Eric Gordon

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.

Suns Notes: Booker, Gordon, Beal

Don’t believe the rumor that Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker wants to be moved to the Knicks, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports reports.

ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith claimed on an episode of First Take that Booker “wants to be in New York.” However, a source in Booker’s camp told Bourguet that these rumors are unequivocally false.

The Knicks have been interested in acquiring Booker since Leon Rose became their team president. Rose would like to pair him up with Jalen Brunson, according to Bourguet, and would be willing to do just about anything to make it happen. But the Knicks’ interest in Booker is one-sided, Bourguet writes, as the All-Star guard is loyal to the Suns and likes the idea of sticking with one team his entire career.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Several Phoenix players hold contract options for next season and none will be watched more closely than Eric Gordon. According to the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin, Gordon hasn’t made a decision on his player option. “There’s no way I’m going to make a decision right now,” Gordon said. “Just enjoy the offseason, watch a lot of these games, see what everybody is doing. We still have a talented team. We just got to jell and mesh together, but I’m not going to make a decision right now.” It’s generally expected that Gordon will decline his $3.36MM option and look for a more lucrative deal.
  • Bradley Beal fully expects that the team’s big three – himself, Booker and Kevin Durant – will be more dangerous next postseason, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes relays. “We didn’t look at this thing as a one-year thing and we’re going to come in and just, we only got this year to figure it out,” Beal said. “No, we’ve got time. You don’t want to use that as a cop-out, but the reality we live in, that’s the game plan. We have a window. Yeah, it’s a short window, but we have a window, so we want to maximize it as much as possible. And obviously, we still have a lot of room to grow.”
  • In case you missed it, Booker and Durant spoke about the value of continuity in the aftermath of getting swept in the playoffs.

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: Thompson, Beal, Gordon, Lue, James

Warriors coach Steve Kerr revealed that Klay Thompson initially balked at the prospect of being the team’s sixth man, he told ESPN’s Kendra Andrews. Thompson yelled at Kerr and some members of the staff during a meeting prior to the All-Star break before later returning to apologize.

“It was not an easy conversation,” Kerr said. “This is maybe the hardest part about getting further away from our prime. It’s just, after 12 years [of Thompson starting], it wasn’t easy. And still moving forward, it’s not going to be easy. But I told him, ‘If you really embrace it, you can help your team win.'”

Thompson said the All-Star break helped ease his mind over the coaching staff’s plan.

“It was having a complete reset, a huge mental reset. It helped so much,” he said.

Thompson stated in an interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick that his new role wouldn’t play into his decision during free agency this summer. Thompson, who is eligible for a four-year extension, remains open to a shorter-term deal, according to Andrews.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns had three late scratches on Thursday against Houston, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Bradley Beal missed his fifth straight game due to left hamstring injury management. Eric Gordon sat out with left groin soreness. They were listed as questionable on Wednesday. Nassir Little didn’t suit up due to left knee inflammation after not being on the initial injury report.
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue had a health scare when he was coaching Cleveland due to stress and poor eating and sleeping habits. He’s learned from that experience and has a much healthier diet and exercise plan, he told Andscape’s Marc J. Spears. “I’ve been working out. Eating better. I still have my moments. [I’m] eating less. It’s been good,” Lue said. “(Strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro) has done a good job of staying on me because I can stray away. I’m just doing 20 to 30 minutes per day … Now I’m about 208 [pounds]. Back [in Cleveland] I was 241. I can’t believe I got that big.”
  • LeBron James sparked the biggest fourth-quarter comeback of his career against the Clippers on Wednesday in the two teams’ final matchup as cohabitants of Arena. The Lakers rallied from 21 points down with the aid of three three-pointers early in the fourth from James, who finished with 34 points. “It’s just a zone, and you can’t really describe it,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “You wish you could stay in it forever, but obviously it checks out once the game ends. But during it, you don’t feel anything. It’s just like a superpower feel.

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: Beal, Durant, Okogie, Gordon, Rotation

The Suns have won three straight entering their contest against Portland on Monday night. Bradley Beal has played the last two games after recovering from an ankle injury and his presence has been a “game-changer,” according to Devin Booker, Jack Thompson of The Associated Press relays.

Beal had seven assists against Charlotte in his return and 25 points in a five-point victory over Orlando.

“It’s a game-changer, being at full strength,” Booker said. “The offense was moving, the ball was hopping around and we were getting the best available shot.”

We have more on the Suns:

  • Kevin Durant had a team-high 31 points in 39 minutes against the Magic. He’ll sit out the second game of the back-to-back with the Suns listing right hamstring soreness as the reason. Eric Gordon (right calf soreness) is questionable, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.
  • Josh Okogie has only scored one point in three games since returning from an ankle injury but coach Frank Vogel is glad to have the defensive specialist at his disposal, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. “He’s an important part of what we do with his ability to guard on the perimeter,” Vogel said. “We’ll measure it game to game in terms of what his nights look like. Some nights are going to be bigger than others based on the matchup.”
  • Beyond sixth man Gordon, the second unit remains in flux, Rankin notes. Even Okogie’s spot is not guaranteed, due to subpar perimeter shooting. Nassir Little or Jordan Goodwin could emerge as alternatives.

Suns Notes: Gordon, Booker, Beal, Okogie

After Eric Gordon attempted a season-low two shots from the floor on Friday and told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report that he’d like to have a bigger role in the Suns‘ offense, Devin Booker didn’t disagree with his teammate’s assessment, telling reporters on Sunday that Phoenix could benefit from getting the veteran guard more involved.

“I think we just have to find ways to open up looks for him and put him a position to do what he does,” Booker said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). “Nobody takes what he said personal around here. He’s been in this for a long time. He’s earned that respect and he has the talent to do what he said.”

As we detailed on Saturday, Gordon has averaged just 9.8 points on 8.8 shots per night during the Suns’ recent 3-8 stretch. He posted 14.9 points on 12.1 attempts per night (with a .469/.404/.786 shooting line) through his first 16 games with the club, which included 11 wins.

Gordon, who is celebrating his 36th birthday today, said on Sunday that head coach Frank Vogel has put an emphasis on getting him more involved offensively, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Suns, who are in action in the late Christmas Day game vs. Dallas:

  • Bradley Beal is hoping to return “much sooner” from his right ankle sprain that the team initially projected, but Vogel isn’t necessarily counting on that. Speaking on Sunday to reporters, Vogel said Beal remains “hobbled” and has still only done non-contact work in practices (Twitter video link via PHNX Sports). “If he gets healthier sooner, then he’ll be back sooner,” Vogel said. “But the expectation is he’s probably gonna be (out) until January.”
  • Suns wing Josh Okogie appears set to return on Monday after missing the past five games due to a hip flexor. He’s listed as probable and is expected to play, per Vogel (Twitter link via Bourguet). Prior to his injury, Okogie started 11 of 23 games for Phoenix.
  • In a story for The Arizona Republic, Rankin lists six items on the Suns’ Christmas wish list, including getting Beal back as soon as possible and breaking out of a shooting slump from beyond the arc.

Eric Gordon Seeking Bigger Role With Suns

Veteran guard Eric Gordon was reinserted into the Suns‘ starting lineup for Friday’s contest in Sacramento, but had one of his worst games of the season. Gordon, who was a minus-25 in Phoenix’s 15-point loss, went scoreless for the first time this season and attempted a season-low two shots from the floor.

Speaking to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, Gordon expressed some dissatisfaction with his role on offense.

“Early on in the season, it was better. And lately, there just hasn’t been an emphasis [to get me more looks],” Gordon said. “So, it’s definitely different. Lately I haven’t been getting hardly any touches really.”

Head coach Frank Vogel admitted that he’s “not doing a good enough job” making sure that Gordon gets involved in the offense, adding that the 16-year veteran is “a guy that can really help us.” Gordon, who will turn 35 on Christmas Day, tells Haynes that he plans to talk to Vogel about ways to incorporate him more.

“Everybody knows the type of player I am and what I’m about. I came here to win, but what I do is score,” Gordon said. “And I think when I score, it really opens up the door for a lot of people because I can score in big games and in big ways. That’s just what it is.”

Phoenix won seven straight games in November and had an 11-6 record at one point, but has since lost eight of 11 to slip to .500 (14-14). Gordon has averaged just 9.8 points on 8.8 shots per night during that recent stretch after posting 14.9 points on 12.1 attempts per night (with a .469/.404/.786 shooting line) through the club’s first 17 games. His usage rate has dipped to 17.5% for the season, which would be a career low.

With Bradley Beal sidelined due to an ankle injury, the Suns are looking to get some secondary offense from players besides Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. In Phoenix’s past two losses, those two stars have combined to average 59 points per night, but no other player has scored more than 11 in either game.

Injury Notes: Smart, Kennard, Smith, LeBron, Zion, Suns

The Grizzlies are aiming to get some 5-on-5 work in for Marcus Smart this weekend, head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Wednesday (Twitter link via Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal). Jenkins added that Luke Kennard is “probably a step behind” Smart in the recovery process, per Cole.

Smart was diagnosed with a left foot sprain on November 17 and was expected to miss three-to-five weeks. He’s four weeks into that process now, and could be nearing a return. Kennard, meanwhile, has been dealing with a left knee bone bruise. Almost two weeks ago, the Grizzlies said he was expected to be back in two-to-three weeks.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Pacers big man Jalen Smith (left knee bone bruise) has begun on-court work, head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, including Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). It’s possible within the next week to 10 days we could see him in a game,” Carlisle said. Smith is averaging 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 70.7% from the field through 14 games (15.4 MPG).
  • Lakers star LeBron James was held out of Wednesday’s back-to-back in San Antonio after playing 40 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Lakers said James, who was initially listed as questionable, was dealing with left calf soreness, but it doesn’t sound like anything serious, as he was interacting with teammates on the sidelines throughout the contest.
  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Wednesday’s win over Washington with left ankle soreness, but it should be a short-term injury, according to Christian Clark of “His ankle is getting better,” head coach Willie Green said. ” ... His ankle is fine. Day to day.” Williamson sustained the injury late in Monday’s game, Clark notes.
  • Suns wing Josh Okogie sustained a right hip injury and was sidelined for Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). It’s unclear how long Okogie might be sidelined. Guard Eric Gordon also missed the game with a calf injury. On a more positive note for Phoenix, fellow wing Nassir Little returned to the lineup after clearing the NBA’s concussion protocol, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Little wore a black face mask during the contest, as he sustained an orbital fracture last Friday against Sacramento. Surprisingly, Little only missed one full game and most of another with the injury.