Bol Bol

Pacific Notes: Davis, Russell, Thomas, Gordon, Curry, Green

Lakers center Anthony Davis was forced to leave Saturday night’s game against Golden State because of an eye contusion, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

The injury occurred in the first half when Davis was accidentally hit in the face by Trayce Jackson-Davis while making a layup. He was able to play a few more minutes, but was eventually removed and declared out for the second half.

Davis suffered from impaired vision and his eye was swollen shut, a source tells McMenamin (Twitter link). He will be monitored tonight and Sunday before a determination is made about whether he can play Monday against Atlanta.

While there’s no indication that this will be a long-term injury, ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out that Davis is just shy of the 65-game minimum needed to qualify for postseason awards and All-NBA honors (Twitter link). He was at 64 games before tonight, including the finals of the in-season tournament, but he only played 12 minutes and the league requires at least 15 for the game to count toward the total.

Davis is averaging 24.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 blocks, so he’s a strong candidate for one of the All-NBA teams if he qualifies.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • D’Angelo Russell‘s $18.7MM player option for next season gives him a lot of leverage in deciding his future this summer, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown (video link). Russell has become a major part of the Lakers‘ offense during the second half of the season, averaging 22 PPG and shooting 44% from long distance over the past 27 games. Wojnarowski points out that if L.A. wants to make a significant trade at the draft, the organization may need Russell to pick up his option and agree to go wherever he’s dealt.
  • Isaiah Thomas, who’s joining the Suns on a 10-day contract, is expected to eventually receive a standard deal to fill the team’s final roster spot, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. Gambadoro doesn’t expect the 35-year-old guard to become part of the rotation, but he’ll serve as insurance heading into the postseason.
  • Eric Gordon was able to play 22 minutes on Friday night after missing the Suns‘ previous two games with a left knee contusion, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rankin expects Gordon, Royce O’Neale, Bol Bol and Drew Eubanks to form the core of Phoenix’s second unit for the rest of the season.
  • Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both returned for Saturday’s game, giving the Warriors a fully healthy roster for the first time since November, observes Sam Gordon of The San Francisco Chronicle. Curry missed three games this week with a sprained right ankle, and Green sat out Wednesday’s contest due to lower back stiffness. “I still believe we’re very capable of rattling off a string of victories, and you just don’t know what’s going to happen above you,” coach Steve Kerr said.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Young, Bol, Looney, Reddish

Devin Booker returned to the Suns‘ lineup on Monday night and the team’s big three carried it to a six-point win over Cleveland, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic notes. Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal combined for 88 of the club’s 117 points. Booker scored 27 points after missing four games with a right ankle sprain. Phoenix is 15-9 with all three stars in the lineup.

“They’ve got a great ability to pierce single coverage or drop coverage in pick-and-roll and when they start bringing two to the basketball, they’re all willing passers,” Suns head coach Frank Vogel said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young has only played in two games since the Suns signed him off the buyout market. “If the matchup fits, then we’ll use him, but for now he’s behind Drew (Eubanks) on the depth chart,” Vogel said, per Rankin (Twitter link). Bol Bol has received steady, if limited, minutes this month. He’s averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 11.2 minutes over six March outings. Regarding Bol’s minutes, Vogel said it’s about either matchup or being able to go zone to protect him on the defense, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.
  • Warriors center Kevon Looney’s consecutive games played streak lasted 254 games in the regular season and 289 including playoffs — second in the NBA behind only the Nets’ Mikal Bridges. It ended not because of injury but due to losing his rotation spot. He was a DNP-Coach’s Decision against the Bulls and Spurs. “I still get to carry it a little bit. I was available. I can still say I didn’t get hurt. Knock on wood,” Looney told Anthony Slater of The Athletic as he knocked on his locker. “I’m still taking care of my body. Still feeling good. Still available whenever they call on me again. I’ll be ready.”
  • Lakers forward Cam Reddish won’t play against the Kings on Wednesday due to a right ankle sprain, Khobi Price of the Orange County Register tweets. LeBron James (left ankle) is listed as questionable.

Suns Notes: Beal, Bol, O’Neale, Gordon, Durant

Injured Suns guard Bradley Beal is “making progress” with the left hamstring issue that has kept him on the shelf for the team’s past four games, head coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Beal missed Phoenix’s final contest before the All-Star break due to what the team has referred to as hamstring “tightness.” Vogel suggested at the time that the injury didn’t appear significant, and the star guard was originally listed as questionable for last Thursday’s game vs. Dallas. However, he was ruled out for that one and two more since then. According to Vogel, Beal still isn’t fully comfortable with “high-intensity” work.

“He did some of the non-contact stuff,” Vogel said after Tuesday’s practice. “More sprint work. There’s quick twitch stuff, which is shell defense, half court, and then there’s the full-court sprinting where you’re stretching out your legs and your stride. So that’s where he was having some discomfort still, but he’s making progress.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Bol Bol has worked his way into Phoenix’s rotation this month, playing a season-high 27 minutes on Friday and 24 more on Sunday. Bol’s ascension has been well-earned, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (subscription required), who says a regular role feels sustainable for the big man as long as he remains healthy.
  • In a story for his newsletter, Bourguet identifies five Suns lineups that he’d like to see more of, including four groups that feature relative newcomer Royce O’Neale.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic spoke to both O’Neale and Eric Gordon about their experiences in Phoenix this season, as well as their time with their former teams in Brooklyn and Houston, respectively. O’Neale, who was acquired by the Suns at the trade deadline, said he has enjoyed joining a team that was prioritizing defensive help. “It’s been good. That’s what kind of made my name in the league, defense,” O’Neale said. “Just coming in, being one of the guys that brings that defensive intensity, leadership, trying to help these guys and they’re helping me out. So it’s been good, I feel welcomed back to playing good basketball.”
  • While Kevin Durant has been as effective as ever on offense this season, advanced stats suggest he’s also taking his game to new heights defensively, as Jake Fischer details in a story for Yahoo Sports. “Sometimes you have to hide top scorers just to manage their workload or whatever. But he wants that challenge each night,” Vogel said. “He’s more engaged when he’s guarding a top guy. And his seven-foot length and wingspan, and ability to slide his feet, he can guard most guys in this league, big and small.”

Suns Notes: Durant, Bol, Beal, Nurkic

In an interview with Malika Andrews of ESPN (video link), Kevin Durant talked about the possibility of finishing his career with the Suns, but he didn’t offer any guarantee that it will happen. Durant asked to be traded to Phoenix last February, and he told Andrews that he enjoys being in the city when she asked if that will be his final NBA stop.

“I’ve been on so many teams and I’ve said this before,” Durant responded. “Right now, in this moment today, without thinking about it in the next minute, yeah. But that’s just saying right now. I can’t really predict what may happen, but I love playing in Phoenix. I love the fan base, the city. I’ve grown to understand what our mission is being in the Valley and how deep these people care about their team. I started to understand the history of the Suns, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I want to go up in that Ring of Honor someday, so however long that takes.”

Durant is under contract for two more seasons and won’t reach free agency until the summer of 2026, when he’ll be 37. He’s still playing at an All-Star level, and he talked to Andrews about continuing his career past the age of 40. He also reflected on how he has learned to look at the game differently since he got older.

“Winning, I don’t even have to think about that no more because when I step on the floor that’s just in me already,” Durant said. “I tend to think about the other detailed parts of the game that’s going to help me get to the win. How to be a great teammate, how to inject myself into the game at different moments. I started to think about the small parts of the game, and that’s just made it more fun for me.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Bol Bol was outstanding in Friday’s loss at Houston, coming off the bench to deliver 25 points and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes. It was a rare outburst from Bol, and his teammates were thrilled to see him take advantage of the opportunity (video link from Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic). “Super proud of him, got in there ready to play,” Devin Booker said. “Wasn’t sure if his name was going to be called and still performed at a high level.”
  • A left hamstring injury will sideline Bradley Beal for a fourth straight game on Sunday, Rankin writes in a full story. Beal was listed as doubtful Friday night, but he was able to complete a pre-game workout that included running, shooting and resistance work. Jusuf Nurkic, who missed the game in Houston with a sprained right ankle, is expected to return.
  • Friday’s loss showed how much the Suns miss Beal when he’s not available, Rankin adds in a separate piece. Durant and Booker both shot below 50% on the night, and there was no one else to provide a consistent shooting threat or create opportunities for Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon.

Suns Notes: Bol, Vogel, Allen, Durant

Suns head coach Frank Vogel has applauded reserve power forward Bol Bol for his recent output with Kevin Durant absent, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). Bol’s play has been strong enough to yield meaningful rotation run even once Durant is back in the fold, Vogel suggested.

Since first entering the team’s lineup on New Year’s Day, Bol has been playing solid ball. Across just 16.4 minutes per night, the 7’3″ big man is averaging 9.7 PPG on an unsustainably excellent shooting line of .800/.750/.667, along with 5.7 RPG and 1.3 APG.

Unfortunately, Bol has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. Phoenix due to a right ankle sprain.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • The impact of veteran 3-and-D Suns swingman Grayson Allen on Phoenix this season has been remarkably seamless, Bourguet writes in a separate piece. Various injuries to the Suns’ three maximum-salaried stars have compelled the team to lean on Allen, who has already impressed Vogel. “I didn’t foresee the way he’s played for us this year,” the head coach admitted. “I think he’s exceeded all of our expectations from that standpoint.” The 28-year-old sniper is posting one of the top effective field goal percentages in team history. Across 30 contests, the Duke product is averaging 13.6 PPG on elite .509/.473/.891 shooting splits.
  • Although Kevin Durant did partake in a pregame shootaround Friday before ultimately sitting out the Suns’ victory over the Heat, Vogel told reporters that he was still feeling discomfort in his strained right hamstring, per Bourguet (Twitter video link). Vogel was quick to point out that the ailment is not a tear. Durant is now considered questionable to play on Sunday against the Grizzlies, Bourguet tweets.
  • Following that shootaround, Durant did seem to be taking the next step to a comeback, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rankin writes that, per Vogel, Durant had a “game intensity” workout Saturday. “His individual work, individual shooting he normally goes through, which is high intensity,” Vogel said. “Some strength work. He’s doing some stuff with the medical team.”

Pacific Notes: Klay, Plumlee, Theis, N. Powell, Bol

It has been a disappointing first half of the season for Warriors wing Klay Thompson, whose average of 16.7 points per game is well below his career mark. His 42.0% shooting percentage on field goal attempts and 37.7% rate from beyond the three-point line would be career lows.

While Thompson’s slow start has affected his demeanor on and off the court, he said on Tuesday that a recent conversation with head coach Steve Kerr has helped him “relax a lot” and adjust his mindset, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“Sometimes I forget just how successful and how lucky I’ve been to be part of a championship team, All-Star games, gold medals,” Thompson said. “You want to get back to that level so badly you can kind of get in your own way. Rather than forcing it, we had a conversation about enjoying the last chapter of my career, how lucky I truly am to still be playing this game, doing it at a high level, being a better mentor for these young guys, leading by example, having my energy right every game.

“He helped me realize if I do have negative energy how that affects the team in a poor manner. So we had a great conversation that helped me change my whole mindset and forget about shooting splits or points per game or All-Star games and just to enjoy being in this Warriors uniform and appreciate what we’ve built. Because it’s such a rare opportunity for a professional athlete to be a part of so much success and to pass that torch to the young guys and keep this thing going.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers center Mason Plumlee was active on Monday for the first time since going down with an MCL sprain on November 6, but he didn’t see any action, as Janis Carr of The Orange County Register writes. “He is available, but we still want to make sure we are doing the right thing and making sure that we’re taking the slow (road) and ease him back in,” head coach Tyronn Lue explained. Fellow reserve center Daniel Theis said he hasn’t been told by the coaching staff how his role will be affected by Plumlee’s return.
  • With the Clippers healthier this year than in recent seasons, Norman Powell is averaging just 25.6 minutes per game off the bench, his lowest mark since 2018/19. However, the veteran wing says he’s willing to sacrifice some playing time and accept a reduced role if it’s the right move for the team as a whole, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “This year with the way the team is constructed and the moves that we made, I’ve been taking a step back and not being so upset that my role isn’t going to be where I would like it to be, or where I want it to be or how I view myself, and accepting how the team is built, what the team is looking for and what we have to do to win,” Powell said.
  • Bol Bol made just eight appearances and logged only 19 total minutes in his first 32 games with the Suns, but he finally got an extended opportunity in Monday’s win over Portland and took advantage of it, putting up 11 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes. “I haven’t been able to show it, but I still have all the same confidence,” Bol said before the game, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I know what I’m capable of doing when given a chance.” Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the victory that the team was “really happy” with Bol’s performance and hinted that his opportunities to play non-garbage-time minutes may be more frequent going forward.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Lakers, Paul, Bol

The Kings savored their comeback win over Golden State Tuesday night, and not just because it gave them a spot in the knockout round of the in-season tournament, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Sacramento would have won the West’s Group C by staying within 11 points, but it felt better to claim a victory over the Warriors, who knocked the Kings out of the playoffs in April.

“We want to win. Obviously, our fans want us to beat Golden State,” De’Aaron Fox said. “A game this close, coming back from down 24, you want to win regardless of if it’s a tournament game or not.”

Malik Monk finished off Sacramento’s frantic rally by hitting a tough bank shot in traffic in the final seconds. Monk also delivered a message to the coaching staff midway through the fourth quarter, Andrews adds, telling them to stop complaining to the officials and let the players take care of business.

After breaking a 15-year playoff drought last season, the Kings have a chance to make more history by reaching the tournament’s semifinals in Las Vegas.

“We want to get to Vegas and be one of the first teams to advance to the final four,” Fox said.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Two days after LeBron James said “a lot” needs to be fixed following a 44-point loss in Philadelphia, the Lakers looked like a different team in beating Detroit, observes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coach Darvin Ham didn’t address Monday’s embarrassment apart from a Wednesday morning film session in which he told his players that one bad night doesn’t define their season. “The biggest thing with (James), he’s a competitive, fierce competitor like myself, and that (loss to the Sixers) was a tough one to experience,” Ham said. “It’s okay to be frustrated because you’re passionate about the game, but we can’t get emotional and lose our focus, lose our way.”
  • Warriors guard Chris Paul suffered a nerve contusion in his lower left leg and will miss Thursday’s game against the Clippers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sources tell Woj that Paul is considered day-to-day.
  • Suns coach Frank Vogel told reporters after tonight’s game that Bol Bol will eventually get a chance to prove he can help the team (video link). A free agent addition this summer, Bol has played just seven total minutes in three games.

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.