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Phoenix Suns guarantee guard Davon Reed for 2018-19 season

Today, the Phoenix Suns will guarantee Reed’s contract for the 2018-19 season

NBA: Summer League-San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Today, the Phoenix Suns have decided to guarantee Davon Reed’s contract for the 2018-19 season.

The Suns also said they will guarantee Shaquille Harrison’s spot AND they traded Jared Dudley to the Nets for (reportedly) a buyout and extra roster spot.

I don’t believe the three moves are entirely related. Reed and Shaquille Harrison were already the 14th and 15th players on a 15-man roster that already had Dudley on the books.

Check out Evan’s story on the Dudley deal, and we’ll soon have a separate story on Harrison.

This here story is on Reed’s topsy turvy last year in Phoenix that unsurprisingly but somehow surprisingly ended in a guaranteed contract for year two.

Reed was a disappointment as a rookie after being selected with the #32 overall pick last year.

The Suns surprised the league by taking University of Miami guard Davon Reed so high in the 2017 Draft, enamored with his maturity (4 years of college at Miami), wingspan-enhanced perimeter defense (7’0” wingspan on a 6’5” frame) and long-range shooting (40% on threes for his career). They thought Reed could be the perfect backup and rotation-mate to Devin Booker.

I was a huge fan of Reed last year. Or at least the IDEA of Reed. A long, mature 3-and-D backup to Booker who could share the floor and cover for Book’s deficiencies when Book had ball-handling duties... that was more exciting to me than Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley, Mike James or even T.J. Warren.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

In his first Summer League, Reed was 5th on the team in scoring (14.0 points), but he only made 28% of his threes and 37% of his shots overall. Meanwhile fellow rookie Josh Jackson was earning first-team All-Summer League recognition, point guard Mike James earned himself an NBA contract as the Suns starting point guard for a month and Shaquille Harrison earned himself a G-League deal with the NAZ Suns.

But everything went south after that for Reed, and for the Suns.

He suffered a torn knee ligament in during the offseason that kept him out of action until January, but the Suns were privately disappointed he never flashed either his reportedly good defense nor his quality shooting at any point after he returned. It was like he forgot how to play. On any level.

Reed played just 242 total minutes with the Phoenix Suns his rookie year — 17th on the team — averaging just 3.0 points (28% three point shooting), 1.9 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 21 second-half games.

As part of his rehab and acclimation from college to the NBA, Reed played 8 games with the Suns G-League affiliate in Prescott Valley but failed to impress there either.

His 10.3 points per game ranked only 13th among all players who donned a NAZ Suns jersey last year. His 28% three-point shooting was 16th on the team and worst among all players who took more than 5 threes all season. Even worse his field goal % on ALL shots was a sad 31.6%, putting him 21st and dead last on the NAZ Suns among players who took more than 1 shot last season.

The 2nd player taken in the second round was a bust after one season.

Making matters worse for the Suns and Reed, several second round picks taken after Reed were quite good as rookies.

Wesley Iwundu (Magic), Frank Mason (Kings), Semi Oyejele (Celtics), Jordan Bell (Warriors), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies) and Sindarious Thornwell (Clippers) all played well enough as rookies to be quite certain of their roster spot for their second year.

And all were ranked higher than Reed pre-draft, especially Oyejele and Bell, who played big roles for deep playoff teams as rookies.


But Davon Reed is a survivor. He did not impress at Miami in his freshman season either, yet went on to star for them as a senior.

Maybe he just needs time to adapt to new surroundings.

The Suns gave Reed a last chance to make the 2018-19 roster by extending his 2018-19 guarantee date to today (July 20), three days after the Summer League was scheduled to end.

And Reed made the most of that chance.

After making only 28% of his threes at three different levels last year — Summer League, G-League and NBA — Reed drained a cool 41% of his threes last week in Summer League as one of the Suns 3-4 best players.

He finished second on the team in scoring (13.4), third in assists (3.0), fifth in steals (0.8) and flashed a flurry of examples every single game that his speed, agility and exceptional use of that 7’0” were all back on display.

This was the Reed the Suns drafted.

Unfortunately, a year can make or break your career.

Without being able to count on Reed as the long-term backup to Booker, the Suns traded the #16 pick this year and the suddenly-coveted unprotected Miami pick in 2021 for the rights to a better version of 3-and-D in Mikal Bridges.

Mikal is taller (6’7” to 6’5”), longer (7’2” to 7’0”), was a better shooter in college (43% on threes vs. 40%, 2nd in the NATION in offensive efficiency) and generally appears more ready to contribute consistent, high-quality minutes at the NBA level in 2018-19 after being part of two National Championships in the last three years.

The Suns also signed one of the guys who inspired the long-3-and-D mold of player in Trevor Ariza, and still have Troy Daniels, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren in that wing rotation as well.

Bridges and Ariza are definitely making the Suns roster.

But in Reed’s favor, Ariza figures to play a lot of time at “power” forward in 2018-19 and no one knows the fate of Daniels right now. If Reed can be counted on to make 40% of his threes while also playing solid defense, he easily jumps ahead of Daniels in the rotation.

So yes, the Suns have a roster spot for Reed and a potential role.

And yes, Reed hardly costs a thing, armed with an NBA minimum contract for 2018-19 and no guarantees beyond that.

Now they have to trust that 2018 SL Reed is THE Reed they have going forward, and not the 28% shooter we saw all last year.

Next up, in my opinion: decision on Troy Daniels, who could be traded or simply released and stretched — equating to a minimum-level dead spot on their books the next three seasons ($1.2 million per year).