Phoenix Suns hire Kevin Young as assistant coach

The Phoenix Suns have hired Kevin Young as an assistant coach on the team’s coaching staff.

Young joins the Suns following four seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Young, 38, helped the Sixers qualify for the playoffs in each of his final three seasons with the team, including two trips to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. For the 2018-19 season he worked alongside Suns Head Coach Monty Williams, then an assistant coach for Philadelphia, as the Sixers took the eventual champion Toronto Raptors to seven games in the conference semis. Young also served as the Sixers’ head coach at NBA Summer League in 2018.

Prior to his time on the Sixers’ coaching staff, Young spent nine seasons as a coach in the NBA G League, including time as head coach of the Delaware Blue Coats, Iowa Energy and Utah Flash. His first coaching position in pro basketball was as head coach of the Shamrock Rovers in the Irish Super League for the 2006-07 season, which followed time as an assistant coach at Utah Valley University and Oxford College. Young played collegiately at Clayton State University prior to his coaching career.

Will Suns target Fred VanVleet, Jerami Grant in free agency?

The Suns failed to make the playoffs this season, but won all eight of their games in the Disney NBA bubble, have a talented young core, and have every reason to be excited for next year’s prospects. Here’s the Arizona Republic mentioning two players they might want to consider targeting in free agency this offseason:

Around $20 million a year.

That’s what the Toronto Raptors could pay point guard Fred VanVleet to stay in O Canada and still have a “maximum salary slot for 2021,” the Toronto Star wrote last month.

Up to $16 million a year.

That’s how much Denver Nuggets power forward Jerami Grant could command as he can opt out of his contract, The Denver Post reported last week.

Phoenix is reportedly interested in both, but probably couldn’t land the two even if they made major moves starting with trading Kelly Oubre Jr.

And some more on VanVleet:

Talent should translate, but you’re asking someone who can be a starting point guard for several teams, including the one he’s on, to play behind veteran Ricky Rubio.

Could see VanVleet finishing games, though. He’d allow Booker to play off the ball and make teams pay for doubling Booker.

Wonder if Rubio would be willing to come off the bench?

Suns free agents this offseason include Aron Baynes and Dario Saric. When healthy, Baynes definitely helped. He’ll turn 34 years old this December, so if he does return it would likely be on a short-term contract.

The rest of the core roster — Booker, Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Deandre Ayton and friends — will be back.

The team is on the rise.

Suns reportedly adding Brian Randle to coaching staff

Here’s the Arizona Republic reporting that Brian Randle is being hired by the Phoenix Suns:

Randle served as player development coach with Minnesota Timberwolves this past 2019-20 season.

A former player at Illinois (2003-08), Randle initially joined the Timberwolves as an assistant video coordinator for the 2018-19 season after playing 10 seasons overseas.

Our only thought on the Suns right now is, they really did go 8-0 in the NBA bubble, and we look forward to seeing them play next season.

Phoenix Suns now 6-0 in Disney NBA Restart Bubble

The final Western conference playoff spot is still in play, with multiple teams chasing it. One of those squads, the Suns, had been playing a very unspectacular NBA regular season, but then showed up to Disney Wide World of Sports for the NBA restart and decided they’re actually as good as any team in the league. Here’s the Arizona Republic reporting:

Oklahoma City led by 15 points early, but the Suns surged back to remain undefeated in seeding games, winning, 128-101, Monday at The Field House in the Orlando Bubble.

Phoenix is now 6-0 in seeding games in the NBA restart.

All-Star Devin Booker scored 35 points in three quarters to tie Walter Davis for most 30-point games in Suns history with 90 as the Suns (32-39) are now a game behind Memphis (8th place) and just a half game behind ninth-place Portland.

Ayton didn’t get the start as he missed Sunday’s COVID-19 testing window…

The Suns (32-39) led by as many as 29 in winning their sixth consecutive game, the longest winning streak since the 2014-15 season.

No matter what happens this week in regard to the West’s final postseason spot, the Suns have to be proud of their play in this restart. And Suns fans have every reason to be legitimately excited about the team’s prospects heading into next season.

Pacers fall to red-hot Suns, who have won four straight games

The Suns are hot. And not just because their team name is “the Suns.” And not because they’re in Florida in the summertime. But because they’re winning a lot lately. Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on Pacers play today in the Disney NBA bubble:

[The Indiana Pacers are] 3-1 and were held well under their 119.3 scoring average in their first three games, 114-99.

T.J. Warren (16 points, 11 rebounds) couldn’t keep up his torrid scoring pace against the team that traded him to Indiana last summer for cash considerations. He missed his first 4 shots and then went 6-for-8 before foul trouble cooled him off in the third quarter. He had been averaging 39+ points per game in the “bubble.”

Devin Booker (20 points, 10 assists) and DeAndre Ayton (23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks) were the primary threats, though the Pacers took a 75-72 lead on Justin Holiday’s 3. Cameron Payne (15 points) did them in during a 21-0 run.

It wasted a strong effort from Malcolm Brogdon (game-high 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) for Indiana.

In the win for the Suns, center Deandre Ayton had 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, Devin Booker had 20 points and 10 assists, Dario Saric had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Cameron Payne scored 15 off the bench, and starting forward Cameron Johnson had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Pistons buy Northern Arizona Suns G League team from Phoenix Suns

The Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns and the NBA G League today announced that the Pistons have agreed to purchase the Northern Arizona Suns from the Phoenix Suns. The rebranded team is expected to play in a new arena currently being constructed on the campus of Wayne State University beginning in the 2021-22 season.

“I’m excited to welcome Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons as NBA G League owners,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “It’s always bittersweet for a team to relocate, and I thank Robert Sarver and the Phoenix Suns for their time in this league and the fans in Northern Arizona for their ongoing commitment to the team. I’m sure the fans in Detroit will welcome the team with open arms and I look forward to watching NBA G League basketball at Wayne State for seasons to come.”

Pistons owner Tom Gores said the NBA G League will be good for the Pistons organization and the community.

“This is another important investment in our franchise and in the city of Detroit,” said Mr. Gores. “Having an NBA G League team near our new performance center will be an advantage for our front office, our coaching staff and our young players. It will also generate more economic activity in the area and serve as a catalyst for additional development.”

The Pistons current “hybrid” affiliation with the Grand Rapids Drive will continue through the 2020-21 NBA G League season. The Phoenix Suns will continue to operate the Northern Arizona Suns for the 2020-21 season.

In May 2019, the Pistons announced a multi-faceted partnership with Wayne State University, including an NBA G League team to play in a new arena that the school is constructing for its men’s and women’s basketball programs less than two miles from both Little Caesars Arena and the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center.

In addition to playing games on the school’s campus, a move that will generate revenue and usage of the new facility, the organization will work with Wayne State administrators to create programs and internship opportunities for students in fields like sports marketing, community relations, physical therapy, rehabilitation and sports and entertainment business operations.

The NBA G League serves as the NBA’s developmental league preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front- office staff for NBA positions while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Playing with 28 teams for the 2019-20 season, the NBA G League is a proven developer of talent. A record 42 percent of NBA players to start the 2019-20 season had NBA G League experience, a number that rose to 57 percent when the season concluded on March 11.

Suns sign guard Cameron Payne

The Phoenix Suns today signed guard Cameron Payne.

Payne has played four NBA seasons with Oklahoma City, Chicago and Cleveland since being selected 14th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. The 6-3, 190-pound guard has spent the 2019-20 season with the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, averaging 23.2 points on 48.3% shooting, 8.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 15 games since making his season debut on Jan. 26. Payne was named NBA G League Player of the Week on March 2 after guiding the Legends to a 3-0 week including career highs of 19 assists and 10 rebounds plus 18 points to record a triple-double in a win over the NAZ Suns. Payne scored a career-high 43 points in a win over Iowa on Feb. 8.

Originally the 14th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Payne was selected directly between his now teammates Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr. He holds career averages of 6.0 points and 2.5 assists over 16.0 minutes in 153 career regular-season games, also making 11 postseason appearances with the Thunder and Bulls.

A 25-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee, Payne played two seasons at Murray State University and was recipient of the 2014-15 Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award after leading the Racers to a 29-6 record. Murray State won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title in both of Payne’s seasons as he was the OVC Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2014-15 and the OVC Freshman of the Year in 2013-14.

Phoenix Suns ‘seeding games’ schedule at Disney begins July 31

The NBA recently announced the schedule for the league’s 22-team restart to the 2019-20 season, to be held on a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The Phoenix Suns will play eight “seeding games” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, opening on July 31 against the Washington Wizards.

The Suns’ complete schedule for their final eight seeding games, selected from their remaining regular-season matchups, is listed below. All of the Suns’ first seven games will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona networks with the last game to be determined:

2019-20 NBA SEASON RESTART SEEDING GAMES (ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex)

Friday, July 31: Washington
Sunday, August 2: Dallas
Tuesday, August 4: LA Clippers
Thursday, August 6: Indiana
Saturday, August 8: Miami
Monday, August 10: Oklahoma City
Tuesday, August 11: Philadelphia
Thursday, August 13: Dallas

The Suns enter the restart 13th in the Western Conference standings with a 26-39 record, though they sit just 2 ½ games behind ninth place. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in a conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then those two teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for the eighth seed and single elimination for the ninth seed.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular-season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the eighth playoff seed in that conference.

Once the NBA’s 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds of best-of-seven series. The 2020 NBA Finals will end no later than October 13.

Knicks add Jared Harper off waivers, and waive Kadeem Allen

The New York Knicks today claimed guard Jared Harper and his two-way contract off waivers from Phoenix.

The Knicks also waived guard Kadeem Allen.

Harper, 5-11, 175-pounds, appeared in three games for Phoenix and 33 games (33 starts) for Northern Arizona as a two-way player for the Suns this season. He averaged 20.8 points (seventh in G League), 5.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds over 29.8 minutes for Northern Arizona, ranking second in the league in usage percentage (30%) and third in free throws made (111).

The Mableton, GA-native was originally signed to a two-way contract by Phoenix on Jul. 18, 2019 after going undrafted out of Auburn University in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Allen, 6-1, 200-pounds, averaged 5.0 points and 2.1 assists over 11.7 minutes in 10 games this season for New York. He was originally signed by the Knicks on Jul. 25, 2018 and then again to a two-way contract on Jan. 14, 2019.

Nets sign guard Tyler Johnson, who last played for Suns

The Brooklyn Nets, who yesterday waived guard/forward Theo Pinson, signed guard Tyler Johnson today.

Johnson (6’4, 190) is a six-year NBA veteran who appeared in 31 games (three starts) this season with the Phoenix Suns, recording averages of 5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 16.6 minutes per game. In 301 career games (71 starts) split between Miami (2014-19) and Phoenix (2019-20), the 28-year-old has registered averages of 10.5 points on 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent shooting from 3-point range, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 25.7 minutes per contest.

Per the New York Daily News, “he should give the Nets some additional depth at the point guard position as the Nets attempt to make a playoff run without Kyrie Irving. The Nets nearly signed Johnson to a four-year, $50 million contract when he was a restricted free agent in 2016, but the Heat ultimately matched the offer sheet.”

Johnson averaged double figures in points in three straight seasons (2016-19), with his most productive season coming in 2016-17 with Miami, when he saw action in a career-high 73 games and averaged career bests in points (13.7), rebounds (4.0), assists (3.2), steals (1.2) and minutes (29.8). Johnson also made two postseason appearances with Miami (2016 and 2018), appearing in 10 playoff contests.

The Grand Forks, N.D., native went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, beginning his first professional season with the NBA G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. Johnson played in 15 games with the Skyforce before signing two 10-day contracts and a multi-year deal with Miami in early 2015. Prior to beginning his professional career, Johnson spent four years (2010-14) at Fresno State, earning All-Mountain West Conference Second Team honors as a senior.

Brooklyn’s roster now stands at 17 players.