could return tomorrow, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Coach Mike D’Antoni said Paul is making progress after hurting his hamstring Tuesday night.
    • Devin Booker will miss his fourth straight game tonight with a sprained right hand, but coach Jay Triano is optimistic that he can play Monday, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). T.J. Warren is missing his third consecutive game with left knee inflammation after a non-contact injury last Saturday (Twitter link).
    • Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, who has missed the past two games with a right wrist contusion, will probably be held out another week, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
    • Bulls guard Kris Dunn remains in a walking boot with a toe injury, but was able to exercise today on an elliptical machine, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Swelling has gone down and he will join the team on its upcoming road trip, but coach Fred Hoiberg said Dunn will need to be “reconditioned” if the team doesn’t shut him down for the rest of the season.
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Getting Head Start On Coaching Search]]> 2018-03-23T14:04:32Z 2018-03-23T14:04:32Z Rather than waiting until the end of the regular season to begin their head coaching search in earnest, the Suns are doing so now, general Ryan McDonough tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, the Suns recognize that there may be several teams looking to hire new coaches this spring, so they want to start exploring their options before the season ends.

    “This is going to be a competitive marketplace,” McDonough said. “There are three of us (Phoenix, Milwaukee and Memphis) with interim coaches in place, and we want to be able to hit the ground running. We don’t want to have to wait until the end of the regular season for candidates who aren’t with teams now. At the end of the regular season, we’ll be able to talk with coaches on non-playoff teams and we’ll need to work with playoff teams on what their approach will be on contacting (assistant) coaches still in the postseason.”

    Interim head coach Jay Triano will receive consideration for the permanent job, McDonough confirmed. According to Wojnarowski, Triano wants to give his undivided attention to his players down the stretch, but his agent – Warren LeGarie – requested that Triano be able to prepare a “formal presentation” to the team after the season ends.

    As for outside candidates, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) hears from prominent coaching agents that the Suns will have to offer “real money” over four or five years in order to attract anyone credible. Mannix suggests (via Twitter) that Phoenix would be wise to pony up that sort of money if necessary, since the club could badly use some coaching stability. Since their last playoff appearance in 2010, the Suns have had four different coaches, and the franchise hasn’t won more than 24 games in a season since the 2014/15 campaign.

    Still, as Wojnarowski observes, the Suns appear better positioned heading into the 2018 offseason than they have been for the past few years. With building blocks like Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and T.J. Warren already in place, Phoenix could have three first-round picks this summer, and will have the cap flexibility to be aggressive in free agency and on the trade market. That flexibility could appeal to potential head coaching candidates.

    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Alex Len Likely To Leave Suns As Free Agent]]> 2018-03-22T20:55:48Z 2018-03-22T20:55:48Z A year after re-signing with the Suns as a restricted free agent, Alex Len appears unlikely to do the same as an unrestricted free agent this summer. As Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes, Len admitted this week that he’ll “probably” end up with another team for the 2018/19 season.

    “I’m looking forward to this offseason,” Len said. “I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s the first time I’m actually going to have a chance to go where I want to go.”

    Len has posted some of the best per-minute numbers of his career in 2017/18, but has averaged just 19.8 minutes per game in 62 contests — that’s his lowest mark since his rookie season. In his part-time role, the fifth-year center has posted 8.0 PPG and 7.5 RPG.

    According to Bordow, Len believes he’s capable of playing 30 minutes a night, and would love to sign with a team that gives him a chance to be a starter, though he’s open to being a backup on a contending club. Having played for three different coaches in Phoenix, the 24-year-old would also like a situation that gives him some stability. Plus, he believes he has a few skills he hasn’t had a chance to show off with the Suns.

    “I think I can step out and shoot mid-range,” Len said. “This year (interim coach) Jay (Triano) did not want me to shoot at all so I just played my role. Wherever I go I can space out to mid-range and I can knock that shot down.”

    The Suns will have Len’s Bird rights in free agency, so even if they don’t plan to re-sign him, they could accommodate a sign-and-trade. The more likely scenario, however, would see Len signing outright with a new club via cap room or an exception.

    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Elfrid Payton Facing Uncertain Future With Suns]]> 2018-03-21T13:56:54Z 2018-03-21T13:56:54Z Having been sent from Orlando to Phoenix at this season’s trade deadline, Elfrid Payton has enjoyed his time with the Suns so far, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic, who says Payton likes his teammates and the city, and believes the club will be a winner soon.

    “I think they have a chance to be really good, especially in the near future,” Payton said. “So I would love to be here.”

    However, even though the Suns surrendered a second-round pick for Payton in that deadline deal, there’s no guarantee that the franchise will invest in the point guard beyond this season, says Bordow. The 24-year-old will be eligible for restricted free agency in the offseason, giving Phoenix the opportunity to match any offer he receives, but it’s unclear whether the team will do so, according to Bordow.

    Payton got off to a fast start with the Suns, averaging 16.4 PPG, 8.2 APG, and 8.0 RPG with a pair of triple-doubles during his first nine games with the team. However, he has posted just 8.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 2.9 RPG with poor shooting numbers in seven games since then.

    Additionally, even when Payton was posting those impressive counting stats, the advanced numbers suggested that he was struggling on both ends of the court. In nearly 500 minutes with Payton on the floor so far, the Suns have a -17.8 net rating — they’ve been worse on both offense (97.4 rating) and defense (115.1) when he plays, per

    As Bordow notes, the Suns expect veteran point guard Brandon Knight to be healthy and have a role next season. Phoenix will also likely hold multiple first-round picks in this year’s draft, putting the team in a good position to draft a point guard. If the Suns go that route, there may not be a clear-cut role for Payton that would make it worth investing in a new deal for him.

    Plenty can change between now and July, so we’ll wait to see how Payton’s free agency plays out, whether that means remaining in Phoenix or joining his third team of 2018. For his part, the former lottery pick is trying to avoid dwelling on his uncertain future.

    “It can be a stressful time, but I’m in a good place,” Payton said, per Bordow. “I’m going to work on everything and whatever happens for me, happens for me.”

    Clark Crum <![CDATA[Alan Williams Assigned For Rehab Stint]]> 2018-03-20T23:46:59Z 2018-03-20T23:46:59Z
  • The Suns have assigned veteran big man Alan Williams to their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, as part of his rehab process in returning from a torn right meniscus, per an official press release. In his first rehab assignment last week, Williams scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Northern Arizona.
  • ]]>
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Stein On Suns' Head Coaching Search]]> 2018-03-20T20:56:00Z 2018-03-20T20:56:00Z
  • While Jay Triano will receive an interview as part of the Suns‘ head coaching search, Stein is hearing buzz that Triano is more likely to be asked to stay on as an assistant. Phoenix wants to explore the college ranks, and Villanova’s Jay Wright is one name that figures to come up during that search, per Stein.
  • ]]>
    Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Chriss, Dudley Fined By League]]> 2018-03-20T14:06:20Z 2018-03-19T23:31:44Z
  • Suns forwards Marquese Chriss and Jared Dudley were fined $25K apiece by the league for an dustup against the Jazz last week, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • ]]>
    Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Suns Plan 'Wide-Ranging' Search For Coach]]> 2018-03-17T23:13:41Z 2018-03-17T23:13:41Z
  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough says the team will conduct a “wide-ranging” search for its next coach once the season ends, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Interim coach Jay Triano will be included in that process, along with former NBA head coaches, current assistants and maybe some college coaches. McDonough indicated the team plans to talk to several candidates before the list is trimmed to ‘two or three” who will receive second interviews.
  • ]]>
    Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Williams Will Play In G League Before Season Debut]]> 2018-03-17T12:25:55Z 2018-03-17T02:56:36Z
  • Suns big man Alan Williams was assigned to the G League’s Northern Arizona Suns this week. However, he will not play for the NBA team until he gets into a game with the G League affiliate, which is expected on Wednesday, tweets Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports.
  • ]]>
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Recall Alan Williams From G League]]> 2018-03-16T19:35:38Z 2018-03-16T19:35:38Z
  • The Suns have recalled big man Alan Williams from the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Williams practiced with the Northern Arizona Suns on Thursday as part of the rehab process for the knee injury that has sidelined him all season.
  • ]]>
    Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Shaquille Harrison's Journey To The NBA]]> 2018-03-16T17:57:07Z 2018-03-16T01:00:34Z
  • A pair of historic performances earned Suns guard Shaquille Harrison a pair of 10-day contracts that turned into a multi-year pact.’s Cody Cunningham looks at Harrison’s journey from undrafted prospect to being tasked with defending Damian Lillard in his second NBA game. “His confidence in me brings out my confidence,” Harrison said of coach Jay Triano giving him the assignment. “It’s an honor to be out there with him trusting me. It makes me play even harder because I know I’ve got the trust and he believes in my abilities. It’s easy to go out there and have fun and do what I do.”
  • Teams purposely tanking to secure better draft lottery positioning has become a major talking point in the NBA. The Suns‘ poor play and resting veterans could be seen as a possible tanking attempt, but if it were the case, Devin Booker would not be playing nearly 40 MPG since the break, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports notes.
  • Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said the team will conduct a “wide-ranging” search for a head coach this offseason, Bordow writes in a separate story. Interim head coach Jay Triano will be among those considered, along with current and former NBA head coaches and possibly college coaches.
  • ]]>
    Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/15/18]]> 2018-03-16T00:00:11Z 2018-03-16T00:00:11Z Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

    • The Spurs assigned guard Derrick White to the Austin Spurs, according to a team press release. White, the team’s first-round pick last June, has played 19 games with Austin, averaging 18.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 3.1 APG in 27.0 MPG.
    • The Suns assigned forward/center Alan Williams to their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, according to a team press release. Williams underwent surgery on his right meniscus in late September and has yet to play in a game this season. He led the Suns with 15 double-doubles last season.
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/14/18]]> 2018-03-15T02:45:17Z 2018-03-15T02:00:24Z Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

    9:00 pm:

    • The Pacers have recalled Alex Poythress from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to the team’s website. The Kentucky product has played in seven G League games this season where he averaged 20.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

    4:56 pm:

    • For the second consecutive day, the Jazz sent Dante Exum to the G League and then recalled him later in the day, the team announced in a press release. The former fifth overall pick is preparing for his return from a shoulder injury by practicing with the Salt Lake City Stars.
    • The Lakers have assigned rookie big man Thomas Bryant to the G League, according to the club (Twitter link). Bryant, who has averaged 19.2 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 32 G League games this season, is expected to suit up for the South Bay Lakers on Thursday night when they host the Agua Caliente Clippers.
    • Chris McCullough, who had been playing for the Northern Arizona Suns, was recalled today by the Wizards and then re-assigned to the Erie BayHawks, according to the team. Washington doesn’t have a G League affiliate of its own this season, so McCullough is eligible to play for other G League squads via the flexible assignment rule.