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Suns waive Motley, should fill spot with another big

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The Phoenix Suns big men behind Deandre Ayton struggled in preseason. Now there’s a chance to bolster that spot.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday night, several NBA teams waived non-guaranteed players in order to avoid guaranteeing any part of their contract once the season starts on Tuesday.

Per Shams, the Phoenix Suns waived Johnathan Motley.

The waiver pops open a roster spot for the Suns in case they want to claim or sign another available player to take his place.

Teams will have 48 hours to claim a player waived today and take over their contract, or the player will become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.

If you’ve been watching preseason, you know that the Suns did not have good enough depth on the front line. They played teams with productive big men in the Utah Jazz (Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors) and Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell) and Motley struggled to keep up.

Motley played all four preseason games, averaging 6 points and 4.8 rebounds in just under 12 minutes per game. Those raw numbers don’t look bad, but he did not have the length or heft for the big man spot the Suns needed him to fill.

Now the Suns could just simply stay at 14 roster players, but I hope they don’t.

Right now, the center depth chart is Deandre Ayton, Dario Saric and Damian Jones. As long as Saric and Ayton are both healthy, that’s fine. That tandem proved quite effective in the Bubble when Saric primarily played the center in the second unit. If this is the case, Damian Jones doesn’t get any more playing time than Cheick Diallo a year ago.

But what happens when Saric and/or Ayton are out? Last year, the Suns had both Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky ready to step in. Those two combined to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds in about 35 minutes per game.

This year, the Suns appear to have replaced ‘Frank and Baynes’ with rookie Jalen Smith and journeyman Damian Jones. Both have potential but have definitely not been as effective as the Suns hoped so far. If Saric or Ayton is out significant time, I think the Suns are in trouble.

Jones played all four preseason games, posting only 3 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes per game — even less productive than Motley. But Jones has a partial guarantee on this year ($350,000), so he might as well stick on the roster a while.

Jalen Smith played all four games too, posting about 4.8 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.7 minutes per game. He has shown a good level of aggressiveness on both ends, but shot only 14% on threes and gets really lost on defense so far. He will have a rotation spot, but probably not more than 10 minutes per game to start.

The Suns could really use another big man on the bench, one who is a proven NBA player that can still be productive but is somehow still available three days before the season starts.

Frank or Dewayne

Two names pop to mind:

  • Dewayne Dedmon and
  • did you guess it?, old friend Frank Kaminsky.

Recently, Dedmon averaged 10 and 8 in two seasons in Atlanta, earning him a $10 million per year contract in free agency. But he was awful in Sacramento for the Kings. So bad he got traded at the deadline to Atlanta and then traded again this offseason to Detroit, who waived him two weeks ago because they’d for some reason signed/acquired a dozen big men in the first two days of free agency.

Kaminsky made $5 million a year ago with the Suns, posting 9.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game before going down to a knee injury all spring and playing awful in the Bubble. So awful he was waived by the Suns, then signed and waived by the Kings on Saturday.

Either player would be better than nothing, and maybe even better than Damian Jones (who could fill the Cheick Diallo role). Both can shoot the three to space the floor while providing good rebounding.

What say you, Suns fans? One of these bigs, or someone else?

Poll

Should the Suns sign one of these big men?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Dewayne Dedmon
    (286 votes)
  • 40%
    Frank Kaminsky
    (357 votes)
  • 27%
    Someone, anyone else
    (249 votes)
892 votes total Vote Now