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Center of the Sun: Will the Suns get back in the Draft this Thursday?

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

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard - or heard of - these words uttered a few weeks ago by Suns GM James Jones:

“I explore all options, so if there’s an opportunity to get back in the draft, we will.”

Well, the draft is almost here and this Thursday we’ll see just how serious he was about it.

The Suns have been working out potential draftees who could be taken at many points in the draft so I’m pretty certain it wasn’t all talk. Still though, the Suns are going to have to acquire a draft pick from another team and none of them are likely going to be in a rush to give them away. Buying a second rounder would be the easy route back in and late second round picks are usually the easiest to get. Those rarely even turn into rotation players so that would likely only obtain some cheap labor to fill out the roster and keep the end of the bench warm.

Early second rounders and late first rounders would definitely be more expensive but also would be more likely to get a player that might actually have a future in the NBA. One of those would likely cost us a rotation player as part of a trade. Another avenue could be trading one of Phoenix’s future draft picks for one this year. Don’t count on getting a high pick back for that though as the Suns aren’t likely to fall apart any time soon and make their own future 1st round picks super valuable. And for a team to even consider this, they would have to be one of the teams that have more than just their own picks in this year’s draft.

To get a lottery pick... don’t count on it. It would take a lot for the Suns to get their hands on one of those. Even though Deandre Ayton would definitely be worth a 1st round pick or two in a trade, he can’t be traded until after the draft so any picks obtained in a trade for him would be future picks, not picks in this year’s draft. Of course, players selected in the draft can be traded only 30 days after signing their contracts so that might be an option later on... but that’s a topic for another time.

While I’m sure interest in this year’s draft isn’t very high in many Suns fans, I’m still curious about what Jones will do between now and then. Buy a pick? Make a small trade in which he gets a pick back from another team? Hey, there was a rumor that Denver was interested in acquiring Jae Crowder and if that’s true he might even send Crowder to Denver in a trade that also brings back the Suns own 1st round pick (30th) that they originally traded to OKC in the deal that brought in CP3.

For some reason, I find that last idea mildly humorous.

With the playoffs over and free agency still 10 days away, I’m hoping that the Suns do something this week to get back in the draft even if it’s just a pick on the backside of the 2nd round... if for no other reason than to make draft night a little more interesting for all us Suns fans.

Draft prospects that have been confirmed to have worked out for the Suns

Thanks to _Ashton_ for pointing out the HoopsHype article which contained this list!


2021-22 Season Highlights

SUNS at SPURS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 22, 2021

SUNS at CAVALIERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 24, 2021

SUNS at KNICKS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | November 26, 2021


Quote of the Week

“The guys that got you there you tend to trust them more and you give them a bit more leash (when they struggle), especially your starters or rotation guys.” - Monty Williams


News & Notes

NBA Power Rankings, way-too-early edition. ESPN

2022 NBA Offseason Preview: Phoenix Suns. Hoops Rumors

Oddsmakers Believe Suns Won’t Keep Deandre Ayton. Yardbarker

Exit Survey: 3 offseason goals for the Phoenix Suns. Hoops Habit

Devin Booker, LeBron James Share Same MVP Odds for 2023. Yardbarker

NBA Trades: 5 potential suitors for Deandre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns. Hoops Habit

Top 50 NBA Free Agents Of 2022. Hoops Rumors

Charles Barkley reveals the truth about his time with Kevin Johnson and the Suns: ‘I keep hearing that we don’t get along’. Basketball Network

Dallas Mavericks assistant coach admits P.J. Tucker gave team advice on how to beat Phoenix Suns in playoffs. Heat Nation


This Week in Suns History

On June 20, 1969, the Suns officially signed Connie Hawkins as a free agent.

On June 20, 1993, the Suns were down 3 games to 2 in the NBA Finals but had a 98-96 lead on the Chicago Bulls in the final seconds of the 4th quarter. 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.

On June 20, 2021, the Suns defeated the LA Clippers 120-114 in the first game of the Western Conference Finals. In this game Devin Booker got his first ever triple-double (regular season or playoffs) with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

On June 21, 1972, KTAR radio hired Al McCoy to call Phoenix Suns games beginning with the 1972-73 season, replacing Joe McConnell who had called the Suns for 2 years. McCoy was well-known in the Valley (since 1957) and was previously the voice of the Phoenix Roadrunners hockey team.

On June 21, 1987, the Suns traded Ed Pinckney and a 1988 2nd round draft pick to the Sacramento Kings for Eddie Johnson. In his 3 and a half seasons with Phoenix EJ averaged 18.4 ppg, 36.3% from three and won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 1988-89. He was the first of four Suns players to win the award. The others were Danny Manning (1997-98), Rodney Rogers (1999-00) and Leandro Barbosa (2006-07)

On June 21, 2018, the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton with the 1st pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. They later drafted Zhaire Smith with the 16th pick and promptly traded Smith and a 2021 1st round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mikal Bridges whom the Sixers had selected earlier with the 10th pick.

On June 24, 1998, 2nd year player Steve Nash was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 1st round draft pick (Shawn Marion was later selected).

On June 25, 1993, after 5 seasons with Phoenix, the Suns released 34 year old power forward Tom Chambers. Chambers was a three-time All-Star with the Suns, averaged 20.6 points (7th best All-Time) and 6.6 rebounds per game and his 7,817 point total ranks 12th on the list of All-Time Suns scorers. His 27.17 ppg average in 1989-90 is still the best single season ppg average in franchise history.

On June 25, 2015, the Suns drafted Devin Booker in the 1st round (13th pick) of the 2015 NBA Draft.

On June 26, 1996, the Phoenix Suns used the 15th pick in the NBA Draft to select Steve Nash. Upon hearing the draft announcement, Suns fans booed in disapproval of the (then) relatively unknown player. This was because despite his impressive college accomplishments, Nash had not played in one of the major college conferences.


Classic Suns Highlights

Connie Hawkins NBA Highlights

Eddie Johnson PHX Suns 43 points in a half in 6 minutes and 57 seconds

Tom Chambers Ultimate NBA Mixtape

Steve Nash: Greatest Plays and Performances


Suns Trivia

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Connie Hawkins became a member of the Phoenix Suns due to a coin flip which decided whether his rights would go to Phoenix or the Seattle Supersonics. Hawkins had previously been unfairly blackballed by the NBA for a point-shaving sandal in college in which he was never arrested or indicted. Hawkins finally made it to the NBA after filling a $6 million lawsuit against the league. Seeking to avoid a defeat in court which might jeopardize its ability to bar players who had actually participated in gambling, the NBA elected to settle after the 1968–69 season and admit Hawkins to the league. Although 27 years old by the time he made it to the NBA, Hawkins was named an All-Star all four seasons he was with the Suns and was the first player inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor on November 19, 1976.

When the new collective bargaining agreement – and its subsequent unrestricted free agency rules – became official in 1988, Jerry Colangelo reportedly looked over at Seattle SuperSonics owner Barry Ackerley and said, “You’re going to lose Chambers.” At 12:01 am of Friday, July 1, 1988, Chambers’ home phone in Los Angeles rang and soon afterward he signed with the Phoenix Suns becoming the NBA’s first unrestricted free agent. Chambers later stated, “They made a hell of an offer and in my judgment we had to take it.”

In his 10 seasons with Phoenix, Steve Nash wrote his name all over the Suns’ record books. First All-Time in regular season assists (6,997), 2nd in total playoff assists (728), 4th in career RS assists per game (9.4), 2nd in career PO assists per game (9.71), 1st in total assists in a single playoff year (204 in 2005-06) and 1st in a single playoffs APG average (13.27). He’s also 8th in career RS points (10,712), 2nd in career PO points (1,365), 1st in career three pointers made (1,051) and 10th in career steals (511).


Important Future Dates

June 29 - Final day for teams to make qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

June 30 - Teams can begin negotiating with free agents at 6:00 pm ET.

July 1 - Official start of the 2022/23 NBA league year. Moratorium period begins. Restricted free agents can sign an offer sheet. Teams can begin signing players to rookie scale contracts, minimum salary contracts, and two-way contracts. Teams can begin exercising the third- or fourth-year team options for 2023/24 on rookie scale contracts.

July 6 - Free agency moratorium period ends (10.01 am ET). Teams can begin officially signing players, extending players, and completing trades. The two-day period for matching an RFA offer sheet signed during the moratorium begins.

July 7-17 - NBA Summer League (Las Vegas)

July 13 - Last day for teams to unilaterally withdraw qualifying offers to restricted free agents.

August 31 - Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2022/23 salaries.

September 5 - Last day for teams to issue required tenders to unsigned second-round picks; those players become free agents on September 6 if not tendered.

Late September (specific dates TBA) - Training camps open.