T.J. Warren

Suns Notes: Jackson, Warren, Len, Draft

So far this week, we’ve relayed comments from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver about the state of the franchise, the upcoming search for a new head coach, and potential roster moves. We’ve got a few more Suns-related notes to pass along this afternoon, so let’s dive right in and round them up…

  • With Josh Jackson showing the potential to emerge as the Suns’ starting small forward for years to come, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic suggests that T.J. Warren, whose four-year contract extension will begin in July, could become an “ideal sixth man” for the team.
  • Within the same article, Bordow says it’s unlikely that the Suns attempt to re-sign Alex Len this offseason, despite the big man’s solid numbers as a starter (10.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.0 BPG). Having signed his qualifying offer as a restricted free agent in 2017, Len will be an unrestricted free agent this July.
  • The Suns are currently on track to receive two additional first-round picks in the 2018 draft, in addition to their own lottery pick. Assuming the club keeps one or both of those picks, keep an eye on Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a potential target, tweets Bordow.
  • With the Suns set to miss the postseason for an eighth consecutive season, David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders details the moves he’d look to make this offseason to turn things around for the franchise.

Pacific Rumors: Ball, Bradley, Warren, Payton

Lonzo Ball went through a full-contact practice on Tuesday but won’t return until after the All-Star break, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register reports. The Lakers rookie point guard has been sidelined since spraining his left knee on January 13th. Coach Luke Walton remained vague on when Ball would suit up. “When his body is ready, then he’ll play again,” Walton told Teaford and other reporters. “I can’t tell you whether that’s going to be the first game [after the All-Star break], the second game or the third game.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley admits he’s having trouble finding his place in the team’s offensive scheme, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. Bradley is averaging just 9.0 PPG in 28.6 MPG since he was dealt by the Pistons to Los Angeles as part of the Blake Griffin blockbuster. “I think it’s a mix of me trying to find my rhythm and my game and trying to learn how to play off these guys,” Bradley told Turner. “They have a lot of offensive-minded guys on this team. So I have to figure out, and not only myself, but (coach Doc Rivers) has to figure out how he wants to use me.”
  • Forward T.J. Warren is making the four-year, $50MM contract extension the Suns gave him look like a bargain, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. He’s averaging 19.7 PPG and making over 50% of his field-goal attempts. “Coming into the league, I was known for being a scorer,” Warren told Bordow. “Just getting the opportunity and staying consistent is big for me. I’m just trying to get better, make my way in this league and earn the respect of my peers.”
  • It’s no sure thing that the Suns will try to re-sign restricted free agent point guard Elfrid Payton this summer, as Bordow explains in a separate story. Phoenix, which acquired Payton for a second-round pick from the Magic, could free up $10MM in salary-cap space by renouncing Payton’s rights, Bordow continues. With Brandon Knight expected to return next season from a knee injury, the Suns could then draft a point guard as Knight’s eventual replacement and pursue a center in free agency. Bordow adds.

Grizzlies Rumors: Gasol, Youngsters, Draft Missteps

After starting the season with a 7-4 record, the Grizzlies have won just one of their last 16 games, plummeting to second-last in the Western Conference at 8-19. Despite the team’s massive slump, general manager Chris Wallace continues to insist that Memphis won’t entertain the notion of trading Marc Gasol this season, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.

“We think our window is still very much open with Mike [Conley] and Marc. I think we’ll be heard from the rest of this year, and in years to come,” Wallace recently said. The Grizzlies’ GM reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, according to Lowe.

Wallace and others in the Grizzlies’ front office are “adamant” that their stance on Gasol – and rebuilding in general – won’t change this season, even if the team doesn’t start winning. Lowe is skeptical, suggesting there are probably scenarios in which Memphis at least gauges Gasol’s value, even if the team doesn’t shop him outright. Still, the ESPN scribe acknowledges that the Grizzlies may still prefer to play out the season, grab a lottery pick, and redouble their efforts to contend with Gasol and Conley in 2018/19.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies, including a few additional tidbits from Lowe’s feature:

  • Gasol insists that he won’t ask the Grizzlies for a trade, even if the team were to fall to 30 games below .500. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol said, according to Lowe. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” Still, if Memphis decides it wants to move him, Gasol would accept that too: “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise.”
  • Wallace believes the Grizzlies can build for the future even as they focus on short-term contention, pointing to Dillon Brooks, Andrew Harrison, Jarell Martin, Deyonta Davis, and Ivan Rabb as young players who could evolve into solid rotation players. “How many teams who have been annual participants in the playoffs have as many guys under 24?” Wallace asked. Still, as Lowe notes, the Memphis GM admitted that it “remains to be seen” whether any of those players will develop into above-average NBA starters.
  • Taking a look back at some of the Grizzlies’ draft mistakes, Lowe cites sources who say that the club unsuccessfully tried to trade up for T.J. Warren in 2014. Memphis also considered drafting Nikola Jokic at No. 35 in 2014, but felt it was too high for him, per Lowe. Denver nabbed Jokic six picks later.
  • Like Lowe, Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has gone into extended detail this week about what has gone wrong for the Grizzlies this year. On Sunday, Tillery explored how Memphis’ retooling plan has backfired, while on Tuesday he wrote about the club’s culture being called into question.

Suns Interested In Nets’ Unprotected First-Rounder

The Suns are ready to fully commit to rebuilding after firing coach Earl Watson and that includes trying to obtain the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder that currently belongs to Cleveland, writes Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.

Phoenix plans to explore trades involving veterans Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler, among others, Amico adds. The organization sees Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren as the building blocks for its future and would like to add other young talent to the mix.

Brooklyn’s pick has been seen as one of the league’s most valuable trade assets for several years. The Celtics obtained it in a 2013 trade involving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and shipped it to the Cavaliers in the offseason deal for Kyrie Irving.

Cleveland hasn’t committed to keeping the pick, but a source tells Amico the asking price will be extremely high and that Bledsoe and another player probably won’t be enough. The Cavs had offseason discussions with the Suns about obtaining Bledsoe in exchange for Irving and could use help at point guard with Isaiah Thomas expected to be sidelined until January.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Mason, Warren

The Clippers will rely more heavily on DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin than usual this season, the long-tenured frontcourt pairing will assume extra leadership duties in the wake of the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Rockets, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

The roles absolutely changed out of necessity,” Griffin, who has already logged eight seasons with the Clippers, said. “Anytime you lose somebody like CP, everybody has to step up. I know DJ and I have talked about it all summer and we’re excited about that challenge.

The forthcoming 2017/18 campaign will be a particularly important one for Jordan. This season, the center will become the longest tenured players in Clippers franchise history, having suited up in blue and red for 10 seasons. Jordan slides past former Clips guard Eric Piatkowski who played for the team from 1994-2003.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • He may not be the most talked about Kings rookie at the point guard position but Frank Mason is ready to produce in his first season in the NBA, Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee writes. The 23-year-old played four seasons at Kansas and is ready to bring his fast, aggressive style of play to the next level.
  • According to Basketball Insiders, the base value of T.J. Warren‘s four-year contract extension with the Suns is worth $47MM (as opposed to the $50MM that was initially reported). The difference could be comprised of contract incentives, although that’s merely our speculation.
  • The Warriors‘ new arena in San Francisco is schedule to open in time for the 2019/20 season. The franchise has recently submitted a bid to hold an All-Star Game there, Chris Haynes and Marc Spears of ESPN write. Sources tell them that the earliest the bid could be for is the 2021 All-Star Game.

Suns Sign T.J. Warren To Four-Year Extension

SEPTEMBER 26: The Suns have officially signed Warren to a rookie scale extension, the team announced today in a press release.T.J. Warren vertical

“We are excited about extending T.J.’s contract,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said in a statement. “T.J. has improved every year and we think he has the potential to continue to grow as he just begins to approach his prime. We view T.J. as an important part of our young core going forward and we are glad that we were able to reach an agreement on this extension.”

SEPTEMBER 25: The Suns and forward T.J. Warren have come to terms on a four-year, $50MM extension, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Warren will make $3.15MM this season and was eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer. The deadline for the extension was October 16.

Warren became a starter last season, averaging 14.4 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 31.0 MPG. He appeared in 66 games, 59 as a starter, and missed 13 games in November and December due to a head injury.  The 6’8” Warren, who is expected to be Suns’ starting small forward again this season, has made 50.2% of his shots during his three-year career but needs work on his 3-point game (31.2%).

Phoenix can afford to extend a young player on the rise, as it has just $62.7MM on guaranteed commitments for the 2018/19 season, not including Warren’s new deal.

The Suns only lose $2MM on cap space because Warren had a $9.5MM free agent cap hold next offseason, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes.

With Warren in the fold, the Suns should have a stable roster in the next couple of years. The only significant player headed to unrestricted free agency next summer is center Alex Len, who recently signed his qualifying offer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving doesn’t want to be in Cleveland as long as LeBron James is around, though that doesn’t mean he’s willing to commit long-term to another franchise should the Cavs trade him. According to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, Irving, who has two years before he can become a free agent, wants to keep his options open for the summer of 2019. Pluto adds that the former No. 1 overall pick isn’t ready to commit to any team at this point.

While an extension with a new team was never a likely outcome for Irving, the latest news could potentially suppress his trade value. Any team giving up a haul to acquire the point guard would want him around long-term and without that assurance, teams may think twice about mortgaging their futures to bring in the Duke product.

Here’s more from Pluto’s piece on Irving:

  • The Suns would be willing to deal Eric Bledsoe to the Cavaliers for Irving even if Irving makes no commitment to stay in Phoenix past his current deal. However, they would not want to include Josh Jackson in that scenario.
  • The Cavs would love to take back Devin Booker in an Irving-to-the-Suns deal, but Phoenix is unlikely to trade Booker since it already told the shooting guard that he wasn’t going anywhere. Phoenix would like to send a package of Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, and Brandon Knight to the Cavs for Irving and additional salary (Iman Shumpert or Channing Frye). That proposal is underwhelming to Cleveland’s front office.
  • The Nuggets remain a threat to trade for Irving, but Pluto hears that Denver will not give up both Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in a deal. Pluto adds that there are players on Denver’s roster who are attractive to Cleveland and because of that, the Nuggets could be involved in an Irving trade as a third team even if they don’t land the point guard themselves.
  • If Andrew Wiggins signs an extension with the Wolves, it’s unlikely that he gets dealt to Cleveland, a source tells Pluto.

Suns, Kings Discussed DeMarcus Cousins

FEBRUARY 1, 8:18am: There’s “nothing to” the reported talks between the Suns and Kings, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, who tweets that the Kings don’t have interest in moving Cousins, especially without getting a high-level player in return.

Considering the original report came from a Phoenix outlet, with a Sacramento outlet throwing cold water on it, I would guess that any Cousins talks were initiated by the Suns. The Kings may have listened to Phoenix’s pitch, but there’s still no indication that they’re looking to move their star big man.

It’s also worth noting that members of rival teams have said that Sacramento’s front office structure is confusing to navigate, as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com wrote last week. It’s possible that the Suns discussed Cousins with one Kings executive even if Sacramento – as an organization – ultimately wouldn’t have signed off on a trade.

JANUARY 31, 4:52pm: The Suns have had discussions with the Kings about big man DeMarcus Cousins, says John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports, although there’s no indication that the trade talks ever developed into anything serious.

The deal, Gambadoro reports, was said to center around a package involving at least T.J. Warren, Alex Len and the Suns’ first-round pick in 2017.

Worth noting is that both Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker were specifically exempt from the alleged proposal. Not only are Bledsoe and Booker two of the more intriguing assets on Phoenix’s roster, they’re Kentucky alumni like Cousins.

This isn’t the first time that Cousins’ name has been involved in trade speculation and it’s not likely to be the last. The center looked to be a likely trade target prior to Sacramento’s emergence as a contender in the Western Conference but then the team started to win more games. Now that Rudy Gay is expected to miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury, they’ve fallen into a three-way tie for 10th in the West.

Earlier this month news broke that the Kings and Cousins were on track for a $200MM contract extension this summer but that may not deter Sacramento’s front office from moving their young superstar should it net them a suitable return from Phoenix or elsewhere.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Suns Notes: Williams, Ulis, Bender, Warren

After spending last Thanksgiving in China, Phoenix native Alan Williams has landed his “dream job” with the Suns, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The 23-year-old big man’s quest to play in the NBA started with a 10-day contract with Phoenix in March. He chose the Suns over the Rockets, who were willing to sign him for the remainder of the season. Williams’ gamble paid off when Phoenix gave him a multi-year contract, and his $875K salary for this season became guaranteed in September. He is averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and posted two double-doubles last week. Suns coach Earl Watson believes Williams has a 10-year career ahead.

There’s more news out of Phoenix:

  • After seeing almost no action in his first 12 games, Tyler Ulis is becoming a reliable backup point guard, Coro writes in a separate story. The 5’10” rookie has averaged 6.8 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals over the last four games and is making a case to be part of the regular rotation. “I just come in and try to make the most of my minutes,” Ulis said. “Do what coach and the players want me to do. Get guys involved, get paint touches and get into my man defensively.”
  • Watson says rookie Dragan Bender has a bright NBA future, but that won’t guarantee playing time right now, Coro adds in the same piece. The Croatian power forward is seeing just 10 minutes per night through the first month of his career. “I think Dragan is going to have amazing opportunities moving forward,” Watson explained. “We understand he’s a big part of our future as a cornerstone. But the NBA is not just as easy as playing guys you like. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”
  • Small forward T.J. Warren is out indefinitely with a minor head injury, the Suns announced on their website. Warren left a game on Friday after just nine minutes of action and hasn’t played since. Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough said the organization has a policy of being extra cautious with injuries to the head and estimated Warren will be sidelined “a matter of weeks.” Warren has appeared in 13 games, all starts, and is averaging 17.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per night.

Pacific Notes: Price, Warren, Speights, Lakers

The Suns have offered veteran guard Ronnie Price an assistant coaching position, tweets Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Price was waived Monday by the Thunder even though he had a fully guaranteed two-year, $5MM contract. The 33-year-old played 62 games for Phoenix last season, starting 18 times. Suns coach Earl Watson confirmed the offer, but said Price isn’t ready to end his playing career.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • After two injury-filled half seasons, Suns small forward T.J. Warren is off to a strong start to 2016/17, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Warren scored 30 points Friday night in an overtime loss to the Thunder, going 8 for 8 on a variety of mid-range shots. “He gets buckets; ‘Tony Buckets’ is his name,” said teammate Eric Bledsoe. “He played not only great offense, but great defense too. He carried us.” The Suns exercised their 2017/18 option on Warren on Monday.
  • The Clippers are counting on big man Marreese Speights to boost their bench scoring and maybe even change the balance of power in the West, relays Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. The former Warrior signed a two-year, minimum-salary deal with L.A. over the summer. “(He’s) just another scorer,” said coach/executive Doc Rivers. “I don’t think anyone has a guy like that on their bench, for that matter. Golden State had one last year, and now he’s on our team. But there’s not a lot of fives that can do what Mo does as far as offensively shoot the three. There are some, but Mo also has a post game as well.” Speights has a player option on the second year of his new deal, so he could be in line for a raise if he has a productive season.
  • The Lakers hope to be more appealing to free agents by the time California natives Russell Westbrook and Paul George become available in two years, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Over the summer, L.A. was turned down for meetings by Kevin Durant, Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside.