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Center of the Sun, Part 1: Suns get good grades for offseason moves but could be better

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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.

NBA: Finals-Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

Although the Suns haven’t made a lot of offseason moves, all of the offseason grades I’ve seen for them have been good, ranging from B-minus to B-plus. Bringing back CP3 on a mostly team friendly $120 mil, 4-years deal (with only the first two years fully guaranteed) is the number one thing mentioned in those grades. Next are re-signing Cam Payne to an also team friendly deal ($19 mil, 3 years), adding big man depth by signing JaVale McGee, trading Jevon Carter and the 29th pick in the draft for Landry Shamet and adding Elfrid Payton as PG insurance.

All that adds up to a good but not great offseason. According to most, what is so far keeping it from being a great offseason is not yet signing Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges to contract extensions.

I find it a bit puzzling that they have not done this yet but there also is no great hurry to do so. Rookie contract extensions can be signed any time between now and October 18. That’s a full six weeks before the deadline. While the Suns wasted no time in signing Devin Booker to a designated rookie max deal when he became eligible, that was in a different era with a different GM. James Jones operates a little differently than Ryan McDonough so I’m not really surprised to see him handle this differently either.

Dave King wrote in-depth on what kind of extensions that Ayton and Bridges could expect not long ago so there’s no need for me to go into that again. But why wait on doing those extensions?

With Bridges, the amount is likely still in question. He’s unlikely to get a max extension but it could be close and just how close could be a sticking point. Plus there might also be incentives under consideration. For Ayton, getting a max deal seems like a foregone conclusion but there are still details that would need to be addressed. A max deal for Ayton would be 25% of the cap but if any of the following come to be in the final year of his rookie deal, he could get up to 30%:

  1. The player was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the past three seasons.
  2. The player was named Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the past three seasons.
  3. The player was named Most Valuable Player in any of the past three seasons.

Plus, even in Booker’s contract extension, there were some negotiations on those possibilities.

  1. 25% of the cap if Booker didn’t make an All-NBA Team in 2018/19.
  2. 27.5% of the cap if he was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
  3. 28.5% of the cap if he was named to the All-NBA Second Team.
  4. 30% of the cap if he was named to the All-NBA First Team.

Teams also don’t actually have to offer the 30% of the cap option in a designated rookie extension which could be another sticking point.

And although few probably want to consider this, if James Jones is determined to keep all his options open for as long as possible, NBA rules prohibit teams from trading a player that has signed an extension covering more than 3 seasons, a higher salary, or with larger annual increases for at least 6 months. While I don’t believe a trade involving either Ayton or Bridges is going to happen, Jones may not be in too big of a hurry to close that door just yet.


2020-21 Season Highlights

SUNS at TRAIL BLAZERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 11, 2021

SUNS at HORNETS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 28, 2021

BULLS at SUNS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | March 31, 2021


Quotes of the Week

“I’ll be ready for the season.” - Chris Paul (on his wrist injury)

“To play with that kind of pain and fight through it, I’m sure, had a huge impact on our young guys. To see a guy (Chris Paul) who has accomplished everything except, you know, winning a title, is out there fighting his tail off every night and not willing to come out of the game.” - Monty Williams

“My leadership... is not for everybody. It’s hard because I expect things a certain way but the thing about it is I never ask you to do something I’m not willing to do myself.” - Chris Paul

“I loved being in Phoenix (last season)... it just felt good, it felt right.” - Chris Paul


News & Notes

3 things Devin Booker must do to become the greatest Phoenix Suns player of all-time. Sportskeeda

Deandre Ayton and 3 frontcourt players with best shot at first NBA All-Star team next season. Clutch Points

Chris Paul Destroyed Gilbert Arenas in a Pre-Draft Workout and Learned a Lesson in the Process. Sportscasting

WATCH: Cam Johnson Breaks Down Monstrous NBA Finals Dunk. 247 Sports

The Phoenix Suns Potential Starting Lineup: Can They Beat A Healthy Western Conference? Fadeaway World

Suns have the depth, stability to stay formidable in the West. Basketball News

Ranking the Top 22 shooting guards for the 2021-22 season. Hoops Hype

2021-22 win-total odds: 5 NBA teams you should hammer the over on. Yardbarker

NBA All-Star Chris Paul Putting Vegan Vending Machines on HBCU Campus. One Green Planet

NBA Draft Bust Series: Dragan Bender. Last Word On Sports


This Week in Suns History

On September 6, 1977, the Suns acquired point guard Don Buse from the Indiana Pacers for Ricky Sobers. Sobers was instrumental in Phoenix’s 1976 NBA Finals run. Buse would miss just one game in three seasons for Phoenix while averaging 8.0 points, 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game. In 1979 he helped take the Suns deep into the playoffs before losing 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals to the Seattle Supersonics who went on to win the NBA Finals 4-1 against the Washington Bullets. Buse is still 3rd on the Suns’ All-Time list for career steals per game average with 1.93 per game.

On September 7, 2004, the Suns signed super-speedy Summer League standout and Japanese-born PG Yuta Tabuse. Yuta was in Dallas’ training camp before being cut and with Denver in the preseason in 2003 before signing with the ABA’s Long Beach Jam where he averaged 5.3 pts and 6.3 asts in 2003. He scored seven points in his first NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks on November 3, 2004, becoming on that day the first Japanese player ever to play in an NBA regular season game. He was later waived by the Suns on December 16, 2004 after playing in just four games averaging 1.8 pts, 1.0 rebs and .8 asts in 4.3 minutes per game. Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni said of Tabuse, “I liked his energy, I liked his courage.”

On September 11, 1984, the Phoenix Suns won the 1984 Italian Open with a 148-121 victory over the New Jersey Nets in Milan, Italy behind Rod Foster’s 25 points and Walter Davis’ 24. The Suns finished 4-0 in the tourney.

On September 12, 2005, the Suns signed former Arizona State University star shooting guard Eddie House to a one-year deal. House didn’t disappoint, appearing in 81 games off the bench averaging 9.8 points per game and 38.9% from beyond the arc.


Suns Trivia

Don Buse was originally drafted by the Suns in the 1972 NBA Draft (3rd round, 34th overall) but decided to play for his hometown Indiana Pacers of the ABA instead of joining the NBA.

After being waived by the Suns in November of 2004, Yuta Tabuse played for various NBA D-League teams for three years as he tried unsuccessfully to get back on and NBA roster. In 2008 he returned to Japan and played professionally there until 2018. Tabuse teams there twice won the Japanese League Championship in 2010 and 2017. In 2010 he was named Finals MVP.

Of the 10 former Suns head coaches that have taken Phoenix to the playoffs, only John MacLeod (37), Mike D’Antoni (26), Paul Westphal (25) and Cotton Fitzsimmons (22) have coached the Suns to more total playoff wins than Monty Williams (14). Of the total of 20 head coaches the the Suns have had since joining the NBA as an expansion franchise, 9 of them were head coach for just a single year or less. The record for least amount of games coached by a Suns head coach is 7 when Butch van Breda Kolff was fired after just seven games (3-4 record) at the beginning of the 1972-83 season.


Important Future Dates

September 28 - Training camps open.

October 4 - Phoenix Suns @ Sacramento Kings (Preseason game) 7:00 pm PST

October 6 - Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers (Preseason game) 6:00 pm PST

October 10 - Phoenix Suns @ LA Lakers (Preseason game) 6:30 pm PST

October 13 - Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers (Preseason game) 6:00 pm PST

October 18 - Deadline for signing contract extensions.

October 19 - 2021-22 regular season begins.

October 20 - Opening Night: Phoenix Suns vs Denver Nuggets 7:00 pm AZT (ESPN)

December 25 - Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors 3:00 PM AZT (ABC)

February 20, 2022 - NBA All-Star Game.

April 10, 2022 - Regular season ends.

April 12-15, 2022 - Play-In Tournament.

April 16, 2022 - Playoffs begin.

June 23, 2022 - NBA Draft.


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