Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.
Just eleven days ago, the NBA announced they had decided to continue and finish the 2019-20 season. There were still details to work out but the decision to “just do it” had been made. Everyone seemed happy and even Dr. Anthony Fauci liked the overall plan.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told @Stadium he is supportive of the NBA’s restart plan: “It’s quite creative.. I think they might very well be quite successful with it... They really wanted to make sure that the safety of the players was paramount.” pic.twitter.com/qwo5bCDrVt— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
It didn’t take long before rumblings of discontent emerged from some players though and it’s very possible that more than a few might decide to sit out the restart. So far I haven’t heard of any of the Suns’ players joining this group but there’s still plenty of time for it to happen.
It is understandable for there to be some who are against the plan to restart. The environment in Orlando will be quite restrictive due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and still can’t be made 100 percent safe. Many players also see returning to basketball during a time of great social unrest as somewhat trivial.
Kyrie Irving has been the most vocal supporter of not restarting the season in Orlando but he’s far from being the lone voice in opposition.
Sources: Kyrie Irving led a call of 80-plus NBA players, including Chris Paul/Kevin Durant/Carmelo Anthony/Donovan Mitchell, and Irving and several players spoke up about not supporting resumed season due to nationwide unrest from social injustice/racism.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 13, 2020
Sources tell me majority of the NBA call was on social justice reform. It lasted for about 2 hours, but over an hour was dedicated to that.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 13, 2020
While they are absolutely all concerned about COVID and that was a vital part of conversation. Racial injustice is the #1 talking point.
It also seems that some players have yet to go public with their concerns.
"A couple guys from the Lakers and the Clippers ... there are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play and some don't want to play."@Matt_Barnes22 on players wanting injustices in the black community addressed before basketball resumes. pic.twitter.com/C3ULiUaZ7u— Dunk Bait (@DunkBait) June 7, 2020
We fans want to see more basketball and the NBA players really do want to play basketball but many just have reservations over whether right now is the time to “just do it”. The NBA has yet to release a detailed plan regarding health and safety in Orlando to the players which adds to the unease. Some are unhappy with the restrictions they already know will be placed upon them and their families. Some firmly believe that their time would be more well spent focusing their efforts and influence on promoting racial equality and social change.
They all have valid concerns. I wouldn’t be down on any player who decided not to play in the season restart but I don’t expect there to be a large percentage of players who sit it out. Barring a severe worsening of the pandemic, the restart and the playoffs will happen with or without them simply because of money. That may sound callous but it’s the truth. The potential loss of revenue that would result from cancelling the season entirely would hurt owners and players alike and probably result in the termination of the present Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). That would lead to the players union and the NBA having to negotiate a new CBA before a new season could begin which could lead to an even further delay in beginning the 2020-21 season... which would lead to even more financial losses for both sides.
I just don’t see that happening. The NBA will at least attempt to restart the season. There surely could be problems that occur in Orlando during the restart which might bring it all to an abrupt and premature end but the attempt will most certainly be made.
What the effects will be of having some players sit out the restart is completely unknown until we know exactly who will sit out but just one or two key players missing from any team will change the odds for almost every team. For now all we know is that will become yet another obstacle to overcome in the path to this year’s NBA Finals - or just to the playoffs - for some teams.
Fantable Questions of the Week
Q1 - If everyone is healthy, how would you like to see Monty Williams handle his player rotation in Orlando?
GuarGuar: First thing’s first… Elie Okobo should be receiving 0 minutes unless it’s garbage time. When Rubio is subbed out we should be going Point Book. Booker, Ayton, and Mikal should be playing massive minutes while we are still in playoff contention. Rubio should get close to mid 30s too. If Oubre is playing he should be the starting power forward. If he isn’t playing then Dario should start. Cam Johnson should see the most minutes out of any player off the bench. If Monty has to bring in one of the backup PGs, it should be Carter.
Sun-Arc: I agree with the main BSotS writers regarding short rotations. BOBRA + Saric, Baynes, & Cam. I would imagine Carter gets some playing time- though I could see it limited to 8-12 mpg if any. Gotta win every game to start to have a chance.
SDKyle: While the Suns remain in contention for the play-in, I’d like to see him go all in with our top players. BOBRA, with Cam Johnson, Baynes, and Saric off the bench and limited use of Carter and and any other PG option as needed.
Once and if the Suns are eliminated from contention, empty the bench and let Lecque entertain us with some dunks.
SouthernSun: First, I want the Suns to sign Gerald Green to play the final 8 games or more. Then I want Monty to have a rotation of
- Booker/Green/ Carter
Booker and the rest of the main 8 guys (including Cam, Baynes, and Saric) should play the vast majority the minutes. Especially the starting 5. No mucking around with it. Play what works as much as possible. I don’t want to see Ty or Okobo set foot on the court.
Alex S: I could see the Ricky-Devin-Kelly-Mikal-Deandre lineup getting the starts with minutes being given to Cam/Aron/Frank/Dario. The question becomes will Ty or Elie get the backup guard minutes? I do believe Devin is going to get some minutes at the 1 but one of these two are going to need to play at least 5-10 minutes. My guess is Ty gets the minutes.
Q2 - We all know that getting the 8th seed is an extreme long shot for the Suns so, other than that, what do you hope to see from them on the court in Orlando?
GuarGuar: I really want to see Ayton be consistently great throughout this Orlando trip. We really need him to develop into a top NBA player. He’s got all the tools. I want to compete. This is the most competitive environment we’ve been at in years. Play like you belong there and aren’t a bottom feeder. This team had too many games where they came out flat and with no energy. There is no reason at all for that to happen even once this trip. You are playing for your season.
Sun-Arc: I would love to see them locked in and competitive for 48 minutes each game. Even if they lose, that would be improvement. Outside of the first 10 games or so, we didn’t see stretches longer than 2-4 games where they sustained the ability to really be ‘present.’ I’d like to see they get it now.
SDKyle: I hope to just see some good basketball. I’m starved for sports. I don’t think 8 games under these bizarre circumstances is going to be especially informative of the future Suns.
SouthernSun: I just want to see that starting 5 continue to dominate like they did in the season when healthy. They have pretty much no chance of getting the 8th seed, so just try their best to get the message out there that they are ready to seriously compete and are a good destination for a hungry free agent this summer who wants to step on to a team that’s ready to take the next step.
Alex S: I want to see the starting 5 unit I mentioned continue to prove that they’re not a fluke. This is important because the Suns are going to need to invest in their bench or in a starting PF this offseason… I personally believe a backup guard is our biggest priority. Yes, I want a traditional PF who can rebound and hit a jumper but I also love the idea of maximizing the talent of Oubre and Bridges together. Deandre has shown he can defend the rim so why not mold your team to be young/athletic/and versatile?
Q3 - Which team do you think has the best chance of taking the 8th seed away from Memphis?
GuarGuar: I think Portland has a great chance to end up as the 8 seed. They are getting Nurkic and Collins back, and Dame will be well rested. They are pretty experienced in high pressure situations too so I think that can also give them an edge.
Sun-Arc: You can’t count out Portland. Though I think the Pellies, if they (Zion & Ingram) stay healthy have the best chance to take that 8th spot away from Memphis. Though I think Memphis will hold onto it. They were playing well in general when healthy before they were forced to unleash the “Jackson Hole”.
SDKyle: I think the Pelicans are a good bet, but I’m actually giving a slight edge to the Blazers based on the reports that both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are now healthy and ready to go in Orlando. That’s a big boost in depth for the Blazers, even if both guys are rustier than the rest of the presumably rusty league.
SouthernSun: Pelicans. Zion. They are right there and Zion is very very good. And Jrue is no slouch. Decent rotation around him.
Alex S: New Orleans. I would’ve said Portland but I don’t think their heads are in the right place (see Damian and CJ’s comments of late) and the Pelicans have a very easy schedule as well. Zion might be 100% healthy too which is a terrifying thought. I know Nurkic might come back but I highly doubt he’s going to be a good version of himself in that short amount of time.
As always, many thanks to our Fantable members - GuarGuar, Sun-Aec, SDKyle, SouthernSun and Alex S. - for all their extra effort every week!
2019-20 Season Highlights
SUNS at CELTICS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | January 18, 2020
Devin Booker drops 39 points in Suns vs. Celtics
Mikal Bridges Career High 26 Points Full Highlights (1/18/2020)
Deandre Ayton | 26 Points 15 Rebounds | - Suns vs Celtics | Full Highlights 1/18/2020
Dario Saric 13 Pts 11 Rebs 5 Asts Highlights vs Boston Celtics | 18.01.2020
Quote of the Week
“We have to continue to get better each and every day. We haven’t done anything yet. So our main goal should be to just lock in and just continue to just focus on getting better and coming back next year, better than ever.” - Kelly Oubre Jr.
Interesting Suns Stuff
The following is from a CBS Sports article titled “NBA storylines you’ve likely forgotten since the season shut down in March”:
Oubre, a career 32.9 percent 3-point shooter, vaulted up to 38.6 percent after Ayton’s return on 6.4 attempts per game before tearing his meniscus. Bridges experienced a similar jump, from 31.5 percent this season before Ayton’s comeback to 37.1 percent afterward. Ayton obviously creates space, but no center has such a dramatic effect on their teammates shooting. Those numbers are going to regress, but when even a famous non-shooter like Ricky Rubio jumps from 31.6 percent prior to Ayton’s return to 38.9 percent afterward, something meaningful has to be going on.
The rest of the article is well worth a read.
News & Notes
How NBA teams may use replacement players. Hoops Hype
Suns’ practice facility on pace to be ‘up and running’ by early September. Kellan Olson/Arizona Sports
Suns’ Kelly Oubre: ‘Everything going on is bringing us closer’. Hoops Hype
Ricky Rubio raises his voice in the face of racism. Explica
The Worst Lose-Lose Trades in Modern NBA History. Bleacher Report
Suns’ Devin Booker spotted at Malibu sushi date with Kendall Jenner. Clutch Points
This Week in Suns History
The Bulls had the ball and, although Westphal’s sole instruction on the play was for none of the players to double-team any of the Bulls (even Michael Jordan), Danny Ainge left John Paxson to try and either steal the ball or foul Horace Grant, who had missed all five of his shot attempts in the game and wasn’t a good crunch-time free throw shooter. Grant saw Paxson alone 25 feet from the basket and fired a perfect pass, and Paxson then made a three pointer with 3.9 seconds left, giving the Bulls a 99–98 lead.
A last second shot attempt by Phoenix’s Kevin Johnson was blocked by Grant and the Bulls won the series 4-2.
Classic Suns Highlights
Since ‘68: Ronnie Lee “Floor Score”
Ron Lee’s Suns Career Was Cut Short... Phoenix Suns Stories #3
In his two and a half seasons in Phoenix, Ron Lee did not miss a single game and played in a total of 207 games. He is still the Suns all-time leader in steals per game (2.2) and steal percentage (4.2). Lee accomplished this while averaging only 22.8 minutes per game.
Since he was drafted, Mikal Bridges has yet to miss a single game due to injury, illness or DNP-CD. He currently has played in 147 consecutive games and started in 80. He is currently tied for 9th in all-time steals per game (1.5) and 8th in steal percentage (2.5). Bridges has averaged playing 28.5 minutes per game.
Previewing the Week Ahead
June 15 - International players return to markets.
June 21 - All players report.
Important Future Dates
June 23 - Coronavirus testing begins.
June 30 - Training camps open.
July 7 - Teams travel to Orlando.
July 9-29 - Training camps begin, including three inter-squad scrimmages.
July 30 – August 14 - Seeding games begin.
August 15-16 - Possible play-in tournaments.
August 17 - Start of postseason.
August 25 - NBA Draft Lottery.
August 30 - Guests/family members permitted to arrive.
August 31 to September 13 - Conference Semifinals.
September 15-28 - Conference Finals.
September 30 to October 13 - NBA Finals.
October 15 - NBA Draft.
October 18 - Free agency begins.
November 10 - Target for opening day for 2020-21 season training camps.
December 1 - Target for 2020-21 season opening night.
Last Week’s Poll Results
December 1 is the target date for the 2020-21 season to begin. Do you think it will actually begin then?
72% - Yes.
28% - No.
A total of 97 votes were cast.
This week’s poll is...
Would you be upset if any Suns players decide to sit out the season restart?
This poll is closed
It depends on their reasons.