Ish Wainright

Fischer’s Latest: Payne, Bucks, Allen, Suns, Ayton

Trading Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen in the Damian Lillard blockbuster created a roster opening for the Bucks, who still need a backup point guard. Free agent Cameron Payne is worth keeping an eye on for that spot, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

As Fischer writes, the Bucks considered several trade packages last season that would have sent Allen to the Suns when they were pursuing Jae Crowder. Milwaukee eventually landed Crowder at the February deadline without involving Allen, but he’ll end up in Phoenix as part of this deal, which shows the club’s interest in the sharpshooting guard was indeed legitimate.

The Suns added two extra players in the three-team deal, sending Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara to Portland and receiving Allen, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson. They now have 17 players on standard contracts, with Johnson ($2.8MM guaranteed) and Ish Wainright ($1.9MM non-guaranteed) the top early candidates to be waived ahead of the 2023/24 season, sources tell Fischer.

Jordan Goodwin‘s deal for ’23/24 is only partially guaranteed, but Fischer hears Phoenix decided to move Camara instead because Goodwin is friends with Bradley Beal and is the only point guard on the roster.

As for Ayton, Suns players and front office members alike were “eager for a change of direction,” according to Fischer, which is why the club decided to trade the former No. 1 overall pick. For his part, Ayton is glad to have a “fresh start” in Portland, sources tell Fischer.

Suns Retain Forward Ish Wainright

The Suns have exercised their 2023/24 team option on Ish Wainright‘s contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The option will pay Wainright a salary of $1,927,896 for next season.

Wainright, 28, has played the last two seasons for Phoenix. This past year, he appeared in 60 regular-season games (two starts), averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game. He also saw action in six postseason contests.

With four maximum-salary players on the books, Phoenix needs to fill out its roster with low-cost options and Wainwright was productive enough to retain his spot. He’s also considered an above-average defender.

He originally joined the team on a two-way contract, which was converted to a standard contract in February.

In addition to a temporary attempt at switching to football, the 6’6″, 250-pound combo forward also played international basketball in Germany and France.

Suns Notes: Durant, Bench, Paul, Payne, Shamet

Kevin Durant‘s playoff résumé – including 29.4 PPG in 155 games and a pair of Finals MVP trophies – was a major part of why the Suns traded for him in February. Durant performed at his usual postseason level in the first round against the Clippers, but has been a minus-24 in Phoenix’s first two games vs. Denver, making just 3-of-15 three-pointers (20.%) and committing nine turnovers.

As Gerald Bourguet of writes, the Suns need more from Durant if they hope to erase their 2-0 deficit and knock off the top-seeded Nuggets. Still, head coach Monty Williams isn’t concerned about his star forward’s production, chalking up Durant’s 10-of-27 showing on Monday to an off night.

“He just missed a ton of shots, but we got a lot of the shots we wanted,” Williams said. “He and Book took most of the shots, we just didn’t shoot a great percentage tonight. And that kind of stuff happens. They only scored 97 points. Our defense was much better tonight, we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix ahead of Friday’s Game 3:

  • The Suns’ bench production was dismal in Game 2, as Damion Lee, Cameron Payne, Torrey Craig, Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale, and Ish Wainright combined for just four points on 2-of-16 shooting (0-of-9 on threes). While the team would presumably like to see those numbers improve going forward, Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic notes that Phoenix ranked last in the regular season among playoff teams in bench points, and Williams has said the roster is designed for the starters to do most of the scoring while the reserves contribute in other ways.
  • After Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that Chris Paul is expected to miss at least one week of action, the Suns officially listed their point guard as day-to-day due to his left groin strain (Twitter link). Although the team’s designation leaves the door open for a quicker return, I’d still be surprised if Paul makes it back before the one-week mark.
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, who also hears that Paul will miss at least a week, examines how the Suns can cope with the veteran’s absence. As Rankin observes, if Phoenix doesn’t want to move Payne into the starting lineup, the club could opt to shift Devin Booker to the point and start a player like Landry Shamet alongside him. Shamet was a DNP-CD in Game 2 after logging 14 minutes in Game 1.

Suns Notes: Ayton, Durant, Wainwright, Booker

Starting Suns center Deandre Ayton was a big part of Phoenix’s 4-1 series victory over the Clippers, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

“He’s finding ways to impact winning,” head coach Monty Williams noted last week. “In Game 2, his mid-range shot kept us in the game and allowed us to gain some momentum and footing. (In Game 3), he wasn’t making the shots he typically makes, but he still found a way to impact the game. The rebound at the end was huge.”

For the series, Ayton averaged an impressive 16.0 PPG and 11.2 RPG, despite essentially functioning as the club’s fourth option on offense.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Though injury-prone All-Star Suns power forward Kevin Durant has been logging major minutes so far in these playoffs, Durant claims the heavy usage doesn’t bother him, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I want to be out there every minute,” Durant said. “I wish I could play 48 every game.” Across a whopping 43.8 MPG, Durant averaged 28.4 PPG (on .518/.458/.956 shooting), 7.6 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.0 BPG.
  • Despite being on opposing sides of their just-wrapped playoff series, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has served as a mentor to Suns reserve wing Ish Wainright, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “He’s like a big brother,” Wainright said. “I know things are not going to go the way that I wanted and I’m going to be patient. He was patient and that’s what I look up to. What’s mine is mine. God said that what’s yours is yours, so that’s how I live. What’s mine is mine and he showed me a way — Ty did it, why can’t I do it?”
  • All-NBA Suns shooting guard Devin Booker has been solidifying himself as a two-way superstar throughout this stupendous playoff run, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. During the team’s Game 5 home closeout victory over the Clippers, Booker scored 47 points on 19-of-27 shooting from the floor, and also chipped in 10 dimes, eight boards, and two steals. Bourguet notes that Booker now has notched the most 30- and 40-point playoff games in the history of the franchise.

Contract Details: Hampton, Dozier, Goodwin, McGowens, Wainright

The new minimum-salary contracts signed by R.J. Hampton with the Pistons and PJ Dozier with the Kings are both two-year deals that are fully guaranteed for the rest of this season but don’t include any guaranteed money in year two, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter links).

The agreements will allow the Pistons and Kings to assess their new players’ fits for the rest of this season before making a decision in the summer on whether or not to retain them for another season.

Hampton’s 2023/24 salary with the Pistons (approximately $2MM) would become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through July 6, Hoops Rumors has learned. As for Dozier, he’d have to be waived by July 10 if the Kings want to avoid his full $2.4MM salary for next season becoming guaranteed.

Here are a few more details on some of the contracts recently signed by NBA players:

  • Jordan Goodwin‘s new three-year deal with the Wizards includes a $900K rest-of-season salary for 2022/23, which the team gave him using a portion of its mid-level exception, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Goodwin’s second-year salary in 2023/24 is currently partially guaranteed for $300K. That guarantee would increase to $963,948 (50% of his total salary) if he remains under contract through September 1, Hoops Rumors has learned. The Wizards hold a minimum-salary team option on Goodwin for 2024/25.
  • The Hornets‘ mid-level exception allowed them to give four years to Bryce McGowens on his new standard contract. It also let the team pay him a salary higher than the minimum for the rest of this season — he’ll earn $1,075,000 on his new deal in 2022/23, according to Smith (Twitter link). McGowens’ remaining three years are worth the minimum, but his $1.72MM salary for ’23/24 is fully guaranteed. The final two years are non-guaranteed, including a ’25/26 team option.
  • The Suns used a portion of their taxpayer mid-level exception to give Ish Wainright a slightly larger salary than he would have received on a minimum-salary contract, tweets Smith. Wainright will earn $474,851 for the rest of this season instead of the $423,612 he would’ve gotten on a minimum deal. As previously reported, the second year of Wainright’s contract is a team option.

Suns Notes: Payne, Durant, Sarver, Wainright, Saric

The Suns began to get some reinforcements back on the court on Friday, with Cameron Payne (right foot sprain) playing for the first time since January 4.

As Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets, Payne was on a minutes restriction. After averaging 24.0 MPG in his first 28 appearances, he played just 16 minutes on Friday, but he made the most of his limited time, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Of course, the return Phoenix is really waiting for is Kevin Durant‘s — the star forward has been out since January 8 due to an MCL sprain, but is close to making his Suns debut, with a recent report suggesting that Wednesday is believed to be his target date. His new teammates can’t wait to see him take the floor for the Suns.

“It’s hard to put to words,” Booker said after going through a full practice with Durant on Thursday, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I can’t wait to do it against other teams.

“… It makes things a lot easier. We just had one scrimmage. It was obviously less attention on me, less attention on Chris (Paul) and the other guys. We all know how to play the game. Like I said before, I think our games complement each other well.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • After reporting earlier this week that Robert Sarver‘s year-long suspension remains in place even though he no longer owns the Suns, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic says that Sarver’s representatives believe that ban should have ended when the longtime Suns owner sold the franchise. As Rankin explains, Sarver’s reps supported their belief by pointing to specific legalese in the closing documents of the sale to Mat Ishbia, but an NBA spokesperson has reiterated that the suspension – which prohibits Sarver from attending NBA and WNBA games – will remain in place until September 13, 2023.
  • Ish Wainright, who received a promotion from his two-way deal to the 15-man roster on Friday, said that he was so happy about signing his new contract that he began vomiting, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. “I was so excited, I started throwing up,” Wainright said. “Ran to the restroom, let everything out. My brother came in, was freaking out, like, ‘Yo, are you all right?’ I was like, ‘I’m just excited.'”
  • Dario Saric‘s departure from Phoenix at this month’s trade deadline was overshadowed by the Durant blockbuster, but the veteran forward’s stint with the team was underrated and shouldn’t be overlooked, according to Bourguet of PHNX Sports, who says Saric played a key role in building the Suns’ culture over the last few years.

Suns Sign Ish Wainright To Two-Year Standard Deal

7:55pm: Wainright has officially inked a multiyear contract, the Suns announced (Twitter link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports).

5:47 pm: The Suns are promoting forward Ish Wainright from his two-way contract to a two-year, $2.5MM standard deal, his agents, Jim Tanner and Deirunas Visokas of Tandem Sports, tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

There will be a club option for 2023/24 on Wainright’s new deal, Charania adds. It’ll be worth the minimum ($1,927,896).

Wainright was active for his 50th game prior to the All-Star break and thus had maxed out the games-played limit on his two-way contract. Phoenix could have kept him on his two-way deal for the rest of the season, but he would have been ineligible to be activated for another regular season or playoff game; now that he’s getting promoted to a standard deal, those restrictions no longer apply.

While Wainright’s counting stats of 4.3 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .384/.339/.810 shooting in 42 games (15.5 MPG) don’t jump off the page, his plus-6.3 net rating is excellent (the Suns’ season-long net rating is plus-1.5), and he is an above-average defensive player. He has been a rotation player since the start of December.

At 28 years old, Wainright is an unusual second-year player. In addition to a temporary attempt at switching to football, the 6’6″, 250-pound combo forward also played international basketball in Germany and France. He has been with the Suns for the past two seasons on a two-way deal.

The Suns had an opening on their 15-man roster, so they won’t need to waive anyone to promote Wainright. They now have one two-way slot available — Saben Lee occupies the other.

Pacific Notes: Wainright, Ross, Warriors, Sabonis, Vezenkov

Suns forward Ish Wainright was active for a 50th game on Thursday and has now maxed out the games-played limit on his two-way contract, confirms Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Wainright can remain on his two-way deal for the rest of the season, but he’ll be ineligible to be activated for another regular season or playoff game unless he’s promoted to the 15-man roster.

As Rankin notes, the Suns do have an open spot on their 15-man squad, so promoting Wainright is one option the club should seriously consider. But Phoenix could also decide to use that final roster spot on a veteran on the buyout market — the team was linked on Thursday to Kevin Love, for instance. If the Suns sign a vet like Love, that wouldn’t leave room for Wainright unless another player is waived.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Suns have already added one veteran who reached free agency after negotiating a buyout. Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports takes a closer look at that newest Sun, exploring what Terrence Ross can bring to the team.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic examines where things stand for the Warriors entering the All-Star break and considers whether this season represents a last stand for Golden State’s dynasty. As Kawakami writes, last week’s trade of James Wiseman for a win-now role player (Gary Payton II) signals that the team’s much-discussed “two-timeline plan” has essentially fallen by the wayside.
  • In a Q&A with Sam Amick of The Athletic, veteran center Domantas Sabonis spoke about the Kings‘ resurgence, playing through a thumb fracture, and why this year’s All-Star nod means more to him than his previous two. “A lot of stuff was said when the trade happened,” Sabonis said. “(Kings executives) Monty (McNair) and Wes (Wilcox) trusted me to come here and start changing the franchise around. And it’s not just me — there’s obviously a lot of pieces. … But I was kind of that first piece, and there was a lot of responsibility. As a player, as a competitor, being named an All-Star on the West Coast, having been on the East Coast, I feel like it just means more because of everything that came with it, you know?”
  • Kings assistant coach Jay Triano headed to Europe this week to scout draft-and-stash prospect Sasha Vezenkov, according to Stavros Barbarousis and John Rammas of Eurohoops. Sacramento holds the NBA rights to Vezenkov, who is having a terrific season in Greece for Olympiacos.

Suns Notes: Durant, Warren, Payne, Shamet, Crowder, Wainright, Ayton

The Suns have confirmed that Kevin Durant, who is still recovering from an MCL sprain, won’t play until after the All-Star break, but the star forward “looked great” in his first practice with the team on Monday, teammate T.J. Warren said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Durant, who wasn’t wearing a brace on his injured knee, played some 1-on-1 with assistant coach Jarrett Jack, Rankin writes.

Warren, who was sent from Brooklyn to Phoenix along with Durant, said it was a “surreal feeling” to return to the place where he spent the first five years of his career and to have a chance to play alongside superstars and contend for a title (Twitter video link via PHNX Sports).

During Warren’s first five seasons in Phoenix from 2014-19, the club posted a dismal 126-284 (.307) record. This time around, the Suns are the betting favorites to make it out of the West and play in the NBA Finals.

Warren and fellow Suns newcomer Darius Bazley aren’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s game vs. Sacramento, so they should be available to make their debuts for the team, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Suns guards Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet, who are both dealing with foot injuries, will remain sidelined through the All-Star break and will be reevaluated next week, tweets Rankin. Payne hasn’t played since January 4 due to a right foot sprain, while Shamet has been out since Jan. 16 as a result of right foot soreness.
  • Now a member of the Bucks, Jae Crowder declined to take any parting shots at the Suns when asked about the situation that led to him sitting out the first several months of the season. “Obviously I’ve been working with these guys for a trade partner for months now. I think, give or take, they did exactly what they said they were gonna do. Took longer than what we all expected, but it got done,” Crowder said (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “… I’m thankful for the organization embracing me the past two years — we had a great run and we did some great things in Phoenix and we turned their culture around. So I’m happy for those guys. I wish them luck moving forward.”
  • Suns two-way player Ish Wainright can only be active for two more games before he reaches his limit for the season, tweets Bourguet. Given that Phoenix plays twice before the All-Star break and then is off for eight days, the club will likely have Wainright active for both of this week’s contests and then use the time off to decide whether to promote him to a standard contract, Bourguet observes. The Suns currently have two openings on their 15-man roster, though Terrence Ross is expected to fill one of them.
  • Deandre Ayton remained with the Suns through the trade deadline, then faced the Pacers on Friday, seven months after signing an offer sheet with Indiana that Phoenix quickly matched. Despite some speculation during the last year about whether Ayton really wanted to be with the Suns, he said he wasn’t thinking last week about what could have been, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. “I enjoyed playing against (Indiana) and being out there, but I’m happy with my Suns, though,” Ayton said. “Forget that. That’s behind me. I’m happy I’m with my Suns.”

Suns Notes: Booker, Crowder, Wainright, Trade Options

Suns guard Devin Booker has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Atlanta, but it shouldn’t be long before he’s back on the court, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link), who hears from a source that Booker will return “soon” from the left groin strain that has sidelined him since Christmas Day.

After hosting the Hawks today, the Suns will embark on a five-game road trip that begins Friday in Boston. It remains to be seen whether Booker will be ready for the start of that trip, but it sounds like there’s a very good chance he’ll play at some point before the team returns to Phoenix on February 14.

Booker was reevaluated on Wednesday, with the Suns announcing that the star guard continues to make progress in his on-court activity and will have his status updated on a game-to-game basis going forward (Twitter link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports).

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • As expected, Suns forward Jae Crowder met with the Bucks for a day this week after Phoenix granted him permission to do so, Rankin reports for The Arizona Republic. Rankin doesn’t have any additional details on the meeting, which took place at an “undisclosed location,” but it’s notable that the Bucks got the chance to talk directly to Crowder, who has been repeatedly cited as a Milwaukee trade target throughout the season.
  • In an interesting story for The Athletic, Alex Schiffer of The Athletic details Ish Wainright‘s winding road to the NBA, which included a stint as an undrafted free agent for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2018 before he returned to basketball. Wainright, who occupies one of the Suns’ two-way contract slots, has appeared in 24 of the club’s last 25 games.
  • In a pair of trade deadline primer stories for, Gerald Bourguet examines some realistic targets for the Suns, such as John Collins, D’Angelo Russell, and Gary Trent Jr., and considers some outside-the-box options, including scenarios where Deandre Ayton is dealt.