Ish Wainright

Suns Notes: Wainright, Booker, Durant, Ishbia

Ish Wainright, who returned to the Suns on a two-way contract earlier this week after being waived by Phoenix in October and by Portland in January, jokingly referred to Devin Booker as the “president of Arizona” and said it was Booker who first called him with the news that the team was re-signing him (Twitter video link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports).

Wainright went on to say that he received calls from several former coaches and teammates after he was waived by the Trail Blazers in January, providing encouragement and assuring him that he’d get another shot in the NBA. Booker was among those who reached out, with Suns head coach Frank Vogel and team owner Mat Ishbia also remaining in touch.

The 29-year-old forward had been working out in Phoenix since being let go by Portland and is thrilled to be back on the Suns’ roster.

“This whole time we stayed in contact, ’cause I know what they want to build here and I wanted to be a part of it,” Wainright said (Twitter links via Bourguet).

Vogel told reporters that the Suns are excited to have Wainright back, referring to him as a talented player and a “really good culture guy” with a strong work ethic, adding that he benefits from already knowing the team’s system (Twitter video link).

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Booker, who is recovering from a right ankle sprain, did some on-court work on Friday, but will be listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game vs. Boston, according to Vogel (Twitter video link via Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic).
  • Kevin Durant spoke to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report about how he stays motivated, his belief in the Suns, and his desire to continue establishing chemistry not just with star teammates Booker and Bradley Beal but with the entire roster. “I think we’re starting to build something and form an identity. And that takes time and reps,” Durant said. “Our coaching staff is doing a great job. I’m not promising anything, but I like our chances against anybody.”
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN takes an in-depth look at Mat Ishbia‘s “topsy-turvy” first year owning the Suns and considers what comes next for the club. Ishbia told ESPN that he intends to do “whatever it takes to win” and isn’t concerned about the limitations that operating above the second tax apron will impose on the franchise. “I understand all the rules that come with the second apron. I understand exactly what the CBA tried to do,” he said. “I read it, I know it inside and out, and we made a calculated decision that we think the team with the best players wins. Would I rather have Brad Beal, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker than just having two of those guys? I’d rather have all three a hundred times out of a hundred, and I don’t think there’s another GM or owner or CEO that wouldn’t say that exact same thing.”
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports passes along some of the notable quotes from Ishbia’s Thursday press conference with Adam Silver, where the NBA announced that Phoenix will host the 2027 All-Star Game. We relayed Ishbia’s comments about free-agents-to-be Grayson Allen and Royce O’Neale in a separate story.

Contract Details: Lawson, K. Brown, Forrest, Barlow, Bouyea, More

The Mavericks used a portion of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to give A.J. Lawson a $1MM rest-of-season salary and a four-year contract when they promoted him to their standard roster, Hoops Rumors has learned.

While Lawson’s 2023/24 salary of $1MM – which is well above his prorated minimum – is guaranteed, he’s not necessarily assured of any money beyond this season. His minimum salaries for the following three years are fully non-guaranteed. If he plays out the full contract, the Mavericks wing would earn approximately $7.91MM.

Here are more details on recently signed contracts around the NBA:

  • The three-year contract that Kendall Brown signed with the Pacers features a starting salary of $1.1MM, which came out of the team’s room exception. This season is the first year that the room exception can be used to sign players for up to three years instead of just two, and Indiana took advantage of that flexibility to give Brown non-guaranteed minimum salaries in 2024/25 and ’25/26, with a team option on that final year. He’ll receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he makes the Pacers’ regular season roster in the fall.
  • The new contracts for Hawks guard Trent Forrest and Spurs forward Dominick Barlow are just rest-of-season, minimum-salary deals, which suggests that those two players just got standard conversions from their two-way contracts rather than negotiating new terms. Forrest will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Barlow will be eligible for restricted free agency.
  • As expected, both Shake Milton (Knicks) and Mike Muscala (Thunder) signed rest-of-season, minimum-salary contracts with their new clubs.
  • Like fellow San Antonio newcomer RaiQuan Gray, Jamaree Bouyea signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Spurs, so his new contract runs through the 2024/25 season.
  • The two-way deals recently signed by Jeff Dowtin (Sixers), Jacob Gilyard (Nets), Jacob Toppin (Knicks), Ish Wainright (Suns), Quenton Jackson (Pacers), Harry Giles (Lakers), and Dylan Windler (Hawks) are all one-year (rest-of-season) contracts, so those players will be eligible to become restricted free agents this summer.

Suns Sign Ish Wainright To Two-Way Contract

6:40pm: The Suns have officially signed Wainright, according to a release from the team (Twitter link via PHNX Sports’ Gerald Bourguet). As we outlined in a separate story, Theo Maledon was waived to open up a two-way slot for Wainright.

3:37pm: The Suns are signing free agent forward Ish Wainright to a two-way contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Wainright, 29, played 105 regular season games and 13 playoff contests with Phoenix from 2021-23. However, his non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract was released before the 2023/24 season began due to a roster crunch, and he was claimed off the waiver wire by the Trail Blazers.

Before he was claimed by Portland, a report stated that Phoenix had interest in bringing back Wainright, and several months later, that will come to fruition.

In part due to injuries, Wainright only appeared in seven games for the Blazers. They cut him in January before his contract became fully guaranteed, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Known more for his defense than his offense, Wainright has averaged 3.4 PPG and 1.8 RPG while shooting 33.1% from deep in 112 career regular season games over the past three seasons (11.8 MPG).

As Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports observes (Twitter link), the Suns currently have three players — the maximum allowed — on two-way contracts, but a report last week indicated Saben Lee was a strong candidate to be converted to a standard deal. If Lee is promoted to Phoenix’s open standard roster spot, the team wouldn’t need to release anyone to add Wainright, as he would just fill Lee’s vacated spot.

Trail Blazers Waive Skylar Mays, Ish Wainright

The Trail Blazers waived guard Skylar Mays and forward Ish Wainright, according to a release from the team.

Neither Mays nor Wainright had full guarantees on their contracts and, facing a Jan. 7 deadline before those contracts became fully guaranteed, Portland decided to cut the pair loose.

As our tracker shows, Mays’ contract was partially guaranteed for just $850K and would have been guaranteed for approximately $1.86MM if not waived before Sunday. Wainright’s contract would have been guaranteed for roughly $1.93MM.

Because Wainright was on the roster for 75 days and will be on waivers for two more, the Blazers will carry a cap charge worth about $853K for his time spent on the team (77 days multiplied by a $11,080 salary per day), assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Mays joined the Blazers on a 10-day contract late into the 2022/23 season, appearing in six games (all starts) and averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 assists from late March through the end of the season. He signed a two-way deal in early October, which was converted to a standard contract in mid-November as Portland dealt with injuries to their ball-handlers.

The LSU product put up some impressive performances in November while Portland’s roster was banged up, averaging 11.1 points and 6.4 assists in 26.3 minutes across nine games from Nov. 3-21. However, he fell out of the rotation when the Blazers got healthier and averaged just 11.1 minutes in eight appearances after that.

Portland claimed Wainright on waivers just before opening night after the Suns cut ties with him after two seasons. The 29-year-old forward was one of the older players on the roster, behind only Malcolm Brogdon and Jerami Grant. However, Wainright only appeared in seven games with the Blazers, averaging 2.9 points in 6.6 minutes per night. His best moments with the team came in his last two appearances, in which he totaled 17 points, including five three-pointers.

Wainright has averaged 3.4 points per game in 112 career appearances with the Suns and the Trail Blazers.

Waiving Mays and Wainright opens up two standard roster spots for the Trail Blazers, bringing them below the threshold of 14 players. Teams are not permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard contracts for more than two weeks at a time — or more than 28 total days — so expect to see more moves for Portland soon.

While this theoretically opens up roster spots in the event a trade brings in more players than they send out, the trade deadline is still a month away, and the more likely short-term option is the Blazers making moves around the edges of the roster. A 10-day signing (or two) is one possibility.

For what it’s worth, players on two-way contracts see their deals fully guaranteed on Jan. 7 too. The Blazers have Duop Reath, Ibou Badji and Justin Minaya on two-way contracts. Reath, in particular, has earned a prominent role on the Blazers, averaging 8.3 points in 21 games. It’s possible he earns a standard deal now that Portland has two open roster spots.

Blazers’ Ish Wainright Out 4-6 Weeks With Knee Sprain

Trail Blazers forward Ish Wainright is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his left knee, the team announced in a press release. An MRI revealed the injury.

Wainright, 29, was cut by the Suns just before the 2023/24 season started, as Phoenix was facing a roster crunch. Portland claimed his non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract off the waiver wire.

A former Baylor Bear who went undrafted in 2017, Wainright played professionally overseas before making it to the NBA in 2021. He appeared in 60 games for the Suns last season, averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per night. His shooting line was .370/.329/.839.

Wainright was sidelined for Portland’s first eight games due to a right calf strain — the fact that he was injured again so soon after returning from that injury is an unfortunate development. He has made two appearances thus far for the Blazers, playing five total minutes.

Since Wainright hasn’t been a rotation regular, his absence won’t necessarily impact other players receiving minutes, but it will make the Blazers even more shorthanded — they’re already playing without Scoot Henderson (ankle), Anfernee Simons (right thumb surgery) and Malcolm Brogdon, who missed his fourth straight game on Friday due to a hamstring injury.

Blazers Claim Ish Wainright Off Waivers, Cut Two Players

The Trail Blazers have claimed forward Ish Wainright off waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Portland is waiving another forward, Kevin Knox. The Blazers are also releasing big man Duop Reath, per Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link).

The Suns cut Wainright on Thursday due to their roster crunch — they had 17 players on standard contracts and could only carry 15 on their regular season roster. Wainright’s 2023/24 salary was non-guaranteed, making him a logical odd man out.

Phoenix reportedly had interest in bringing back Wainright, perhaps on a two-way deal, but the club won’t get the chance to do so, as the Trail Blazers will take on his non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract. The 29-year-old’s salary won’t become fully guaranteed unless he remains under contract through January 7, so Portland has some time to assess his fit before making a final decision on whether to keep him for the season.

Wainright appeared in 60 games for the Suns last season, averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per night. His shooting line was .370/.329/.839.

The ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft, Knox finished the season with Portland in 2022/23, averaging 8.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 21 games (17.1 MPG). However, when he re-signed with the club over the summer, he only received a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract, so he was never assured of a regular season roster spot.

Reath was part of Portland’s Summer League team, averaging 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in five games, and represented Australia in the 2023 World Cup. He has played overseas since going undrafted out of LSU in 2018, spending time in Serbia, Australia and China.

According to Highkin, both Knox and Reath are candidates to remain in the organization, perhaps with the Rip City Remix, the Blazers’ G League affiliate. However, Reath’s contract didn’t include an Exhibit 10 clause, so of the two, Knox seems more likely to end up with the Remix.

The Blazers now have 14 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals. They could add one more player before Monday’s regular season roster deadline or enter opening night with an open spot on their standard 15-man roster.

Pacific Notes: Mann, Hyland, Gordon, Wainright

Asked on Thursday about the trade rumors surrounding Terance Mann, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue indicated that he doesn’t want to see the guard go anywhere and expressed confidence that he’ll stay put.

“We love T-Mann, and T-Mann is gonna be here,” Lue said (Twitter link via Joey Linn of “So we’re not worried about what they’re saying outside, all the speculations. It’s a good thing to be wanted.”

Of course, the decision on Mann’s future won’t ultimately be made by Lue, but the Clippers have reportedly resisted including him in any offer for James Harden for months.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Bones Hyland‘s big night against his former team came to an abrupt end on Thursday when the Clippers guard sprained his left ankle in the third quarter vs. Denver. However, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times hears that there’s some “initial optimism” that the injury may not force Hyland – who had scored 25 points in 24 minutes – to miss any regular season games. He’ll be reevaluated in a few days, the Clippers announced today.
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, veteran guard Eric Gordon named the Rockets, Warriors, and Bucks as some of the other options he had in free agency before he chose to sign with the Suns. “I felt Phoenix was onto something special,” Gordon said. “It was a tough decision, but I really think we have everything going on here from ownership, to coaches and to players. It’s hard to beat.”
  • The Suns are hoping that their release of Ish Wainright is “more of a logistical thing” rather than the end of their relationship with him, according to head coach Frank Vogel. As Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic observes, Phoenix has a two-way slot open and Wainright would be eligible to sign a two-way deal with the club if he clears waivers.
  • Within their season preview for the Pacific Division, Jovan Buha, Law Murray, and Anthony Slater of The Athletic agree that the best move of the offseason by a Pacific team was the Suns‘ trade for Bradley Beal. The Athletic’s trio cites Phoenix’s trade of Deandre Ayton, the Warriors‘ acquisition of Chris Paul, and the Clippers‘ unwillingness to increase their trade offer for Harden as the moves with the biggest potential to backfire.

Suns Waive Ishmail Wainright

The Suns are waiving forward Ish Wainright, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. The move has been announced in a press release, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.

The Suns exercised their club option on Wainright’s contract in June but his salary remained non-guaranteed and wouldn’t have become fully guaranteed until January 10. Wainright dealt with a right calf strain during training camp, which didn’t help his cause.

As our roster count shows, the Suns had 17 players on standard contracts, including 15 with full guarantees. Wainright’s status was shaky entering camp and now he’ll be looking for another team.

Wainright, 29, appeared in 105 regular season games over the last two seasons. He appeared in 60 games last season, including two starts, averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game.

Suns’ Damion Lee Undergoes Right Knee Surgery

Suns guard/forward Damion Lee underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair the meniscus in his right knee, the team announced (Twitter link via Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic).

According to Phoenix, updates on Lee’s recovery timeline “will be provided as appropriate.”

Lee, who turns 31 next week, was injured at the Suns’ practice facility a couple weeks ago and ruled out indefinitely. The swingman re-signed with Phoenix as a free agent this summer, inking a two-year, minimum-salary deal that includes a player option.

In 2022/23, Lee averaged 8.2 PPG and 3.0 RPG on .442/.445/.904 shooting in 74 regular season contests (20.4 MPG) with the Suns. The six-year veteran has also played for the Hawks and Warriors, winning a championship with Golden State in ’21/22.

It’s a tough setback for Lee, but being on a guaranteed two-year contract likely means his spot on the roster is safe. The Suns are currently carrying 17 players on standard contracts, so they’re facing a roster crunch. Previous reports from Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports indicated that Keon Johnson and Ish Wainright may be on the chopping block.

In other Suns injury news, Wainright continues to be hampered by a right calf strain and has been ruled out for Thursday’s preseason game against Portland. Jordan Goodwin, meanwhile, was a full practice participant on Wednesday and has been upgraded to probable vs. the Blazers (Twitter links via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports). Goodwin has been battling right hamstring tightness.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Christie, Goodwin, Wainright, Warriors

After helping the Kings snap their lengthy postseason drought in 2022/23, head coach Mike Brown will be tasked with turning Sacramento from a playoff team into a legitimate contender. Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Brown pointed to the ongoing development of rising young players like Keegan Murray as one potential path for improvement. He also praised the work that the front office did this offseason adding more depth to the roster.

“We’re a deep team,” Brown said. “You have to give [general manager] Monte McNair and [assistant GM] Wes Wilcox credit with the team they assembled. I like our group. The depth should help us going forward this year in a lot of different ways.

“I also like our players’ renewed focus on the defensive end of the floor and their ability to understand that we can take a big jump in that area. Not only do they want to do it. You can feel it by the way they are working and by the way they are talking about it so far. You couple the depth with the group’s understanding and hunger to be better on the defensive end of the floor, you feel like you have a pretty positive outlook.”

The Kings added more shooting to their roster this summer by trading for Chris Duarte and signing Sasha Vezenkov and will hope to get more reliable production out of the backup center spot with their addition of JaVale McGee.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Second-year guard Max Christie, out to prove he deserves a spot in the Lakers‘ regular season rotation, had a strong showing in Saturday’s preseason opener, scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting. “He’s a guy that can be one of our most versatile basketball players on the roster,” head coach Darvin Ham said of Christie, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. “He can guard multiple positions, from the one to the three and some fours. I want him to be aggressive in that manner and take on those challenges. And then offensively, the same thing. He can catch and shoot with the best of them. And I want him to be comfortable shooting that three.”
  • Suns guard Jordan Goodwin (right hamstring tightness) and forward Ish Wainright (right calf strain) are out for Sunday’s preseason opener vs. Detroit, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. While neither player is on a fully guaranteed contract, Goodwin’s regular season roster spot appears more secure than Wainright’s, so his late start to the preseason is noteworthy.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area explores how a thorough evaluation of the roster and an assessment of the flaws on display during last season’s playoff loss to the Lakers led to many of the Warriors‘ most significant roster moves this summer.