Mat Ishbia

Pacific Notes: Monk, Murray, Warriors, Suns, O’Neale

Asked earlier this week about Malik Monk‘s recovery from an MCL sprain, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that the Kings guard still isn’t anywhere close to returning to action.

“Malik Monk is going to be out well into April and May. He’s not going to return anywhere in this play-in tournament (or) the first round,” Charania said. “The Kings are preparing to move forward here – if they do they make it into the playoffs – for at least the first round without Malik Monk.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Monk didn’t rule out the possibility of making it back during the first round if the Kings advance, but admitted that he doesn’t yet have a clear idea of what his timeline will look like, since he hasn’t gotten back on the court or done any running yet (Twitter video link). Sacramento is expected to reevaluate him around April 27.

Following a win over Golden State on Tuesday, the Kings will be in New Orleans on Friday facing a banged-up Pelicans team that will be missing star forward Zion Williamson, so there’s a path to the No. 8 seed for Sacramento. Still, it sounds as if the Kings would probably need to knock off the No. 1 Thunder in the first round to have a chance to see Monk back in action this spring.

Monk will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, with the Kings holding his Early Bird rights.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings star De’Aaron Fox put in significant time last offseason training with second-year forward Keegan Murray, so Fox was thrilled to see the former No. 4 overall pick have a huge game on Tuesday, writes Hunter Patterson of The Athletic. Murray scored a game-high 32 points in Sacramento’s play-in victory over Golden State. “Just seeing his development, and how different he’s been,” Fox said. “… Obviously we want to see it on a consistent basis. But just seeing that come to fruition and seeing the work he put in all summer, especially on a big stage like this, it’s definitely great to see.”
  • Within a look at what’s next for the Warriors, Logan Murdock of The Ringer says league sources believe Andrew Wiggins will be included in trade discussions this offseason. Stephen Curry told Murdock that continuing to push toward contention is his top priority. “I want to win,” Curry said. “Plain and simple. It’s not my job to make all of those decisions, but it’s my job to hold people accountable and say I want to win, and I’ll give my input, but I just want to win.”
  • An unrestricted free agent this offseason, veteran forward Royce O’Neale suggested that he has enjoyed his time in Phoenix and would be open to re-signing with the Suns. “Yeah, for sure. It’s a great place, team, organization,” O’Neale said (Twitter video link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports). “It’s been great since I’ve been here, since day one.”
  • Already projected to be over the second tax apron next season, the Suns may be motivated to re-sign O’Neale since they’ll have limited resources to add outside talent. But a new deal for the forward would exponentially increase the projected luxury tax bill for team owner Mat Ishbia. “(Ishbia)’s gonna cost himself a s—ton of money under the new collective bargaining agreement,” one opposing executive told Steve Bulpett of “He just is. If he wants to pay it, that’s fine. The point is that he’s mortgaged everything on this current group here, and once this runs its course … that is, when (Kevin Durant) starts to slow down — and he hasn’t yet; he’s still very good — they’re going to be in a tough situation.”

And-Ones: K. Smith, NBL, Salary Cap, Ishbia, Gilbert

Former NBA champion and current TNT analyst Kenny Smith is getting involved in Australia’s National Basketball League, according to a press release. Smith has been appointed as the head of the NBL’s Next Stars player initiative and will “actively recruit, develop and mentor new Next Stars players” in that role.

The Next Stars initiative has served as an alternative to college basketball (or to the G League Ignite) for NBA prospects who are not yet draft-eligible, with LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, R.J. Hampton, and Ousmane Dieng among the notable players who have chosen that path. Alexandre Sarr, a candidate to be this year’s No. 1 overall pick, is currently in the program.

“Legitimate pathways to the NBA are evolving, and the NBL has a proven track record of getting players drafted,” Smith said in a statement. “The NBL identified a key role for me to mentor and support young talent and equip them with the tools to compete at a professional level with a view to making the leap into the NBA.”

In addition to heading up the Next Stars initiative, Smith will also become the part-owner of an NBL expansion team that will be announced in the near future, according to the announcement.

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

  • The NBA shared new salary cap projections for 2024/25 with its teams this week, but the estimated figures haven’t changed since January’s update, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). As Wojnarowski relays, the cap is still projected to be $141MM next season.
  • Suns owner Mat Ishbia has been in the news for non-basketball reasons over the past week. Baxter Holmes of ESPN put out a story detailing the feud between Ishibia and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert due to the billionaires’ rival mortgage companies, while Hunterbrook Media published an investigative report about the questionable legality of Ishbia’s business practices as the CEO and chairman of United Wholesale Mortgage. As Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details, Ishbia suggested during a media session that Hunterbrook’s investigation was funded Gilbert’s Rocket Mortgage, which a Rocket Mortgage spokesperson adamantly denied.
  • Noting that the teams near the bottom of the NBA’s standings have been historically bad since the All-Star break, John Hollinger of The Athletic considers ways the league might address the issue and improve its product in March. Hollinger suggests eliminating the buyout market entirely and making any player waived after the trade deadline ineligible for the postseason, but acknowledges that the impact may be marginal.

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.

Ishbia: Suns Will Look To Re-Sign Allen, O’Neale

The Suns‘ three stars – Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal – will earn more than $150MM next season on their own. Phoenix has over $178MM in total guaranteed money committed to six players so far, and that number would surpass $190MM if four additional veterans pick up player options.

However, speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Suns owner Mat Ishbia said the team will attempt to re-sign key unrestricted free agents Grayson Allen and Royce O’Neale this summer.

“We’re trying to win a championship and we’re going to try this year and we’re going to figure out how to do it next year and signing free agents is what it’s going to take,” Ishbia said. “Having someone’s Bird rights gives you an advantage to be able to keep those players even if you’re in the luxury tax. We’re not frivolous with money and just spending money to spend money. What we’re trying to do is win a championship and build the best team possible.

“… Grayson and Royce are two great guys. Royce is new to the organization, has done an amazing job, everything you can think of, and Grayson has been here all year and has been a phenomenal part of the team and the organization. We hope and expect to have both of those guys back, along with keeping this core team together because we love our team and we’re going to compete at the highest level and hopefully in the playoffs very soon, we can see them all play together.”

The Suns have one of the NBA’s highest payrolls this season, with a team salary above the second luxury tax apron. The league’s latest projection calls for a $141MM cap for the 2024/25 campaign, with a second apron of approximately $189.5MM.

Operating above the second apron will limit a team’s flexibility significantly going forward. A club with a team salary in that range won’t be able to offer free agents more than the minimum salary or take back more salary than it sends out in a trade. Second-apron teams also won’t be permitted to aggregate player salaries or send out cash in trades.

Still, as outlined above, barring cost-cutting moves, the Suns project to be above the second apron next season even without re-signing Allen or O’Neale. If they let either player walk, the Suns would have no real means to replace them beyond minimum-salary signings, so re-signing the duo is in the club’s best interest. It’s just a matter of how much money Ishbia is willing to spend on the roster — his comments on Thursday, including a joke about not knowing what the second apron is, suggest he’s not looking to pinch pennies.

It’s worth noting that both Allen and O’Neale are eligible to sign extensions prior to free agency, though that might not be a viable option for O’Neale, who would be limited to a two-year, $20.45MM deal as a result of the NBA’s extend-and-trade rules. As of March 27, the Suns would be able to offer Allen up to $75MM over four years.

Allen has made eight shots from beyond the arc in each of Phoenix’s last two games to bump his league-leading three-point percentage to 47.5%. O’Neale, meanwhile, has helped improve the Suns’ defense since being acquired at last month’s trade deadline. The club, which had a 115.0 defensive rating prior to the forward’s arrival, has a 109.9 mark since he made his debut.

Suns Notes: Ishbia, Beal, Nurkic, Durant, Booker

Suns owner Mat Ishbia said at the start of October that he felt Phoenix had the best team in the NBA. While injuries slowed down the Suns early in the season, they’ve won 13 of their last 17 games to move up to the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference at 32-22. Ishbia tells Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that he feels just as good about the roster now as he did in October, especially after the trade-deadline additions of Royce O’Neale and David Roddy.

“We have our three star players and we also have a lot of other players who could be considered stars as well. We have a great all-around team. I love our team. I feel excited about what’s going on,” Ishbia said. “… We’re jelling. We’re playing our best basketball right now. Just because we had the best to start the season or felt like we had the best roster, doesn’t mean you can’t improve it. So we’re always going to try to improve things and that’s what we did I think with the addition of Royce and David.”

As Bobby Marks of ESPN observed after the trade deadline, 10 teams projected to be taxpayers a month ago and nine of those clubs either reduced their salaries or stood pat through the deadline. The Suns, who increased their projected tax bill by more than $13MM, were the only one of those 10 teams to add money.

“When we come to Mat with ideas and suggestions on saying, ‘Hey, let’s go trade for Royce O’Neale and David Roddy, but it’s going to add a significant amount of money to our tax bill and to this team,’ he says, ‘Hey, if it’s going to make us better, and the answer is yes, then let’s go do it,'” Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein told Rankin. “Many people don’t do that, especially at the trade deadline. You saw several teams shed money. We’re all in to win a championship and when you have an owner willing to do that and use any resource possible, it makes your job easier. You can go after the best players no matter where their salaries are at.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • After Bradley Beal strained his left hamstring in Tuesday’s win over Sacramento, the Suns have ruled him out for their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday vs. Detroit. There’s optimism it won’t be a long-term issue though, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. “They don’t think it’s too serious,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “Hopefully with the (All-Star) break right after, he doesn’t miss too much more time. We’ll see where he’s at.”
  • In the latest episode of his podcast, Warriors forward Draymond Green ripped Suns center Jusuf Nurkic for his comments to reporters following Phoenix’s loss to Golden State on Saturday. “The little guy went into the media complaining like I did something to him as if he didn’t do the ‘too small’ celebration and then he starts to question my character,” Green said (hat tip to Rankin). “What a coward. You go questioning character about a basketball game you just lost that you got destroyed in. The only thing you should talk about his how you got punished.” Nurkic tweeted a reply accompanied by a crying-laughing emoji: “All good bad boy just don’t stay to long on podcast, gonna be late for therapy session.”
  • Sources who spoke to Rankin disputed ESPN’s report stating that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey inquired on Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Beal prior to last Thursday’s trade deadline. Whether or not it happened ultimately doesn’t matter that much, since all three players were considered unavailable and remained in Phoenix.
  • In case you missed it, the Suns officially announced today that they’ll have a G League affiliate of their own beginning in 2024/25. Phoenix is the final NBA team to secure an NBAGL affiliate.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Vogel, Ishbia, Murray, James

Devin Booker says head coach Frank Vogel and the team’s leaders share the responsibility of turning the Suns’ fortunes around, Erin Walsh of Bleacher Report relays.

“We just have to get it together,” Booker said. “And that’s on me. That’s on Coach. That’s on KD, Eric (Gordon), all the leaders that we have in here to make sure that we’re more prepared when we come play.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week that Kevin Durant has grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s mediocre play.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns owner Mat Ishbia has been very proactive in making moves since acquiring the franchise toward the end of last season. However, Vogel said Ishbia has offered words of encouragement through the team’s struggles, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “He’s been incredibly supportive,” Vogel said. “Talks through every game with me. Has a great knowledge of the game of basketball. We have a ton of discussions about the teams that we’re playing, the thing we’re doing on the floor and what the results look like. Those conversations have been very productive and supportive.”
  • Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is worth keeping an eye on as a potential trade target for the Lakers, The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back show (video link). Charania notes that “the Hawks’ direction, of course, it’s in flux.” Murray’s four-year, $111MM+ contract extension kicks in next season but Charania notes that contract is favorable compared to that of Zach LaVine, another player who’s been linked to the Lakers. Austin Reaves would be a target for rival GMs, but the Lakers have shown no inclination of moving their talented young guard, Charania adds.
  • LeBron James now holds the NBA scoring record. So what other major milestones could he shoot for? Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated writes that James could reach the 40,000-point mark. With three more healthy seasons, the Lakers superstar could also overtake Robert Parish for the all-time record in games played (1,611).

Suns Notes: Ishbia, Nurkic, Booker, Watanabe, Ayton

Forget about the defending champion Nuggets. Forget about what the Bucks and Celtics have done in recent weeks. Suns owner Mat Ishbia confidently declares his team the best in the league, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports.

“We’ve got a great team. I think we’ve got the best team in the league,” Ishbia said. “Obviously, we’ve got to play it out. We’re really excited.”

Ishbia believes that Jusuf Nurkic, acquired in the three-team Damian Lillard blockbuster, is a “better fit” than Deandre Ayton, who was dealt to the Trail Blazers.

“We wish Deandre nothing but the best,” Ishbia said. “He was a great part of the organization, he’ll do great things in Portland, but for us, Nurkic is the better fit and it wasn’t my decision or a one-person decision. It was a unanimous decision that we think it was the right fit for our team.”

We have more on the Suns:

  • General manager James Jones is confident Devin Booker will feel comfortable as the main ball-handler, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets. “Devin’s a player. He’s figured out how to be effective on the ball, off the ball….He’s not gonna complain about having the ball in his hands more, so we’re looking forward to that,” Jones said. Jordan Goodwin and Eric Gordon will also serve as ball-handlers, he added.
  • Yuta Watanabe said one of the reasons he signed as a free agent was that he wanted to play again with Kevin Durant, Rankin tweets. They were teammates in Brooklyn. “I really enjoyed playing with him,” Watanabe said. “He’s a great teammate, great guy, great leader. After he was traded I was really sad.”
  • Ayton took a verbal shot at his former organization, hinting the Suns didn’t want him to succeed, Rankin tweets. “I’m with an organization that wants me and wants me to succeed,” Ayton said. “It’s a lot more passion when you feel that mentally and you’re seeing that physically as well. It’ll be a lot more grit and a lot more DominAyton this year.”

More Details On The Three-Team Lillard Blockbuster

The Bucks were interested in acquiring Damian Lillard immediately after he made his trade request on July 1, but the deal didn’t start to come together until this past Sunday.

As Adrian Wojnarowski writes in an in-depth story for ESPN (Insider link), Bucks general manager Jon Horst told Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin from the outset that their talks had to remain a secret or Milwaukee would withdraw from negotiations.

According to Wojnarowski, Horst didn’t want Jrue Holiday to be involved in any trade rumors, or used as leverage by Cronin with other teams to increase offers for Lillard. The Bucks didn’t want to disrupt their chemistry and hold Holiday in very high regard. That meant Cronin was unable to gauge Holiday’s market value before agreeing to the trade.

As Wojnarowski details, Horst told Cronin that the only way a deal would work is if the Blazers took their time fielding offers and eventually circled back to Milwaukee for one-on-one talks. That started Sunday evening, with both sides feeling like they had reached a breakthrough.

Cronin was determined to say patient and accept the best possible offer, per Woj, and kept details of Lillard negotiations hidden from prying eyes. Lillard’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, was determined to steer him to Miami, but Lillard didn’t have much leverage. Wojnarowski strongly suggests Cronin felt the need to keep things private from Goodwin in case he tried to tank trade talks with non-Heat teams.

One of the most fascinating and “delicate” parts of the deal was Phoenix’s involvement. According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers and Suns had the outline of a trade together for months — Deandre Ayton to Portland for Jusuf Nurkic. Cronin wanted to tie that agreement into any Lillard trade, so throughout the offseason he kept circling back to the Suns.

However, as Wojnarowski writes, due to Milwaukee’s insistence on secrecy, Cronin was unable to tell Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein the final details until the last minute. According to Woj, Phoenix knew it was getting Nurkic, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson from the Blazers in a three-team deal, but the Suns wanted another asset in return.

Cronin was unable to tell the Suns who that player was — or who he played for. Cronin did tell the Suns the mystery player’s position and gave an approximation of his salary, and Phoenix was able to deduce it was either Thunder guard Victor Oladipo or Bucks guard Grayson Allen.

Only on Wednesday afternoon — just before the trade was made public — did Cronin confirm that it was Allen, whom the Suns had reportedly been interested in for several months. According to Wojnarowski, Bartelstein, GM James Jones and owner Mat Ishbia quickly discussed and then agreed to the deal.

The Blazers were happy and relieved to have completed the deal, per Woj, and believed they did right by Lillard by sending him to a contender, even if it wasn’t his preferred destination. Shortly thereafter, Cronin was bombarded by calls inquiring about Holiday, who is now the hottest name on the trade block.

Wojnarowki’s full story is definitely worth reading in full if you subscribe to ESPN+.

Suns Rumors: McConnell, Johnson, Ishbia, Ayton, Lowry

The Suns are believed to have maintained their interest in Pacers guard T.J. McConnell, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said in the latest episode of the No Cap Room podcast (YouTube link).

Phoenix’s interest in McConnell was reported by multiple outlets earlier in the summer, but at that time, the team had no clear path to acquiring him due to his $8.7MM cap hit. Following their trade of Deandre Ayton and Toumani Camara for four players, the Suns have more potential pathways to acquiring McConnell, with either Nassir Little ($6.25MM) or Grayson Allen ($8.93MM) as a logical salary-matching piece.

While Fischer points out that the Suns are extremely short on point guard depth, he admits he’s not sure if the team will be eager to sacrifice its wing depth by moving a player like Little or Allen. Allen, in particular, had been on Phoenix’s radar for a while, as Fischer noted on Wednesday.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • During the same podcast, Fischer reiterated that Keon Johnson‘s days in Phoenix are likely numbered. “I don’t think they’ve officially waived Keon Johnson yet, but from my understanding, they plan to waive him,” Fischer said. The former first-round pick was sent from Portland to the Suns in Wednesday’s blockbuster deal.
  • Suns owner Mat Ishbia was “very involved” in the trade that landed Allen, Little, Johnson, and Jusuf Nurkic in Phoenix, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Amick explains, the Suns view the move as one that not only adds depth but gives them players who better fit around their stars. Nurkic was a longtime target for the club, which is “thrilled” to have landed him, Amick adds.
  • While he’s not an All-Star like Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, Ayton is the only player in Wednesday’s blockbuster who is a former No. 1 overall pick, so his departure represents the end of an era, of sorts, in Phoenix. Doug Haller of The Athletic and Gerald Bourguet of take a look back at Ayton’s tenure with the franchise and, in Bourguet’s words, the “polarizing, complicated” legacy he’ll leave behind.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 has shot down a report claiming that the Suns had interest in acquiring Kyle Lowry from the Heat as part of a three-team trade if the Trail Blazers had decided to send Lillard to Miami. There’s “absolutely no truth” to that claim, according to Gambadoro (Twitter link), who says Phoenix was “totally focused” on Nurkic and the smaller pieces they could get with him.

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.”