Phoenix Suns – Hoops Rumors Legitimate NBA free agent and trade rumors. 2020-08-03T20:31:59Z WordPress Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Pacific Notes: Payne, Lecque, Kokoskov, Len]]> 2020-08-02T22:23:20Z 2020-08-02T17:01:10Z Cameron Payne recalls a brief conversation during his rookie year with Thunder assistant Monty Williams that led to his latest NBA opportunity, writes Gina Mizell in her Valley Tales Newsletter. Williams, now the head coach of the Suns, decided to take a chance on Payne when the team had a roster spot to fill prior to the restart.

“That (discussion) played into … my talks with (general manager James Jones about signing him),” Williams said. “I saw a young man who’s really talented, comes from a really good family and he takes coaching well.”

Payne’s career has featured a lot of disappointment after Oklahoma City made him a lottery pick in 2015. He battled through injuries and ineffective performance with the Thunder and Bulls, and had been out of the league since signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Cavaliers last January. He had a brief stay in China this season, then joined the G League to help get his game back on track.

“I don’t want to see myself outside of this league again,” Payne said. “And the biggest way for me to do that is to be consistent, be on time and outwork the next guy. My whole thing is I want to leave on the court that I played my hardest. I gave my all. I never want to take no shortcuts anymore, because it’s not worth it. It’s not worth being on the outside looking in when you feel like you should be in there.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jalen Lecque participated in practice Saturday, giving the Suns a full roster for the first time since arriving in Orlando, Mizell tweets.
  • Assistant Igor Kokoskov left the Kings Saturday to begin his duties as head coach of Fenerbahce in the EuroLeague, the team announced in a press release. The former Suns head coach joined Luke Walton’s staff last summer. “I’d like to congratulate Igor on his promotion to head coach of Fenerbahce and thank him for his dedicated time with the Kings,” Walton said. “He has been a valuable member of my coaching staff and his natural ability to guide our players will continue to inspire the team as we move forward in Orlando. We wish him all the best.” 
  • Kings center Alex Len won’t play in Sunday’s game against the Magic because of conditioning issues, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV. Len was late reporting to the Walt Disney World campus after contracting COVID-19.
Mark Suleymanov <![CDATA[Suns Notes: Playoffs, Layoffs, Ayton, Baynes]]> 2020-08-02T12:41:01Z 2020-08-01T16:24:30Z The Suns are in the Orlando campus vying for a postseason push, but that possibility remains small. With just a handful of scrimmage games, a lack of key players due to the coronavirus, and a sizeable deficit, Phoenix does not figure to play into the postseason picture.

Duane Rankin of Arizona Central polled several prominent national NBA writers on what they have seen from the Suns and what they expect from their play in Orlando. Most writers agreed on one point: the Devin Booker/Deandre Ayton duo will shine, but the rest of the roster and their contributions remain unknown.

The most reasonable take may have come from The Athletic’s Michael Lee, who sees the Suns’ campus play as a strong build toward the 2020/21 season.

“I think this will bode well for the 2020/21 season more than anything,” Lee said. “They’ll add another draft pick, have a healthy and improving Kelly Oubre, and probably take a more serious approach to the regular season.”

Check out more Suns notes below:

  • Amid the sale of the G League Northern Arizona Suns, several employees have been laid off, Rankin writes in a separate piece. While the exact number is not known, nearly 30 employees were reportedly let go, Rankin adds. “We’ve been working on restructuring a number of departments since early this year,” Suns Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Dean Stoyer told the outlet. “We found that some of the roles were redundant, some roles were outdated and there were some roles impacted for performance reasons.”
  • Ayton has been developing a three-point shot throughout his young NBA career but is now feeling comfortable shooting from beyond the arc consistently, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. “I’ve been working on this thing my whole life,” Ayton said. “I could’ve been shooting. It’s just that I’m more comfortable with a system surrounded me to make me shoot the shot.”
  • Suns guard Jalen Lecque arrived at the Orlando campus earlier this week but is quarantined while big man Aron Baynes practiced, Suns reporter Gina Mizell relays (Twitter link). Suns coach Monty Williams confirmed that Baynes, who is recovering from COVID-19, will need more time before he’s game-ready, Mizell adds (Twitter link).
Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Pistons To Purchase G League Team From Suns]]> 2020-07-29T22:11:45Z 2020-07-29T15:20:23Z The Pistons have reached an agreement to purchase the Northern Arizona G League franchise from the Suns, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Athletic. An announcement was made this morning by the Pistons, the Suns, and the G League.

The team will be given a new name and is expected to play in an arena currently under construction at Wayne State University, starting in the 2021/22 season. Grand Rapids will continue to serve as the Pistons’ G League affiliate next season, while the Suns will operate the Northern Arizona franchise for another year (Twitter link).

The Drive plan to stay in their current location and remain in the G League as an unaffiliated team, a source tells James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are the only other NBA teams without a direct G League affiliate, so it’s possible they could emerge as eventual options for the Drive, Edwards adds (Twitter link).

“The Drive remain committed to the city of Grand Rapids and we look forward to our continued future here in West Michigan within the NBA G League,” the Drive stated in a press release (Twitter link from Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “We’ve begun discussions about the future of our affiliation; details of which we hope to have in the coming weeks. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the people of West Michigan with a great professional basketball experience.”

The Pistons’ contract with the G League team expires after next season, and Grand Rapids officials had said they weren’t interested in moving the franchise to Detroit, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Phoenix GM James Jones released a statement on the deal, saying ownership of the Northern Arizona team “does not align with the Phoenix Suns’ strategic plan for player development over the next three-to-five years,” tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Jones said the G League team will play in Phoenix next season at an undetermined venue before being sold to the Pistons.

Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Okobo Hits The Practice Floor]]> 2020-07-28T02:13:59Z 2020-07-28T01:41:14Z
  • Suns guard Elie Okobo participated in practice on Monday, Gina Mizell tweets. Okobo’s arrival in Orlando was delayed due to undisclosed reasons. He has extra incentive to perform well in the restart, as his $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.
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    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Aron Baynes Receives Clearance To Travel To Orlando]]> 2020-07-27T16:48:06Z 2020-07-27T16:48:06Z Suns center Aron Baynes has cleared the NBA’s medical protocols after contracting COVID-19 and has been given the go-ahead to travel, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Baynes is set to arrive at the Walt Disney World campus later today.

    [RELATED: Aron Baynes reveals he tested positive for COVID-19]

    Once he gets to Disney World, Baynes will have to quarantine for two days, returning a pair of negative coronavirus tests before he’s cleared to join the Suns for practices. If he can get up to speed quickly, he could still suit up for the team’s first seeding game on Friday vs. Washington.

    The Suns are currently six games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with four other non-playoff teams ahead of them in the standings. As such, the odds of Phoenix capturing that No. 8 seed are slim.

    Still, with unrestricted free agency looming this summer, Baynes has some incentive to show that he’s healthy and productive to finish the season. He has enjoyed a career year so far, averaging 11.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 1.6 APG with a .351 3PT% — all of those numbers are career highs. The veteran big man also filled in admirably in the starting five when Deandre Ayton served a 25-game suspension early in the season.

    JD Shaw <![CDATA[Elie Okobo Arrives In Orlando]]> 2020-07-27T03:08:48Z 2020-07-26T21:51:58Z
  • Suns guard Elie Okobo has arrived in Orlando but wasn’t available for the team’s scrimmage against Boston on Sunday, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Phoenix is slated to play one more scrimmage on Tuesday before re-opening its regular season against Washington on Friday. It’s unclear whether Okobo, who likely must go through quarantine, will be available for those contests.
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    Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Pacific Notes: Rubio, A. Davis, Waiters, Fox]]> 2020-07-26T21:55:51Z 2020-07-25T21:32:02Z The Suns plan to have starting point guard Ricky Rubio active for their second scrimmage Sunday night, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rubio sat out Thursday’s opener after a positive COVID-19 test delayed his arrival to the Walt Disney World campus.

    “He should play,” coach Monty Williams said of Rubio. “He had a good practice (today). It was probably smart to hold him out. We don’t want guys playing when they’re not comfortable, we’re not comfortable. We’ve been going unbelievably hard in our practice. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the floor.”

    Phoenix has been short-handed since teams began reporting to Orlando earlier this month. Center Aron Baynes also tested positive for the coronavirus, while Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque are listed out for “personal reasons.” The Suns expect all those players to eventually join the team.

    “You always want your full team out here,” said rookie Ty Jerome, who made his first start at point guard in Thursday’s scrimmage. “All the uncertainty that’s going on right now, the fact that we’re one of the healthier and more full teams out here, it gives us a chance. Gives us a fighting chance.”

    There’s more from the Pacific Division:

    • Anthony Davis is considered day-to-day after being poked in the right eye during today’s scrimmage, Lakers coach Frank Vogel tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). L.A. has one more scrimmage Monday before starting its seeding games Thursday against the Clippers.
    • Lakers guard Dion Waiters discussed the difference between playing alongside LeBron James now compared to when they were teammates in Cleveland six years ago, McMenamin tweets. “When you’re young, you’re still trying to find yourself coming into the league,” Waiters said. “I think Bron was trying to help me with that, but I was so stubborn back then. But I understand now. I’m 28. I’ve been through a lot. I’m at peace with myself, though.”
    • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox declared himself to be completely recovered from an ankle sprain he suffered last week (video link).
    • Clippers center Ivica Zubac reported to Orlando Friday night and is being quarantined for two days, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Pacific Notes: Rubio, Suns, Holmes, Bagley]]> 2020-07-23T22:00:30Z 2020-07-23T22:00:30Z Speaking to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since entering the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, Suns guard Ricky Rubio acknowledged that his delayed arrival was a result of testing positive for the coronavirus, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. As Lopez writes, Rubio said he’ll have to be careful about ramping back up to game speed after not just enduring a four-month hiatus but dealing with the virus as well.

    “I’m good. I don’t have symptoms,” Rubio said. “Now that I’m back playing, after being out for three or four months, your legs feel it, your lungs feel it. That’s something I have to work on and figure out how to give my best to the team and focus on my health too.”

    As Lopez relays, Rubio didn’t say when he first tested positive for COVID-19, but admitted that it was hard on him to have his family back in Spain while he dealt with the virus in Phoenix.

    Here’s more from around the Pacific:

    • Suns officials said this week that the team’s new $45MM practice facility is on track to be completed by late August or early September, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The team had to use its old arena, the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, for individual workouts in the weeks leading up to the trip to Orlando as construction progressed on the new facility.
    • Kings center Richaun Holmes, who was subjected to a 10-day quarantine period at Walt Disney World after inadvertently crossing the campus line, explained his mistake to reporters on Wednesday. “Ordered some wings and went to grab the wings, but I really wasn’t too aware of the borders,” Holmes said, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “I kind of knew what was going on, but the specific area I was in, I wasn’t aware. So, yeah, I stepped out and grabbed the food and came back, and they just let me know they wanted to be as safe as possible. They had to enforce the rules and I completely understand that, so I won’t make that mistake again.”
    • Despite an injury-plagued sophomore season for Marvin Bagley III, the Kings‘ support for the former No. 2 overall pick hasn’t wavered, Anderson writes in a separate Sacramento Bee story. “We know what kind of player he’s going to be,” head coach Luke Walton said of Bagley, who is out for the season with a foot injury. “He’s going to have a great career. And we’ve got to keep him healthy and he’s got to continue to work, which he’s proven to do since I’ve been here as far as every time that he’s gotten injured. So it’s going to be a big offseason, but I’m confident that he’ll attack that with everything he has.”
    • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of updates on all five Pacific teams on Wednesday, and earlier today passed along word that Lakers forward Markieff Morris has cleared quarantine at the NBA’s Orlando campus.
    Jovan Alford <![CDATA[Okobo, Lecque Not With Suns For Personal Reasons, Expected Later]]> 2020-07-23T01:01:06Z 2020-07-23T01:01:06Z
  • The Suns announced on Wednesday that point guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque are not in Orlando due to personal reasons, per Gina Mizell (Twitter link). However, both players are expected to arrive at a later date. With Ricky Rubio clearing quarantine, both Okobo and Lecque will not see major minutes for Phoenix.
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    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Aron Baynes Reveals He Tested Positive For COVID-19]]> 2020-07-22T19:57:16Z 2020-07-22T19:56:46Z Suns center Aron Baynes revealed in a conversation with Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) that he recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is going through the NBA protocol in the hopes of joining the team at the league’s campus in Orlando.

    According to Baynes, his immediate family members tested positive as well, but they’ve since recovered and are testing negative, while he’s still returning positive tests. The big man added that he was hit harder by the virus than his wife and children.

    “They all had very minimal symptoms, whereas it actually put me on my butt for a good week,” Baynes said. “I slept for four days straight.”

    Although Baynes says he’s feeling better now, he must return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart before he can receive medical clearance to travel to the Orlando campus and report to the Suns. Once he gets clearance and arrives at Walt Disney World, he’ll need to briefly quarantine again and return two more negative tests.

    “Can’t wait for @aronbaynes to join us in Orlando,” the Suns tweeted this afternoon in response to Baynes’ interview with Charania.

    Baynes is one of a handful of Suns players whose arrivals to Orlando have been delayed. Ricky Rubio, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque also didn’t initially travel with the club on July 7, though head coach Monty Williams and GM James Jones have declined to offer any specific details on anyone’s absence. Rubio has since reported to the NBA campus and returned to practice; it’s not clear where things stand with Okobo or Lecque.

    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Ricky Rubio Practicing With Suns]]> 2020-07-22T17:21:59Z 2020-07-22T17:21:59Z
  • Ricky Rubio has reported to the NBA’s campus and cleared quarantine, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, who says that the Suns‘ point guard participated in Tuesday’s practice. The status of Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, Jalen Lecque – who, like Rubio, didn’t initially travel with the team to Orlando on July 7 – remains unknown.
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    Luke Adams <![CDATA[Suns Still Waiting On Baynes, Rubio, Okobo, Lecque?]]> 2020-07-21T14:32:03Z 2020-07-21T14:32:03Z Finally, Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque didn’t make the initial trip to Orlando two weeks ago with the Suns and still hadn’t practiced with the club as of Sunday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. A pair of Suns players tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago, but it’s not clear if any or all of the delayed arrivals are related to COVID-19.

    Luke Adams <![CDATA[NBA Announces Official Rosters For Summer Restart]]> 2020-07-20T22:42:24Z 2020-07-20T22:08:40Z The NBA has announced the official summer rosters for each of the 22 teams involved in the resumption of the 2019/20 season. A total of 350 players make up the 22 squads, with only eight clubs carrying the maximum allowable 17 players. The Trail Blazers have the smallest summer roster, with just 13 players.

    Injured players who didn’t make the trip to Orlando – such as Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – don’t show up on the official rosters list, but injured players who traveled with their teams – including Mavericks big man Dwight Powell and Pacers swingman Jeremy Lamb – are included, even if they won’t play this summer.

    Besides players who are injured, voluntarily opted out, or were ruled out after contracting COVID-19, there are a few more notable omissions on the list, which we’ll round up here:

    • Houston Rockets: William Howard
      • A two-way player, Howard recently reached a two-year deal with ASVEL Basket in France, so it makes sense that he won’t be playing for the Rockets this summer.
    • Los Angeles Clippers: Johnathan Motley, Mfiondu Kabengele
      • As previously reported, Motley and Kabengele didn’t travel to Orlando with the Clippers and won’t be playing this summer.
    • Milwaukee Bucks: Cameron Reynolds
      • The Bucks only brought one of their two-way players (Frank Mason III), as Reynolds doesn’t show up on their official roster. The reason for his absence is unclear.
    • New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Gray
    • Philadelphia 76ers: Ryan Broekhoff
      • Broekhoff was signed as a substitute player to fill the Sixers’ open two-way slot, but later announced that he hadn’t traveled to Orlando because his wife, who is “high risk,” tested positive for COVID-19. Based on his omission from Philadelphia’s roster, it appears that Broekhoff won’t be joining the club after all.
    • Phoenix Suns: Tariq Owens
      • The Suns left one of their two-way slots open and apparently didn’t bring their lone two-way player to Orlando. The reason for Owens’ absence is unclear.
    • Portland Trail Blazers: Moses Brown
      • Despite only having 13 players available in Orlando, the Trail Blazers won’t have Brown – their second two-way player – with them. The reason for his absence is unclear.
    • Washington Wizards: Gary Payton II

    Arthur Hill <![CDATA[Steve Blake, Larry Greer No Longer On Suns’ Coaching Staff]]> 2020-07-20T01:40:25Z 2020-07-18T22:29:12Z The Suns will finish their season without assistant coaches Steve Blake and Larry Greer, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Head coach Monty Williams confirmed that both coaches are no longer with the team, but refused to provide an explanation.

    “What they brought (to the team), especially the first 65 games and laying the foundation for our team and our program was invaluable,” Williams said after today’s practice. “We’re thankful for their contributions, (but) at the same time, everybody has to adapt in this league.”

    “… The details of it all, I don’t want to get into. Organizations go through change and there are times where guys have to make decisions that are best for them and their families. It’s a tough loss to not have those guys, but those decisions have to be made and as a leader, I have to respect what’s best for the organization and what’s best for the individuals.”

    Both coaches were in their first season with Phoenix, joining Williams’ staff shortly after he was hired last year.

    Greer served as an assistant at Arizona State before breaking into the NBA as a scout with the Thunder in 2015 and later worked as a scout and assistant coach with Timberwolves. Blake played 13 NBA seasons, then spent two years with the Trail Blazers before joining the Suns.

    “I’ve known Stevie since he was, gosh, a really young player,” Williams said. “Not quite a rookie, but I had him in Portland and I’ve watched him progress into a really good NBA player. Seen his family grow up and a lot of other boring stories that you don’t want to hear.” 

    Dana Gauruder <![CDATA[Status Of Rubio, Baynes Remains Uncertain]]> 2020-07-18T16:03:22Z 2020-07-18T01:44:33Z
  • It remains a mystery whether Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes are practicing with their Suns teammates in Orlando, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Coach Monty Williams has been vague when asked about the duo’s status. “There’s so much medical stuff that I don’t want to violate,” Williams said.
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