clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Reed, Harrison fighting for their Suns’ lives

The Summer Suns starting back court has no guarantees on next season.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Neither of Shaquille Harrison or Davon Reed, who both played on the Phoenix Suns last spring, have any kind of guaranteed contract for next season. If the Suns released them after Summer League is over, they’d only owe $667,000 for the 2018-19 season in total.

So summer league is these players’ last chance to show their worth to an NBA roster.

Suns coach Igor Kokoskov knows this and has given Harrison and Reed the most and third-most minutes played on the team through opening weekend, while having sure-thing draft picks Elie Okobo and Mikal Bridges play fewer minutes coming off the bench.

Can either or both of Reed and Harrison earn their way to a guaranteed contract in 2018-19?

After the release of Tyler Ulis and Alan Williams last week, the Suns have 15 contracts right now for 2018-19 (13 are guaranteed) and one signed two-way contract (George King). They are allowed to carry up to 15 full NBA contracts, plus 2 two-way deals.

Harrison and Reed still have roster spots, so maybe there’s nothing to worry about here.

But they are non-guaranteed if released after Summer League. And there have been some rumblings that the Suns might want Alan Williams back on a small deal, and I personally think it’s telling that Tyler Ulis didn’t try to hook on with another SL team for a tryout, since he’s without any kind of contract for 2018-19 now.

Could the Suns be angling to bring back both Williams (a great sideline and locker room presence who can fill in backup minutes at center when Tyson Chandler is feeling particularly old) and Ulis (Devin Booker’s best friend)?

Maybe. But the Suns don’t have any roster spots right now for that, unless they release Harrison and Reed.

Let’s see how they’re faring in Vegas.

Shaq Harrison

Harrison was called up to the NBA last year from the Suns G-League organization and promptly had two games with 4+ steals each in his first week. He’s got a reputation as a good defender, but unskilled offensive player.

In two years with the NAZ/Suns, he’s evolved from a bad-shooting shooting guard to a combo guard who can occasionally run an offense.

Harrison has never shot well from distance, draining just 30% in G-league and 23% in his Suns stint last spring. But he is definitely growing as a ball handler and play maker.

He doubled his assists per 36 minutes from 2.3 in 2016-17 -> 4.2 in 2017-18 -> 5.2 in 23 games for the Suns last spring.

Now in Summer League, Harrison is up to 9 assists per 36 minutes as the primary point guard, ranking 4th in the SL after the opening weekend.

The Suns can see him as a defensive-oriented point guard they can use coming off the bench behind Knight (PG to be named late) and Okobo, they might go ahead and guarantee that contract for Harrison.

He certainly plays hard and lights up the stat sheets with steals, rebounds, assists and a couple points.

But one of the reasons the Suns have struggled to score a lot of points this weekend is because Harrison is being ignored by the defense while the double-down on Ayton and shade toward the shooters. Ayton’s gravity is offset a bit by Harrison’s anti-gravity.

In addition, Harrison is still a very straightforward point guard. He will pick up the dribble and stand there waiting for a good opening on an entry pass, signaling his whole intention to the defense and giving them a second or two to react.

He’s a disrupter on D, but not much else at this stage.

Davon Reed

I am excited about Davon Reed’s future. In Summer League 2018, he looks like the guy the Suns drafted out of Miami who could make 40% of his threes and defend all along the perimeter with his gangly 7’1” wingspan.

Last year, Reed had a so-so showing in his rookie Summer League (29% 3P shooting, 37% overall), suffered a bad knee injury and didn’t play until almost February. When he came back he had very little fluidity in that leg, looked slow and unable to keep up with NBA athletes. And, his shot wouldn’t fall.

Now, Reed looks back to his Miami. He’s been a big catalyst of the Suns active defense this past weekend and has been nails from distance.

In 24 minutes per game, Reed is averaging 15 points on 67% shooting (6 of 11 on threes), while accumulating 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and half a block per game. His 10 made field goals are second only to the big fella on the Summer Suns.

While Harrison has clear flaws still visible, Reed does not seem to have any major weaknesses on this stage. He is defending well, cutting off passing lanes, has the handle to start a fast break, can dribble himself into a pull-up three on balance, and splashes his long-distance shots consistently.

Reed’s only problem is the depth chart. With Devin Booker taking most of the shooting guard minutes, and Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, Trevor Ariza and Troy Daniels already in the rotation with the ability to play the two, Reed might have a hard time getting playing time next year.

Personally, I’d keep Reed and waive/stretch Troy Daniels. Daniels is owed $3.25 million next season. Waiving him would allow the Suns the choice of absorbing all $3.25 million at once, or stretching it out ($1.08 million per year) over three seasons of dead cap space.

In think Reed brings more to this team than Daniels does, if that’s what it comes down to.