The Phoenix Suns are signing A.J. Price to a 10-day contract, likely to be signed today in time for the Suns tilt against Houston. Though he won't have had any practice time, you can expect the 28-year old journeyman point guard to take the floor for the Suns as the backup to Eric Bledsoe for at least one stint.
Price has become a pure journeyman. He spent his first three seasons in Indiana after being drafted in the second round in 2009, then spent a year in Washington (starting 22 games) as the highlight of his career. After that, he had a forgettable year in Minnesota and a series of 10-day contracts this year. The Suns will be his third team this season alone.
But Price does have fans in Indiana still. Tom Lewis of SB Nation's IndyCornrows.com writes:
I'm a fan of A.J., or Juice as he's also known. He knows the game real well, always a great presence in the Pacers locker room. He had a couple of stints with the Pacers earlier this season.
On the floor, he's a solid backup PG but always seems streaky. When he has it going Juice can impact a game. He played a big role in the Pacers beating the Bulls [earlier this season, while on a non-guaranteed contract] who were "only" missing Derrick Rose while the Pacers were short George Hill, David West, Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles. He had 21 points and made big plays in the fourth quarter.
In between his Indy stints, Price played a year in Washington and even filled in as a short-minutes starter for 22 games while John Wall was injured. He averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 assists in 57 games that year, including 9 points and 4.7 assists as a starter.
Washington didn't retain him though, and he spent a long year on the Minnesota bench before becoming a short-term hired gun this season on a series of non-guaranteed (and now 10-day) contracts.
More from Tom Lewis on Price:
Obviously he's not always great, otherwise he wouldn't be jumping around. AJ isn't real athletic for a pg and while he's tough-minded and assertive, he also has a tendency to try to do to much and take ill-advised shots.
But for filling a need at this time of the year, Price should be a pretty good option.
Taking ill-advised shots? That should fit right in here in Phoenix.
Another potential benefit of having Price on the team is adding another veteran along with Danny Granger and Brandan Wright to a really young, somewhat immature locker room now dominated by the Morrises and Bledsoe.
Tom Lewis gave some input on that as well:
I wouldn't say AJ is a good leader in the locker room, more a guy who is good for morale, camaraderie.
He won't be shy about pointing out things he sees to young guys though.
Okay, so he won't save the locker room. But he can't hurt it either.
The Suns run the same offense as just about every other NBA team, so it won't be difficult for the 6-year NBA veteran to step in and run the show for a couple minutes. Until Brandon Knight returns, there's at least 10 minutes a game up for grabs when Bledsoe rests and Price will be given a chance - at least this weekend against Houston and Dallas - to show his value.
Archie Goodwin has been the backup option over the past week, and you can be sure the Suns would rather let Archie cut his teeth on the floor through the good. But it's the bad periods of play where they need another PG option like Price.
Thursday night's game against the Pelicans was a microcosm on the season so far for Archie. He had 10 of the Suns 43 points in the first half and kept them afloat through some bad shooting. In the second half, though, his group was shut out during a 9-0 Pelicans run that put them briefly in the lead and almost cost the Suns the game. Bledsoe had to return to the lineup early to help staunch the blood flow.
Now Price enters as a veteran option during a pair of tough games against the Rockets and Mavericks, as the Suns still have a sliver of playoff hope just three games back of medical-ward Oklahoma City with 13 to go. These next two games could decide the course of the season for the Suns over the last month. Why not give themselves a short-term chance?
If he doesn't make an impact, or if Archie steps up even more, it's only a 10-day contract so there's almost no risk.