Saben Lee

Suns Re-Sign Saben Lee To Two-Way Deal

The Suns are bringing back point guard Saben Lee on another two-way deal, having officially signed him to a new contract, the team announced in a press release (Twitter link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports).

Lee inked his first two-way contract with Phoenix in January of this past season.

“Saben plays with toughness and aggression on both ends of the court,” team president James Jones is quoted as saying in the press statement. “His point guard instincts and ability to attack the rim are critical traits for us as we seek to build a better team.”

This move was not entirely unexpected, as the 6’2″ vet received a two-way qualifying offer from the Suns earlier this summer, effectively giving the club extra optionality to retain him as a restricted free agent.

Across 23 regular season contests with the Suns last year, the 24-year-old out of Vanderbilt averaged 6.3 PPG on .393/.379/.737 shooting splits, along with 2.8 APG, 2.0 RPG and 0.8 SPG. This will be the last season that he’s eligible to play on a two-way contract.

The Suns still have a pair of two-way slots available after re-signing Lee.

Cameron Johnson, Coby White Among Players Receiving QOs

A series of players have been issued qualifying offers by their respective teams, making them restricted free agents, according to RealGM’s official NBA transaction log.

Nets forward Cameron Johnson and Bulls guard Coby White are among the most notable QO recipients within the last couple days. Johnson’s qualifying offer is worth $8,486,620, while White’s is worth $7,744,600.

For many restricted free agents, qualifying offers essentially function as placeholders, giving the team the right of first refusal on the player as long as that QO remains on the table.

It’s also a one-year contract offer that the player is free to accept at any time, which is a more viable route for some RFAs than others — Johnson, for instance, looks like a safe bet to secure a lucrative multiyear deal, so it would be a major surprise if he simply accepted his $8.5MM qualifying offer.

Besides Johnson and White, here are some of the players who have received qualifying offers this week and are now restricted free agents, per RealGM:

The deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers is Thursday, so we’ll likely get many more updates on QOs being extended to players today and tomorrow.

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

Suns Notes: Booker, Payne, CP3, Lee, Washington

Suns guard Devin Booker is expected to return to action as soon as Tuesday against the Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Booker hasn’t played since Christmas Day due to a left groin strain, but was reevaluated on Wednesday and was said by the Suns to be “game-to-game” at that point.

Booker has already been ruled out for Friday’s game in Boston and it sounds like he won’t be back for Saturday’s contest in Detroit, but Wojnarowski suggests the standout guard could return to the court for the third game of Phoenix’s road trip, on Tuesday in Brooklyn. Booker said on Wednesday that he felt like he was “rounding third (base),” as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic tweets.

Unfortunately for the Suns, it will still be a little longer before they get another key backcourt piece back. As Rankin writes, the club announced on Friday that Cameron Payne (right foot sprain) continues to make progress in his recovery but will be out at least one more week before being reevaluated.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • The Suns have been linked to a handful of point guards in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, including Fred VanVleet and D’Angelo Russell, but that doesn’t mean they’re considering the idea of trading current starter Chris Paul, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe stated on his Lowe Post podcast. “Let me be clear, I don’t think they’re trading Chris Paul,” Lowe said, per RealGM. “I’ve heard nothing about trading Chris Paul. In fact, I’ve heard the opposite.”
  • Discussing the Suns’ decision to cut Duane Washington Jr. in order to bring back Saben Lee on a two-way contract after Lee’s second 10-day deal expired, head coach Monty Williams said that there will some “financial implications” in play, tweets Rankin. Phoenix has an open spot on its 15-man roster, but is well above the luxury tax line — two-way salaries don’t count against the cap or tax.
  • Gerald Bourguet of shares five of his takeaways from the Lee/Washington roster swap, exploring why the Suns were willing to let Washington go and considering whether the club’s decision to retain Lee is a reason to be concerned about Payne’s status.

Suns Sign Saben Lee To Two-Way Deal, Waive Duane Washington

5:58pm: Lee’s two-way deal and Washington’s release are now official, the Suns announced (Twitter link via Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic).

2:47pm: After signing Saben Lee to a pair of 10-day contracts, the Suns are making a move to ensure that he sticks with the team. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Phoenix has agreed to sign Lee to a two-way contract and will waive current two-way player Duane Washington Jr. to open up a spot.

The 38th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Lee played for the Pistons during his first two years in the NBA, then spent time earlier this season on a two-way deal with Philadelphia before being cut in December. Over the course of his first 20 days in Phoenix, he averaged 7.0 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per night in 10 games (17.3 MPG), with a shooting line of .455/.500/.774.

After a player signs two 10-day contracts with the same team, he’s ineligible to sign a third, so if the Suns wanted to retain Lee, a rest-of-season commitment was necessary. Phoenix has an opening on its 15-man roster, but chose instead to use one of its two-way slots on Lee — he’s still eligible to be a two-way player since he’s only in his third NBA season.

It’s not surprising that the Suns would choose to avoid locking in a 15th man with the trade deadline just eight days away, since they’ll have more roster flexibility at the deadline this way. Still, waiving Washington to make room for Lee likely wasn’t an easy call.

Washington has had several strong outings for the Suns in his second NBA season, including four games of 21 points or more. In total, he averaged 7.9 PPG and 2.0 APG in 31 games (12.7 MPG) while making 36.0% of his three-point attempts. Assuming he clears waivers, he could certainly draw some interest from other NBA teams.

Forward Ish Wainright occupies Phoenix’s other two-way slot.

Western Notes: Lee, Fox, McNair, Ayton, Hyland

Suns point guard Saben Lee is “grateful” for the opportunity the organization gave him, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. Lee’s second 10-day contract with Phoenix expired on Monday, so the team must now offer him a rest-of-the-season contract if it wants to keep him.

Lee has appeared in 10 games with the Suns, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 17.3 minutes. “It’s been really good,” Lee said. “Being able to make strides on and off the court. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here the past 20 days. Able to get a good amount of playing time as well.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Guard De’Aaron Fox is pleased the Kings reached a three-year contract extension with GM Monte McNair, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “It’s great. Just to have consistency throughout the organization, you want that to be the last thing you’re worried about is no extension,” Fox said. “Just from top to bottom, I feel like everybody wants to know that they have a little bit of security. I feel like you do your job better when you’re secure.”
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton could be a long-term trade target for the Mavericks, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to Hoops Hype). “He’s a name that I’ve heard around the Mavericks,” MacMahon said, explaining that Ayton seems unlikely to be on the move in the next 10 days. “… I think that would have to be a ‘later’ than ‘right now’ type of situation.”
  • Nuggets backup guard Bones Hyland has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. He told’s Harrison Wind that he’s oblivious to the chatter. “I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me at all,” Hyland said. “I don’t pay no mind to it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Suns Notes: Ishbia, S. Lee, Johnson, Okogie

Mat Ishbia isn’t officially the new owner of the Suns yet, but his presence at courtside for Thursday’s game reinforced the idea that a new era is starting in Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It was the first time the billionaire mortgage lender has attended a game since reaching an agreement to purchase the team last month, and the players were happy to have him there.

“He’s a cool guy,” Ish Wainright said. “I look forward to meeting him, picking his brain about not just basketball, but about business. I want to get to know him.”

Ishbia is still awaiting league approval on his $4 billion purchase, a process that Rankin notes typically takes about two months. Once the sale is official, the franchise can move on from current owner Robert Sarver, who was pressured to sell the team after being suspended for a year and fined $10MM for creating a toxic work environment. Coach Monty Williams believes Sarver shouldn’t be judged too harshly for his actions.

“Robert did a lot for this team, he did a lot for this city, he did a lot behind the scenes that people will never know about,” Williams said. “It was an unfortunate ending … but now as we turn the page, you start to look forward to what can be with the team with new ownership.”

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • Saben Lee is thrilled to get a second 10-day contract, Rankin tweets. Although Lee saw consistent playing time in his first four games with the Suns, averaging 11.3 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per night, he didn’t take a second deal for granted. “When you expect things in this league, it usually doesn’t go the way you want it to,” Lee said.
  • Cameron Johnson, who played 22 minutes Thursday in his return to action following meniscus surgery on his right knee, will sit out Saturday’s game due to injury management, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.
  • Josh Okogie, who suffered a broken nose Monday when Deandre Ayton accidentally elbowed him in the face, will be able to play Saturday night after clearing his final concussion evaluation, according to Bourguet (Twitter link).

Suns Sign Saben Lee To Second 10-Day Deal

JANUARY 21: As expected, the Suns have signed Lee to a second 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release.

JANUARY 20: Saben Lee‘s first 10-day contract with the Suns hasn’t technically expired yet, but it will do so before Saturday’s game, so he’ll need to be re-signed if the team wants him available for that contest — and beyond. That’s expected to happen, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), who says Lee is on track to ink a second 10-day deal with Phoenix.

Lee, 23, has been the only 10-day signee so far this season to immediately step into a regular role upon joining his new team. The former second-round pick has averaged 11.3 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game during four appearances with the Suns.

Lee’s best game came on Thursday, when he played a season-high 29 minutes, scoring 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and dishing six assists in a Phoenix victory.

Assuming Lee officially signs a new contract with the Suns on Saturday, his contract would run through January 30, making him eligible to play in the club’s next six games. As was the case on his first 10-day deal, he would earn approximately $106K for his 10 days of work, as our chart shows.

After his second 10-day contract expires, Lee wouldn’t be able to sign a third with the Suns, so the team would have to either sign him for the rest of the season or let him walk.

Suns Notes: Ishbia, Lee, Paul, VanVleet

Brothers Mat and Justin Ishbia reached an agreement last month to purchase a majority stake in the Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury. Ishbia attended Phoenix’s game against Brooklyn on Thursday and is already influencing the team’s approach to the trade deadline, Shams Charania said on The Rally (video link).

“I’m told since Mat Ishbia and his announcement that he’s going to take over the Suns’ ownership has come out, the Suns have actually informed teams that they’re willing to move a first-round pick and potentially take on salary long-term for good players,” Charania said.

We have more on the Suns:

  • The team will have to make a decision on Saturday whether to offer Saben Lee another 10-day deal. Coach Monty Williams strongly endorses keeping Lee on the roster, Gerald Bourguet of tweets. “I’m hopeful to keep him around, because he brings something that we need,” Williams said. Entering Thursday’s game, Lee had appeared in three games with Phoenix, averaging 10.0 points and 3.0 assists in 19 minutes per game.
  • The Suns decided to sit Chris Paul on Thursday even though he practiced on Wednesday, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. “He did everything yesterday. It was just a decision that was made,” Williams said. It was Paul’s sixth consecutive missed game due to a hip issue.
  • Phoenix has been mentioned as a potential free agent destination for Raptors guard Fred VanVleet but as Bourguet explains in detail, that doesn’t seem feasible. The Suns don’t have the cap space to sign VanVleet in free agency and would have to blow up the roster to do a sign-and-trade. Trading for him before next month’s deadline in an attempt to re-sign him to max money also seems unwise, given their salary issues, especially if Paul remains on the roster as the starter.

Checking In On 10-Day Contracts

NBA teams gained the ability to sign players to 10-day contracts on January 5, which was 13 days ago. As a result, a few of the first 10-day deals signed this season have already expired.

Of the three players whose 10-day contracts have expired, only one – Joe Wieskamp of the Raptors – has received a second 10-day commitment. His new 10-day deal will run through next Thursday (January 26).

Lakers guard Sterling Brown had his 10-day deal expire on Sunday night and wasn’t re-signed by Los Angeles before the team took the floor on Monday, which is an indication that L.A. is exploring other options for that roster spot. Meyers Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins recently worked out for the Lakers and may be candidates to become the club’s 15th man for at least 10 days.

Spurs big man Gorgui Dieng saw his 10-day contract expire on Tuesday night following the team’s win over Brooklyn. Dieng was only on the court for a total of 74 seconds during his 10-day deal, but he has spent most of the season out of San Antonio’s rotation and the team has seemed happy to keep him around, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he receives another 10-day offer from the Spurs. It may not happen for another day or two though, since Dieng would only be available for four games instead of five if he re-signs before Thursday.

Since teams can only sign a player to two standard 10-day contracts in a season, the Raptors will have to decide next week whether to commit to Wieskamp for the rest of the season or let him walk. I’d guess the team will choose the latter path, at least for now — it wouldn’t make sense for Toronto to compromise its roster flexibility by filling its 15th spot with a guaranteed contract before the trade deadline arrives.

Brown would only be able to sign one more 10-day contract this season with the Lakers, while Dieng could do the same with the Spurs, though both players are free to sign two 10-day deals with any other team.

Three more 10-day contracts will expire later this week. PJ Dozier‘s deal with the Kings ends after tonight’s game, while Friday will mark the 10th day under contract for both Derrick Favors (with the Hawks) and Saben Lee (Suns).

Dozier has only seen garbage-time action for Sacramento and Favors has yet to take the court for Atlanta, but Lee is playing rotation minutes for an injury-ravaged Phoenix squad. He has averaged 10.0 points and 3.0 assists in 19.0 minutes per game in three appearances with the Suns, making him a strong candidate to spend at least 10 more days with the team beyond Friday.

Be sure to use our 10-day contract tracker and our roster counts page to keep tabs on the active 10-day contracts.