Archive for the ‘ Phoenix Suns Blog ’ Category

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.

suns

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

suns

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.

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns make their return to Flagstaff, Arizona for the first time since 2004 when they report for training camp at Northern Arizona University from September 30 through October 5. This year marks the 21st time the City of Flagstaff has hosted the team’s training camp. Phoenix first used Flagstaff as a training camp site in 1986, coincidentally the first training camp as a player for now Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek.

“I have great memories of training camps in Flagstaff from my time as a player with the Suns,” said Hornacek. “The Flagstaff community has always been very supportive and I’m looking forward to returning there to get camp started.”

“Northern Arizona University is thrilled for the opportunity to host the Phoenix Suns for their annual training camp,” said NAU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Lisa Campos. “We have a history with the Suns and to bring the team back to Flagstaff and the NAU campus is something we are proud to do.”

The Suns’ week in Flagstaff will culminate with an open to the public scrimmage, starting at noon on Saturday, Oct. 5, at NAU’s J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome. The training camp workout schedule begins at the J.C. Rolle Activity Center on Tuesday, Oct. 1, and continues through the intrasquad scrimmage.

Phoenix opens the preseason schedule at home against Maccabi Bazan Haifa at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7, at US Airways Center to tip-off a seven-game exhibition schedule in preparation for the club’s 46th NBA season.

EuroBasket: Goran Dragic ready to go in Slovenia

Goran Dragic has been preparing for this moment all summer and anticipating it even longer.

Today, with Slovenia across his chest, the Suns guard will lead his national team into a Celje Arena filled with 5,200 green-clad, raucous fans for a European Championship opener.

Slovenia is more than just the host country. It is a team striving to medal after reaching the quarterfinals in the past four European Championships, placing as high as fourth in 2009 without Dragic.

Dragic has evolved into the team’s star, the face of Slovenian basketball like his mentor, Beno Udrih, once was. He has led his Slovenian team to an 11-1 record in the summer’s exhibition games, including a game in which he made a game-winning shot and another that he got ejected for a retaliation shove into a Turkish player’s back.

Slovenia faces Czech Republic today at noon Arizona time to open pool play. Slovenia will also face defending champion Spain, former Suns assistant coach Igor Kokoskov’s Georgian team, Croatia and Suns teammate Marcin Gortat’s Polish team this week in pool action before the elimination tournament leads to the Sept. 22 championship.

Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic (Blog)

Phoenix Suns Waive Michael Beasley

Michael Beasley
Phoenix Suns Waive Michael Beasley
Super-waived Beas

The Phoenix Suns waived forward Michael Beasley today pursuant to a termination agreement between the club and him. In accordance with that agreement, the compensation owed to him by the team will be reduced, and the Suns’ salary cap room will be increased for both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

According to Arizona Sports, “The move on Tuesday will cost the franchise $7 million, a $2 million savings from what Beasley would have been due had he simply been waived. It also represents a significant reduction in what the hit on the team’s salary cap would have been.”

“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture. Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards. The timing and nature of this, and all of our transactions, are based on the judgment of our Basketball leadership as to how best to achieve our singular goal of rebuilding an elite team.”

“We have high standards for all of our players,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”

Beasley signed a three-year contract with Phoenix as a free agent on July 20, 2012, and in his one season with the Suns, played in 75 games with averages of 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds.

suns

The Phoenix Suns signed Alex Len, who the team selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

All players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft are guaranteed to receive a contract. So, this signing is routine, and was expected.

Len is a 7-foot-1, 255-pound athletic center, who finished a two-year career in College Park, Maryland, with an Honorable Mention All-ACC season in which he was also named to the All-ACC Defensive team. Born in Antratsit, Ukraine, Len became the highest-drafted Ukrainian in NBA history after seeing huge jumps in production from his freshman to sophomore campaigns, averaging 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 38 games as a sophomore.

Considered one of the best athletes in this year’s draft, Len is a rim protector with a 7-foot, 4-inch wingspan who recorded an ACC-best 78 blocked shots in 2012-13. Len, 20 years old, shined against some top competition as a sophomore. Matched up against Kentucky early in the season, Len scored a career-high 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked four shots. In the ACC Tournament against runner-up North Carolina, scored 20 points, grabbed seven boards, and went 10-of-12 (.833) from the free-throw line. Len posted eight double-digit rebounding efforts as a sophomore, including six double-doubles.

A standout performer for his native Ukraine, Len averaged 16.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in nine games at the under-18 European Championships in 2010. A slew of impressive performances on that international stage included a 20-point, 17-rebound, nine-block effort against Germany, and a 24-point, 20-rebound, four-block, four-steal effort against Sweden.

Suns trade Caron Butler to Bucks

Suns trade Caron Butler to Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have acquired two-time All-Star forward Caron Butler (6-7, 228) from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guard Ish Smith (6-0, 175) and center Viacheslav Kravtsov (7-0, 260), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

“We’re very excited to welcome Caron back home,” said Hammond. “He is an accomplished veteran player who started 78 games last season for a 56-win team in Los Angeles. Caron gives us depth at the small forward position and will be a mentor for our younger players.”

According to the Associated Press, “The Suns acquired Butler and point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers on July 10 in a three-team trade that sent the Suns’ Jared Dudley and Milwaukee’s J.J. Redick to Los Angeles. Milwaukee got two second-round draft picks in the deal. Butler signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Clippers in December of 2011. A starter for the Clippers the last two seasons, Butler has averaged 15.5 points in stops that included Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Clippers.”

According to ESPN.com (on Butler), “the 33-year-old has since been working out in Phoenix and was a featured player at the podium when the Suns recently unveiled a new uniform design. Sources, however, say McDonough has consented to allow Butler to realize a lifelong dream of playing for Milwaukee with the trade. The Bucks signed Carlos Delfino earlier in the summer but are said to covet another small forward as he recovers from foot surgery. Butler’s arrival will ensure new coach Larry Drew has a veteran to start the season at the 3-spot as opposed to relying on youngsters Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.”

An 11-year professional, Butler played in 78 games (all starts) last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 24.1 minutes per game, while connecting on 38.8 percent (128-330) of his 3-point attempts. For his career, Butler has averaged 15.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He has played 730 NBA regular season games (697 starts) with five teams including Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers. His best statistical season came in 2007-08 when he averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 90.1 percent from the free throw line in 58 games for Washington.

Butler, 33, has averaged double figures in scoring in 10 of his 11 NBA campaigns and reached the postseason on six occasions, including winning an NBA Championship with Dallas in 2011. He was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team twice (2007, 2008), but did not play in 2008 due to injury.

Originally selected by Miami with the 10th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Butler played collegiately at UConn where he was named to The Sporting News All-America Second Team as a sophomore. He played high school basketball at Racine Park and later at Maine Central Institute, and his uniform numbers 54 and 25, respectively, have been retired by both schools.

“We would like to thank Caron for his professionalism and wish him the best with the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe. It also provides us with two young players in our efforts to build a team capable of sustainable success.”

Kravtsov, a 6-11, 254-pound center, played five seasons professionally in his native Ukraine before signing with the Detroit Pistons last summer. Kravtsov joins his countryman and 2013 first-round draft pick Alex Len, giving Phoenix both of the only two Ukrainians currently on an NBA roster.

A rookie in 2012-13 with Detroit, Kravtsov played in 25 contests and improved over the course of the season, making 17 of those appearances after the All-Star break including his first career double-double effort. Earlier this summer, he played on the Pistons summer league squad in Orlando and averaged 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 54.5 percent (6-11) from the field in two games. Kravtsov was dealt to the Bucks on July 31 as part of the trade that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

Smith, a three-year NBA veteran with five teams, played in a career-high 52 games in 2012-13; the first 36 with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Bucks where he played in 16 games, in addition to appearing in each of Milwaukee’s four playoff contests against the Miami Heat.

A four-year collegiate performer at Wake Forest University, Smith finished his career ranked second all-time among Demon Deacons in assists with 612 and became the first player in program history to post over 1,000 points and 600 assists. As a senior, he averaged 13.2 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals to earn Second Team All-ACC honors.

Basketball blog