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Center of the Sun: Suns Preseason basketball starts Tuesday at TSRA!

And there are just 16 days until the regular season opener.

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Suns basketball is back!

This week the Suns will play three games with the preseason opener at home and then two on the road. The only game that will have guaranteed TV coverage is the Saturday evening tilt with the Blazers which will be on NBATV.

While preseason games realistically are just glorified scrimmages that count for nothing once the regular season begins, for Suns fans it will be a little different. It will be their first game situation glimpse of an almost entirely new team, a new head coach with new ideas and hopefully a new beginning.

The only clouds on the horizon are the injuries to Kelly Oubre Jr. (wrist/tendinitis), Mikal Bridges (patella/bone bruise), Aron Baynes (broken nose), Jalen Lecque (ankle sprain) and David Kramer (left tibia stress reaction). Kramer’s injury is the most serious of the bunch and he could be out for 6-12 weeks depending upon the severity. Baynes’ injury will likely cause him to have to wear a protective face-mask but may not cause him to miss significant court time.

Oubre, Bridges and Lecque’s injuries are all of a type that could be relatively minor but without more information from the Suns we can only guess at that. All three will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days so it’s possible that any or all of them might be ready to play in the Suns’ final preseason game on October 14. All three participated in the Suns’ open practice on Sunday although that was just drills, run-throughs and a shoot-around without the scrimmage that I’m sure most people were hoping for. I’m sure that the Suns will be overly cautious and not push them too hard until they’re each 100% healed so don’t count on them playing this week.

Even with some players sidelined, it will be our first look at most of the new acquisitions and Monty Williams’ offense and defense. How well everything comes together will be a question still to be answered with key rotation players sidelined. The fact that Cameron Johnson is the Suns’ only fully healthy small forward should also lead them to put some interesting lineups on the floor at times. They’re either going to have to go small with one of the guards filling in at SF when Johnson is on the bench or go big with one of the power forwards moving to the 3. The Suns also still have an open spot on the roster they could use to sign a free agent SF to an Exhibit-10 contract to fill in if they deem it necessary.

With Oubre and Bridges not completely sidelined for the open practice, I have high hopes that they will be back up to full speed soon. I doubt that they will both miss the season opener.

The important thing is that the long wait for the return of Suns basketball is almost over!

Fantable Questions of the Week

Q1 - In your opinion, what are the most interesting/important things we will hopefully learn from the Suns’ preseason games?

GuarGuar: 1. I hope we see better defensive execution in preseason. A better pick and roll coverage, better rotations, and some improved rim protection.

2. I hope to see a lot of playing time for the rookies, so we can get an idea for what kind of players they are. Reports have said both Cam Johnson and Ty Jerome have impressed in training camp, so I’m curious to see them in real NBA action.

3. I’m hoping to learn what kind of offense we are running this season. Monty hasn’t really been open about the specifics of our offensive system this year. Are we going to be more pick and roll heavy? Are we primarily running an off ball offense for Booker? What kind of touches will Ayton get this year?

Sun-Arc: 1. Whether Ayton has learned to be physically dominant.

2. Whether the team can play ANY defense. I say it that way because I acknowledge it may take a couple of months for the team to get their act together. But if they are totally lost on D, that won’t be a good sign. On the other hand if they are at least rotating well and able to guard the PnR, that will be a very good sign.

3. Pace and offensive sets Williams wants to use and whether anyone knows how to actually execute them. Last year the team could not understand Igor’s ‘blender’ and we saw the results.

SDKyle: Number one has to be what Monty Williams is going to install on both ends of the court. Will we see a very different offensive philosophy? How will he use the talents of DeAndre Ayton? How often will Booker facilitate the offense as opposed to Rubio doing so? Will we see much uptempo offense, or a tendency to favor a more deliberate halfcourt game? Will we see a more cohesive team defense?

The second question for me is about Ayton and whether he has shown any growth defensively. I’d love to see Ayton set the tone for the season by asserting himself more on both ends, but especially by showing he intends to stop giving up easy buckets in the paint.

My third thing is Cam does he look playing against NBA athletes? He was a controversial pick...does he look like a good decision?

SouthernSun: I believe we will learn what the starting rotation is, as well as the second unit. I think Monty will use preseason to really get his two rotations to gel. There won’t be as much experimentation as you’ll normally see from teams with more established pecking orders who want to see what some of their end of the bench guys can do. Monty will more than likely use this time to get the first and second units used to playing with one another.

We will also get a sense of how ready for action some our new acquisitions like Rubio, Dario, and Kaminsky are. Particularly how their three balls are looking.

Alex Sylvester: It’s tough to say that anything of importance can be learned with preseason, but it’ll hopefully show us the style of play the Suns want to play as well some of the fit that guys will have on this roster. I’m intrigued to see the new guys in action!

Q2 - Do you think that the Suns may put a little extra emphasis on actually winning preseason games instead of treating them as just practice games?

GuarGuar: I definitely think they will try to install these new “winning habits” in the first preseason game. It’s the only time to get real NBA game practice, so setting a tone should be important. Playing at 75% and not going your hardest are things this team absolutely should NOT be doing. We need to set the culture from game 1.

Sun-Arc: I don’t think there will be an emphasis on winning for preseason. It’ll be more about Monty seeing who feels comfortable with his schemes during games. Mostly who off the bench is productive and trustworthy. More bench means less concern about winning preseason games.

SDKyle: I think the Suns will try to win the preseason games, but I don’t think there will be some extra above and beyond effort to do so. The preseason is for getting ready for the games that count, and the Suns need to (and I expect will) approach them that way rather than treating them like contests that have to be won for their own sake. Do any of us really WANT too see Booker playing 37 minutes in a meaningless game, getting mauled by some rookie wing trying to prove himself? Not me.

SouthernSun: The Suns will definitely put more emphasis on winning. Well, not necessarily on winning, but playing their guys who will be playing during the regular season, in the groups they will be on the floor with when the games mean something. As I said, less experimentation, more getting the different units used to playing together. Something that’s necessary for a new team with new players and a new coach and system. And that in turn will lead to winning. As opposed to the Spurs, for instance, who will use this opportunity to see what some of their end of the bench guys can do.

Alex Sylvester: I don’t think they’ll over value winning in the preseason. I think the biggest focus point will he evaluating continuity and chemistry amongst the different lineups Monty will throw out there. Nothing of importance can be gained by being a bunch of try hards during the preseason just so you can win a couple games.

Q3 - Almost every season, an end of the bench player becomes something of a fan favorite. Who do you think is the most likely candidate to become that player for the Suns this year?

GuarGuar: I definitely believe Cheick Diallo is the best candidate to become the fan favorite. He’s full of energy and prides himself on making hustle plays. His interview with Tom and Tom on media day was fantastic. He’s got a great reputation as a teammate from his time in New Orleans. I really think he’s gonna be a great character presence for this team and someone fans will irrationally like.

Sun-Arc: I’m classifying ‘end of the bench’ to mean ‘not within the 10-player rotation’. So this removes everyone except Jerome, Okobo, lecque, Diallo, Carter, Harper, and the two-way contracts. Out of that crew Jerome is the easy pick. But I’m actually going to say Carter- since there were reports that he’s really worked on his offense and shooting. IF that is true (big IF because he was horrible at it last season), he could be a scary second year bench player with his bulldog defense.

Though Lecque will likely be the big ‘might’ hope at least early on because he’s so young and athletic- i.e. he has “so much potential”. As much as he is unlikely to crack the rotation this season (unless things go horribly wrong) he does seem like a fun player to watch and cheer for.

SDKyle: Probably Ty Jerome. He seems to have a likable personality and probably won’t play enough minutes in meaningful time for his flaws to be very apparent.

SouthernSun: Jevon Carter. Many Suns fans fell in love with De’Anthony Melton, despite him being terrible at most aspects of basketball, because he could do one thing well, and that’s one more thing than any of the other options at point guard had. Jevon Carter is essentially De’Anthony Melton with a little less size/length. There’s a portion of our fanbase who absolutely love guys who play hard nosed defense and suck at everything else. So that leads me to believe that Jevon Carter will be that guy. But coming in as a close second is Diallo. He’d be my first guess, except for I expect more missed games due to injuries in the guard rotation than in the forward/center rotation, so im thinking Carter gets a few more opportunities. Also, Jevon was the name of a quarterback I had when I played football and I was the center. Jevon was my boy, so I’ve decided I’m going to like this one too.

Alex Sylvester: I could definitely see Diallo becoming the guy that fans rant about on the Suns social media accounts getting more minutes due to being a high energy big! Someone has to replaced Richaun Holmes after all.

As always, many thanks to our Fantable - GuarGuar, Sun-Arc, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex Sylvester - for all their extra effort every week!

2018-19 Season Highlights

Phoenix Suns VERY BEST Plays & Highlights from 2018-19 NBA Season!

Quotes of the Week

”When he (Deandre Ayton) becomes a consistent force on defense, pushing through hard when he gets tired, you’re going to see a different level of play.” - Monty Williams

“I like Tyler (Johnson) because he’s solid. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He does a lot of stuff well. He can shoot it, he can pass it, he can play off the dribble, he defends his position, he rebounds. I think he understands the team.” - Monty Williams

Interesting Suns Stuff

News & Notes

The Impact and Necessity of Ricky Rubio on the Suns. Gerald Bourguet/The Step Back

Zach Lowe: Suns will win more now, not positioned for future. Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

Devin Booker’s 2019-20 season could go a long way in hushing the critics. A Sea of Blue

Ask the Phoenix Suns about Deandre Ayton and one word is mentioned over and over. Kent Somers/Arizona Republic

Devin Booker gives his first impressions of new Suns players. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports

Coach Monty Williams is Preaching Details On & Off the Court for Suns.

Phoenix Suns Coach Monty Williams Is Planting The Seeds For A Successful Relationship With Star Guard Devin Booker. Brendon Kleen/Forbes

This Week in Suns History

On October 11, 2008, Denver defeated Phoenix 77-72 in a preseason match-up at the Indian Wells (California) Tennis Garden. The game is noteworthy because it is the first NBA game played outdoors in three decades.

On October 12, 1979, Don Buse made Phoenix Suns history with Phoenix’s first-ever 3-pointer late in the first quarter of the 1979-80 opener against Golden State. He made two in one minute and Paul Westphal hit two in the 3rd, each finishing 2-2. Alvin Scott went 0-1 and Phoenix finished 4-5 on threes as the Suns beat Golden State 97-89 at home.

Suns Trivia

The Suns’ iconic original logo was designed by Stan Fabe, who owned a commercial printing plant in Tucson, for just $200 after the team had already paid a local artist $5,000 but were disappointed with the results.

Previewing the Week Ahead

Tuesday, October 8 - Phoenix Suns vs Minnesota Timberwolves (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

Thursday, October 10 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

Saturday, October 12 - Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers (preseason), 5:00 pm AZT

Important Future Dates

October 14 - Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets (preseason), 7:00 pm AZT

October 19 - Last day to waive a player on a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit.

October 21 - Regular season rosters must be set (17 players maximum including 2 two-way contract players).

October 22 - NBA 2019-20 regular season begins.

October 31 - Last day that teams can exercise team options on the rookie scale contracts of former first-round picks.

December 15 - First day that players signed to new contracts can be traded.

  • The Suns cannot trade Frank Kaminsky, Cheick Diallo, Ricky Rubio or Jalen Lecque until 12/15/19 and Kelly Oubre Jr. cannot be traded until 1/15/20.

January 5 - First day that teams can sign players to 10-day contracts.

January 15 - Last day to sign players to Two-Way contracts.

February 6 - NBA Trade Deadline (3 pm ET).

Last Week’s Poll Results

Last week’s poll was “What record do you think the Suns will finish the preseason with?”

06% - 4-0

20% - 3-1

62% - 2-2

11% - 1-3

01% - 0-4

There were 232 votes cast.

This week’s poll is...


Which of the Suns’ rookies are you most interested in seeing play in the preseason games?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Cam Johnson
    (129 votes)
  • 35%
    Ty Jerome
    (77 votes)
  • 2%
    Jalen Lecque (may not play due to injury)
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Jared Harper (TW)
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Tariq Owens (E-10)
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Norense Odiase (E-10)
    (4 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now

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