Barely ORNG: Those Who Briefly Experienced Life with the Phoenix Suns

As faithful readers of BSotS know, the Suns recently signed D-League forward Dwayne Jones to serve as an insurance policy for the injured Robin Lopez and the pear-shaped Jarron Collins.  With just 2 games left in the season - and what I perceive to be a low likelihood of him being a member of the Suns in 2010-2011 - the odds are that Mr. Jones will appear in a maximum of 1 game as a Sun (if he plays at all).  This got me thinking of previous Suns players who experienced similar circumstances. 

With that in mind, I present to you Phoenix Suns players in the last 20 seasons (what I perceive to be the fan time of most of our readers) who played less than 10 career games for the franchise.  Some you'll know, some you've probably forgotten, and some you probably didn't realize were ever alive.  Obviously a number of these guys were on the roster for longer than 10 games, but this takes into account only games played.  In addition, I actually did research for this so you Shawn Respert (12 games), Alton Ford (11 games) and Jackson Vroman (10 games) fans will have to wait for another story to honor your heroes.  Please join me in appreciating these 26 guys who were Barely ORNG.. 

2009-2010

Taylor Griffin (forward): 8 games, 32 minutes , 10 points.  The rookie 2nd round pick from Oklahoma will probably escape this list if the Suns bring him back next season.  My thoughts on T-Griff can be summed up by a recap from one of the most recent Iowa Energy games

Where he is now:  He's on the Suns roster still, but we can just say "being awful in the D-League."  Cue the crowd who thinks he'll be a good player...

2008-2009

Courtney Sims (forward): 1 game, 2 minutes, 0 points.  I didn't write for Bright Side last year but Seth seemed to be pretty high on Sims.  The Suns called him up from the Iowa Energy in order to give Robin Lopez some minutes (in the D-League).  Things didn't exactly workout as the 2009 D-League MVP signed two 10-day contracts but played in just one game and disappeared from Phoenix.

Where he is now:  After his release from the Suns, Sims played 1 game with the Knicks last season.  This year Sims went to training camp with the Hawks and a tryout with the Blazers - striking out in both attempts - before taking a shot with CSKA Moscow.  Sims' foray into Russian worked out about as well as his NBA experiments and he lasted just 2 weeks.  He then went to Puerto Rico where he played for Capitanes de Arecibo before getting released in late March.  This guy has a wildly confusing career.  Go ahead and try to Google it...you'll fail. 

Dee Brown (guard): 2 games, 28 minutes, 5 points.  A backcourt mate of Deron Williams at Illinois, Brown had a brief 2 games stint with the Suns that had him averaging 14 minutes per game with an ill Goran Dragic (did not travel with the team for either game) and a banged up Steve Nash sidelined for all but 9 minutes of Brown's 2 games.  He was released for financial reasons.  

Where is he now:  Playing point guard for Air Avellino of the Italian Basketball federation. 

 

2007-2008 

Linton Johnson (forward): 6 games, 53 minutes, 15 points.  Johnson has played 151 games in the NBA, stopping off in Phoenix for a brief spell during early 2008.  As you can tell Johnson got a few minutes under Mike D'Antoni but he didn't exactly set the world on fire.  By far the best story from Linton Johnson's time with the Suns is his quote about guarding Chris Paul:

"We were just out there experimenting," said Johnson, who also has played for the Hornets. "I don't want to show all my tricks. I spent a year and a half with the kid (Paul). I've got some things he don't know. I've got Chris Paul's number."

He was not re-signed after his second 10-day contract.  Chris Paul is safe....for now.

Where he is now:  Apparently he isn't playing basketball this year as the Google machine indicates he's not currently in the NBA or the D-League, and Eurobasket lists him as a free agent.  Linton, if you're playing in China or something let me know.  Thanks. 

2005-2006

Josh Davis (forward): 1 game, 5 minutes, 4 points.  The Wyoming product had played in 51 NBA games for 4 different NBA teams before he played in 1 - and to this point his final - game in the NBA with the Suns.  His one appearance with Phoenix was in the midst of a January blowout loss to Sacramento in the Amar'e-less year.  Davis enjoyed just one 10-day contract with the team. 

Where he is now:  He bounced around to the D-League, Russia, and Puerto Rico but is currently with Panellinios Athens BC of the Greek A1 League. 

Andre Barrett (guard): 2 games, 21 minutes, 9 points.  Unlike Josh Davis, the former Seton Hall guard received a 2nd 10-day contract, but that is where his fun in the sun ended.  The majority of his minutes with the Suns happened in a March loss to the Spurs when Steve Nash was out with an injury.  Barrett served as the backup point guard to a starting lineup that featured Diaw-Marion-Bell-Thomas-James Jones.  Can't believe they lost 117-93. 

Where he is now:  He played in 27 more NBA games post-Suns with the Raptors, Bulls, and Clippers and is now playing with the Idaho Stampede in the D-League.  Fun fact - he scored 42 points in a 165-153 Idaho win on March 31st. 

Sharrod Ford (forward): 3 games, 13 minutes, 4 points.  Ford hung around in the early part of 2005 when the Suns were desperately short on big men (it was basically Diaw, Kurt Thomas, and to a lesser extent Pat Burke) and served as the human victory cigar in three different wins.  He made his final appearance on December 6th, 2005 and was released on Christmas Eve...Merry Christmas Sharrod! 

Where he is now:  Ford hasn't played in the NBA since and following stints in the D-League and Russia, he is currently playing for Carife Ferrara in Italian Serie A. 

2004-2005

Yuta Tabuse (guard): 4 games, 17 minutes, 7 points.  Now I KNOW you remember this guy.  Steve Nash wasn't the only point guard to join the Suns for the '04-05 season as Yuta Tabuse became the first Japanese-born player to appear in an NBA game.  Tabuse played 10 minutes and scored 7 points in his NBA debut but played in just 3 additional games and never scored another point.  Not surprisingly, Tabuse was unable to crack a deep guard rotation and was released in December 2004.   

Where he is now:  He's taken a couple more cracks at the NBA with Summer League stints with the Mavericks and Nets and a preseason run with the Clippers in 2005 - but for now he's back in Japan playing for Link Tochigi Brex of the Japanese Basketball League.  Tabuse has been referred to as the Michael Jordan of Japan. Apparently it's a low bar.

Paul Shirley (forward): 9 games, 30 minutes, 12 points.  Speaking of guys you definitely remember.  Does Shirley really need any more pub?  He sat the bench for a while and wrote a blog for suns.com.  8 of the 9 games he appeared in were wins, but that's the case for most of these guys.

Where he is now:  Writing very unsympathetic blog posts about Haiti.  If you're looking for more than that you can try his book Can I keep my Jersey?. It doesn't appear he's currently playing pro basketball. 

Smush Parker (guard): 5 games, 34 minutes, 15 points.  The Suns signed Smush to a 10-day contract after both Leandro Barbosa and Steve Nash went out with injuries in January of 2005.  Nash missed just one game of the Parker era and Smush got to play 16 minutes in a home loss to Memphis.  When Barbosa returned, Parker was gone.

Where he is now:  After his brief Suns career, Parker took off for the Lakers where he somehow managed to be their starting point guard for 2 full seasons (05-06 and 06-07).  Parker signed with the Heat in 2007 but was put on leave from the team after getting into a dispute with a female parking attendant.  Parker currently plays for Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

2003-2004

Robert Archibald (forward): 1 game, 6 minutes, 1 point.  The first Scottish born player in the NBA had just the one game in one of the Suns worst seasons (29-53).  He was acquired by Phoenix along with fellow Barely ORNG members Brevin Knight and Cezary Trybanski in exchange for Bo Outlaw and Jake Tsakalidis.  The Suns actually traded Archibald to Orlando in December of 2003 for a conditional 2005 2nd round draft pick.  Apparently one of the options with the condition was "just say no" because the Suns never took the pick. 

Where he is now:  Archibald got some time with the Magic and Raptors in the same season as his Suns appearance but was shortly off for Europe.  He currently plays for Unicaja Malaga of the Spanish ACB league where his teammates include former St. John's PG Omar Cook, Blazers draft pick Joel Freeland, former NBA guard Jiri Welsch, and Suns 2009 Summer League darling Zabian Dowdell. 

Brevin Knight (guard): 3 games, 19 minutes, 2 points.  Knight came over in the trade referenced above and played just 3 games for the Suns as Stephon Marbury's backup before being dealt to the Wizards for Jahidi White.  Apparently Starbury was plenty of point guard for Phoenix.

Where he is now:  Although his Suns career was brief, he did play 729 games in the NBA, starting 423 and is one of the more decorated players on this list.  Knight played for Utah last season but is currently doing a bit of radio announcing for the Charlotte Bobcats and is out of hoops. 

Cezary Trybanski (center): 4 games, 10 minutes, 0 points.  The third and final member of the "watershed" Bo Outlaw / Big Jake deal, Trybanski was the first Polish-born player in the NBA (a theme here).  He was a 7 foot 2 center that played just the 4 games for the Suns while fighting off back spasms (sounds sadly familiar).  Although he may not have done much in his time in Phoenix, he was a piece of the Marbury, Penny trade to New York that cleared the cap space for Steve Nash to sign in Phoenix.  Thanks Cezary. 

Where he is now: Currently playing in the D-League for the Reno Bighorns with former Suns guard D.J. Strawberry - Trybanski averaged about 15 minutes a game during the 09-10 season. 

2001-2002

Charlie Bell (guard): 5 games, 42 minutes, 8 points.  The Suns brought Jason Richardson's former college teammate aboard as an undrafted free agent in 2001 but he was released in December after 5 games.  Bell actually played more than 10 minutes in his first 3 games but quickly fell out of the guard rotation. 

Where he is now:  Following his brief 7 game spell in the NBA (2 more with Dallas) during 01-02, Bell played in Italy and Spain over the course of the next 3 seasons and developed his game to the point where he has been with the Milwaukee Bucks for 4 seasons. 

Jud Buechler (forward): 6 games, 54 minutes, 6 points.  Buechler played 720 NBA games and won 3 NBA Championships with the Bulls but he wasn't a Suns player for long.  He was acquired, along with John Wallace and a $1.6 million dollar player exception from Detroit for Cliff Robinson.  He was quickly traded by Phoenix - after just 6 games - to Orlando for Bo Outlaw, cash, and a 2002 1st round draft pick (Vinny Del Negro landed on the Clippers in what was a 3 way deal).  The first round pick acquired from Orlando was the final selection the Suns had sent to Orlando as part of the Penny Hardaway sign and trade in 1999 (aka they got their own pick back).  You might recognize the guy who the Suns picked with that draft pick - Amar'e something.  Nice haul for Jud. 

Where he is now:  Buechler played 60 games with the Magic before retiring from the NBA in 2002.  He now lives in California, coaches volleyball and surfs.  Tough life.

1998-1999

Jimmy Oliver (guard/forward): 2 games, 11 minutes, 3 points.  Nothing real special here, Oliver signed a 10-day contract with the Suns and was released 10 days later.  The Purdue product had played 76 NBA games (for the Cavs, Celtics, Raptors, and Wizards) before winding up in Phoenix for the last 2 of his 78 career NBA contests. 

Where he is now:  Oliver enjoyed a successful stint with Maroussi BC of the Greek League and played for a couple more Greek teams during the 2000's.  Google seems to have lost track of him after 2007 when he played for Apollon Patras BC of the Greek A2 League and served as a member of the USA Basketball Men's Junior Development Committee. I hope he's not dead.

Alvin Sims (guard): 4 games, 25 minutes, 11 points.  Sims played the 4 games with Phoenix, only one of which was at home - oddly enough I attended the game and have vivid memories of watching Alvin Sims play.  He played just 7 minutes in a late season win over the Vancouver Grizzlies during the lockout year but my buddy took a shine to Sims and took it upon himself to scream his name repeatedly.  I apologize to anyone sitting nearby.  The Louisville guard was released prior to the 1999 NBA playoffs. 

Where he is now:  Sims was with the Jazz during the 1999 preseason but didn't make the team.  He has since played professionally in Venezuela, Greece, Italy, France, England, Lebanon, Iran, and Cyprus.  It seems he retired from the game in 2006 and now I have no idea where he is.    

1996-1997

Tony Dumas (guard): 6 games, 51 minutes, 14 points.  He came to the Suns in the December 1996 Jason Kidd trade (along with Loren Meyer and for Michael Finley, Sam Cassell, A.C. Green, and a 1998 2nd round pick) and was dealt to Cleveland with Wesley Person in the subsequent off-season, playing 6 games for the Suns (and actually starting 1) in between.   The deal shipping him out of town was complicated as the Suns picked up Antonio McDyess and a conditional first round pick from Cleveland.  That conditional first round pick was the 13th selection in 2005 (Sean May) and was dealt to Charlotte in exchange for an agreement from the Bobcats that they'd pick Jahidi White in the 2004 expansion draft.  You get all that? 

Where he is now:  Dumas played 7 more games in the NBA the following season with the Cavs before playing in the CBA, Greece, and Italy.  There's no findable evidence of him playing after 2001.  Since I'm certain he reads Bright Side daily I'll just leave it to him to tell you where he is.

Dexter Boney (guard): 8 games, 48 minutes, 19 points.  The Suns signed Boney - an undrafted free agent out of UNLV - to a pair of 10 day contracts in February of 1997. He peaked as a Sun with a 17 minute, 5 point performance against the Hawks in which he both played more minutes and scored more points than rookie guard Steve Nash.  I feel that if Boney was given Nash's opportunity he probably would have done just as well...

Where he is now:  He was released after his 2nd 10 day contract and never played in the NBA again.  He last played in the CBA in 2002 and was named the 45th greatest Delaware sports figure by SI.com in 2003.  I think that's a thing.   

1995-1996

Terrence Rencher (guard): 2 games, 8 minutes, 3 points.  The former University of Texas star was the 32nd pick in the 1995 NBA Draft by the Bullets but was traded to the Heat on draft night - along with Rex Chapman - for the rights to Jeff Webster and Ed Stokes.  Epic trade.  The Suns picked him up in February of 1996 in the historic Rencher/Tony Smith deal.  He played just 2 games with the Suns. 

Where he is now:  Those two with the Suns were the last of his NBA career but Rencher went on to play in Israel, Italy, Croatia, and Germany.  Rencher is currently an assistant coach at Texas State University. 

David Wood (forward): 4 games, 34 minutes, 4 points. Wood was a veteran with 5 years under his belt before the Suns signed him to a 10-day contract in January of 1996.  In an odd quirk, the Suns were permitted to sign Wood as an injury hardship due to several Suns injuries.  When Charles Barkley came back, Wood's 10 day contract was not renewed. 

Where he is now:  Wood finished 1996 with the Mavericks and appeared in 46 games with the Bucks the following season.  He played a few more years in Europe and the Philippines before hanging up his sneakers.  Wood currently works with Athletes in Action - a global sports ministry that I'm pretty sure fields those teams that college basketball teams beat up in preseason games. 

John Coker (center): 5 games, 11 minutes, 8 points.  Phoenix signed Coker as an undrafted free agent in 1995 and he actually stuck with the team the entire year but only played in 5 games.  Coker made his only appearances in March of '96 and was released the following October.  He returned to the NBA 2 years later and stuck around for 20 games with the Washington and Golden State. 

Where he is now:  Coker played in the D-League in 01-02 but there is no evidence to suggest he played afterwards and I really can't find anything else on him. The further back I go, the harder this gets.

Stefano Rusconi (forward): 7 games, 30 minutes, 8 points.  Rusconi was picked by the Cavs in the 2nd round of the 1990 NBA Draft.  The Suns acquired his rights in a trade for their 1990 second round pick, Serbian big man Milos Babic.  Babic played 21 games in the NBA while Rusconi played only 7.  Basically the Cavs swindled the Suns.  In just 30 minutes of game time, Rusconi managed to pick up 10 fouls.  He was awesomely known as "The King of Slam Dunks" in Italy. 

Where he is now:  He headed back to the Italian league in June of 1996 and somehow it's really hard to find information on him.  I'm just going to assume he took a Queen of Slam Dunks, had a few Princes of Lay-ups and called it a career. 

1994-1995

Aaron Swinson (forward): 9 games, 51 minutes, 24 points.  He was an undersized forward from Auburn playing for the Suns during 1994 - but Charles Barkley he was not.  Swinson had just the 9 games before his release in December of 1994.  He actually made 10 of his 18 shot attempts in his brief time with the Suns, including a 24 minute, 12 point game against the Clippers in November of '94.  His name is burned into my brain as my Dad bought a autographed Suns team ball in '94 that had Swinson's signature on it and I usually wondered who the hell he was.

Where he is now:  He never played in the NBA again but was with teams in Italy, Spain, France, and Argentina in 10 international seasons.  He served as an assistant coach with the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League during '07-08 and is currently an assistant for the University of Tulsa women's basketball team - where his wife is the head coach. 

1993-1994

Skeeter Henry (guard): 4 games, 15 minutes, 4 points.  The high-scoring guard from the University of Oklahoma was signed by the Suns in late 1994 and actually appeared in 3 playoff games in addition to his 4 regular season contests.  He played 14 minutes in Game 5 of the 2nd round when the Suns were blown out by the Rockets (109-86). 

Where he is now:  After what seemed to be a lengthy career in the French Pro A league - Henry retired from basketball in 2002. 

1990-1991

Ian Lockhart (forward): 1 game, 2 minutes, 4 points.  The former University of Tennessee forward can definitely say he played in an NBA game.  He also made his only field goal attempt and both of his free throws in a road win at Utah.  I'd like to say I knew more but I'll just assume he saw how good he looked in the one game in the NBA and knew he'd reached the peak as he never played another game in the association.    

Where he is now:  Living off his NBA money.  Snark!  Actually he's still playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico for a team called Quebradillas Pirates in the National Superior Basketball League at the ripe old age of 42. 

I believe this piece is the absolute definition of obscure.  Do you have any fond memories (or memories period) of the greatness set forth above?

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