Trevor Ariza

Former Suns GM McDonough Talks Firing, Suns, Ariza

The Suns made a surprising move during the preseason, announcing just over a week before opening night that they had fired longtime general manager Ryan McDonough. Considering the team had given McDonough the entire offseason to execute his plan for the team, which involved drafting Deandre Ayton first overall, extending Devin Booker, hiring Igor Kokoskov, trading for Mikal Bridges, and signing Trevor Ariza, the timing was considered unusual.

Speaking to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on The Jump (video link) this week, McDonough acknowledged that his dismissal was “unexpected” and that there were other times of year when he would have been more prepared for the possibility. The former Suns GM, who admitted that he was fired over the phone, also touched on a few other topics during his appearance on The Jump, so we’ll round up a few highlights…

On why he was surprised and a little frustrated by the timing of his ouster:

“I viewed the roster as not fully completed. We were working on a few trades to upgrade the team, and I guess I thought we had more time than I ended up having.”

On whether it was challenging to recruit free agents to Phoenix:

“Phoenix is a great place to live. It’s a great place to play. The team is super young, so I think that hurt us somewhat in terms of recruiting elite free agents in their prime. The two foundational pieces that we left there are 22 years old (Booker) and 20 (Ayton). I think free agents, especially veteran free agents like a LeBron James or LaMarcus Aldridge, look at it and say, ‘They’re a little ways away.’

“It is a challenge. There are unique challenges to every setup, every situation. The Suns have been a destination franchise in the past. I think, and hope, as Devin and Deandre and the rest of the young players improve, they will be again in the future.”

On his biggest regret from his time with the Suns:

“The biggest regret, I think, is how public some of the conflicts with the players became. I think the good organizations have historically handled that behind closed doors. And that’s not a shot at Phoenix — that’s more of a shot at me than anything. We could have done better internally, from ownership and the front office and our coaching staff in terms of communication with the players, and vice versa. If I do jump back in on the team side at some point, I’ll learn from that. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the last couple weeks, just thinking about how we can do better in that area going forward.”

On why the Suns used their cap room on Ariza instead of a point guard over the summer:

“We studied the final four teams in the league last year, and other than Cleveland with LeBron, if you look at Golden State, Houston, and Boston, they have a ton of interchangeable wing players. And a lot of times, they’ll have three or even four of them on the court at a time.

Ariza was an unrestricted free agent, he’s a West Coast guy, he had interest in coming to Phoenix, and we viewed his contract similar to how Philly viewed J.J. Redick‘s contract a year ago, where we can pay him a lot of money for one year [and] keep our future flexibility. … We thought Ariza would help us take a step from rebuilding to hopefully being playoff competitive. And then we could build from there, either with Ariza or with an elite free agent from the 2019 class.”

Southwest Notes: Davis, Ariza, G League, Spurs

After making it back to the playoffs last year, the Pelicans are about to enter a crucial season for the future of the franchise, writes Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate. The organization may need a strong follow-up to its second-round ouster to ensure a long-term future with star big man Anthony Davis.

Davis will be eligible for a super-max contract next offseason worth up to $230MM. If he doesn’t agree to the deal, speculation will immediately begin about his impending free agency and he could be the top name on the market in 2020. Davis’ current contract includes a $28.75MM player option for 2020/21.

Although Davis has said repeatedly that he enjoys playing in New Orleans, he may not be convinced that the Pelicans will be an annual contender. There was a bit of a roster upheaval over the summer as the team lost DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in free agency and found younger replacements in Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Trevor Ariza may not be gone from the Rockets for good, suggests Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Ariza agreed to a one-year, $15MM contract with the Suns in the early hours of free agency last month, but Bontemps doesn’t see that developing into a long-term relationship. If the Suns remain near the bottom of the West, Ariza could become a buyout candidate in February. The Rockets, who are still short on defensive-minded wings after losing Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, could see a reunion with Ariza as an easy solution.
  • Brad Jones has been named as the new head coach of the Grizzlies‘ G League affiliate, the team announced today. He won a G League title in 2012 as head coach in Austin and led Utah to the finals in 2009. In his last job, Jones served as general manager for the G League Iowa Wolves and as a scout for the Timberwolves.
  • The Spurs are the latest organization to have an official corporate partner, according to a release posted on the team website. The Spurs will team up with Frost Bank, a prominent banking, investment and insurance company in Texas, and will wear the company’s logo on their jerseys.

Pacific Notes: Stephenson, Ariza, Harrell, Ferrell

Headed to his seventh team in five years, new Laker Lance Stephenson is hoping he can land a long-term contract next summer, relays Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Stephenson expected a longer stay in Indiana after appearing in all 82 games last season. However, after teammate Thaddeus Young opted in to a $13.7MM deal and Doug McDermott was added in free agency, the Pacers elected to decline their $4.3MM option on Stephenson. He wound up signing a one-year, $4.5MM deal with L.A.

“I’m definitely looking for a long-term contract after this,” Stephenson said. “I’m trying to find a home. I’ve been moving a lot and to different teams. I’m trying to find a place where I can actually call home and feel comfortable, and actually get a nice place and stay there for a while.”

There’s more this morning from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns contacted free agent forward Trevor Ariza in the first minute of free agency, he says in a video interview tweeted by the team. The former Rocket agreed to change teams after receiving a one-year, $15MM offer from Phoenix. “Sometimes things run their course and it’s time for a new start and new beginning,” Ariza explained. “There were a lot of options for me, but the one that … showed the most promise was this one. I’m excited to be here. I’m happy to be here. It’s closer to home [in Los Angeles] for me.”
  • The new two-year, $12MM contract for Montrezl Harrell leaves the Clippers about $500K below the tax line, but sets up a difficult roster decision, Bobby Marks posts on ESPN Now. Re-signing Harrell gives L.A. 16 guaranteed contracts, along with non-guaranteed deals for Patrick Beverley ($5,027,028) and C.J. Williams ($1,378,242). Neither becomes fully guaranteed until January 10.
  • The Kings finalized a three-year, $20.5MM contract with Nemanja Bjelica on Saturday, but not an expected deal with Yogi Ferrell, notes salary cap expert Albert Nahmad (Twitter link). He speculates that Sacramento could be examining its options with $14MM in remaining cap space and may use the room mid-level exception to sign Ferrell to a two-year, $6.2MM deal at a later date.

Pacific Rumors: Bagley, Thornwell, Ariza, Cousins

Kings lottery pick Marvin Bagley III has a pelvic bone bruise and will miss the remainder of summer-league action, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Bagley, who suffered the injury during the Kings’ game against the Suns on Saturday, will be able to resume basketball activities after 1-2 weeks of rest. The 6’11” Bagley was the No. 2 pick in the draft after one season at Duke.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns signed Rockets free agent forward Trevor Ariza to provide guidance to a young team, according to an Associated Press report. Ariza left the Western Conference powerhouse for a one-year, $15MM contract with Phoenix. “We need his defensive ability and versatility, his shooting ability but I think as much as anything, maybe more than anything, we need his leadership and his winning pedigree,” GM Ryan McDonough said.
  • Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans face a logjam in the Clippers’ backcourt and will have to fight for playing time, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times notes. The duo played a combined 121 games last season but the team currently has eight guards on the roster with the addition of first-round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Both Thornwell and Evans have guaranteed contracts worth approximately $1.378MM for next season. “In this game, you can’t worry about nobody else,” Thornwell said. “You can’t come in and worry about what the next man got going on and what the next man is doing.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins says he’s not bothered by the reduced offensive role he’ll have with the Warriors, as he told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “I’m sure there will be many games where I may have, you know, four attempts. Then there may be other games where I’m the leading scorer,” he said. “I look at that as a positive. I don’t have to be the guy. I’ve dealt with that my entire career. I’ve always wanted a team where everything doesn’t rely on me. Now I’m in that position.”

Trevor Ariza Signs One-Year Deal With Suns

JULY 6: Ariza’s deal with the Suns is now official, the team confirmed in a press release“Phoenix was the most aggressive team and the team that showed the most interest in me,” Ariza said today at his introductory press conference. “We all want to feel appreciated and wanted. When a team shows that much appreciation for what you do, naturally you are attracted to something like that.” (Twitter link from Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle). 

JUNE 30: The Suns and Trevor Ariza have reached an agreement on a one-year, $15MM contract, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Phoenix will use most – if not all – of its available cap room to complete the signing.

Ariza, who turns 33 on Saturday, averaged 11.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG with a .368 3PT% in 67 regular-season games for the Rockets. While his season ended on a low note following an 0-for-12 shooting performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, the veteran played a key role in Houston, knocking down corner threes and playing excellent perimeter defense. His departure will be a blow to the West’s No. 1 seed.

The Suns, meanwhile, continue to add depth to their frontcourt. In the last two drafts, Phoenix has used lottery picks to add Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges. The team also locked up T.J. Warren to a long-term extension that will take effect this year.

Given Phoenix’s need in the backcourt, the decision to devote the majority of its available cap room to Ariza is a little surprising. However, three-and-D wings are one of the most coveted assets in the modern NBA, and Ariza will provide veteran locker-room leadership as part of a young Suns roster.

While it’s not clear how the Suns will address their hole at the point, their deal with Ariza could be good news for a team like the Raptors, who had been concerned that Phoenix might sign Fred VanVleet to an aggressive offer sheet, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. The Suns seem likely to be in the market for a less expensive point guard now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns Interested In Ariza, Bradley, Randle

The Suns are targeting Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, Clippers guard Avery Bradley and Lakers forward Julius Randle, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Phoenix will have about $18MM in cap space to work with after waiving Tyler Ulis earlier today. Ariza and Bradley are both unrestricted free agents and would provide a needed boost to the Suns’ defense. Randle is restricted, and the Lakers will have the chance to match any offer sheet he receives.

Ariza, 33, has spent the past four seasons in Houston and was a steady two-way player on a team that won 65 games this year. He averaged 11.7 points during the season and shot 37% from 3-point range.

Bradley, 27, was known as one of the league’s top defensive guards in Boston, but his game took a downturn after trades to the Pistons and then to the Clippers. A sports hernia limited him to just six games in L.A.

Randle is the youngest of the group at 23. After the Lakers decided not to give him an extension, he responded with a 16.1/8.0/2.6 season that has made him a popular free agent target.

Spears’ Latest: Crawford, Rockets, Rondo, Evans

We heard on Thursday that multiple Warriors players are lobbying for the front office to go after Jamal Crawford in free agency, but Golden State isn’t the only team that will kick the tires on the veteran scorer. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, the Pelicans, Sixers, Cavaliers, and Nuggets are also expected to show interest in Crawford, who is focusing on finding the right fit.

“For any player in free agency, fit and situation is so important,” Crawford told Spears. “You see players in one situation and they go to another and they look totally different. I’ve been around long enough to know that the player didn’t change. May just be the situation that he’s in. There is nothing wrong with that either. It’s all a part of growing and taking something positive out of that.

“For me, fit and situation may be even more important, because coming off the bench, you have to be able to make something happen for your team in a smaller amount of time,” Crawford continued. “So I truly have to have the right fit, and that was part of the reason I opted out (of his contract with the Timberwolves).”

Spears passes along several more notes on free-agents-to-be, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • In addition to working on re-signing Chris Paul and Clint Capela, the Rockets will also make an effort to retain Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green, according to Spears, who suggests that Trevor Ariza could end up as the odd man out in Houston.
  • Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins are good friends, but Rondo would like to re-sign with the Pelicans regardless of whether Cousins stays or goes, per Spears.
  • The Grizzlies have interest in re-signing Tyreke Evans, but there’s a belief that he’ll be too expensive for Memphis to retain him, according to Spears. The Grizzlies don’t have Evans’ Bird rights, so they can only offer him their mid-level exception.
  • Although Avery Bradley is considered likely to land elsewhere, the Clippers do have interest in re-signing him, a source tells Spears.

Trevor Ariza To Line Up Meetings With Suitors

Rockets forward Trevor Ariza will reach unrestricted free agency on Sunday, and he plans to schedule meetings with interested teams starting on July 1, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

Ariza, who turns 33 on Saturday, averaged 11.7 PPG and 4.4 RPG with a .368 3PT% in 67 regular-season games for the Rockets. While his season ended on a low note following an 0-for-12 shooting performance in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, the veteran played a key role in Houston, knocking down corner threes and playing excellent perimeter defense.

The Rockets will have to make a number of decisions in free agency in the coming days, as Chris Paul and Clint Capela are up for lucrative new deals. General manager Daryl Morey also figures to explore ways to upgrade the roster further, with LeBron James atop the club’s list of targets.

With so many moving parts in play, the Rockets will have to be careful not to overlook Ariza, who figures to draw interest from a number of contending teams in need of a three-and-D wing.

According to Charania, there’s no truth to a report that Ariza will demand a $50-60MM payday as a free agent. However, I expect the 14-year veteran to do well on the open market — his free agency could resemble Andre Iguodala‘s a year ago, when several teams tried to pry Iguodala away from Golden State and the swingman leveraged that interest into a lucrative new deal.

Woj’s Latest: CP3, Rockets, George, Suns, Mavs

Having appeared on a pair of draft specials on ESPN on Monday night, Adrian Wojnarowski shared several interesting tidbits related to the draft and free agency during his segments. We’ve already passed along a few of those notes and rumors in a pair of posts this morning, but we’ve got more to round up in the space below, so let’s dive in…

  • Chris Paul still appears to be a virtual lock to return to the Rockets, and is focused less on his own free agency than on recruiting LeBron James to Houston, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). Meanwhile, the Rockets would also love to re-sign Trevor Ariza, but the veteran forward will be a popular free agent who draws interest from multiple contenders, per Woj (Twitter link via Trika).
  • Wojnarowski is the latest to report that the Thunder still have a good chance to re-sign Paul George, despite the club’s underwhelming showing in the postseason (Twitter link via Trika).
  • After Wojnarowski reported that the Suns‘ No. 16 pick could be in play for a trade, GM Ryan McDonough confirmed as much during an appearance on ESPN, suggesting that his team would be willing to package the selection and another asset or two in order to acquire a second lottery pick (Twitter links via Trika).
  • The Mavericks are high on Luka Doncic, and are weighing whether they’ll have a shot to select the Real Madrid star at No. 5, says Wojnarowski (link via The Dallas Morning News). The Mavs have previously indicated that they have no plans to move up, but it sounds like they’d at least consider the possibility if it means landing Doncic.
  • According to Wojnarowski, the Sixers aren’t expected to hire a new general manager anytime soon — Woj reports the team will likely interview candidates deep into July (Twitter link via Trika).

Trevor Ariza Wants $50MM To $60MM

Free agent forward Trevor Ariza doesn’t sound ready to give a discount to the Rockets or anyone one else this summer, according to Kelly Iko of Rockets Wire.

Ariza is reportedly hoping to land a four- or five-year deal valued at $50MM to $60MM, well above the $30MM to $40MM Iko expects the Rockets to offer. Ariza will turn 33 later this month, and this will likely be his last significant NBA contract.

Ariza has played on team-friendly deals throughout his career, with his highest salary of nearly $8.58MM coming in 2014/15, the year he arrived in Houston. He earned $7.42MM this season at the end of a four-year deal that was part of a sign-and trade with the Wizards in 2014.

His demands present one more complication for the Rockets, who are already concerned with keeping free agents Clint Capela (restricted) and Chris Paul (unrestricted). They also hope to find a way to add another major talent such as LeBron James or Paul George.

Ariza is known for his durability, defense and 3-point shooting, all of which helped the Rockets secure the best regular season record in the league. He changed his representation earlier this season, leaving Landmark Sports Group for CAA Sports, in preparation for free agency.

 The Warriors are interest in Ariza, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, but they are well over the cap and couldn’t come close to his asking price.