Tyson Chandler

Pacific Notes: Chandler, Kings, Ballmer, Pachulia

Suns center Tyson Chandler is unsure when he’ll be able to play again because of a neck injury, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Chandler has missed five of the last six games due to swelling in a neck joint. That swelling has caused his neck to spasm and even lock up, Chandler told Bordow. “Coming back from the All-Star break I was looking forward to playing really well down the stretch,” Chandler said. “So it’s disappointing coming back having to deal with this.” The Suns miss Chandler’s leadership when he’s out, Bordow writes in a separate piece, noting the Suns are 5-25 when either he or Devin Booker doesn’t play.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The fact that Kings coach Dave Joerger has agreed to a 10- or 11-man rotation shows that he has a good working relationship with GM Vlade Divac, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes in a mailbag column. Joerger had been asked to expand the rotation to get more minutes for his younger players, even though he’d probably prefer a shorter rotation, Jones continues. Divac also consults with Joerger on when to send players to the G League, Jones adds.
  • Clippers owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t believe in tanking despite the team trading away Blake Griffin to the Pistons late last month. Ballmer made the statement at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and the quotes were relayed by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz. “I think bottoming out is a dangerous game,” Ballmer said. “If you have to play it, maybe you have to play it. Then again, superstars don’t want to go to teams that look like absolute losers. … In a way you’re being dismissive of your fans by taking that big a step back.”
  • Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was not disciplined by the league for falling onto Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook on Saturday, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Westbrook called Pachulia a dirty player after the incident.

Trade Rumors: Suns, Smart, Pistons, Ferguson

While Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is working the phones, one source tells Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic that there hasn’t been a whole lot of Suns-related chatter this week. The odds of Phoenix completing a major deal in advance of the deadline appear slim, according to Bordow.

Still, as Bordow details, there are a few Suns players who make some sense as trade candidates. The team would like to shed Tyson Chandler‘s contract, which includes a $13.6MM guaranteed salary for 2018/19, a source tells Bordow. Alex Len, who wants to be a starter – or at least a backup on a contender – next season, is another trade candidate. As is Troy Daniels, who says he’s prepared to move if necessary, but would rather stay in Phoenix for now.

“I’m prepared for whatever. I’ll be prepared to play wherever it is,” the fifth-year Suns guard told Bordow. “Everything is smooth running right now. If I was going to get traded I would like it to happen in the summertime.”

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Marcus Smart trade rumors may be somewhat overblown, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, who writes that the Celtics will likely only move Smart if they can land a player who helps the team more this season — or if they can acquire a draft pick that can be flipped to secure a player who fits that bill. Bulpett also expressed skepticism that Boston will surrender Smart solely for a rental player.
  • Based on the Pistons‘ cap situation, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press believes it’s “highly unlikely” that either Luke Kennard or Stanley Johnson gets moved before Thursday’s deadline. Both players will attract interest from other teams, but their affordable contracts are valuable to the Pistons, who are on the hook for a few big contracts, including Blake Griffin‘s.
  • Several teams have expressed interest in Thunder rookie Terrance Ferguson, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. However, those teams came away with the impression that Oklahoma City has no desire to move Ferguson, as we heard earlier this week.

Mannix’s Latest: G. Hill, Hornets, Hawks, Suns

The Cavaliers continue to engage the Kings about a possible George Hill trade, sources tell Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. However, the Cavs would like to include both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in their package for Hill, and taking on multiple expensive non-expiring contracts doesn’t appeal to Sacramento. Meanwhile, the Kings are quietly looking to get a third team involved in a potential deal, according to Mannix.

Mannix’s latest trade rumor roundup features several more tidbits of interest related to Thursday’s deadline, so we’ll pass along the highlights…

  • The future of GM Rich Cho in Charlotte is uncertain, which may complicate the Hornets‘ deadline plans. According to Mannix, there are rumblings about former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak being a candidate to join the Hornets’ front office in the offseason. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote last week that Kupchak is considered likely to be hired by an Eastern Conference team this summer.
  • Some teams with interest in Marcus Smart view the Celtics‘ asking price of a first-round pick as “unrealistic,” says Mannix.
  • The Hawks have made “everyone” available, and while much has been written about the club’s veteran trade candidates, second-year swingman Taurean Prince is another player who has drawn interest, according to Mannix.
  • The Magic have shopped Mario Hezonja “hard” in recent days, per Mannix.
  • According to Mannix, the Suns are willing to move veterans like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley. Neither player’s contract is particularly team-friendly though, so it may be tough for Phoenix to find any value.
  • The Clippers say they’re okay with holding onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams through the deadline, but rival clubs are skeptical, says Mannix.

Western Notes: Daniels, Booker, Nuggets, Paul

Shooting guard Troy Daniels is one of the players the Suns could move before the trade deadline, according to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic. Daniels is averaging 8.3 PPG off the bench this season while shooting 42.5% from long range. He is signed through next season for a very affordable $3.25MM but if rookie Davon Reed comes on strong this month, Daniels becomes expendable, Bordow continues. Veterans Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe and Jared Dudley could also be moved during the next five weeks, Bordow adds.

In other Western Conference developments:

  • The Suns have been using Devin Booker at the point during crunch times situations, Bordow notes in the same piece. Interim coach Jay Triano believes Booker could eventually become a playmaker in the mold of James Harden.
  • A friendly schedule could boost the Nuggets over the two next months, as Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website points out. They play 17 of their next 25 games at home, where they have gone 12-4 this season. “Hopefully we can use January, which is a lot of home games, to kind of build and get ahead and not be two games over .500,” coach Michael Malone told Dempsey. “I’m pretty satisfied with where we are, but we have a lot of work to do.”
  • Gerald Green was surprised how much he was able to contribute after signing a non-guaranteed contract with the Rockets last week, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Green scored 18 points in 27 minutes off the bench on Friday in Washington, his first NBA game since a preseason stint with the Bucks. “I am very surprised about my wind,” he told Feigen. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m actually happy with myself about the work I’ve been putting in. That’s really been paying off.”

Suns GM Not Expecting Another Major Trade

The deal that sent Eric Bledsoe from Phoenix to Milwaukee in November may go down as one of the biggest in-season trades of 2017/18, but the Suns are unlikely to make another splash before the deadline, according to general manager Ryan McDonough. As Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic details, McDonough downplayed the idea of his team completing a major trade by February 8.

“If we do make a move, it will be positionally to fill a short-term need,” McDonough said. “There’s nobody we can sign or trade for that’s going to come close to replicating half of Devin Booker’s production. Nobody out there is 22 years old and like Davon Reed, who we’re really high on. So we’re most excited about getting those guys back [from injuries].”

Trading a veteran player like Tyson Chandler or Jared Dudley would make sense for a rebuilding team like the Suns. However, McDonough values the leadership those players bring to the locker room, suggesting that even in the midst of a rebuild, “you want to keep at least a few good vets around and we’re happy with those guys.”

Chandler is one of three solid centers on the Suns’ roster, and has been competing for playing time with Greg Monroe and Alex Len. Since Phoenix acquired Monroe, there has been a belief that McDonough would like to move one of those three centers, but the GM wouldn’t even concede that the team wants to clear that logjam. As Bordow writes, McDonough noted that the Suns don’t want to be shorthanded if they trade a center and then one of their remaining two gets hurt.

“I get that it’s a challenge for Coach [Jay] Triano and his staff [to find minutes for all three], but at the same time that’s what good teams do,” McDonough said. “They have depth and balance and manage the minutes and manage the situation even if it’s not perfect for anybody involved.”

If the Suns do make a trade in advance of the deadline, it’s “probably” safe to assume that it won’t come at the expense of minutes for their young players, per McDonough.

Western Notes: Len, Gobert, Leonard, Rockets

Alex Len has become the odd man out in the Suns’ center rotation and he cannot hide his displeasure, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Len signed a one-year, $4.2MM qualifying offer with Phoenix after failing to receive an offer sheet that he found acceptable as a restricted free agent over the summer. Len has not played in two of the three last games, as interim coach Jay Triano has decided to ride veterans Tyson Chandler and recently-acquired Greg Monroe“I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court,” Len told Bordow. “So when you’re not able to help your team, it’s frustrating.” Len’s lack of playing time won’t help his cause when he enters the market again next summer, this time as an unrestricted free agent.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert is participating in on-court individual drills at practice, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News tweets. This could be a sign that Gobert, who is recovering from a right knee injury, will return to action sooner than the four- to six-week timetable given on November 12th. Gobert injured the knee in a collision with Heat guard Dion Waiters.
  • Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard is making significant progress from the right quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out of action all season, coach Gregg Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News and other media members. Popovich, who jokingly scoffed at “Doctor” Tony Parker‘s estimation that Leonard could return in two or three weeks, said Leonard would soon participate in 5-on-5 practice drills. “He’s getting very close and making progress,” Popovich said. “He’s having contact now and hopefully we will get him back shortly.”
  • The Rockets are not experiencing chemistry issues because the veterans they acquired know how to blend in, according to Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute know what it takes to work well with others and it shows now that the team is playing at full strength, Atkins adds.

Suns Notes: Bledsoe, McDonough, Centers

Eric Bledsoe will return to Phoenix on Wednesday for the first time since the team traded him to the Bucks, but the point guard is downplaying the events, calling it “just another game.”

“It’s just another game,” Bledsoe said (via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “Another game we just got to win. We got to win this game, get above .500, build off that.”

Bledsoe wouldn’t comment on the “hair salon” incident or on Suns‘ management when asked if he wished either party had handled things differently leading up to his departure.

“I’m at this point now,” Bledsoe said. “I’m on another team focused on what we can build here. So I ain’t focused on that.”

Here’s more from Phoenix:

  • The Suns waited too long to trade Bledsoe, RealGM’s Danny Leroux contends, suggesting that the team should have dealt him before last season’s trade deadline. The scribe argues that the number of teams in playoff contention at the time, combined with Bledsoe’s age and reasonable contract, made February 2017 the right time to move him.
  • Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic believes that GM Ryan McDonough can turn things around for the franchise, though it will take some time. The Suns are expected to be one of only a few teams with substantial cap room this summer and while Moore is hopeful that someone like LeBron James or DeMarcus Cousins decides to come to the team, he envisions Phoenix landing a player in the tier below them. He names DeAndre Jordan, Aaron Gordon, and Marcus Smart as possibilities.
  • Tyson Chandler is expected to be back in the lineup on Wednesday after missing the last three games with an illness, Moore writes in a separate piece. Coach Jay Triano said he isn’t sure how he’ll handle the center rotation, with Greg Monroe, Alex Len and Chandler all vying for minutes. “I haven’t even thought about it,” Triano said. “I’ve got a couple of days to figure out the rotations.”
  • The Northern Arizona Suns, the team’s G League affiliate, have added Earl Barron and Nick Friedman as assistant coaches, Chris Reichert of The Step Back reports (Twitter link). The club has also promoted Tyler Gatlin to associate head coach.

Standard NBA Deal Expected For Mike James

Perhaps one of the more surprising stories to come out of the 2017/18 NBA season so far is the play of Suns‘ rookie point guard Mike James.

James is currently averaging 11.4 PPG and 4.0 APG, good enough for top-10 spots in both categories among all rookies. And, according to Scott Bordow of AZCentral.com, James’ play has not been lost on general manager Ryan McDonough, who plans to sign James to a standard NBA contract before he reaches the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract on December 6.

Before signing James, however, the Suns will need to create an open roster spot, as they already have 15 players under contract. Bordow opines that in order to do so, the Suns will likely look to move on from one of their three centers – Tyson ChandlerAlex Len, or recently acquired Greg Monroe.

Out of the three, Monroe is probably the likeliest candidate to be moved. He is on an expiring contract and the Suns have already been reported as exploring the trade market for the 27 year-old. Len is also on an expiring contract after signing a qualifying offer in the offseason, but he has the ability to veto trades, and Chandler still has two years and $26.6MM remaining on the contract he signed back in 2015.

If the Suns can’t find a trade within the next couple weeks and need to waive a player to make room for James, Derrick Jones‘ roster spot could be in jeopardy, since he’s the only Sun without a fully guaranteed 2017/18 salary.

Suns Notes: Chandler, Triano, Monroe, Jones

In the wake of Eric Bledsoe‘s now-infamous “I don’t wanna be here” tweet on the first weekend of the 2017/18 season, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough received a call from Jeff Schwartz, Tyson Chandler‘s agent, and admitted to ESPN’s Zach Lowe that he was expecting the worst when he got that voicemail.

“Given the way our season had started, it wouldn’t have been shocking if Tyson wanted to be moved,” McDonough said.

However, Schwartz expressed the opposite sentiment, assuring McDonough that his client was “fine” and enjoys mentoring the young players in Phoenix. “It was a breath of fresh air,” the Suns GM said. Chandler remains a trade candidate, since he probably doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans, but unlike Bledsoe, he’s in no rush to leave.

Lowe’s deep dive into the Suns – which is worth checking out in full – includes several more tidbits out of Phoenix, including some details on the changes that Jay Triano has made since replacing Earl Watson. Triano, who has been focused on accountability, has impressed the Suns so far and has a chance to earn the head coaching job on a permanent basis, per McDonough.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic passes along more comments from McDonough, who said after Tuesday’s Bledsoe trade that the move could speed up the team’s timeline. As Bordow details, even though McDonough suggested that Phoenix has the flexibility to make a major roster addition in 2018, he said multiple times that the club is “more likely” to pursue a top free agent in 2019.
  • Within Bordow’s piece, McDonough also talks about the newest Sun, Greg Monroe, indicating that he’s open to a trade but that a buyout is less likely. The Suns GM intends to discuss all the possibilities with Monroe’s agent, David Falk.
  • The Suns’ vice president of basketball operations, James Jones, is taking many of the lessons he learned during his years as a player in Miami and applying them to his new job in Phoenix, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Trade Notes: Suns, Bucks, Bledsoe, Monroe, Okafor

Major early-November NBA trades are rare, but the Suns and Bucks are on the verge of completing one, having agreed in principle to a trade that will send Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee. Greg Monroe is heading to Phoenix as part of that deal, along with the Bucks’ 2018 first-round pick and 2018 second-round pick.

Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) expressed some surprised that Tyson Chandler wasn’t involved in the trade, since he’s a good friend of Jason Kidd, who has wanted Chandler on his roster in the past. However, Chandler is earning $13MM and is under contract next year as well, so the Bucks would have had to add another substantial salary to the deal to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Chris Haynes of ESPN observes (via Twitter) that the Suns finalized the agreement just when Bledsoe was about to return to the club’s facility to work out, which was either a fortuitous coincidence or a sign that the team really had no interest in having him around.

Here’s more on the Bledsoe trade:

  • Monroe and his $17MM+ contract appear to be functioning primarily as salary filler to complete this deal, but the Suns have yet to decide whether to keep, trade, or release him, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. If Phoenix buys out Monroe, the big man would be an “obvious candidate” to sign with the Celtics or Thunder, says Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link).
  • After trading Monroe, the Bucks look like a match made in heaven for Jahlil Okafor, argues Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype.
  • While Bledsoe didn’t have a strong preference for where he ended up, Milwaukee was at the top of his wish list, according to Gambadoro, who says the point guard is looking forward to playing with Giannis Antetokounmpo (Twitter links).
  • Because today’s trade is a one-for-one swap in terms of players, the Suns will still have to open up a roster spot within the next month in order to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract to a standard NBA deal, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The acquisition of Bledsoe doesn’t come without a good deal of risk for the Bucks, given the point guard’s injury history, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.