Mikal Bridges’ Suns role may change a bit this season

The Phoenix Suns had a great 2021-22 regular season, before crashing hard in the playoffs. There’s plenty of reason to expect a quality next regular season as well. Here’s the Arizona Republic one Suns change we may see:

Suns fans will see more of Mikal Bridges running the point this season.

He won’t just be on the wing sticking threes, slashing to the paint to finish plays, blocking shots or on the island defending against their opponent’s top scorers.

After Bridges was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up to Celtics’ Marcus Smart, Suns coach Monty Williams wants to add more responsibilities to Bridges and his so-called “twin,” Cam Johnson, who’s also starting at the four spot to replace Jae Crowder, to occasionally initiate the offense.

Williams wants to them to manage that duty with primary ball handler Chris Paul to take the load off him bringing the ball up the floor.

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Suns owner Robert Sarver suspended for one year and fined $10 million by NBA

The NBA today issued the following statement:

Following the publication of a November 4, 2021, ESPN.com article regarding statements and conduct of Robert Sarver, Managing Partner of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and issues relating to the teams’ workplace, the NBA commissioned an independent investigation by the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. David Anders and Sarah Eddy, partners at the firm, led the investigation.

The report of the independent investigation, which was issued publicly today, was based on information gathered from interviews with 320 individuals, including current and former employees who worked for the teams during Mr. Sarver’s 18-year tenure as Managing Partner, Mr. Sarver, and other relevant individuals; and from the evaluation of more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos. Mr. Sarver and the Suns/Mercury organization cooperated fully with the investigative process.

As stated in the report, the independent investigation found that Mr. Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”

The NBA today has taken the following actions:

(1) Mr. Sarver is suspended from the Suns/Mercury organization for a period of one year, during which time he will not:

Be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office, arena, or practice facility.

Attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices, or business partner activity.

Represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity.
Have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.

Have any involvement in the business, governance, or activities of either the NBA or WNBA, including attending or participating in meetings of either league’s Board (and their associated Board committees).

(2) Mr. Sarver must, during his suspension, complete a training program focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.

(3) Mr. Sarver is fined $10 million, the maximum permitted by the NBA Constitution & By-Laws. The NBA will donate these funds to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.

(4) Additionally, the Suns/Mercury organization must fulfill a series of requirements for workplace improvements set forth and monitored by the NBA.

Suns re-sign Ish Wainright

The Phoenix Suns have re-signed forward Ish Wainright, to a two-way contract.

Wainright (6-5, 235 pounds) played in 45 regular season games for the Suns last season, averaging 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.0 minutes per game. Over his final two games of the season, he totaled a combined 35 points on 14-of-29 from the field and 7 of 16 from three-point range, plus 11 rebounds, 7 steals and 4 assists. He scored all of his career-high 20 points in the fourth quarter on April 6 at the LA Clippers, joining Cam Johnson and Jamal Crawford as the only Suns players in the last 25 years to score 20-plus points in a period while coming off the bench. Wainright also appeared in seven games during the postseason.

Most recently, Wainright averaged 11.0 points on 42.1% from the field and 41.4% from three-point range plus 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals in five games for the Suns at the 2022 NBA Summer League last month in Las Vegas. He also represented Uganda at the FIBA Basketball World Cup African Qualifiers in July, averaging team highs of 19.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

The Suns initially signed the 27-year-old on Oct. 21, 2021 and he made his NBA debut on Nov. 19. Wainright played the previous three seasons internationally in Germany and France. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, he played collegiately at Baylor where he earned Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors as a senior in 2017.

Suns sign Duane Washington Jr.

The Phoenix Suns have signed free agent guard Duane Washington Jr.

Washington (6-3, 197 pounds) averaged 9.9 points on 40.5% shooting from the field, 37.7% from three-point range and 75.4% from the free throw line in 48 games as a rookie with the Indiana Pacers last season. Among qualified NBA rookies, he ranked 12th in points per game, third in three-point percentage and ninth with 81 made three-pointers. Washington set a Pacers rookie record by making seven three-pointers at New Orleans on Jan. 24. He also appeared in 11 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League last season, averaging 19.5 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds.

The 22-year-old went undrafted in 2021 following a three-year career at Ohio State where he earned All-Big Ten honors in his final season after averaging a team-high 16.4 points. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Washington grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Devin Booker to sign huge Suns contract extension

Via ESPN.com:

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker has agreed on a four-year, $224 million supermax extension, his agents, Jessica Holtz and Melvin Booker of CAA Basketball, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Booker’s deal begins in 2024-25 and brings his total contract value to six years and $295 million.

Booker, 25, has become the face of the Suns franchise since being drafted 13th overall by Phoenix in the summer of 2015, including leading the Suns — alongside future Hall of Famer Chris Paul — to the NBA finals in 2021.

Suns name Morgan Cato Assistant GM and VP of Basketball Operations

The Phoenix Suns have named Morgan Cato as Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“We’re excited to welcome Morgan to the Valley and to the Suns organization” said General Manager James Jones. “With the league office Morgan played a pivotal role on countless initiatives to grow the game and strategically develop for it to be played at its best. The addition of her background and knowledge will allow us to elevate our basketball operations in several areas.”

In her position, Cato will report to Jones and work with Head Coach Monty Williams to lead the team’s strategy and business processes for basketball growth and performance with a focus on coaching development, player engagement and front office personnel operations. Cato becomes the first woman of color to hold the Assistant General Manager title for an NBA team.

Cato joins the Suns after spending the last decade with the NBA league office, most recently as Associate Vice President of Business Operations for NBA League Operations.

Suns coach Monty Williams wins 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year award

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams is the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy as the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year, the NBA announced today.

This is the first NBA Coach of the Year Award for Williams, who joins Cotton Fitzsimmons (1988-89) and Mike D’Antoni (2004-05) as head coaches to earn the honor with the Suns.

Williams received 458 points (81 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins finished in second place with 270 points (17 first-place votes). Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra finished in third place with 72 points (one first-place vote). Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote

Williams guided the Suns to an NBA-leading 64-18 record in the regular season, the most victories and the highest winning percentage (.780) in a season in franchise history. Phoenix had identical 32-9 records at home and on the road. The Suns tied for the third-most road wins and fifth-best road winning percentage (.780) in a season in NBA history.

Phoenix won a franchise-record 18 consecutive games from Oct. 30 – Dec. 2, 2021. The streak included a 16-0 record in November, tied for the second-most wins in a month without a loss in NBA history, trailing only the Atlanta Hawks’ 17-0 record in January 2015.

The Suns finished first in the NBA in net rating (+7.5), third in defensive rating (106.8) and fifth in offensive rating (114.2), making them the only team to rank in the top five in all three categories. They were 47-0 when leading after the third quarter, the most such wins without a loss in a season in the shot clock era (which began in the 1954-55 season).

Williams was named the NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month twice (October/November and January). He and his staff also earned the spot to coach Team LeBron in the 2022 NBA All-Star Game.

This is Williams’ third season as the Suns’ head coach. Last season, he guided Phoenix to a 51-21 record and its first appearance in the NBA Finals since the 1992-93 season, finishing in second place in the voting for the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year Award. Williams previously served as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans for five seasons.

Williams will be presented with a special edition 75th Anniversary commemorative trophy today in celebration of winning the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year Award, gifted in addition to the Red Auerbach Trophy, which he will receive later. The commemorative trophy, composed of a solid crystal basketball, features the NBA 75 logo 3D laser etched and suspended within its center.

The NBA Coach of the Year Award trophy is named in honor of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Red Auerbach. The legendary head coach guided the Boston Celtics to nine NBA championships, including eight in a row from 1958-59 – 1965-66.

Pelicans forward Jaxson Hayes ejected from Game 3 vs. Suns

Jaxson Hayes of the New Orleans Pelicans was ejected from Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs on Friday night in the second quarter after receiving a flagrant foul 2 for shoving Phoenix Suns player Jae Crowder.

Hayes was pounding the boards from the left corner after a made CJ McCollum jumper with 5:15 remaining in the first half when he crashed past Crowder, slamming him to the ground.

Initially, no foul was called, but play was paused and the play was reviewed as Crowder rushed across the floor to confront Hayes and Suns guard Chris Paul quickly sprinted to another official.

– Via ESPN.com. See full article.

Suns guard Devin Booker hurts hamstring in Game 2 loss to Pelicans

The Suns lost a playoff game last night, and have a Devin Booker injury to worry about. Via ESPN.com:

On Tuesday night, Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker suffered a hamstring injury, and the New Orleans Pelicans stepped up all night and put had a tremendous finish to win 125-114 Game 2 and even the series at 1-1.

Booker scored 31 points in the first half, including seven 3-pointers. But he did not score in the third quarter, and he injured his right hamstring when contesting a Jaxson Hayes dunk in transition with 4:45 left in the period. He exited the game and headed straight to the locker room.

Multiple key Suns players will be out tonight against Clippers

The Phoenix Suns are resting some key players tonight. Via the Arizona Republic:

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams sounded as if he wasn’t completely in favor of resting players despite having the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs and franchise record for wins in a single season locked up.

“The resting thing is that, I’m not quite sure if there is a huge benefit, because of the position we’re in with the play-in-tournament,” Williams said after Tuesday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Phoenix. “You get almost a week off and so, at some point, there’s going to be some deconditioning for the top seeds. So, I don’t think there’s a necessary benefit for resting guys right now.”

However, Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Jae Crowder and Chris Paul are ruled out of Wednesday’s game at the Clippers (39-40) in the second of a back-to-back for the Suns (63-16).

The Suns have already wrapped up the league’s best record this season and will have homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.