Archive for the ‘ Phoenix Suns Blog ’ Category

The Austin Toros today announced they have acquired center Luke Zeller. Zeller (6-11, 245, Notre Dame) joins the team in Tulsa and will wear jersey No. 21 when the Toros take on the 66ers tonight at 7:00 p.m. at SpiritBank Event Center.

A member of the Toros’ 2012 D-League championship team, Zeller played in 24 games during the 2011-12 season averaging 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in 25 minutes.

His last stop was with the Phoenix Suns during the 2012-13 season. Zeller’s professional career includes stints in Japan, Lithuania, and the D-League with the Bakersfield Jam.

Here’s CBS 5 reporting on former NBA player Richard Dumas, who has gotten himself into some big trouble:

The U.S. Marshals Service has wrapped up a three-day pre-holiday sting appropriately dubbed “Operation Grinch Stopper 2″ throughout Arizona in which more than 150 people were arrested, including a former Phoenix Suns player.

The operation targeted individuals with outstanding arrest warrants for property crimes, including armed robbery, larceny, burglary and any other Grinch-type crime, according to a U.S. Marshals spokesman.

There were 112 arrests made by officers from 27 agencies that participated in the operation in Maricopa and Pinal counties, and 39 arrests in and around Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff…

Richard Dumas, 44, was wanted by Maricopa County prosecutors after being indicted for eight counts of organized retail theft. Dumas, a former Phoenix Suns basketball player, was located at the Dumas and Friends Athletic Association in Litchfield Park and arrested without incident.

Here’s Arizona Sports on the Phoenix Suns starting the new NBA season with a lot more wins than anyone expected:

For a team with 10 new faces and a roster that is the second-most inexperienced in the NBA, the Suns, who were not expected to win much, won more than they lost through the first month of the season.

Their 9-8 record is ninth-best in the Western Conference; though if they resided in the East, they would trail only Indiana (16-1) and Miami (14-3) for top honors.

“I guess we can’t complain,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We’re above .500 right now.”

The Suns are one of the early season surprises, while also at times puzzling to observers.

For example, they handed Portland, whose 14 wins are tied for the most in the conference, two of its three losses and battled Oklahoma City and San Antonio down to the wire before losing close games on the road.

Then there are the two defeats to Sacramento, which has only two other wins on the year, and a bad home loss to Utah, which had not won on the road before Saturday’s 122-104 victory at US Airways Center.

Phoenix Suns continue their fine start

The NBA season isn’t two weeks old yet, but so far the Phoenix Suns have been fun and successful. Here’s Arizona Sports:

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Apparently, someone forgot to tell the Suns they aren’t supposed to be any good this season.

They win their second straight and at 5-2 are three games over .500 for the first time since April 19, 2012 (33-30) after beating the New Orleans Pelicans by a final of 101-94 in front of 13,154 at US Airways Center.

Eric Bledsoe scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Markieff Morris added 23 to record his third straight game of 20 or more points. He’s shooting 78.9 percent (30-of-38) during this stretch.

Playing for the first time in a week and coming off the bench, Goran Dragic finished with 12 points. He had missed the past three games due to a sprained left ankle. The Suns have won five straight home games dating to last season.

Here’s Arizona Sports on the Suns pulling off some early-season wins, but while still looking for consistency:

The Phoenix Suns continued to defy expectations by grabbing their fourth win Friday in their first six games of the season, but there was a moment of panic during the team’s 114-103 win over the Denver Nuggets at US Airways Center.

The Suns went into halftime with a comfortable 64-47 lead, but the team’s starters soon saw that lead evaporate to a feisty Nuggets squad. With 4:30 left in the period, Denver took the lead at 74-72 with point guard Ty Lawson’s three-point play. Denver built an 84-74 lead just over two minutes later, having outscored the Suns 37-10 at that point in the quarter.

After a timeout, the Suns’ bench got the team back in the game. Ish Smith and Marcus and Markieff Morris helped Phoenix close out the quarter on a 10-3 run, putting the team in position to eventually win the contest.

Even though Phoenix won by double digits, head coach Jeff Hornacek was concerned after the game about his squad’s third-quarter meltdown.

“We turned it on again (after Denver re-gained the lead), but it’s almost a dangerous thing to think that you can just turn it on at any time. Sometimes you can; sometimes you can’t,” the coach said.

Miles Plumlee steps up for Suns

The NBA season started Tuesday, and on Wedneday there were 14 games. One great performance came from an unexpected source. Here’s Arizona Sports:

It’s just one game and it came against an underwhelming Portland Trail Blazers team, but the Phoenix Suns’ revamped frontcourt had a solid season debut in Wednesday’s 104-91 win at US Airways Center.

Despite operating somewhat shorthanded with the recent trade of Marcin Gortat and the suspension of forward Markieff Morris, Phoenix’s bigs left their mark on a game that opened something of a new era for the Suns, who were debuting new jerseys, a new coach and an overhauled roster.

Center Miles Plumlee, acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots — surpassing his 2012 season total for points and matching it in blocks.

It’s going to be a rough year for the Phoenix Suns. There’s no other way to say it. Here are a few of the many reasons why, via Arizona Sports:

The Phoenix Suns are one day away from a new era.

Jeff Hornacek will make his debut as an NBA head coach Wednesday night as the Suns host the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2013-14 season opener for both teams at US Airways Center.

The first-year head coach will take the court with one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the league — especially at the center spot.

After last week’s trade of Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the Suns are left with three post players — Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and Viacheslav Kravtsov — who have a combined 279 minutes of NBA playing experience.

There’s no reason to rush onto the court at the start of the season if a player is still healing from injury. The Phoenix Suns are aware of this. Here’s Arizona Sports:

From the moment the Suns drafted Alex Len with the fifth-overall pick, the plan was to bring the 7-foot-1 center along slowly.

That is still the plan, but with the trade of Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the door is now open for Len to play right away, gaining valuable in-game experience rather than watching from the bench.

“My first NBA season and I already get playing time,” he said. “It’s exciting; just go right at it. I think it’s going to help my progress. I’m going to learn so much faster.”

The learning begins this week — that is, if his left ankle feels OK.

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The Phoenix Suns exercised their 2014-15 options on forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris and center Miles Plumlee, the club announced today.

In two seasons with the Suns, Markieff Morris has averaged 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 145 games. The 13th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, he closed the 2012-13 season strongly as he averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds in April, the best scoring and rebounding month of his young career.

Marcus Morris joined the Suns in a midseason trade with Houston and averaged 5.7 points in 23 games with Phoenix last season. Originally the 14th overall pick of the 2011 draft, he led the Suns with an average of 14.3 points in seven contests at the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League.

Plumlee played his rookie season with Indiana before being acquired by the Suns in a trade with the Pacers this past summer. In seven contests with the Suns this preseason, Plumlee averaged 6.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.14 blocks in 18.5 minutes per game.

The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has acquired center Emeka Okafor and a top-12 protected 2014 first-round pick from the Washington Wizards in exchange for center Marcin Gortat and guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall.

With the addition of the top-12 protected pick from the Wizards, Phoenix now potentially possesses four first-round selections in the 2014 NBA Draft: the Suns’ own pick, Indiana’s pick (top-14 protected) and Minnesota’s pick (top-13 protected), in addition to the pick acquired from Washington.

“Marcin, Shannon and Kendall have been valuable members of the Suns family the past few years,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “We have enjoyed working with each of them and appreciate their hard work and professionalism. We wish all of them well.”

“We are excited to add another first-round pick in what is shaping up to be the best draft in a decade,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “We now have a chance to make four first-round selections in 2014. Emeka Okafor is a solid veteran center who will help solidify our front line when and if he is able to return from injury.”

Widely regarded for his defensive toughness and high basketball IQ, Okafor adds veteran leadership to the Suns’ roster. A nine-year veteran, he did not play for the Wizards this preseason as he was out with a herniated disc in his neck. Last season, he posted 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 79 games for the Wizards. Okafor enters the 2013-14 season in the final year of his contract.

Okafor, the 2004-05 NBA Rookie of the Year, averaged a double-double in each of his first five NBA seasons and holds career averages of 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.66 blocks. The No. 2 pick of the 2004 draft, he culminated a standout collegiate career at the University of Connecticut by being named Most Outstanding Player of the 2004 Final Four after leading the Huskies to the NCAA title.

Gortat departs the Valley after emerging as one of the Western Conference’s best centers during his tenure with the Suns. The six-year veteran came to Phoenix in a trade with the Orlando Magic during the 2010-11 season and played in 182 consecutive contests after being acquired by the Suns before missing the final 21 games of the 2012-13 season. Overall, the Polish Hammer averaged 13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.47 blocks in parts of three seasons with Phoenix, and ranks fifth in Suns’ history with a .547 field goal percentage with the club.

Brown, who signed with Phoenix before the 2011-12 season, averaged double-digits in scoring in both of his two seasons with the club, a feat he had never done before signing with the Suns. During his time with the Suns, Brown averaged 10.7 points in 118 games and set a franchise record for most three-point makes in a single quarter when he drained six from long distance in the fourth quarter of a win at Charlotte last season.

Marshall played in 48 games and averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 assists as a rookie with Phoenix in the 2012-13 season. Marshall recorded at least ten assists in each of his three starts last season and became the first player since Steve Nash in 1996 to tally double-digit assists while making his first career start in a Suns uniform.

Lee came to the Suns along with the draft rights to Archie Goodwin in a trade with Golden State on June 27, 2013. Lee did not dress for the Suns’ preseason contests as he continued rehab on his right knee following surgery last January.

The Suns’ roster now stands at 14.

Phoenix Suns waive James Nunnally

The Phoenix Suns have waived guard/forward James Nunnally, the club announced today. The Suns’ roster now stands at 17.

Nunnally appeared in three games for the Suns this preseason.

eric bledsoe

The Phoenix Suns are currently in talks with newly acquired guard Eric Bledsoe on a long-term contract extension. If the two sides can’t reach a deal by the end of the month, the 23-year-old combo guard would become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Suns are in an interesting spot because they’ve only seen the Kentucky product in training camp and a few preseason games, and it’s still uncertain that he will become the star many project him to be.

Nonetheless, general manager Ryan McDonough, while on Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo show Wednesday, agreed that Bledsoe does figure into the team’s long-term plans. McDonough said contract talks with the fourth-year player have gone “pretty well” to this point.

Reported by Andrew Gilstrap of Arizona Sports

This is the sort of thing that makes NBA preseason worth watching: Position battles, even on bad teams:

The Phoenix Suns are a little more than a week away from their 2012-13 season opener against the Portland Trailblazers.

First-year head coach Jeff Hornacek is still tinkering with his roster and player rotations, but says there’s a pretty good position battle brewing.

“Probably the three spot, I’d say,” Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 Tuesday. “Marcus (Morris), P.J. (Tucker) and Gerald Green all lend different things.

“Obviously, P.J. is great defensively, he’s a guy that gets physical with other teams and really pulls up the defensive energy on our team. Then you have Gerald Green, who can really light it up offensively — I think we saw that in the San Antonio preseason game. And then Marcus is kind of a combination of both guys, he can score some, he’s working on his defense at the three spot.”

Reported by Vince Marotta of Arizona Sports

Whichever player gets to start may or may not actually play big minutes. Time could be split up pretty evenly. In which case, starting isn’t a big deal.

Channing Frye not facing roadblocks in comeback

Admittedly, Channing Frye is not good at making predictions.

He predicted he would not do much in training camp, yet he was a full participant.

He predicted he would not play in the intrasquad scrimmage, yet he logged 24 minutes.

And he predicted he would not play in any of the eight preseason games, yet there he was on the court in Portland Wednesday, scoring 14 points in 16:07 against his former team.

So, about that prediction of a regular season return in December?

“Yeah, that’s too late. We’ll cancel that,” he said with a smile Friday. “I’m a little more in shape than I thought I was. I just continue to push myself and here I am. That’s the last time I make predictions.”

Reported by Craig Grialous of Arizona Sports

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe aims to solidify himself as an NBA starter

LeBron James was the first. Then ex-teammate Jamal Crawford.

Both players went on record over the offseason sharing their opinion that the Suns landed themselves a future NBA star in 6-foot-1, 195-pound point guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Suns certainly hope so.

They hope they’ve acquired a player, who much like backcourt teammate Goran Dragic, will blossom once out of the shadow of a perennial all-star.

As a backup to Chris Paul last season, Bledsoe averaged a career-high 8.5 points to go along with 3.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.43 steals in 20.4 minutes.

When given the chance to start when Paul got hurt, Bledsoe, in 12 games, responded with 14.2 points, 5.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 34.2 minutes.

“I was looking forward to this moment, and it came and I’m ready for it,” Bledsoe said of being a first-time starter as he enters year four of his pro career. “I’ve been preparing for it this summer—not only this summer, since I’ve been playing basketball since college. I’ve been preparing (that) one day I would get a chance to be a starter in this league.”

Reported by Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports

Steve Nash, ex-wife settle child custody case

NBA star Steve Nash and his former wife have reached a settlement in an Arizona court in their child custody case.

Judge Ray Ryan Adelman of Maricopa County Superior Court on Sept. 25 signed an order accepting the settlement and ordering it sealed…

Nash and Alejandra Amarilla Menrath divorced in late 2011.

Reported by the Associated Press

What interested Mike Longabardi in joining the Suns?

Longabardi: “I just looked at the whole perspective that they have, and I’ve never been in this situation before. It’s a great place to live. I like the moves that Ryan (McDonough) has made. So for me personally, it was an opportunity to come in and kind of put my stamp on it and help (Hornacek) so that we can all be successful and build it from the bottom up.

“My goal is, hopefully, one day become a head coach. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or not; only time will tell. But I know if I do probably get an opportunity it’s going to have to be in a situation where you’re going to have to start from the ground up. So to me, this is exciting too. So I’m going to come here, see what Jeff is going to do; how he’s going to do things and help him a little bit.

“This is the first time that I’m working on a team that I didn’t really know anybody coming in, so that’s going to be good for me also. All those things together, and obviously coming here to Phoenix, it’s a beautiful place to live. It was kind of like an easy decision when you really, really put everything down on paper.

“This is going to be new. Yeah, I’ve never dealt with this before, which is part of the reason why I wanted to do it. I’m not so much caught up right now with the results because this is a process. The results are important. We always want to win. I’m not saying that that’s not important, but we just got to keep taking steps so that we’re getting better and each year we make progress. To me that’s the sign of a good coach: How he does each year, are they getting better, are they improving.”

Reported by Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports

Channing Frye will return to Suns after heart illness

Forward Channing Frye says he will be back with the Phoenix Suns in training camp after sitting out last season with heart-related issues.

Frye made the announcement via Twitter on Sunday, saying he is ”happy to be healthy and have an opportunity” to keep playing.

Frye has said that he has been cleared medically by several doctors but the Suns have not officially said he will be back.

Reported by the Associated Press

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The Phoenix Suns today announced they have signed guard/forward James Nunnally, bringing the club’s roster to 18 players.

Nunnally, 23, excelled for the Miami Heat during the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League, leading the team with 13.0 points per game while shooting 57.7 percent from the field and 63.0 percent beyond the three-point arc. His best performance came in Miami’s final contest against the Suns as Nunnally made 5-of-6 three-pointers and scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half to help erase a 20-point deficit in a game Phoenix held on to win 91-89.

Last season, the 6-7, 205-pound Nunnally played for the Suns’ D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, and averaged 10.3 points while connecting on 40.6 percent of his three-point attempts. He first gained NBA experience with the Sacramento Kings at the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League, following a standout four-year career at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Nunnally was named to an All-Big West team three times at UCSB and helped the Gauchos to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in the program’s history. For his collegiate career, Nunnally averaged 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Phoenix Suns sign guard Dionte Christmas

phoenix suns

The Phoenix Suns today signed guard Dionte Christmas, who averaged 10.1 points for the Suns’ Las Vegas Summer League entry this summer.

“We’re excited to add Dionte to our roster,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “He was a key contributor for our Las Vegas Summer League team and his scoring ability, leadership and toughness will help us this season.”

Christmas, a 6-5, 205-pound guard, joins the Suns after spending the last four seasons playing internationally in some of the top leagues around the world after going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. Christmas has gained professional experience in Israel (Hapoel Afula), Turkey (Mersin), Czech Republic (Nymburk), Greece (PAOK, Rethymno), Russia (CSKA Moscow) and Italy (Montepaschi Siena). In 2011-12, with Rethymno of the Greece A-1 League, Christmas averaged 18.6 points to lead the league in scoring.

Christmas, a member of the Suns’ 2013 Las Vegas Summer League squad, averaged 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 20.8 minutes while coming off the bench in all seven contests. He shot 46.3 percent from the field in Summer League play and had four games scoring in double figures, including three with at least 15 points.

A four-year standout at Temple University, Christmas averaged 15.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 130 career games (98 starts), and posted at least 19.5 points per game in each of his final three seasons with the Owls. He was named All-Atlantic 10 First Team in both 2008 and 2009, and also earned Atlantic 10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors in 2008 and 2009 as he led the Owls to consecutive conference tournament titles.

The Suns’ roster now stands at 17.

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