Josh Okogie

Suns Notes: Beal, Nurkic, Bates-Diop, Wall

Suns guard Bradley Beal missed his sixth straight game on Saturday, but there was an encouraging sign that his debut with the team may not be far off, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Beal, who has been sidelined with lower back spasms, went through a 20-minute workout of dribbling, moving and shooting and was able to end it by repeatedly sprinting from one sideline to the other.

Beal isn’t expected to play in Sunday’s game at Detroit, but the team’s medical staff will see how his back responds to today’s exertion. With two off days to follow, it’s possible that Beal’s first game in a Phoenix uniform could take place Wednesday in Chicago.

“I’m just excited for him. I know how much these dudes love to play,” Kevin Durant said, referring to Beal and Devin Booker, who sat out today’s game with ankle soreness. “They hate just being on the sidelines. We don’t want them to rush. We don’t want them to feel like it’s pressure to come back because we lose a couple of games. We want them to be 100% healthy for the rest of the season. So it’s important now to continue to ramp yourself up however you need to.”

There’s more on the Suns:

  • Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired in a trade just before the start of training camp, continues to have trouble finishing at the rim, Rankin observes in a separate story. He shot 4-of-14 in today’s loss at Philadelphia and is connecting at just 41.7% from the field this season. Nurkic has started shooting more from the outside, with 14 three-point attempts in the last three games after just six in the first three.
  • Keita Bates-Diop made his first start of the season as coach Frank Vogel tinkers with his starting lineup, Rankin adds. Bates-Diop, who replaced Josh Okogie in the starting five, delivered eight points, three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. Vogel won’t be able to establish a regular rotation until Booker and Beal are playing full time, and it’s possible the fifth slot will keep changing throughout the season.
  • In an interview with Shams Charania on “Run It Back” (video link), John Wall said he would welcome the chance to reunite with Beal, his former backcourt partner in Washington. “Me and Brad are still brothers, we still talk a lot,” Wall said. “… If I could join their team, for sure, I would love that.” Wall, 33, has been out of the league since being traded to Houston and subsequently waived in February.

Pacific Notes: Green, Paul, Huerter, Lyles, Okogie

Warriors forward Draymond Green, who’s set to make his season debut on Sunday, believes that he and Chris Paul will form a dynamic distributing duo, he told Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“How I see the challenge is for the other team,” Green said. “They’ll have players on the floor that have to think the game of basketball with us. Good luck. That’s how I see the challenge. You put Bill Gates and Paul Allen in a room and you get Microsoft. That’s how I see it.”

Paul will come off the bench for the first time in his career with Green back in the lineup, Slater tweets. The veteran point guard has started in his previous 1,216 regular-season games.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings coach Mike Brown did not rule out the possibility of a lineup change this evening against the Lakers. Shooting guard Kevin Huerter has struggled during the first week of the season. “There are plenty of guys who made mistakes, and when I evaluate the team, I’m not just looking at Kevin and thinking about taking Kevin out of the starting lineup,” Brown told Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “There are other changes that can be made, so I always — with the flexibility we feel we have with this team — that’s something that I always have to take a look at.” Huerter went scoreless in Sacramento’s home opener against Golden State on Friday.
  • Trey Lyles, who remained with the Kings on a two-year contract, will miss Sacramento’s game on Sunday with a left calf strain, James Ham of The Kings Beat tweets. Lyles has yet to make his season debut.
  • Forward Josh Okogie, who has started the first three games for the Suns, has already drawn a league fine under the new flopping rules. Okogie believes he’ll likely rack up several more, given the way he plays, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “When I saw that, the first thing I thought was it’s going to be a long season,” Okogie said. “You call that a flop or if that’s considered a flop worthy of a fine, then it’s going to be a lot of money going into that fine box this year.” He signed a two-year, veteran’s minimum contract this summer with a player option for next season.

Pacific Notes: Green, Harden, Clippers, Mann, Suns, Durant

Warriors forward Draymond Green, who suffered an ankle sprain in an offseason workout, is making good progress, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link). Green has been cleared to do light on-court workouts (shooting drills, etc.) and his return to full practices and scrimmages will depend on his continued progress. He’ll be reevaluated again on Sunday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite some promising signs from their current roster in the preseason, a trade for James Harden stills holds appeal for the Clippers, according to Law Murray of The Athletic. He fits the timeline of the team’s other stars and coach Tyronn Lue often prefers having a more traditional point guard who can run an isolation-heavy offense. The Clippers also realize the roster has not undergone enough change after last season’s postseason flameout.
  • There’s still a good vibe around the Clippers thanks to the improved health of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register notes. “Last year, it was tough because we felt we had opportunities to do something special and PG goes down and Kawhi goes down after Game 2 (against the Suns),” Lue said. “You never want to see anyone get injured, but a lot of people said, ‘Oh they’re hurt again,’ or whatever, but the biggest thing is they’re messed up mentally because they want to be out there. Seeing them come back 100 percent and being healthy and just the vibe of our team is totally different.”
  • Following up an earlier reports on the stalled trade discussions between the Clippers and Sixers, a source told Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer (Twitter link) that Los Angeles remains unwilling to part with Terance Mann or additional draft capital. That makes it increasingly likely Harden will be on the Sixers’ roster at the beginning of the regular season.
  • The fifth starter for the Suns beyond Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic could vary depending matchups, coach Frank Vogel told Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link) and other media members. Josh Okogie has generally been considered the frontrunner for the starting job.
  • The Suns’ big three are holding each other to a high standard, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. “It’s always good to get work in with some of the best players in the world,” Kevin Durant said. “It’s like iron sharpening iron over there. We hold each other to a high standard. So it’s always good to get some of that post-practice work. The more days we stack together, the better.”

Pacific Notes: Okogie, Clippers, Covington, Kuminga

The Suns are headlined by the trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, with the recently acquired Jusuf Nurkic manning the middle. That leaves one spot on the starting lineup open and, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer, wing Josh Okogie has the inside track for that slot.

Okogie’s smothering defense is earning him extended playing time, Fischer writes, and he’s showcasing his ability to do all the little things during the preseason. According to Fischer, head coach Frank Vogel has been appreciative of the wing’s ability to guard one through four on the floor. The Suns aren’t loaded with stellar point of attack defenders, but Okogie is showing he can play that role.

Every time you have a team there’s a couple holes that need to be plugged, and I feel like I try to fill in those gaps,” Okogie said.

It’s been a long journey for Okogie, who began his career with the Timberwolves. According to Fischer, he spent some time with former Wolves star wing Jimmy Butler, who took him under his wing. His experience with Butler, along with others, helped prepare him for the load of playing with stars.

He knows that people don’t know him for that, but he’s a really great dude. He pays attention to everything. He cares about the little guys,” Okogie said. “He was helping me how to navigate. Taught me a couple things on how to guard and how to play the game in his short time there.

Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports notes that Okogie has shined so far in the preseason and is solidifying his starting role. Okogie finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals on Tuesday night.

Okogie averaged 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds with the Suns last year in his first season with the team. He re-signed with Phoenix this offseason.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers have a battle for the starting power forward position taking place, with Terance Mann and Robert Covington both looking to lock down the starting position that was once held by Marcus Morris, Law Murray of The Athletic writes. Murray writes that, barring a trade, it’s looking like one of those two will start. Covington said he has “a vendetta” in his approach to this season after a lost year in which he played sparingly, Murray writes. Murray concludes that Mann has the best qualities if the Clippers want to downsize but Covington’s size and ability to make plays on defense make him appealing.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue was complimentary of Covington’s game after L.A.’s preseason game on Tuesday, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times points out (Twitter link). According to Greif, Lue said he wants to see more of the trio of Covington, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing together. “[Covington]’s length and blocking shots, deflections, his cutting is important offensively, and he also rebounds, so just his activity on the defensive end, like I said makes us a different team,” Lue said. “You add Kawhi and PG to that mix, [Russell Westbrook] and then [Ivica Zubac] anchoring it, that’s pretty tough to handle.” Covington started the Clippers’ preseason game on Tuesday.
  • Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga is dealing with a jammed thumb and he’s questionable for Golden State’s preseason tilt against the Lakers on Friday, ESPN’s Kendra Andrews tweets. According to Andrews, he’s not doing live work yet in practice but went through individual work.

Pacific Notes: Vincent, Primo, Gay, McGruder, Suns

In an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Gabe Vincent said he isn’t upset that Lakers coach Darvin Ham has already chosen D’Angelo Russell as his starting point guard. Vincent is only a few months removed from starting for the Heat in the NBA Finals, but he’s willing to accept a reserve role with his new team.

“That’s something for D-Ham to worry about,” Vincent said. “I’m not the coach. I don’t set lineups. I just go out there and do my job. I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win games and help this organization win games. As I’ve seen in the past, every night doesn’t always look the same. With that big picture in mind with trying to help us win, I’ll wear whatever hat is needed.”

L.A. signed Vincent to a three-year contract worth $33MM, so he’s obviously in the team’s plans even if he won’t start right away. Vincent had several options in free agency, but he liked the idea of playing for Ham because they have similar backgrounds.

“I think it’s just in general his route,” Vincent said. “I think there are some similarities between me and him in that regard and his journey. He spent some time in the G League as did I. There are some similarities that we have naturally, even when we sit down and talk the game and catch up. It’s seamless. We get along well. D Ham has been great. He’s been very real. So I definitely have appreciated him early in this process.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Suns’ James Jones Talks About Rebuilding Roster

In an interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona RepublicSuns president of basketball operations James Jones gives himself an “eight out of 10” for how he was able to construct the team’s roster around its new Big Four. Jones was limited in the moves he could make after trading for Bradley Beal to team with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton, but he found an intriguing mix of veterans and young talent.

Eric Gordon turned down better offers and accepted a veteran’s minimum deal for the chance to win a title. Yuta Watanabe, Chimezie Metu, Drew EubanksKeita Bates-Diop and Bol Bol also agreed to sign for the minimum.

“We knew going into it who our four top players were,” Jones said. “The guys who were going to lean on heavily to reach our goals. I think that gave us more clarity and I think it gave the players more clarity around how we would play and how they could fit with our team.

“So when it comes to minimums, I think it’s that label or contract value that people look at, but I look at it more from a perspective of identifying the guys who have the attributes and skills that would complement our group and finding players that believe that this environment will increase their productivity and give them a boost for their careers going forward. This was more forward looking than backwards looking for us and for the players that we targeted.

“I think that clarity allowed us to move quickly and efficiently through the free agency process because we knew exactly who we wanted and we knew exactly who wanted us.”

Jones addresses several other topics in the discussion with Rankin:

On the decisions to re-sign Josh Okogie and trade Cameron Payne to the Spurs:

“Just balancing versatility, and I’m not just talking about from a player skill set and roster construction perspective, but it just gives us options. It gives us options from a roster perspective. It also gives us options going forward. JO is someone who had a tremendous impact on our team last year in a specific role that we think can grow and Cam was someone who had an impact on our team, but he was part of a team that was a different team that played differently. Those two moves allowed us to create balance and gave us some versatility and options to continue to build a more complete team.”

On Bol’s potential after a promising season with Orlando:

“He’s going to get a chance to compete. He fits the profile of the team we’re trying to build. Long, athletic, skilled. Has played some high-level basketball. Has dealt with high expectations and has bounced back from some tough setbacks. The mental grit, the resilience and adaptability that he’s displayed is something that I think will help improve our team and if he can play the way he envisions himself playing, it just gives us another high-level player that we can count on and rely on as we try to march toward a championship.”

On new owner Mat Ishbia’s input during his first offseason with the team:

“He talked about speed, focus and understand what it is we’re trying to accomplish and get after it. Don’t second-guess it, don’t overthink it. Trust your instincts, trust your team and then go out there, find the best options for us and then make those options work. For me, it’s clear focus. He’s given me clear direction that allows me to focus on the things I enjoy the most, which is figuring out how to maximize the environment for our players and coaches and get a win.”

Contract Details: Okogie, Phillips, Schröder, Williams, Stewart, Wagner

Suns wing Josh Okogie received a Non-Bird deal when he re-signed with the team, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Rather than earning the veteran’s minimum, Okogie will make 20% above the minimum on his new two-year contract, which includes a second-year player option. His salary in 2023/24 is $2,815,937, while his ’24/25 player option is worth $2,956,734.

As Marks notes, the Suns have now signed six free agents to two-year contracts with second-year player options — Okogie joins Keita Bates-Diop, Drew Eubanks, Eric Gordon, Damion Lee, and Yuta Watanabe in that group. The other five players received minimum-salary deals.

The offers, which include some security beyond 2023/24, may have helped the Suns land their preferred targets on the free agent market. However, they’ll also increase the club’s total salary and end-of-season luxury tax bill. As we’ve previously outlined, the NBA covers of portion of veteran’s minimum salaries for players who sign for a single season, but not for players who sign multiyear minimum contracts.

For instance, Gordon would have earned a $3,196,448 salary in 2023/24 regardless of whether he signed for one year or two. But because he received a second year, Phoenix will be responsible for paying that full salary (and the accompanying tax penalty based on that full salary). On a one-year deal, the Suns would’ve paid Gordon a reduced amount ($2,019,706), with the league making up the difference.

Here are a few more contract details from around the NBA:

  • Julian Phillipsfirst NBA contract is a four-year deal, according to Marks (Twitter link), who says the Bulls second-round pick will earn $1.6MM in year one and the minimum in the following three seasons. The deal, which was completed using the NBA’s new second-round pick exception, will include a fourth-year team option but is guaranteed for the first three years. As Marks observes, Phillips will receive the second-most guaranteed money of any 2023 second-rounders who have signed so far, behind only No. 32 pick Jalen Pickett.
  • Dennis Schröder‘s two-year deal with the Raptors is worth the full mid-level amount, Hoops Rumors has confirmed: $12,405,000 in year one and $13,025,250 in year two. Grant Williams‘ fully guaranteed four-year contract with the Mavericks is also worth the exact amount of the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($53,341,500 in total), though Dallas acquired him via sign-and-trade and still has its MLE available.
  • Isaiah Stewart‘s four-year, $60MM extension with the Pistons and Moritz Wagner‘s two-year, $16MM deal with the Magic each have flat annual cap hits – $15MM each year for Stewart and $8MM each year for Wagner – with team options on the final season. As previously reported, Stewart’s deal also includes $1MM per year in incentives, so it could be worth up to $64MM. Meanwhile, as part of his agreement with Orlando, Wagner waived his right to veto a trade during the 2023/24 season, becoming the third player to do so under the new CBA.

Suns Notes: Okogie, Lee, Goodwin, Title Keys

Forward Josh Okogie‘s positive experience with the Suns last season convinced him to re-sign with the franchise on a one-year deal, he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Okogie carved out a major role with Phoenix, appearing in 82 games, including 10 postseason contests.

“I took the deal looking at the long-term,” Okogie said. “Just in terms of being able to build, not only this year, but just my career. I’ve had a lot of success here, kind of revamped my career here last year, and they were able to give me a chance and be gracious on how they move in this organization. So I decided to take a chance on them again.”

We have more from the Suns:

  • Guard Damion Lee expressed similar feelings after returning to the franchise on a two-year, minimum-salary contract, which includes a player option for the second year. “It feels good,” Lee told Rankin. “I’m excited. I took a chance coming here last year on a one-year deal and being able to turn that into a multiyear deal. So, that’s huge for myself and my family. A little bit of security, but still trying to continue to find my way in this league and learn my teammates.”
  • The team has been taking a cautious approach to recently-acquired Jordan Goodwin during Summer League action, Rankin tweets. Goodwin, who was part of the Bradley Beal blockbuster, has been dealing with left knee soreness. He was ruled out of the team’s game on Tuesday, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.
  • In a column, Rankin weighs in on what he thinks it will take for the Suns to win the championship next season. Good health, Devin Booker‘s play-making, and Deandre Ayton taking advantage of his offensive opportunities will be some of the key ingredients, he writes.

Suns Sign Four Free Agents

JULY 11: The Suns have officially signed Okogie, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.

“Josh plays with relentless energy. His grit, intensity and athleticism are vital to the success of our team,” Jones said in a statement. “He consistently makes winning plays on both ends of the floor. He is truly unique.”

JULY 7: After officially signing Eubanks and Bates-Diop earlier in the week, the Suns have finalized Lee’s deal as well, per a press release.

“Damion’s elite three-point shooting, championship experience and toughness help elevate our team,” general manager James Jones said in a statement. “His leadership and professionalism are pivotal as we pursue an NBA title.”

JUNE 30: The Suns have reached agreements with four free agents, including two of their own.

Forward Josh Okogie is re-signing with the Suns, Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report tweets. Guard Damion Lee is also returning on a two-year deal with a player option for the second season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Power forward Drew Eubanks is leaving the Trail Blazers to sign a two-year deal with a player option, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweets. Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop is signing with Phoenix on a two-year, $5MM contract that also features an option, Wojnarowski tweets. Bates-Diop will have a chance to earn a starting spot — presumably, he’ll battle Okogie to start alongside Kevin Durant.

Okogie started in 26 of 72 regular-season games last season for the Suns, averaging 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 18.8 minutes. He also started in half of their 10 postseason games.

Lee saw action in 74 of Phoenix’s regular-season games and averaged 8.2 points in 20.4 minutes. He made a career-best 44.5% of his 3-point attempts.

Eubanks averaged 6.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.3 minutes while appearing in 78 of Portland’s games, including 28 starts. He figures to play backup minutes at power forward and perhaps center. Bates-Diop started 42 of the 67 games in which he played for San Antonio last season. He averaged a career-best 9.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 21.7 minutes.

Western FA Rumors: D-Lo, Lakers, H. Jones, Suns, Warriors

There are “strong” indications that the Lakers are trending toward a new two-year deal with free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. According to Fischer, that two-year contract could be worth in the neighborhood of $40MM in total, though the second season may be a team option or non-guaranteed.

While the Lakers have interest in re-signing both Dennis Schröder and Lonnie Walker, it’s unclear which one the club is prioritizing, Fischer writes. Schröder will likely require a raise that exceeds the Non-Bird exception, so if Los Angeles uses its mid-level exception on an outside free agent, the team may have to allot its bi-annual exception to him, Fischer explains. In that scenario, it’s unclear whether the team would have enough room to re-sign Walker to a market-value deal as well while remaining below a hard cap.

Another potential path would see L.A. splits its mid-level between Schröder and a frontcourt player such as Mason Plumlee, sources tell Yahoo Sports. If Schröder doesn’t end up back with the Lakers, a reunion with Bulls coach Billy Donovan in Chicago is possible, Fischer writes. Donovan previously coached the point guard in Oklahoma City.

Finally, Fischer is one of a handful of reporters who have linked free agent forward Cam Reddish to Los Angeles. The Lakers were said to have some trade interest in Reddish – a Klutch Sports client – during each of the past two seasons. He’d be a minimum-salary target, Fischer notes.

Here are a few more free agency rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • Two forwards who had their team options declined by the Pelicans on Thursday figure to take very different paths this summer. According to Fischer, Herbert Jones will likely end up back in New Orleans on a four-year deal worth a little more than $50MM, which would presumably be his Early Bird maximum. Willy Hernangomez, on the other hand, is considered a good bet to accept a lucrative offer from a EuroLeague team rather than seeking another minimum-salary NBA deal, Fischer reports.
  • The Suns intend to bring back several of their own free agents, including Torrey Craig, Damion Lee, Jock Landale, and Josh Okogie, according to Fischer, who says agent big man Drew Eubanks is another strong candidate to end up in Phoenix. Fischer is also the latest reporter to link Yuta Watanabe and Mike James to the Suns.
  • The Lakers and Warriors are among the teams eyeing free agent guard Shake Milton, per Fischer. Free agent forward Dario Saric has also received “strong” interest from Golden State, sources tell Yahoo Sports.