Phoenix Suns

Suns’ Davon Reed Out 4-6 Months With Knee Injury

The Suns will be without one of their 2017 draft picks for the next several months, having announced today in a press release that rookie shooting guard Davon Reed underwent a meniscus repair of his left knee on Thursday. Reed is expected to return to full basketball activity in about four to six months, according to the team.

It’s bad news for the Suns, who opted not to make a splash in free agency this summer, instead focusing on being patient with their rebuild and developing their young players. The club will now likely have to wait until 2018 to get a good look at Reed, who was the No. 32 overall pick in June’s draft.

An ACC All-Defensive player for Miami in 2016/17, Reed averaged 14.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG in his senior season, making 39.7% of his three-point attempts. The 22-year-old was one of three players selected in the 2017 draft by the Suns, who also nabbed Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick and selected Alec Peters at No. 54.

As the 32nd overall pick, Reed wasn’t subject to the NBA’s rookie scale for first-rounders, but he signed a four-year deal anyway. His first-year minimum salary is fully guaranteed, while he has a partial guarantee on his second year, per Basketball Insiders. His third year is non-guaranteed and his fourth year is a team option.

Reed is the second Suns guard to go down with a major knee injury this summer. Brandon Knight is expected to miss the entire 2017/18 season after suffering a torn ACL.

Kyler’s Latest: Irving, Cavaliers, LeBron

One of the most surprising things about the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving from Cleveland to Boston this week was the Cavaliers‘ willingness to deal with their closest conference rival, just months after facing the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the Cavs did try to find a deal with a Western team, having worked the Suns and Nuggets “pretty hard.” Cleveland also had some discussions with the Spurs and Clippers, but those clubs didn’t have the right combination of assets to really intrigue the Cavs, Kyler adds. Eventually, the Cavs circled back to the Celtics, who had expressed interest in Irving earlier and could put together the right sort of package to appeal to Cleveland.

Kyler’s latest piece at Basketball Insiders includes many more notes on the Irving deal, so let’s round up some of the highlights…

  • After news of his trade request leaked, Irving essentially stopped talking to the Cavaliers, sources close to the situation tell Kyler. Even before that news came out, the Cavs hadn’t heard much from Irving’s camp after he informed them of his desire to be moved, per Kyler.
  • Sources close to Irving tell Kyler that the star point guard was very aware of the age difference between him and many of his Cavaliers teammates. Irving is looking forward to joining a roster that features more players around his age, and hopes that he can build stronger connections and become more of a team leader rather than being viewed as a “little brother,” according to Kyler.
  • Kyler hears that new Cavaliers GM Koby Altman spoke to LeBron James on Tuesday after completing the deal. Although LeBron had hoped the relationship between Irving and the team could be repaired, he’s happy to have closure on the situation, says Kyler.
  • The Irving trade hasn’t changed James’ stance on his future — the four-time MVP enjoys having options and the freedom to make his own choices when the time comes, and doesn’t intend to give that up by locking himself into anything early, says Kyler. This stance was reflected in a series of pro-player tweets issued by LeBron earlier today.

Bucks Made Competitive Offer For Kyrie Irving?

12:58pm: Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link) hears that the Bucks didn’t offer Middleton, Brogdon, and a first-round pick for Irving. It’s not uncommon for there to be conflicting reports on trade offers, since there can be ambiguity about what a team is willing to offer and what that team formally offers. Whether or not the Bucks put that package on the table, it was unlikely to be enough for the Cavs.

11:32am: The Suns were long viewed as a potential frontrunner in the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, but Phoenix never really got close to landing the star point guard, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). According to Gambadoro though, another team that was in the mix for Irving and made a strong offer was the Bucks, who put Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and a first-round pick on the table.

It’s easy to see why the Celtics’ offer – which included an All-Star in Isaiah Thomas and a stronger first-round pick – was more appealing to the Cavs than Milwaukee’s proposal. Boston’s package, which also featured Jae Crowder and rookie center Ante Zizic, should give Cleveland a better chance to contend for a title in 2017/18, and may also give the Cavs a better chance to land a young star, since that 2018 Nets pick may end up in the top five.

Still, Thomas’ hip is a concern and he’s under contract for only one more year, making him a bit of a risk. The Bucks’ offer would have given the Cavaliers the reigning Rookie of the Year (Brogdon) on an extremely affordable contract (about $3MM over the next two years), and a dangerous shooter and scorer in Middleton, who is on a reasonable contract of his own (about $27MM over the next two years). Milwaukee’s 2018 first-round pick figures to fall in the late-teens or 20s, however.

While the Bucks fell short in their pursuit of Irving, it’s worth remembering that the team was willing to make a play for the All-Star point guard. That point guard spot is perhaps the most glaring area of concern for Milwaukee heading into 2017/18, so the team figures to keep an eye out for potential upgrades again at the 2018 trade deadline and next offseason.

NBA Rookies View Dennis Smith Jr. As ROY Favorite

For the last decade, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has been surveying several incoming rookies to get their thoughts on their fellow first-year players.  Schuhmann asks the newest NBA players to identify which rookie they expect to have the best career, which was the steal of the 2017 draft, and which is the frontrunner for the 2017/18 Rookie of the Year award, among other questions.

This year, Schuhmann polled 39 rookies, and more than a quarter of those players made Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. their pick for Rookie of the Year favorite. The No. 9 overall pick received 25.7% of the vote, beating out top picks like Lonzo Ball (20%) and Markelle Fultz (17.1%). That may be good news for the Mavs, though as Schuhmann observes, the rookies he has surveyed haven’t accurately predicted the Rookie of the Year winner since 2007/08, when they made Kevin Durant the overwhelming favorite.

Here are a few more items of interest from Schuhmann’s survey:

  • Smith was the landslide winner (43.6%) as the most athletic rookie. But while his fellow rookies believe the Mavericks point guard will have the best first year, Ball and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received the most votes (18.4% apiece) for which rookie will have the best overall career.
  • Donovan Mitchell (18.9%) was the top choice for biggest steal of the draft, after the Jazz nabbed him at No. 13. Some of the second-round picks that the rookies viewed as steals included Jordan Bell (Warriors; No. 38) and Dwayne Bacon (Hornets; No. 40).
  • Luke Kennard (Pistons) and Malik Monk (Hornets) were widely considered the top two outside shooters in the draft. Among their fellow rookies, Kennard (48.6%) easily topped Monk (13.5%) as the pick for the No. 1 shooter of the 2017 class.
  • Suns forward Josh Jackson (26.3%) was narrowly voted the best rookie defender, while Ball (71.8%) was the overwhelming pick for best rookie playmaker.

And-Ones: Antetokounmpo, EuroBasket, Anthony

Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s decision to skip EuroBasket is causing international conspiracy accusations, relays Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In a message written in Greek, Antetokounmpo announced on social media this morning that he will miss the tournament to keep from aggravating a knee injury. He is serving as an NBA ambassador this week in China, where he failed a physical administered by team doctors for the Bucks. Antetokounmpo called the decision to pull out of EuroBasket “by far the biggest disappointment in my career.”

However, the Greek basketball federation is casting doubt on the injury, claiming it’s a ruse by the Bucks to keep Antetokounmpo out of the competition. “A series of clues by which we were particularly worried about since Giannis arrived in Greece and the national team training camp started, had created the conviction of an organized and well-staged plan by the NBA franchise in which Giannis has signed,” the organization charged in a written statement translated by Eurohoops.net. EuroBasket will get under way August 31st.

There’s more NBA-related news from around the world:

  • Two players who will be part of EuroBasket are Magic teammates Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier, who faced off in a preparation game today, relays Josh Cohen of NBA.com. Fournier’s French team, the defending champions of the event, easily dispatched Vucevic’s Montenegro squad, 100-70. The French roster is stocked with current and former NBA players, including Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo.
  • The KnicksCarmelo Anthony, who has been the subject of trade rumors nearly all summer, makes a Basketball Insiders list of players who could most benefit from a deal. Anthony has been at an impasse for weeks, as he will reportedly only waive his no-trade clause to go to Houston, and the Rockets and Knicks have been unable to craft a mutually acceptable deal. Others who could use a change of scenery, according to the Basketball Insiders panel, are the SixersJahlil Okafor and the SunsEric Bledsoe.
  • An ESPN panel reacted to the network’s projected standings for the upcoming season by picking the teams most likely to outperform and underperform their rankings. The Sixers got multiple votes for both categories in relation to a projected 37-45 record.

Western Notes: Jackson, Harden, Muhammad, Wolves, Clippers Arena

Rumors of the Suns trading promising rookie Josh Jackson for Kyrie Irving should be put to rest, writes Greg Moore of AZCentral.com. Moore writes that Jackson and Devin Booker each create a sense of “awe and wonder,” making anyone who watches them dream of the future.

The Arizona-based scribe argues that the manner in which coach Earl Watson talks about Jackson comes off much more as genuine optimism for the future than big talk to boost trade value.

“I love Josh Jackson,” Watson said Monday. “Something about him is just uncommon.” Devin Booker, meanwhile, “always had that edge.” “(Those) two together are going to be great young guys who can push other guys to become better because they’re so inner competitive,” Watson said.

Watson joked in response to being asked about a rumor that Jackson had grown two inches since being drafted:  But “if he did, we love it, and even if he didn’t … let’s build the legend. Yeah, he grew. Absolutely. He’s like 7 feet now … anyone coming up against him should be intimidated by his constant growth vertically, in height, and ability to play above the rim.”

In a recent interview, Jackson addressed the trade talk, saying, “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened by now.” However, he also said: “I’m going to make the best of whatever situation that I’m presented with. If I’m traded to China, whatever, I’m going to come out, and I’m going to be happy and just try to make the best of it.”

Here are more notes from the Western Conference:

  • James Harden is more fit and fired up than ever, writes Sam Amick of USA Today.  “I know how exciting this season is (going to be, and) I know how important it is, so I’m going to take full advantage of it. I have a lot of charity (events), a lot of things going on, but when I’m in that gym that’s kind of my getaway. That’s kind of when I’m locked in,” Harden said. The Rockets‘ 2017 postseason ended with concerns over Harden’s fatigue and stamina.
  • Shabazz Muhammad may have to settle for a short-term “prove-it” deal for next season, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. Heading into the offseason, coach Tom Thibodeau used the word “optimistic” when discussing re-signing Muhammad. However, in July, the wing’s rights were renounced. On Wednesday, Timberwolves signee Jamal Crawford tweeted Muhammad, “c’mon back home.”
  • The mayor of Inglewood and the four other council members unanimously approved a revised agreement with a Clippers-controlled company to shrink the four-block area where an arena could be built so homes and a church aren’t displaced, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. More than a dozen citizens had raised concerns about the potential arena before the vote took place.

NBA Teams That Still Have 2017/18 Cap Room

During the 2016 NBA offseason, when the salary camp jumped from $70MM to $94MM, 27 teams had cap room available, with only three clubs operating over the cap all year. A more modest cap increase this year to $99MM meant that fewer teams had cap space to use. So far, 14 teams – less than half the league – have used cap room to sign players.

Of those 14 teams, several have since used up all their cap room, including the Celtics, Knicks, Jazz, Lakers, and Timberwolves. However, there are still several teams around the NBA that have room available, or could create it without waiving and stretching any players on guaranteed salaries.

With the help of data from HeatHoops and Basketball Insiders, here’s a quick breakdown of teams that still have cap room available, along with their estimated space:

  • Atlanta Hawks: $4.6MM. The Hawks could gain slightly more space by waiving Luke Babbitt, whose salary is only partially guaranteed, but Atlanta just signed Babbitt, so that’s not a likely move.
  • Brooklyn Nets: $6.6MM. The Nets could gain slightly more space by waiving Spencer Dinwiddie, whose minimum salary contract is mostly non-guaranteed. However, I expect Brooklyn to keep Dinwiddie on its roster.
  • Denver Nuggets: $2.8MM. With Mason Plumlee‘s cap hold still on their books, the Nuggets’ cap room is fairly negligible. Denver could get up to about $8.6MM by renouncing Plumlee, but there’s no indication that’s in the plans.
  • Indiana Pacers: $7.6MM.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: $15.1MM. The Sixers could create even more space by waiving a player on a non-guaranteed contract, but the team isn’t about to part with Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes, or T.J. McConnell.
  • Phoenix Suns: $6.3MM. Alex Len‘s cap hold is taking up $12MM right now, and Phoenix is carrying a pair of non-guaranteed contracts (Elijah Millsap and Derrick Jones), so in theory the Suns could get all the way up to $21.2MM in space by renouncing Len and cutting those non-guaranteed players.
  • Sacramento Kings: $4.3MM.

The following two teams are essentially capped-out, but could create a very small amount of room if necessary:

  • Miami Heat: The Heat could create close to $1MM in space by waiving Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, whose salaries aren’t fully guaranteed. That almost certainly won’t happen.
  • Orlando Magic: The Magic are currently under the cap by about $550K, and could create up to about $1.34MM in space by waiving Khem Birch, whose salary is mostly non-guaranteed. Again, that’s not likely.

The following two teams are technically operating over the cap at the moment, with various trade and mid-level exceptions pushing them over the threshold, but they could create room if they choose to go under the cap:

  • Chicago Bulls: The Bulls could immediately create about $13.5MM in room by renouncing the rest of their MLE and the $15MM trade exception generated in the Jimmy Butler deal. If the team chose to waive David Nwaba, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, and renounced its free agent cap holds, including Nikola Mirotic‘s, that figure would increase to about $25.8MM.
  • Dallas Mavericks: Even without renouncing Nerlens Noel‘s cap hold, the Mavericks could get to $11.6MM in cap room by waiving their non-guaranteed players and dipping below the cap. Removing Noel’s cap hold on top of that could get the Mavs up over $22MM in room, but there’s been no indication that Dallas plans to go that route.

Poll: Should Suns Include Josh Jackson In Kyrie Offer?

Although the Suns weren’t one of the teams named on Kyrie Irving‘s alleged list of preferred landing spots when he made his trade request earlier this offseason, Phoenix has been frequently mentioned as a possible trade partner for the Cavaliers. The Suns possess a win-now veteran (Eric Bledsoe), a young potential star (Josh Jackson), extra future draft picks, and an ability to absorb an extra contract or two, making them a good fit for the Cavs.

Still, the two sides haven’t found common ground yet, and Jackson – this year’s No. 4 overall pick – appears to be a point of contention. Last month, reports indicated that the Suns were unwilling to include Jackson in an offer for Irving, telling the rookie forward that he wouldn’t be going anywhere. The team reportedly prefers to include last year’s fourth overall pick Dragan Bender.

Jackson has been cited as a primary target for the Cavaliers as they explore their options with Irving. LeBron James himself reportedly asked about Cleveland’s chances of landing Jackson, who was named this week as one of several young players the Cavs were focused on — Kristaps Porzingis, Jayson Tatum, and Jamal Murray were among the others.

If the Suns were willing to include Jackson, a package of the rookie and Bledsoe would be a starting point, though previous reports have indicated Phoenix would need to give up a little more too — perhaps in the form of a draft pick or taking back a player like Channing Frye or Iman Shumpert.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer took a closer look at the situation on Tuesday, making cases for why the Suns should and shouldn’t be willing to put Jackson into an offer for Irving. Ultimately, O’Connor’s “bad cop” – who argued for including Jackson – won out, with The Ringer scribe suggesting that an unproven rookie with some question marks shouldn’t be a sticking point in a deal for a legit star.

What do you think? Are the Suns overvaluing Jackson, or are they right to refuse to include him in an offer for Irving? Does it make sense for Phoenix to hope that the Cavs will accept other players in Jackson’s place, and to move on if that bid falls short?

Vote below in our poll and then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Jackson, Wilson, Suns

Lonzo Ball‘s rise from UCLA standout to the Lakers‘ teenage cornerstone has been largely hyped up by his outspoken father, LaVar Ball. The elder Ball has become a media sensation, known for his flurry of outrageous claims (claiming he can beat Michael Jordan one-on-one) and promotion of his son’s abilities has been front page news since last year. While the world is still learning how to deal with the circus, the younger Ball is not ashamed or surprised at how his father conducts himself in the public eye.

“I think it’s overblown, I mean, that’s how my dad is, I’m used to him acting like that, so it’s nothing new for me,” Ball said in an interview with USA Today. “The way we look at it as a family is positive, you know, we talked it over before all this happened and we all know he’s going to do what he’s going to do. We just look at it as a positive and try to run with it.”

Once the season is underway, and Lonzo tries to live up to LaVar’s promise of leading the Lakers to the playoffs in his first season, past comments will not be relevant anymore. Ball will have to execute his on-court abilities and block out the noise associated with the NBA season. He will seek showing the world that his dad claiming his son is better than Stephen Curry is more than an offhand comment.

Below you can read additional news surrounding the Pacific Division:

  • The Kyrie Irving saga has continued and training camp, followed by the regular season, are all drawing closer. Irving has drawn interest from around the NBA and in his latest piece, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer examines the possibility of Kyrie to the Suns. Specifically, O’Connor addresses Phoenix trading 2017 first rounder Josh Jackson for the NBA champion, ultimately viewing a trade for a proven commodity over keeping an athletic asset with upside a no-brainer.
  • The Clippers‘ deal with Jamil Wilson is a two-year, two-way contract, according to basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter). Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweeted that $50,000 of Wilson’s first-year salary is guaranteed.
  • In a minor coaching change, the Suns named Jeff Fish the director of performance and head strength and conditioning coach, per a team announcement.

Kyrie Irving Rumors: Spurs, Celtics, Porzingis

If the Cavaliers had received assurances from LeBron James that he intends to remain with the franchise beyond the 2017/18 season, their approach to a Kyrie Irving trade might be much different, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While the Cavs certainly haven’t given up hope of James remaining in Cleveland, the franchise wants to use an Irving trade to protect itself against his possible departure — that means focusing on acquiring a young potential star, rather than targeting veteran help for LeBron.

Initially, the Cavs’ desire in an Irving trade was to acquire young players and picks that could help the team down the road and to get pieces that could help the club contend immediately. However, that kind of massive return may not be available for the star point guard, forcing the Cavaliers to choose one path or the other. And with LeBron unwilling to commit, the Cavs are leaning toward prioritizing long-term pieces over short-term help.

As Wojnarowski details, Josh Jackson (Suns), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), and even Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) are among the young players the Cavaliers have their eye on in trade talks. In his own piece on the situation in Cleveland, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders agrees that those four teams – Phoenix, Boston, Denver, and New York – are mentioned most frequently as trade partners, and continue to have discussions with the Cavs.

Here’s plenty more on the Irving situation:

  • According to both Wojnarowski and Kyler, teams around the NBA believe that the Cavaliers will ramp up trade talks and get more serious about moving Irving in September, with training camps approaching.
  • The Spurs have interest in Irving, but the fact that the Cavs are prioritizing young potential stars over veteran help means Cleveland doesn’t have much interest in the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, or Danny Green, says Wojnarowski.
  • Although the Cavaliers are intrigued by Tatum, the Celtics have yet to make an official offer for Irving and the two sides haven’t formally discussed this year’s No. 3 overall pick, according to Wojnarowski. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe adds (via Twitter) that Boston has remained in touch with the Cavs throughout the process.
  • The idea of including Porzingis in an Irving offer is currently a “non-starter” for the Knicks, per Wojnarowski. However, Woj adds there may still be some lingering tension between Porzingis and the franchise, and teams are wondering how emphatic the Knicks’ “no” really is — especially if the Cavaliers would be willing to take on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
  • Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks have shown interest in Irving. However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo obviously untouchable, Milwaukee may not have a young star who makes sense for the Cavs.
  • Although the Clippers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Irving, a league source tells Kyler that L.A. doesn’t appear to have the right combination of assets to appeal to the Cavs — a third team would be necessary, and even that may not be enough to make the Clips a serious contender for Irving.
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