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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Time for the Suns to start preparations for the 2021-22 season

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Your weekly roundup of Suns news, rumors, notes and videos from the prior week plus a preview of the week to come.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Game Recaps

Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks L (105-98) Game 6 Recap

Unlike seasons past, the Suns — and their fans — will have little down time between their final game and the draft, free agency, summer league, etc. Six days ago, they were playing in the Finals. Three days from now, they will be at the NBA Draft. One week from today, free agency starts. Six days after that, NBA Summer League begins.

I love it. Losing in the Finals stung a lot but there’s little time stew in that disappointment as things will move along quickly now.

With only the 29th pick in the first round in their pocket this year, Draft day might not seem very important but it is possible that the Suns could find a player that might contribute off the bench. Or they could select a player that they think (or know) that they could trade. While the Suns can’t trade their first round pick before the draft, they can trade the player they select afterward. Dallas, Miami, Minnesota and Portland have zero draft picks between them - 1st or 2nd rounders - this year and Chicago, Boston and Milwaukee only have second round picks and could be potential trade partners after the fact. The Suns could also trade the draft rights to the player they select with another team on draft day for another player or a future draft pick. It could get interesting.

I suspect that free agency is what has most Suns fans sitting on the edge of their seats though. The deadline for Chris Paul to either opt in or out of the final year his present contract is this Sunday. What he decides to do will be the determining factor in how the Suns’ deal with the free agency period as well as future ones. Your guess is likely as good as mine as to how this will play out but I believe it’s very unlikely that CP3 winds up leaving Phoenix. I’d say that he and James Jones are likely to already have at least a “gentleman’s agreement” in place even if they don’t have all the details worked out and we should all be let in on what the plan is soon.

Although Summer League is still almost two weeks away, we’ll probably see the Suns begin adding players to their SL team shortly after the draft. A lot of fans are already very disappointed with rookie Jalen Smith but I’m not one of them. I won’t go into the multitude of reasons I have for that but I will say that his performance in this Summer League should give us a much better idea of his potential than what little we’ve seen of him so far.

As the Suns no longer have a G League team, they won’t be looking at players to fill out that roster in SL. Pretty much everyone they invite to join their SL team will be auditioning for one of the potential open spots on their main roster. Expect to see more experienced players surrounding Stix, Ty-Shon and the Suns’ draft pick than in previous years with the focus on giving Stix the opportunity to show what he’s learned during his 1st season with the Suns.

I’m reserving my opinion of him until then.

It’s going to be an extremely exciting and important offseason for the Suns with a lot happening early on.


Game Highlights

SUNS at BUCKS | FULL GAME 6 NBA FINALS HIGHLIGHTS | July 20, 2021


Quotes of the Week

“It hurts badly, but I’m also grateful that we had this chance to play for a championship. I’m just grateful for that part.” - Monty Williams

“We trust him (Monty Williams). He’s developed relationships with each and everybody in the huddle. He can pretty much say anything. He can be brutally honest, but he’s always supporting, and he’s always uplifting. That’s just the type of guy he is.” - Devin Booker

“For me it just means back to work. Back to work. Nothing more, nothing less. Ain’t no moral victories or whatnot. We sort of saw what it takes to get there, and hopefully we see what it takes to get past that.” - Chris Paul

“This is just the beginning. We know what it takes now.” - Deandre Ayton


News & Notes

The Suns’ Future Is Bright, As Long As They Have Monty Williams. The Ringer

What A Ride. Suns.com

Suns offseason preview: Five things Phoenix needs to prioritize. Hoops Hype

Phoenix Suns 2021 NBA Draft Primer. Zona Hoops

3 replacements for Phoenix Suns if Chris Paul left in free agency. NBA Analysis Network

The Ringer Guide to 2021 NBA Free Agency. The Ringer

Suns fail to effectively utilize Deandre Ayton. 247 Sports

Brilliance, and Heartbreak: The Story of Chris Paul’s Career. New York Times

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo invited Suns coach Monty Williams into locker room after winning title. CBS Sports


This Week in Suns History

On July 27, 2013, the Suns traded Luis Scola to the Indiana Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a 2014 1st round draft pick (Bogdan Bogdanović was later selected). Green and Plumlee played integral parts in the Suns’ short-lived turnaround season in 2013-14 when they went 48-34. They improved by 23 wins over the previous season (25-57) and just barely missed the playoffs in an extremely tough Western conference.

On August 1, 1994. the Suns traded center Mark West to the Detroit Pistons for a 1996 2nd round draft pick and a 1999 2nd round draft pick. West was acquired from Cleveland in 1988 as part of the same trade in which the Suns acquired Kevin Johnson and Tyrone Corbin for Larry Nance and Mike Sanders. He played 8 seasons for the Suns, starting in 349 games, with career averages of 6.9 pts, 6.0 rebs and 1.7 blocks per game. He is 2nd on the Suns’ All-Time Blocks Leaders list with 897.

On August 1, 1999, the Suns signed Oliver Miller who was formerly their 1st round draft pick (22nd) in 1992 as a free agent to a 1-year deal. Miller, who was notorious for his weight problems, left the Suns after signing a 4-year, 10 million offer sheet from Detroit in 1994 which the Suns decided not to match at least partially due to rape allegations made against him shortly after the Suns were eliminated from the playoffs that year (no charges were ever filed). By the time he returned to Phoenix in 1999, Miller’s weight was rumored to be near 400 pounds.


Suns Trivia

After playing in only 118 of a possible 164 games (71.9%) during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons due to injuries, some were labeling Devin Booker as “injury prone”. Since then he has played in 159 of a possible 167 games (95.2%). One of the games he missed during that time was a DNP-CD in the final regular season game of the 20-21 season against the Spurs in which all of the Suns starters sat or played only token minutes.

Jae Crowder’s 54 made 3-pointers during the playoffs is tied for first with Dan Majerle (1993) in Suns History for the most 3-pointers made in a single playoffs.


Previewing the week ahead

Thursday, July 29 - NBA Draft.

Sunday, August 1 - Chris Paul’s Player Option deadline.


Important Future Dates

August 2 - 2021-22 season Free Agency period begins (6 pm ET).

August 6 - Moratorium ends (12:01 p.m. ET). Free agents can officially be signed.

August 8-17 - NBA Summer League 2021 (Las Vegas).

September 28 - Training camps for 2021-22 season open.

October 19 - First day of the 2021-22 regular season.

February 20, 2022 - NBA All-Star Game.

April 12, 2022 - Regular season ends.

April 16, 2022 - Playoffs begin.

June 23, 2022 - NBA Draft.


COTS2 : Inside the Suns with the Fantable will be published later this week.