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New training staff features young voices, plus notes on the new training facility

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Suns General Manager James Jones is excited about the new training staff and practice facility.

Phoenix Suns NBA TV Live Practice Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

After four decades of knowing that Phoenix Suns players were in the safe, experienced hands of home-grown trainers Joe Proski and his protege, Aaron Nelson, they culminated a summer-long search to replace Nelson’s staff by assembling a team that is largely new to the NBA world.

Maybe after bucking the trend and hiring an experienced coach, Monty Williams, and staff, the Suns just couldn’t possibly keep going by a hiring proven, successful NBA-level training staff?

The staff is nine deep, including an overall director and three main programs of development, including Athletic Training, Performance and Rehabilitation.

David Crewe

The grizzled vet on the new training staff is David Crewe, the new Head Athletic Trainer. Crew has ten years of experience at the NBA level with the Grizzlies and Wolves organizations, including last year as the head man in Memphis.

Here’s a video of David Crewe talking about working with Tyus Jones in 2015:

Daniel Bove

Daniel Bove, entering his second year with the Suns as Director of Performance, has four years experience at the NBA level. Watch Bove talk to “Body by Jake” last spring about his work with the Suns players, including Mikal Bridges.

Those guys are the vets.

Brady Howe

Brady Howe, who has been less than two years at the NBA level, has been named the overall head honcho after joining the team this year in a smaller role after a year with the Hawks.

The sports medicine and performance team, consisting of nine practitioners, will operate under the direction of Howe in his role as senior director of player health and performance with Crewe, Bove and Loiacono holding director titles and consisting of the leadership staff alongside Howe.

Howe is tasked with overseeing the entire Suns athletic performance staff including the medical team, performance team, sports science team and nutritional components with the goal of optimizing performance while ensuring long-term player health. Howe has previously worked on the athletic training staff of the Atlanta Hawks and served as director of athletic performance for the NBA G League affiliates of the Utah Jazz.

Who is Brady Howe anyway? Here’s Howe in a video made a year ago when he was with the Hawks:

Now he has risen all the way to the top here with the Suns.

The Phoenix Suns have announced the club’s sports medicine and performance team, naming Brady Howe as Senior Director of Player Health and Performance, adding David Crewe as Director of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer, retaining Daniel Bove as Director of Performance, adding Adam Loiacono as Director of Rehabilitation,Cory Schlesinger as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Frank Adams as Assistant Athletic Trainer, Jeff Dolan as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Kohei Tamagawa as Sport Scientist/Assistant Strength Coach and Amy Atmore as Performance Therapist.

“I’m excited to surround our players with a diverse and dynamic performance staff where every effort revolves around comprehensive player care,” said General Manager James Jones. “The depth of knowledge and expertise will offer our players the tools and support to perform at an elite level while maintaining their health, and will serve as a great complement to our coaching staff.”

The rest of the training staff, beyond Crewe and Bove, has had short NBA training staff stints, or come from G-League or college programs.

This is not a bad thing to have a young staff. In fact, having a young training staff can be exciting, innovative and fresh. Certainly, the Suns roster of young players — still the youngest in the entire league at just under 24 years old on average — have no care whether their trainers are 10-year vets or rookies.

They only care if the latest technology is being used, and if they’re ready to play every single game over 82 games.

As great as Aaron Nelson’s team has been for the past couple decades, he’s been stuck doing his business in a tiny corner on Floor 0 of the arena as originally designed way back in 1993.

The new training staff will work in the same arena space for a year or two, but the real excitement has to do with the new practice facility that’s being constructed near 44th street and Camelback road on the edge of Scottsdale/Arcadia. As well, the arena will be renovated in the next couple of years.

General Manager James Jones mentioned at Bright Side Night last January that free agents, and NBA players in general, really care about the training and performance facilities.

Since then, the Suns organization has committed to renovating the arena — with the use of public funding via taxes on tourist-related activities like car rentals — while guaranteeing to cover any overruns as well as building a state of the art practice facility.

This past week, Jones sat down with Lindsey Smith of suns.com to do a podcast. He talked glowingly about the future of the facilities at one point, in terms of taking care of players the right way.

“Everything we do has to be intentional,” Jones said. “So that they know their time is valuable. We want the best for them, so that when they come here we will give them the best facilities. That’s why the training facility is vastly important for us. The arena renovation. New spaces for our performance staff. The equipment, the spaces they use. The locker room. The interaction. The flow. Everything they see, we want them to know that we’re constantly looking to improve it, so they feel this is where they want to spend their free time.”

“That’s how you help them. You put them in a place where they can get better. It’s hard for guys to get better in a restaurant. It’s hard for guys to get better on their couch. They get better in the weight room, the training room, the film room. So we’re making sure that those are the areas that we invest, so they see the investment and that they believe we’re about business.”

In addition to the $150 million renovation to Talking Stick Resort Arena, which will begin next off season, the Suns will spend upwards of $25 million to build the off-site state of the art training facility that will not only have all the training equipment and practice courts, but will also have multiple kitchens, dining areas, lounges and sleeping quarters. The goal is to make the facility so good the players won’t even want to leave.

“It will be a place where they’ll live,” Jones said of the new training facility. “We built it so that they would want to live there. We may end up needing to build out some more sleeping spaces, because once they get in there, everything you can imagine that a player would need... That was Robert’s intention.”

The Suns expect that rookies and new acquisitions, those in transition, will just spend their first few weeks right there at the training facility rather than rent a hotel room and deal with the stress of commuting in a new place, finding food during odd hours, and such.

“New NBA game has expanded, grown,” Jones said, and explained that the training and performance areas has had to grow along with it.

Remember when Trevor Ariza reportedly signed with the Suns a year ago sight-unseen and was disappointed with the old-timey facilities (boiled down to not offering a personal chef)? James Jones knew what he was talking about. Jones had come from the Miami and Cleveland organizations that did everything they could to cater to NBA veterans, including state of the art facilities and amenities.

Jones now wants to bring that to the Suns.

Here are the bios, as provided by the Suns in the press release:

Howe is tasked with overseeing the entire Suns athletic performance staff including the medical team, performance team, sports science team and nutritional components with the goal of optimizing performance while ensuring long-term player health. Howe has previously worked on the athletic training staff of the Atlanta Hawks and served as director of athletic performance for the NBA G League affiliates of the Utah Jazz.

Crewe comes to Phoenix following one season as the head athletic trainer for the Memphis Grizzlies. He brings valuable NBA leadership experience to the Suns medical staff where his primary role consists of overseeing the athletic training staff and working closely with team physicians with the direction of player medical care. Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Crewe spent eight seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves including the last two as head strength and conditioning coach/assistant athletic trainer. In 2016-17, he was named the David Craig Assistant Athletic Trainer of the Year by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association.

Bove enters his second season as the Suns’ director of performance. In his role, he leads the efforts of the performance staff, taking the initiative in developing, designing and implementing the Suns’ athlete management system, including the integration of sports science concepts and utilizing different technologies to maximize athletic performance while minimizing injury risk. He joined the club in 2018 after two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks as the team’s sports scientist/assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Loiacono joins the Suns following two seasons as performance therapist for the Atlanta Hawks. In his role with the Suns, Loiacono’s primary responsibilities include planning and implementing the Suns’ return-to-play protocols and progressions along with providing treatment and rehabilitation of injuries with the overall goal of maximizing player health and performance output on the court. Prior to entering the NBA with the Hawks, he spent eight years in various roles with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, including five years as fitness coach for the club.

Schlesinger comes to Phoenix following three seasons as the sports performance coach for the men’s basketball team at Stanford University. With the Suns, his primary responsibilities include the design and implementation of the Suns’ individualized strength and conditioning programming with the purpose of optimizing overall athletic performance. In addition to his time at Stanford, Schlesinger has overseen strength and conditioning for basketball programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Santa Clara University.

Adams comes to Phoenix after spending the past two seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ organization as the head athletic trainer for the Iowa Wolves of the NBA G League. In his position with the Suns, Adams’ primary role includes assisting the medical staff in overseeing the day-to-day operation of the athletic training room, treatments, injury prevention programs and documentation. Before his time with the Timberwolves, he spent two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Abilene Christian University.

Dolan joins the Suns after spending nearly two years as assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Illinois, working with the baseball and women’s soccer teams. With the Suns, Dolan’s primary role includes assisting with all day-to-day weight room operations along with assisting in the delivery of the Suns’ strength and conditioning training sessions. Prior to Illinois, he worked as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in the New York Yankees organization, earning his league’s Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year awards for both 2016 and 2017.

Tamagawa joins the Suns after finishing this past season as a sports performance assistant for the men’s basketball program at Stanford University. With the Suns, Tamagawa’s role is to assist the performance staff in implementing sport science strategies and assisting with strength and conditioning training sessions with the goal of enhancing athlete performance and recovery. Prior to his time at Stanford, he worked as a member of the strength and conditioning staff at the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center and also spent two years at the University of Georgia as a strength and conditioning intern for Olympic sports.

Atmore comes to Phoenix after most recently working as a private sports physical therapist in Los Angeles, California. In her role with the Suns, she is primarily responsible for assisting in the treatment and rehabilitation of injuries along with assisting in the development and implementation of player performance therapy programs. Atmore has worked in sports medicine for over eight years and treated thousands of athletes at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, including NBA, NFL and MLB athletes.