Tyler Ulis

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.

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: Cousins, Suns, Kings, Clarkson

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins appears to be bonding with new coach Dave Joerger, a stark contrast to his well-publicized issues with former coach George Karl, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Cousins expressed to Jones that they like each other, adding he appreciates Joerger’s straightforward approach and even-keeled personality. “I think what he brought to the team is what this team needed,” Cousins told Jones. “It fits our identity more than how we played in the past. Not to knock any of the previous situations but I think this situation fits this team the best.” Cousins’ relationship with his new coach will carefully watched, particularly if the season starts to go sour once again in Sacramento.

In other developments around the Pacific Division:

  • Suns coach Earl Watson will insert a pair of rookies, point guard Tyler Ulis and power forward Dragan Bender, into the second unit to replace veterans Leandro Barbosa and P.J. Tucker, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports. Watson decided to make the change after an opening-night loss to the Kings. They will join Brandon Knight, fellow rookie Marquese Chriss and Alex Len on that unit, Coro adds. “To me, they play with the most heart,” Watson told Coro. “Heart gets rewarded.”
  • The Kings’ brass told NBA Commissioner Adam Silver they want to host the 2020 All-Star Game, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. No formal application has been made but their desire to host that game was made clear as Silver toured the Kings’ new Golden 1 Center, Howard-Cooper adds.
  • Combo guard Jordan Clarkson is not fazed by his new role as the Lakers’ sixth man, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times relays. The former starter had 23 second-half points and three steals in their opening-night win over the Rockets. “He’s been absolutely great,” Walton told Ganguli. “I’ve talked to him about starting or coming off the bench; he’s been good with both. It’s nice to have guys like that on your team.” 

Western Notes: Harris, Turner, Ford, Ulis

Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris, who is making his way back from a groin strain he suffered during the team’s first preseason game, has resumed light basketball activities, which is good news for Denver, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “That was the most I’ve done in a while,” Harris said. “Really haven’t tried anything [until today]. Just tried to be cautious with it, make sure everything is cool. Don’t want to re-aggravate it and make sure I’m feeling nothing when I’m doing things. Right there I felt fine, didn’t feel anything. So as long as we keep doing that, don’t want to push it too much.

Head coach Michael Malone noted that Harris could be ready for the season opener, a date the guard wouldn’t commit to just yet, Dempsey notes. “I’m just going day by day, just trying to get better each day,” Harris said. “That’s two weeks down the road: We’ll see. I’m just trying to get better each day.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • Evan Turner‘s new $70MM contract with the Trail Blazers spans four years, so he’ll have plenty of time to make sure the team gets its money’s worth. For now though, as Jason Quick of CSNNW.com writes, Turner is “still finding his way” with his new club, in the words of head coach Terry Stotts.
  • Quincy Ford, who was waived by the Jazz on Thursday, will join the team’s D-League squad as an affiliate player, Chris Reichert of Upside and Motor reports (via Twitter).
  • The Pelicans have officially confirmed via pres release that Anthony Davis will miss 10-14 days due to a sprained right ankle. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated first reported the injury.
  • Suns rookie point guard Tyler Ulis has been receiving extensive preseason minutes as the team wants to get him as much experience as possible, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “It’s perfect for me,” Ulis said of averaging 17 minutes in four preseason games with two preseason games to go. “I know I’m getting valuable minutes right now. They want to see what I can do. I’m learning more and more. [Coach] Earl [Watson] is teaching me which spots to go at. This is fun. It’s a process. I’m happy to learn and it’s better to learn in a game than watching.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Ulis, Durant

Zach Auguste faces stiff competition to make the Lakers‘ roster, but the team is impressed the forward thus far in camp, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. “Zach is relentless on the offensive glass,” Walton said. Auguste’s contract is only partially guaranteed for $60K and Walton admitted that players’ contracts are considered when determining playing time in camp. “We’re going to continue to give the guys who are under [fully guaranteed] contracts the first and second looks, so the reps aren’t always as high [for the non-guaranteed players],” Walton added.

  • The Suns believe Tyler Ulis can be part of the team’s long-term plans and they plan to bring him along slowly, Tyler Emerick of NBA.com writes. Ulis may not see many minutes this season because of the team’s backcourt depth, but coach Earl Watson has a plan for the Kentucky product. “He has to be close to our coaches – in the next seat over,”  Watson said. “He has to read the play calls of the other team. He has to call them back on the bench and learn the other team’s offense. So when he gets the opportunity, he’s well-prepared mentally.”
  • The Lakers have hired Lorena Martin as their Director of Sports Analytics, according to the team’s website. Los Angeles also added Jennifer Swanson as their Head Physical Therapist, Stacey Robinson as their Massage Therapist and Sean Light as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach.
  • Kevin Durant is enjoying his adjustment to the Warriors‘ culture, Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group passes along. “I’m used to going into practice and having it a certain way,” Durant said. “These guys around here are super loose. But disciplined at the same time. It’s just a fun brand. They make basketball just even more fun than it was.”

Suns Ink Bender, Chriss, Ulis

The Suns announced that 2016 draftees Dragan Bender (No. 4 overall), Marquese Chriss (No. 8 overall) and Tyler Ulis (No. 34 overall) have officially inked their rookie-scale deals with the team.

Bender spent the 2015/16 season with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League. He averaged 5.5 points on 47.9% shooting, while connecting on 41.1% of his attempts from three-point range. Bender was the youngest player in the 2016 NBA Draft and he also became the first Croatian ever to be a top-four selection in the NBA Draft, according to the official release.

Chriss, a 6’10” power forward, averaged 13.7 points on 53.0% shooting from the field and 35.0% from beyond the arc. He also added 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over his 34 games at Washington. Chriss notched 55 blocks overall to lead all Pac-12 freshmen.

Ulis, a 5’10” point guard from Kentucky, was named the SEC Player of the Year by the coaches and media after averaging 17.3 points, 7.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 35 games this past season.

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