Bol Bol

Suns’ James Jones Talks About Rebuilding Roster

In an interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona RepublicSuns president of basketball operations James Jones gives himself an “eight out of 10” for how he was able to construct the team’s roster around its new Big Four. Jones was limited in the moves he could make after trading for Bradley Beal to team with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton, but he found an intriguing mix of veterans and young talent.

Eric Gordon turned down better offers and accepted a veteran’s minimum deal for the chance to win a title. Yuta Watanabe, Chimezie Metu, Drew EubanksKeita Bates-Diop and Bol Bol also agreed to sign for the minimum.

“We knew going into it who our four top players were,” Jones said. “The guys who were going to lean on heavily to reach our goals. I think that gave us more clarity and I think it gave the players more clarity around how we would play and how they could fit with our team.

“So when it comes to minimums, I think it’s that label or contract value that people look at, but I look at it more from a perspective of identifying the guys who have the attributes and skills that would complement our group and finding players that believe that this environment will increase their productivity and give them a boost for their careers going forward. This was more forward looking than backwards looking for us and for the players that we targeted.

“I think that clarity allowed us to move quickly and efficiently through the free agency process because we knew exactly who we wanted and we knew exactly who wanted us.”

Jones addresses several other topics in the discussion with Rankin:

On the decisions to re-sign Josh Okogie and trade Cameron Payne to the Spurs:

“Just balancing versatility, and I’m not just talking about from a player skill set and roster construction perspective, but it just gives us options. It gives us options from a roster perspective. It also gives us options going forward. JO is someone who had a tremendous impact on our team last year in a specific role that we think can grow and Cam was someone who had an impact on our team, but he was part of a team that was a different team that played differently. Those two moves allowed us to create balance and gave us some versatility and options to continue to build a more complete team.”

On Bol’s potential after a promising season with Orlando:

“He’s going to get a chance to compete. He fits the profile of the team we’re trying to build. Long, athletic, skilled. Has played some high-level basketball. Has dealt with high expectations and has bounced back from some tough setbacks. The mental grit, the resilience and adaptability that he’s displayed is something that I think will help improve our team and if he can play the way he envisions himself playing, it just gives us another high-level player that we can count on and rely on as we try to march toward a championship.”

On new owner Mat Ishbia’s input during his first offseason with the team:

“He talked about speed, focus and understand what it is we’re trying to accomplish and get after it. Don’t second-guess it, don’t overthink it. Trust your instincts, trust your team and then go out there, find the best options for us and then make those options work. For me, it’s clear focus. He’s given me clear direction that allows me to focus on the things I enjoy the most, which is figuring out how to maximize the environment for our players and coaches and get a win.”

Pacific Notes: A. Davis, Kings, Bol, Ayton

As of August 4, Lakers star Anthony Davis will become eligible for a contract extension that could tack on three additional years to the two remaining on his current contract.

Although it remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers will offer him the maximum salary for those three years or if the two sides will reach an agreement quickly once Davis becomes extension-eligible, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin is confident that the two sides will be able to work out a deal sooner or later.

“I am not too concerned about how this thing plays out,” McMenamin said during an appearance on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast. “Whether the max amount of year, the max amount of numbers are reached, that remains to be seen. That will be figured out between (agent) Rich Paul and (Lakers head of basketball operations) Rob Pelinka and (Lakers owner) Jeanie Buss and the like. But where things stand right now, I expect some sort of agreement to be reached. … I’m fairly confident that Anthony Davis will be coming into training camp on an extended deal.”

Currently, both Davis and LeBron James are on guaranteed contracts through 2023/24, with player options for the ’24/25 season. James won’t be extension-eligible before next summer, so even if they’re able to lock up AD to a new deal this offseason, the Lakers won’t necessarily have any certainty on LeBron beyond the coming season.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines what the Kings‘ depth chart might look like in 2023/24, observing that the team’s starting lineup will probably remain unchanged from last season. Anderson also considers candidates for Sacramento’s final two-way slot, suggesting that Summer League standout Jordan Ford is one option if big man Neemias Queta doesn’t return on a two-way deal.
  • A handful of rotation spots will likely be up for grabs in Phoenix this offseason, so the newest member of the Suns‘ roster, Bol Bol, should have an opportunity to prove that he deserves a regular role and is worthy of more than a minimum-salary contract next summer, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rankin explores where Bol might fit on the team’s depth chart, noting that he could battle frontcourt players like Keita Bates-Diop, Drew Eubanks, and Chimezie Metu for minutes.
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton, who has been the subject of some trade rumors and has faced criticism for his up-and-down play, is looking to “change the narrative” this offseason, he tells Eyewitness Bahama News (Twitter video link). “Mainly what I’ve been working on five or six days a week since we’ve lost is just motivating myself to change the narrative of what people think about me,” Ayton said (hat tip to Rankin of The Arizona Republic). “… Just unlock whatever it is and just completely just focus on me and change the whole thing.”

Suns Sign Bol Bol

JULY 18: The signing is official, according to the NBA transactions log.

JULY 16: The Suns have reached an agreement to sign free agent forward/center Bol Bol to a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Bol’s deal with Phoenix will be fully guaranteed.

The move had been expected since last weekend, when reports indicated that the Suns were the frontrunners to sign Bol. The 23-year-old was waived earlier this month by Orlando, as the Magic opted to move on from him before his salary for 2023/24 became guaranteed.

A second-round pick in 2019, Bol was limited to 53 games in Denver during his first three years in the NBA due to injuries, but enjoyed his best season in 2022/23 with the Magic. The 7’2″ big man stayed on the floor for 70 games and averaged 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 21.5 minutes per night.

Given his modest $2.2MM salary and his unique skill set, it was a little surprising that the Magic decided to move on from Bol, but he struggled to consistently produce during the second half of last season. In his final 29 games, his playing time and shooting efficiency dropped off, as he scored double-digit points just three times and recorded averages of 5.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 0.7 BPG on .447/.098/.806 shooting.

The Suns agreed to trade Cameron Payne to San Antonio in order to open up a roster spot for Bol, who will sign a minimum-salary contract. Once both moves are official, the club will be carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Jordan Goodwin and Ish Wainright on non-guaranteed deals.

Bol figures to compete for minutes in a frontcourt that includes big men Deandre Ayton, Drew Eubanks, and Chimezie Metu.

Suns Frontrunners To Sign Bol Bol

The Suns are the favorites to sign Bol Bol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who says rival teams are expecting the free agent big man to land in Phoenix.

A former second-round pick, Bol hit waivers on Tuesday, with Orlando opting to move on from him before his salary for 2023/24 became guaranteed. He cleared waivers on Thursday and became a free agent, allowing him to join any team.

Bol’s unique skill set for his slender 7’2″ frame – including an ability to handle the ball – has long intrigued teams and fans, but he was limited to 53 games in Denver during his first three years in the NBA due to injuries. He enjoyed his best season in 2022/23, staying on the floor for 70 games and averaging 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 21.5 minutes per night.

While Bol’s overall numbers were solid, it was a tale of two seasons for the former second-round pick. He put up 11.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG with an impressive .584/.361/.740 shooting line in his first 41 appearances. In his final 29 games, his playing time and shooting efficiency dropped off, as he scored double-digit points just three times and had averages of 5.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 0.7 BPG on .447/.098/.806 shooting.

Once Josh Okogie‘s deal is official, Phoenix will have 15 players on standard contracts, not counting Bol. However, Jordan Goodwin only has a small partial guarantee, while Ish Wainright is on a non-guaranteed deal, so the team has some roster flexibility. The club would only be able to offer Bol a minimum-salary contract.

The Suns’ interest in Bol was previously reported by both Marc Stein and John Gambadoro.

Stein’s Latest: Wood, Saric, Bol, Mavs, Pelicans, Reed

Christian Wood and Dario Saric are two of the top unrestricted free agents who have yet to find new teams. There’s a good reason for that, according to Marc Stein at Substack: Both big men have only received contract offers for the veteran’s minimum thus far and are presumably looking for more money.

Stein says Saric will likely land with the Warriors if he’s unable to find a higher-paying offer. The Croatian big man is reportedly Golden State’s top remaining target.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • The Magic released Bol Bol on Tuesday and he cleared the waiver wire despite having a relatively modest $2.2MM salary. The Suns have a “level of interest” in the 7’2″ big man, according to Stein. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM said on Thursday (via Twitter) that he believed Phoenix might “take a hard look” at potentially signing Bol. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported when Bol was waived that the Suns contemplated trading for him on the night of last month’s draft.
  • The Mavericks aren’t done reshaping their roster this offseason, Stein reports. Dallas is expected to trade Tim Hardaway Jr. at some point, with JaVale McGee another candidate to be on the move, whether it’s via trade or being waived. Stein also hears Theo Pinson‘s time with the Mavs is likely over. The veteran guard remains an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Pelicans are just above the luxury tax threshold and have reportedly been active in trade talks for weeks. Like Fischer, Stein hears New Orleans is shopping guard Kira Lewis Jr. and center Jonas Valanciunas, with Lewis’ name surfacing more frequently in recent days. The Pelicans also unsuccessfully attempted to pry Jarrett Allen away from the Cavaliers, according to Stein.
  • There hasn’t been much buzz about possible offer sheets for restricted free agent Paul Reed, but Stein writes that the Jazz are worth monitoring. However, the Sixers are reportedly keen on retaining Reed, so it’s unclear if that might work out for Utah. The Jazz also already have several frontcourt players, so Reed would be a bit of an odd fit from a roster standpoint.

Stein’s Latest: RFAs, Washington, Mavs, Bol, JVG, Bojan

There has been more buzz in recent days about restricted free agents Grant Williams and Matisse Thybulle – who reportedly intends to sign an offer sheet with Dallas – than Hornets RFA P.J. Washington, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. As Stein explains, there are a couple reasons for that.

For one, the Hornets are in a better position to a match a rival offer sheet than Boston or Portland. The Celtics project to be well over the luxury tax line, while the Trail Blazers still aren’t certain what their books will look like after they finalize a Damian Lillard trade.

Additionally, while the Celtics and Trail Blazers would both have to weigh whether or not to match offer sheets signed using the mid-level exception, such a deal would presumably be an automatic match for the Hornets with Washington. According to Stein, Washington is believed to be seeking a deal in the range of $18MM per year.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Following up on a report that the Magic and Mavericks discussed a trade involving Bol Bol around the time of the draft, Stein explains that Dallas pitched the idea of taking on Bol as a salary dump along with Orlando’s No. 36 overall pick. The Magic turned down that proposal and ended up moving No. 36 for a 2030 second-round pick and cash.
  • Jeff Van Gundy, who was recently let go by ESPN, told the Mavericks he wasn’t interested in a job as an assistant on Jason Kidd‘s coaching staff, according to Stein, who says that it’s not yet known whether Van Gundy will attempt to return to coaching in some form or seek another broadcasting opportunity.
  • While teams around the league remain interested in acquiring forward Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pistons have held firm on their stance that they plan to keep the sharpshooting veteran, says Stein. There seems to be little concern about the Achilles issue that sidelined Bogdanovic for Detroit’s final 18 games, Stein adds, noting that the general sense is that the Pistons were just being “extra cautious,” with little to play for.

Magic Waive Bol Bol

The Magic have waived forward/center Bol Bol, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

Bol had been on an expiring contract, with a non-guaranteed $2.2MM salary for 2023/24. That money was originally on track to become guaranteed if the big man remained on the roster through June 30, but he and the team agreed to push back the deadline.

The new guarantee date was Tuesday, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks, so Orlando decided to cut Bol before locking in his $2.2MM for the coming season.

Bol’s unique skill for his slender 7’2″ frame – including an ability to handle the ball – has long intrigued teams and fans, but he was limited to 53 games in Denver during his first three NBA seasons due to injuries. He enjoyed his best NBA season in 2022/23, staying on the floor for 70 games and averaging 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 21.5 minutes per night.

While Bol’s overall numbers were solid, it was a tale of two seasons for the former second-round pick. He put up 11.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG with an impressive .584/.361/.740 shooting line in his first 41 appearances. In his final 29 games, he scored double-digit points just three times and had averages of 5.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 0.7 BPG on .447/.098/.806 shooting.

It sounds like the Magic determined after the season that Bol wasn’t part of their plans going forward. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Orlando was exploring trading him around the time of the draft. The Suns and Mavericks were two teams mentioned as possible landing spots, though it’s not clear if either would still have interest, Fischer says.

A team would require $2.2MM in cap room or a trade exception that could cover that amount in order to place a waiver claim on Bol. If he’s not claimed, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday.

The roster move gets Orlando down to 15 players on standard contracts for 2023/24.

Eastern Notes: Dinwiddie, Bol, Pistons, Harris, Heat, Maxey

Spencer Dinwiddie is eligible for an extension later this offseason and there’s support within the Nets organization to add years to his current contract, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

Dinwiddie is entering his walk year with a cap hit of $20,357,143. After being reacquired from Dallas last season, Dinwiddie started 26 regular-season games and averaged 16.5 points and 9.1 assists in 35.3 minutes.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Magic have pushed back their decision regarding Bol Bol‘s contract, Jamie Seh of WKMG-TV tweets. Bol has a non-guaranteed $2.2MM salary for next season and the original deadline to guarantee his deal was Friday. If they don’t guarantee his contract, he’ll end up on waivers.
  • By trading for Joe Harris and his expiring contract rather than pursuing a high-level free agent, the Pistons are protecting the cap space for next summer while avoiding a potentially bad contract, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. Handing a huge offer sheet to restricted free agent Cameron Johnson, as had been anticipated, would have meant overpaying for a role player. They could easily have $60MM in cap space to play with next summer for a better free agent market. Detroit won’t give up a player to the Nets in the trade for Harris, who will provide shooting and wing depth.
  • Agent Mark Bartelstein said Harris has spoken with Pistons GM Troy Weaver, coach Monty Williams and executive Arn Tellem, Mark Medina tweets. According to Bartelstein, the Pistons have wanted Harris “for a couple of years” and “he’ll have a great role there.”
  • The Heat only have veteran’s minimum contracts to offer to free agents, Barry Jackson of Miami Herald tweets. The cap-strapped Heat don’t have a trade lined up to clear enough cap space to use exceptions within league cap rules.
  • While the Sixers aren’t expected to pursue a rookie scale extension with Tyrese Maxey, they haven’t made him available in trade discussions, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice tweets.

Southeast Notes: Bol, Kuzma, Hornets, Capela

Bol Bol is enjoying a breakout season with the Magic after three frustrating years in Denver and he accepts the blame for things not working out better with the Nuggets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Bol was a second-round pick in 2019 and was acquired by Denver in a draft-night trade. Even though the organization was excited about his combination of size and skill, he only appeared in 53 total games before being traded last January.

“Yeah, I can say there was a little bit, I feel I could’ve worked a lot harder,” Bol said. “That was just me being young. That’s one of the things I learned, you have to work hard or (stuff’s) not gonna work out for you.”

Bol was dealt twice prior to last year’s deadline and ended up with a rebuilding Orlando team that gave him a better opportunity to develop. He wasn’t able to play for the Magic last season because of injuries, but he has generated Most Improved Player talk this year, averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in 39 games.

“New space, new opportunity for me,” Bol explained. “A younger team. It wasn’t like (Denver), where it was kind of hard for me to play because they were already a really good team, an established team, a playoff team. Now, I’m just getting a restart.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In an interview with Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, Kyle Kuzma says he’s willing to consider re-signing with the Wizards when he becomes a free agent this summer. “Yeah, 100 percent, for sure,” Kuzma responded. “For me, it’s all about my growth and how I can improve. That’s the thing I’m always chasing — trying to get better.” There has been speculation that Kuzma will be looking for a change of scenery once he declines his $13MM player option for next season.
  • Mental mistakes have played a role in the Hornets‘ collapse into the worst team in the East, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The roster is similar to the one that reached the play-in tournament the past two seasons, but players are having trouble staying focused for 48 minutes. “It’s just the discipline that we lack,” Dennis Smith Jr. said. “Ever since coming into the league, I was always taught ‘game plan discipline, game plan discipline.’ So, whatever the game plan is we’ve got to follow that to a ‘T.’ We show that whenever we do that we are a capable team.”
  • Hawks center Clint Capela plans to return for Monday afternoon’s contest against the Heat after missing the past 10 games with an injured calf, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. Capela, who has been limited to 27 games this season, will be on a minutes restriction.

Eastern Notes: Barnes, Bol, Kispert, Tucker

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, last season’s Rookie of the Year, has sparked the team during its recent upswing, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Barnes has reached the 20-point mark in three of the last four games. Just as important, he’s been setting up his teammates. He had a combined 22 assists in those outings and is averaging 5.4 assists this month.

“He’s an offense creator and we need him to be that,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That doesn’t mean shooting, that means creating shots for others and creating good movement for others.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol has returned to the rotation after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols and sitting out five games, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “I’ve been feeling good so far,” said Bol, who played 18 minutes on Friday. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I feel pretty fine, honestly.”
  • Wizards forward Corey Kispert has made half of his 3-point attempts over the last seven games and that’s forcing opponents to make adjustments, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Knicks limited him to four long-range attempts on Friday because of extra defensive attention. “I feel great, the best I’ve felt in my career shooting the ball for sure. I’m really, really happy with where my jump shot is,” Kispert said.
  • P.J. Tucker was the Sixers’ biggest offseason acquisition via the free agent market but he’s often benched during the fourth quarter. Tucker admits that the criticism he’s taken has been difficult, considering his limited offensive role, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “Can you imagine playing 30 minutes and taking one shot? Maybe not shooting at all? And still having to guard the best player and do all the dirty stuff?” Tucker said.