Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns made some roster adjustments on the back end, adding Adonis Arms (undrafted rookie) and Saben Lee (two years with the Detroit Pistons) on training camp deals.
To even things out, Phoenix waived Frank Jackson, who was on the same type of training camp deal and had totaled fewer than 10 minutes across three preseason games; Jackson was a healthy scratch in the first.
By my count, this leaves three players on training camp deals (Arms, Lee, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrrot), two players on two-way deals (Ish Wainright and Duane Washington Jr.), and 14 full roster spots taken (including Jae Crowder) leaving one available full roster spot open for the three training camp deal-guys to earn.
Both newcomers have Phoenix backgrounds, with Arms moving from Milwaukee to Phoenix at age 12, playing his high school ball at Desert Vista High before starting his collegiate career at Mesa Community College (NAIA).
He also made college stops at Northwest Nazarene University (D2) and Winthrop (D1) before playing an important role for a strong Texas Tech squad. He finished the 2022 NBA Draft cycle ranked 67th on my board, and as soon as the draft closed, I hoped the Suns would pick him up; they instead chose to abstain from the undrafted market at that time.
At Tech, Arms was versatile out on the perimeter, providing elite athleticism and solid secondary playmaking all while defending 1-4 at 6-foot-5. Drawbacks on draft night were his age (already 24 years old) and poor shooting numbers (30.8% from three at Tech but 35.1% the year prior at Winthrop).
Lee, who becomes the second Lee on the team after Damion Lee, played his high school ball for Corona Del Sol High in Tempe (one year as Aztec teammates with Marvin Bagley III) before playing three seasons at Vanderbilt.
S. Lee entered the draft in 2020 with similar concerns of shooting (32.8% on 265 deep attempts over three years) and age (well over 21 years old by draft night in a November draft due to the pandemic). The Utah Jazz picked Lee with the 38th pick early in the second round before trading him to Detroit less than a week later.
In two seasons with the Pistons, Lee’s shooting has continued to struggle, shooting just 22-83 (26.5%) over 85 games, but he has found a knack for rim pressure.
It’s worth noting that when he spent time at Detroit’s G League program, the Motor City Cruise (the artist formerly known as the Northern Arizona Suns for all you G League historians), he scored at an outrageously high clip, including multiple 40-point outings, albeit on similarly poor three-point shooting.
While it’s entirely possible that these two — and TLC — are vying for the 15th and final roster spot, it’s also entirely possible that these newcomers are just meant to be healthy bodies for the final preseason game (Wed. vs Sacramento) while the starters get their minutes dialed back and the Cam’s and Shamet remain out.
There are, of course, cuts going on around the league and one could be intriguing enough to the Suns that that’s how the 15th spot gets used. Moe Harkless, for example, was just waived by the Houston Rockets, and he has a track record of shooting and defense for playoff teams.
Harkless’s shooting numbers are wildly inconsistent across his career, but they always seem to be up on those playoff teams. For example, in 61 games split across the Clippers and Heat over the last three seasons, he shot 38.1% from three. However, in 85 games split across the Knicks and Kings over the same span, he shot 28.1%.
Regardless of what avenues exist outside the organization ahead of Monday evening’s 2 p.m. AZ time deadline to be down to no more than 15 roster spots (plus the two two-ways), the most important thing to the Suns at this very moment is what the three camp deal players can do on Wednesday against the Kings. All while keeping as many guys healthy as possible, of course.