Drew Eubanks

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, O’Neale, Eubanks, Gordon, Okogie

New Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer vows to be demanding with the team’s three stars, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Among the topics Budenholzer addressed Friday at his introductory press conference is how he plans to get the most out of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal in their second season together.

“I think they know that I’m gonna have high expectations of them,” Budenholzer said. “I’m gonna coach ’em, I’m gonna hold ’em accountable. But that’s what I’m gonna do with everybody. And so it’s not any different. That’s kind of been my roadmap for coaching, whether it’s the best players or the entire roster.”

The Suns were criticized this season for not having a traditional point guard to create easier scoring opportunities for their Big Three. Budenholzer told reporters that’s an area that needs to be looked at this summer as part of the larger picture of creating a more versatile team.

“We need to be able to play different ways, bigger, smaller,” he said. “But I think the point guard position has a place, and we’re gonna talk about it and figure it out. But I just know we’re gonna need to be able to play lots of different ways, including without a point guard.”

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • The competitive nature that Budenholzer showed during his interview helped him land the job as the Suns moved quickly to find a replacement after dismissing Frank Vogel, Bourguet adds in the same piece. “I’m a competitive guy, and we talk about this too: Throughout that process, Bud must have said ‘compete’ 95 times in two minutes,” general manager James Jones said at the press conference. “Compete at everything, compete in practice, compete with each other, against each other. Compete against your opponent, but more importantly, compete with yourself.”
  • Because the Suns are subject to second apron provisions, they might benefit from re-signing free agent forward Royce O’Neale to more than his market value, Keith Smith of Spotrac suggests in his offseason financial look at the team. Phoenix is prohibited from taking back more than it sends out in a trade. Smith states that if O’Neale’s actual value is around $10MM per year, the Suns can increase their trade options by paying around $15MM or by giving him the exact amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which currently projects to be $12.9MM for 2024/25.
  • Drew Eubanks, Eric Gordon and Josh Okogie are all good bets to decline their player options for next season, according to Smith, who recommends trying to re-sign Eubanks and Gordon to veterans’ minimum contracts this summer with a new player option for the following season. Phoenix holds Early Bird rights on Okogie, so Smith sees a new contract in the $5-8MM range as another way to create tradable salary.

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, Coaching Staff, Ishbia, Eubanks

Mike Budenholzer is getting right to work after being officially hired as the Suns‘ new head coach earlier today. Sources tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Budenholzer is expected to attend the draft combine in Chicago, which starts Monday, and he has already begun the process of forming an entirely new coaching staff.

Members of former head coach Frank Vogel‘s staff have been told that they won’t remain with the team, tweets Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report.

Budenholzer, a two-time Coach of the Year, had been out of the league since being dismissed by the Bucks following a disappointing first-round playoff exit last season. He’s moving into another high-pressure situation as success will be expected right away from an expensive roster built around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.

Phoenix appears to be a good situation for Budenholzer because he has been able to succeed without having a natural point guard, according to an Arizona Sports article, which examines how his teams fared with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder in Atlanta and Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday in Milwaukee.

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • Budenholzer will have to prove that he can hold his new Big Three accountable in a way that Vogel couldn’t, observes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. None of them are naturally vocal leaders, so Budenholzer may have to fill that role, which Bourguet notes could either unlock the group’s full offensive potential or could lead to personality clashes. Bourguet also looks at Budenholzer’s coaching style and states that the Suns are likely to play at a faster pace and take more three-pointers next season.
  • While there were reasons to make a coaching change, Doug Haller of The Athletic argues that owner Mat Ishbia should receive a large share of the blame for everything that went wrong this season. The Suns have talked about the need to build continuity since they acquired Durant in February of 2023, but Ishbia’s string of big moves have made that impossible to achieve.
  • Backup center Drew Eubanks, who holds a $2.65MM player option, has received indications that the Suns want him to return next season, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Eubanks, who averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 75 games, appears to be leaning toward picking up the option, but he added, “I’m going to make the best decision for my family and I when the time comes.” Eubanks, Eric Gordon, Josh Okogie and Damion Lee all hold player options and have a June 29 deadline to decide whether to exercise them.

Pacific Notes: O’Neale, Allen, Hyland, Leonard, Monk, Sabonis

Suns coach Frank Vogel switched up his rotation in the team’s 124-108 win over the Clippers on Wednesday, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. Royce O’Neale was inserted into the lineup in place of Grayson Allen, while Thaddeus Young replaced Drew Eubanks as the backup center.

However, the Suns could go right back to Allen as the starter against Sacramento on Friday. “It’s just something we’ve been talking about,” Vogel said. “If we get into a playoff matchup where we have a bigger opponent, then we feel like (O’Neale’s) size in the starting lineup is something that would make sense. We didn’t want to go to that with Grayson coming off the bench for the first time having never done it. We used this one game to let Grayson just feel the rhythm of coming off the bench, if it’s needed in the playoffs.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Ivica Zubac and Norman Powell sat out the second game of a back-to-back on Wednesday. Bones Hyland carried the Clippers‘ offense in their absence, pumping in a career-high 37 points, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register notes. Leonard sat out his sixth consecutive game because of inflammation in his right knee. He might not return until the postseason but coach Tyronn Lue believes his superstar forward will be ready to go by that point.
  • Kings guard Malik Monk was the solid frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award until he suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee late last month. Center Domantas Sabonis said Monk still deserves the honor. “Monk has to win it,” Sabonis told HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. “If he doesn’t win it, it’s rigged. He definitely brings energy and light. If we’re down, he’s always up and in a good mood off the court, too, so that really helps during a long season with ups and downs.” Coach Mike Brown concurs. “It should not even be a debate on Sixth Man of the Year with Malik’s body of work and us fighting for a playoff spot,” Brown said. “He should be the hands-down winner.”
  • Monk will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Sacramento has Early Bird rights on Monk and can sign him up to $78MM over four years. “I’d love to play here again, for sure. I’ve been here for two years and made friends with everyone, including the training staff and front office,” Monk told Scotto. Sabonis said the organization can’t afford to lose him: “We’ve got to keep him. He’s a big piece for us moving forward.”
  • Sabonis saw his 61-game double-double streak end on Tuesday, Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press writes. He had eight points and 13 rebounds against Oklahoma City. It’s the seventh-longest streak in league history and the longest since the NBA and ABA merged prior to the 1976/77 season.

Suns Notes: Thomas, Nurkic, Beal, Young

Isaiah Thomas, whose 10-day contract with the Suns will expire following Friday’s game in Oklahoma City, hasn’t had a chance to make much of an impression in his first five games with the team, logging just 1:48 of garbage-time action in his lone appearance last Wednesday.

Still, the veteran guard has earned praise from his coaches and teammates based on his performances in practices and pickup games, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details. Devin Booker told reporters that Thomas looks “great,” while Josh Okogie said the 35-year-old has been “the Isaiah we all know.”

“He’s looked really good,” head coach Frank Vogel said after watching Thomas participate in a pickup game on Tuesday. “Healthy and still can fill it up. He can shoot it. He can attack in pick-and-rolls and he’s a hell of a passer, too.”

According to Vogel, the Suns will make a decision on a possible second 10-day deal for Thomas once his initial contract expires. With more than two weeks left in the regular season, the team is in position to potentially give Thomas 10 more days before having to make a decision on whether to commit to him for the rest of the season.

“I’m just taking it day by day,” Thomas said, per Rankin. “I hope I’m here the rest of the way because I know I can help, whether I’m playing or not. I know my voice helps. My leadership helps. My experience helps, but that’s out of my control. I’m just here taking it day-by-day and doing what I can and controlling the things I can control and that’s by being a great teammate each and every day.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • After missing Wednesday’s win in Denver due to a right ankle sprain, Suns center Jusuf Nurkic is considered questionable to return on Friday in Oklahoma City, per the official injury report. Drew Eubanks earned his fifth start of the season on Wednesday with Nurkic out and would presumably remain in the starting five if the Bosnian big man is unable to go tonight.
  • Bradley Beal played on Wednesday after spraining his right ring finger on Monday and isn’t on Friday’s injury report. He told reporters that he’ll likely have pain in that finger for a few weeks, but intends to play through it (Twitter video link via Rankin).
  • Beal and Booker combined to make just 8-of-28 field goal attempts against the Nuggets. However, as Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic, Kevin Durant scored 30 points and the Suns’ bench outscored Denver’s reserves by 14 as Phoenix bounced back from Monday’s disappointing loss to the Victor Wembanyama-less Spurs to beat the defending champs on the road.
  • One of the Suns’ reserves who came up big on Wednesday was Thaddeus Young, a buyout market addition who hadn’t seen much action yet for Phoenix. He had six points and nine rebounds and was a +15 in 18 minutes vs. Denver. “It’s going to be tough to keep him off the floor now,” Booker said of Young, who also earned praise from Vogel (Twitter video link via Rankin).

And-Ones: Cousins, Cooks, Eubanks, Valentine

DeMarcus Cousins‘ contract with the Taiwan Beer Leopards, slated to begin in mid-April, will cover a month-and-a-half, sources inform Marc Stein (Twitter link).

The 6’10” big man was a four-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA honoree while with the Kings and Pelicans. Major lower leg injuries cut his career short at an all-too-brief 11 years.

Following his All-Star prime, he played for the Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Bucks and Nuggets in brief stints as a reserve. Across 654 total NBA regular season contests, he boasts averages of 19.6 PPG (on .460/.331/.737 shooting), 10.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG and 1.1 BPG.

Cousins hasn’t been able to find an NBA home since the end of the 2021/22. He has since played for clubs in Puerto Rico and Taiwan.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Suns reserve big man Drew Eubanks wants to play for the Italian team in a future Olympics, according to Simone Sandri of La Gazzetta (hat tip to Kevin Martorano of Sportando for the translation). “I would certainly like to be able to play in an Olympics,” Eubanks said. “…I like to play competitive games even in the offseason. In fact, the idea of playing different basketball during the summer is intriguing to me and can only be beneficial to my NBA career. The prospect of joining a new team intrigues me, but let’s see what happens with the paperwork and then we’ll decide.”
  • Former Wizards guard Xavier Cooks has inked the biggest deal in the history of Australia’s National Basketball League to return to the Sydney Kings, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Cooks, a league MVP, helped propel Sydney to consecutive titles in 2022 and ’23. He has agreed to a three-year contract with the Kings.
  • One-time NBA lottery pick Denzel Valentine, hot off his own stint with the Sydney Kings, has signed a contract for the rest of the 2023/24 season with Italian club Olimpia Milano, per Alessandro Maggic of RealOlimpiaMilano.com. Valentine was selected with the No. 14 pick in 2016 out of Michigan State by the Bulls. He also suited up for the Cavaliers and Jazz.

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.

And-Ones: Officiating, Stewart, Eubanks, Ntilikina, Bronny

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr once again lamented the way that NBA games are called, suggesting that offensive players get the benefit of the doubt too often, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

“I think there just needs to be a general rule: No bulls–t allowed. Really. It’s the truth,” Kerr said. “And I could go through a tape with you and show you: A guy dribbles off a high ball screen and the defender tries to fight over (the screen) and the guy (with the ball) jumps backwards and the ref calls a foul. Like, what are we doing? Can you imagine calling that in the pickup game? It would start a fight. We just have to get back to (determining) what’s basketball.”

With scoring numbers reaching record heights, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars confirmed last month that the league has formally launched a review into whether rule changes are necessary to slow that trend and restore the offense/defense balance. Kerr believes that tweaking the way fouls are called would be a good start.

“Let’s make players create an advantage in order to call a foul,” Kerr said. “But we have these exact phrases — ‘illegal guarding position.’ Sometimes a guy will just slam right through the defender and the ref will call a foul on the defender. (The referee will) say, ‘It’s an illegal guarding position.’ The refs have to call that. That’s how they’re judged and taught.

“Like I said, the officials are great. It’s just that we have to recognize what’s happening. I think it’s been about a decade where the offensive players are so smart, they see what’s happening and they’re just completely manipulating the rules to let them go.”

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

  • TMZ Sports has obtained the Phoenix Police Department incident report on the altercation between Pistons forward/center Isaiah Stewart and Suns center Drew Eubanks. According to the report, Eubanks told police that Stewart confronted him while he was entering the arena due to physical play between the two big men in a previous game. Stewart, who punched Eubanks in the face, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and issued a citation, but Eubanks later told police he wanted the charges dropped, per TMZ.
  • Frank Ntilikina is reportedly looking to return to his home country after being waived by the Hornets last month. Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, relaying a report from French outlet BeBasket, says Ntilikina has been linked to ASVEL and Paris Basketball but would need to be signed as an injury replacement to be eligible suit up for either team down the stretch. The guard is said to be hoping to use the rest of this season to make his case for a spot on the French national team for the Paris Olympics this summer.
  • As he considers whether to enter the 2024 NBA draft or remain at USC, Bronny James is expected to weigh specific team interest more heavily than draft position, agent Rich Paul told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN over the weekend. That would mean seeking out the best developmental fit rather than trying to get drafted as high as possible. Paul added that getting Bronny on the same team as father LeBron James isn’t a top priority, though LeBron would be “head over heels excited if that were to happen organically.”

Pistons’ Stewart Arrested For Punching Suns’ Eubanks Before Wednesday’s Game

FEBRUARY 15, 7:00am: Stewart was arrested by Phoenix police for assault, according to Mark McClune of KTVK 3TV (Twitter link), who says the Pistons big man was issued a citation and was released. The police investigation into the incident remains active.

Meanwhile, Pistons head coach Monty Williams said after Wednesday’s game that the Suns’ statement on the incident was “irresponsible” (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press).

“I know Phoenix came out and said it was unprovoked. I think it’s irresponsible,” Williams said. “… Until you find out everything, you can’t make those statements. I heard about that, and that did not need to happen.”

FEBRUARY 14, 7:55pm: The Suns have released a statement regarding the incident, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). “The attack on Drew Eubanks was unprovoked, and acts of violence such as this are unacceptable. We unequivocally support Drew, and will continue to work with local law enforcement and the NBA.”

A league spokesperson confirmed the NBA will review the altercation, Rankin adds (via Twitter).

FEBRUARY 14, 7:10pm: Prior to Wednesday’s game in Phoenix, Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart punched Suns center Drew Eubanks in the face, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The NBA is expected to review footage of the incident, Charania adds.

According to Charania and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, it’s unclear what initiated the incident, but evidently the two big men were “chest-to-chest” before Stewart landed a punch near Eubanks’ lip. Police separated the two players and “inspected the scene,” per The Athletic’s report.

Speaking to reporters pregame, Eubanks confirmed he was hit, as Gerald Bouguet of PHNX Sports relays (All Twitter links). Phoenix’s backup center said he’d just arrived to the arena and was in street clothes when the incident occurred, adding that he had never been involved in any other off-court altercations with Stewart.

Words were said, I got sucker punched, and security intervened. … Clearly you can see what he does, how he acts on the court, so it wasn’t surprising,” Eubanks said.

Eubanks added that he was fine and will be playing tonight vs. Detroit, while Stewart is inactive with an ankle sprain.

Wednesday will mark Stewart’s eighth straight absence due to the injury, with his last appearance coming January 28. As Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press tweets, Stewart had been slated to return to action immediately after the All-Star break, but that return could be postponed if he’s suspended, which seems very likely.

According to Sankofa (Twitter link), the Pistons had no comment on the altercation as of 7:15 pm CT.

In November 2021, Stewart was suspended for two games without pay “for escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively” pursuing LeBron James, who received a one-game suspension for “recklessly hitting Stewart in the face” and initiating the incident. Both players were ejected — Stewart received two technical fouls and James received a Flagrant 2 foul. The video of that incident can be found here.

Central Notes: Stewart, Eubanks, C. Porter, Dosunmu, Terry

During Wednesday’s game vs. Phoenix, the Pistons released a statement regarding the pregame incident between forward/center Isaiah Stewart and Suns center Drew Eubanks.

We are aware of the incident between Isaiah Stewart and Drew Eubanks prior to this evening’s game. We are in the process of gathering information about what happened and what provoked it, and responding to the NBA and local authorities.”

Eubanks was punched in the face by Stewart after arriving at the Footprint Center. He said he was OK and called it a “soft punch,” per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Eubanks played in the game, while Stewart remains sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Craig Porter Jr.‘s new four-year contract with the Cavaliers will pay him a guaranteed $1.5MM in 2023/24, nearly tripling the salary of his old two-way deal, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Porter’s base salary for ’24/25 is $1.9MM, with $1MM in guaranteed money. However, years three ($2.2MM) and four ($2.4MM) are fully non-guaranteed, with no special trigger dates beyond the league-wide guarantee date of January 7. The final season — ’26/27 — is a team option, Marks adds.
  • Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu had a stellar performance in Tuesday’s win over Atlanta, scoring a career-high 29 points (on 12-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-7 from three) and dishing out seven assists while playing terrific defense on Trae Young, who finished just 3-of-14 from the field, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Dosumnu has become a much more consistent offensive threat of late, averaging 15.9 PPG on .592/.525/.773 shooting over in the 14 games (32.3 MPG) leading up to Wednesday’s loss to Cleveland. “He’s got incredible stamina and endurance,” head coach Billy Donovan said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “It’s a skill. [Udonis] Haslem had it. Joakim [Noah] had it. The more fatigued and tired they get, the more stubborn they get and the more competitive and the more they push. He’s got that in him. He can keep his motor running high. For him to do what he did offensively and then to play the defense he did was a pretty remarkable performance with the number of minutes he got.”
  • Second-year wing Dalen Terry has received rotation minutes for the Bulls in 2023/24 due to injuries to Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams and Torrey Craig (Craig has since returned), and while his performances have been uneven, he says the speed of the NBA game is starting to slow down for him, Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago. “This season I feel I improved a lot on my discipline, just realizing that sometimes my fouling gets me out of the game,” Terry said. “My confidence level is just so much different than it was last year. … My rookie year, sometimes I was out there and I was like, ‘Man, everything is going so fast.’ It just happened. Now I can see stuff happen before it happens. That’s been the easiest part to me.” Terry, 21, was the 18th pick of the 2022 draft.