Tyler Ulis

Devin Booker Upset With Suns’ Front Office

1:25pm: Booker wasn’t upset with the Suns’ front office over the fact that Ulis was waived, but the “lack of communication” regarding the move upset him, a source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links).

12:22pm: The Suns waived guard Tyler Ulis on Saturday before his salary for 2018/19 could become guaranteed, and the move isn’t sitting well with one noteworthy Sun. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), Devin Booker is upset with Phoenix’s front office over the release of Ulis, his best friend.

Booker, who is entering his fourth NBA season, is now eligible for a contract extension for the first time in his career. He and the Suns could come to an agreement anytime between now and the start of the 2018/19 regular season, and a new deal would keep Booker off the restricted free agent market in 2019.

It remains to be seen whether Booker’s unhappiness with the front office will have any real impact on those contract negotiations. While it probably isn’t a great time for the franchise to upset its star scorer, players eligible for rookie scale extensions generally don’t turn down maximum-salary offers, as Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic observes (via Twitter). And Phoenix is expected to put that sort of offer on the table.

It would be a surprise if Ulis’ release creates an irreparable rift in the relationship between Booker and the Suns, but it’s still something worth watching as the club looks to lock up the 21-year-old to a long-term deal.

Suns Waive Tyler Ulis

4:17pm: The move is official, the Suns announced on Twitter.

3:05pm: Phoenix will waive point guard Tyler Ulis, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The decision is the latest in a series of cost-cutting moves for the Suns, who are also cutting ties with Elfrid Payton and Alex Len. Phoenix is maximizing cap room to be aggressive in free agency, with the Bucks’ Jabari Parker and the Celtics’ Marcus Smart as possible targets.

Getting rid of Ulis will save the team $1.54MM for next season. A decision on whether to guarantee his 2018/19 salary was originally due by June 24, but he agreed to let the Suns delay the move until today.

A second-round pick in 2016, Ulis spent two years in Phoenix. He played 71 games this season, starting 43, but the Suns are hoping for a point guard upgrade in free agency, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). They drafted Elie Okobo and have Brandon Knight returning from injury, so there may not have been playing time available for Ulis.

The Suns still have to make decisions on non-guaranteed salaries for Alan Williams ($5.52MM), Shaquille Harrison ($1,378,242) and Davon Reed ($1,378,242 with a $689,212 guarantee).

Suns Push Back Tyler Ulis’ Guarantee Date

Suns’ point guard Tyler Ulis’ salary guarantee date has been pushed back to June 30, reports Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. As our list of upcoming salary guarantee dates shows, Ulis’ 2018/19 salary of $1.54MM was originally set to be guaranteed in full if he remained on the Suns’ roster through today, June 24.

As Bordow notes, the decision by Phoenix to move Ulis’ guarantee date back by six days gives the front office more time to allow for other potential moves that could influence their decision as to whether they want to keep Ulis on the roster next season.

Bordow reported just yesterday that the Suns are ready to make aggressive moves in free agency, but that additional cap room needs to be added in order to do so. By delaying the decision on Ulis’ contract, the Suns were able to avoid having to decide whether or not to waive Ulis until next week.

For example, while nothing has been reported, it’s possible that the Suns have found a team interested in trading for Ulis without sending Phoenix any salary in return, thereby allowing Phoenix to rid their cap of Ulis’ salary without losing him for nothing.

Suns May Renounce Elfrid Payton, Alex Len, Others

The Suns are ready to make aggressive moves in free agency, but not without a little house cleaning first, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

Look for Phoenix to maximize its cap room by shedding some unwanted salary, Bordow writes, with free agents Elfrid Payton and Alex Len both likely to be renounced. Payton’s performance was uneven after coming to the Suns in a midseason trade and he carries a $10MM cap hold. Len became expendable with the addition of No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.

Those moves would give the team about $10MM for the free agent market, but the Suns are thinking bigger. Bordow expects them to cut ties with center Alan Williams, who has a non-guaranteed $5.52MM salary for next season. They may try to re-sign him or trade him to a team that can afford him more easily.

Other non-guaranteed contracts that might get discarded belong to Tyler Ulis ($1.54MM) and Shaquille Harrison ($1.38MM), while Davon Reed has a $1.38MM deal with a $689,212 guarantee. The deadline to decide on Ulis’ deal is tomorrow.

With up to $20MM available to chase free agents, Phoenix will focus on finding a point guard and a power forward who can defend and shoot from the outside.

Bordow lists the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Celtics’ Marcus Smart, the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet and the Jazz’ Dante Exum as potential backcourt targets, while Utah’s Derrick Favors, Houston’s Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker, Indiana’s Thaddeus Young, San Antonio’s Rudy Gay or Philadelphia’s Ersan Ilyasova could fit the four spot. If the Suns find a power forward, Bordow expects them to explore trading either Dragan Bender or Marquese Chriss.

Pacific Notes: Green, Zubac, Ulis, Knight

The NBA has rescinded a technical foul that was assessed to Warriors forward Draymond Green this past Saturday, per ESPN. The rescinded foul would have been Green’s 15th, one shy of an immediate one-game suspension and $5,000 fine.

With one less technical on his record, Green is now two shy of the automatic suspension and fine. Green has been the NBA’s most prolific technical foul recipient; he has registered double-digits in that category the past four seasons, including 15 technicals last season.

“I was very happy,” Green told reporters, including Mark Medina of the Mercury News. “A little breathing room. Just a little bit, though.”

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Ivica Zubac has not been assigned a larger role with the Lakers this season, which was expected as he entered his sophomore season. However, now that he is slowly creeping back into Lakers’ rotation, he feels much better on the court, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes. “This is what I’ve been doing for my whole life,” Zubac said. “When you’re not playing you’re not feeling good because this is what I’m doing my whole life. Now, when I’m finally in the rotation, everything else feels much better.”
  • After a strong season with the Suns in 2016/17, injuries have hampered Tyler Ulis this season. Despite his optimism, he seems to be falling out of the team’s rotation, Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes. “That’s something I can’t control so I don’t think about stuff like that,” Ulis said. “I’ve been doing this all my life. There’s not many people my size in the NBA so obviously I have the game to make it here and I have the game to stick.”
  • Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports answers several questions surrounding the Suns’ draft plans and oft-injured guard Brandon Knight. A source tells Bordow that getting a healthy Knight back from reconstructive knee surgery would be comparable to adding a first-round pick. Knight has been a solid player for Phoenix, averaging nearly 20.0 PPG in his last healthy season, so getting him back to 100% could affect the team’s draft plans.
  • As the Kings head for another losing season, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee looks at five of the team’s young players, including De’Aaron Fox, examining how they can benefit for the rest of the season.

Pacific Notes: Ulis, Suns, Lakers, Warriors

Suns guard Tyler Ulis underwent a surgical procedure on his right ankle, the Suns announced in a press release. The exact nature of Ulis’ injury remains unclear, but the team referred to the surgery as “minor” and said the rookie is expected to return to full basketball activity in about 12 weeks. That would put him on track to be ready to go in August, well before training camp gets underway.

Although Ulis’ overall numbers in his first NBA season were modest – 7.3 PPG and 3.7 APG in 61 contests – he thrived down the stretch with Eric Bledsoe on the bench. Ulis entered the Suns’ starting lineup on March 15, and averaged 16.1 PPG to go along with 8.5 assists in his final 15 games, showing that he deserves a role in the club’s rotation going forward.

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

  • The Suns head into next week’s draft lottery with a decent chance to land a top-two pick, and if they end up in a position to draft Lonzo Ball, they shouldn’t pass on the UCLA product due to the presence of his father LaVar, Dan Bickley writes in a column for The Arizona Republic. According to Bickley, Phoenix has interest in the younger Ball and views LaVar as a “minor red flag,” but not a deal-breaker.
  • Bobby Marks of The Vertical previews the Lakers‘ offseason, suggesting that the team should be a little more cautious with its cap room than it was a year ago.
  • The Warriors and their D-League head coach, Casey Hill, are parting ways, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Hill, who won a title with the Santa Cruz Warriors in 2015, is seeking out an NBA assistant coach job, Wojnarowski adds.
  • The Warriors have agreed to a two-year lease extension to remain at Oracle Arena through the 2018/19 season, according to an Associated Press report (link via NBA.com). The franchise is expected to make the move from Oakland to a new arena across the bay for the 2019/20 season, but the new agreement with Oracle Arena includes options for three additional years, just in case that move to San Francisco gets delayed.

Pacific Notes: Pelinka, Buss, Ulis, Bender

Rob Pelinka’s deal with the Lakers is for five years and it’s worth over $20MM, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (h/t RealGM). Los Angeles hired Pelinka to be the team’s GM last month. Windhorst adds that lucrative deals are becoming typical for high-ranking members of teams’ front offices.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • A judge ruled that Jeanie Buss will retain controlling ownership of the Lakers, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (ESPN Now Link). It was previously reported that Jim and Johnny Buss would try to take over control of the team.
  • Tyler Ulis continues to impress in a starting role for the Suns, Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic writes. “I knew Tyler was pretty special quickly,” coach Earl Watson said. The rookie is averaging 14.8 points, 9.1 assists, and 1.4 steals per contest since becoming the starter in mid-March.
  • Dragan Bender is back on the court after recovering ankle surgery and while his minutes are limited, the Suns like what they see, Bordow adds in the same piece. “He’s just a straight basketball player,” Watson said. “He goes out there, he just plays the game. He takes what the defense gives him.”


Pacific Notes: Kings’ Rookies, Booker, Nwaba, Ulis

While the Kings have dropped out of playoff contention, Dave Joerger will still seek to build the talent and IQ of his younger players. As Joerger acknowledged in a recent post-game press conference, ensuring proper player development is a large part of his job.

“Having been there with those guys (in Memphis) I felt a great deal of responsibility to maximize every win that we could get,” Joerger told reporters, including Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “That’s where are these gray hairs popped out. Now the gray hairs are (from) are you playing the right guys with the right group, developing guys, giving them the right experiences?”

Joerger has given valuable playing opportunities to rookies down the stretch; providing Skal Labissiere, Buddy Hield, and Georgios Papagiannis with multiple 20+ minute games over the past week.

More from the Pacific…

  • The Suns are tanking “with spirit,” Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com writes. What’s more, Bickley points out Devin Booker‘s 70-point game as proof that he’s Phoenix’s next franchise player. “The Suns should feel blessed,” Bickley wrote. “They’ve lost 60 or more games only once in their storied history, and that was their expansion season in 1968-69. The organization’s commitment to losing is so sturdy and hardcore that they could conceivably end the current season with 60 losses and a 16-game losing streak, and somehow, the season will be perceived as a smashing success.”
  • Lakers rookie David Nwaba will be assigned to the L.A. D-Fenders to boost their D-League playoff run (source: Mark Medina, L.A. Daily News). Nwaba has been a pleasant surprise in Luke Walton‘s rotation, averaging 7.8 points with 5.5 rebounds over his last four games. Nwaba, who appeared in 40 games for the D-Fenders this season, figures to receive a considerable workload during the D-League postseason.
  • The Suns want Tyler Ulis to shoot more, Doug Haller of AZCentral.com writes. Haller relays an amusing anecdote, in which coach Earl Watson shouted “Shoot it!” at Ulis during Tuesday’s match-up with the Hawks. “He’s very talented,” veteran guard Ronnie Price said of Ulis. “He has a chance to have a long career in the league. He has a lot to his game that people are starting to see, so for him, it’s just getting comfortable and keeping him confident. As a team we all trust him. We all know what he’s capable of doing, but we can’t have him second-guessing himself with shots.”

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/15/16

Here are Thursday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Raptors assigned point guard Fred VanVleet and forward Bruno Caboclo to their affiliate, Raptors 905, according to the team’s Twitter feed (Twitter links). They both played against the Oklahoma City Blue on Thursday, with VanVleet scoring nine points and dishing out 12 assists, while Caboclo had 13 points. VanVleet has seen action in six games with Toronto this season, while Caboclo has appeared in three games.
  • The Magic assigned guard C.J. Wilcox and center Stephen Zimmerman to the Erie BayHawks, the team announced on its website. Wilcox has played in 10 games this season with the Magic. Zimmerman has appeared in four games this season with the Magic. He was previously assigned to Erie on November 28th.
  • The Suns recalled point guard Tyler Ulis and big man Alan Williams from the Northern Arizona Suns, the team tweets. Ulis, an early second-rounder, has played in 14 games with Phoenix this season. Williams has played nine games with the NBA club.
  • The Jazz assigned forward Joel Bolomboy to their affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced. This marks the fifth assignment this season for Bolomboy, who has played eight games this season with the Jazz.
  • The Grizzlies assigned guard Wade Baldwin IV to their affiliate, the Iowa Energy. Baldwin, who has appeared in 20 games with Memphis, played two games for the Energy last month.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/14/16

Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Suns have sent Tyler Ulis and Alan Williams to the Northern Arizona Suns, the team announced today in a press release. It will be the first D-League assignment of the season for both players, who are likely to be recalled to the NBA following tonight’s game against Santa Cruz.
  • Rookie swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is back from the D-League, with the Sixers announcing his recall today in a press release. Luwawu-Cabarrot was assigned for Tuesday night’s game, and helped the Delaware 87ers get a win, posting 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
  • The Rockets have recalled rookie forward Kyle Wiltjer from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, according to the team (Twitter link). Wiltjer has been the second-leading scorer for the Vipers so far this season, averaging 19.7 PPG in 10 games.
  • Rakeem Christmas is headed back to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers announced today in a press release. Indiana’s D-League affiliate doesn’t play until Friday, so it’s not clear if Christmas will stick with the team for that game, or if he’s just being sent down for practice.