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Center of the Sun: Halfway there. A new season of Suns basketball not as far away as you may think

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

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

With all the early drama surrounding Deandre Ayton’s restricted free agency and Kevin Durant seeking a trade to Phoenix you might not have noticed that a fair amount of the offseason has already passed and a new NBA season is almost in view.

It’s August 1 and sometime this month, probably within the next two weeks, the NBA will release the season schedules for each team. Also coming soon will be the date for training camps to open (sometime in late September). Although we don’t know the schedules yet, the regular season opener will be on October 18 which is 78 days (11 weeks and 1 day) away.

That’s not exactly what I would call close but it’s still a lot closer than it was back when the Suns’ season abruptly ended back on May 15... 78 days ago.

Yes, we’ve reached our midpoint between seasons and 2023-23 preseason games should be starting in about 9 weeks.

Will the Suns begin the preseason with largely the same team with a few minor roster changes or will they be the new “super team” on the block with KD in the fold? If it’s the previous, improvement from last season will rely heavily on individual progress made by DA, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. In Ayton’s case, I think his progress depends largely on two things, his own confidence and Monty Williams’ giving him an expanded role in the team’s offense. The talent is there and hopefully this will be the season to unleash it.

With Bridges, I’m not certain how much upside he has left but I would love to see him just work to become more consistent in his offensive contributions. I honestly don’t expect a big leap ahead for Mikal but I do expect incremental improvements by him as his career goes on. He probably has one of the best work ethics in pro sports and that will continue to pay dividends as time passes.

Cameron Johnson is possibly the biggest question mark for this season to me. We’ve seen a lot of progress from him over his first three years in the NBA cumulating in his superlative 38 point performance against the Knicks on March 4.

Injuries sustained in that game sidelined him for the next 13 games and he never quite got back to the level he was playing at before then but I expect to see that guy back again soon. In a recent interview, Cam stated that he believes he can do more for the team than just be a good role player (see the Quotes of the Week section below) and I have a good deal of faith that he can make that a reality. He came into the league as a three-point specialist but has already shown that he’s more than that.

Kind of like that Devin Booker guy did.

No, I don’t believe that Cam J is going to suddenly turn into the next Devin Booker but I am intrigued by the prospect of seeing just how far he can progress in becoming a go-to scorer in the NBA. I’m also very interested in finding out just how good he, Mikal and DA can become together so I won’t be too terribly disappointed if a trade for Kevin Durant doesn’t get worked out this summer.

2021-22 Season Highlights




Quotes of the Week

“Trust me. I was a ball-dominant player for the first 18, 19 years of my life and then I was like, ‘Become better at the other stuff.’ And now it’s like, ‘OK, get back to what you were doing when you were in high school.’” - Cameron Johnson

“In the NBA world, only one person can be holding the ball all the time. So, you have to find ways to be very good at being effective without having the ball in your hands all the time, but in addition to that, I want to be somebody that can be relied upon to score, to create, to use ball screens and to bring the ball up the court.” - Cameron Johnson

“I know what I’m capable of. I don’t think everybody in the world knows what I’m capable of. There’s only a few people that do, and I’m just going to work on being the best player I can be.” - Cameron Johnson

News & Notes

Why the Phoenix Suns seem content waiting out the Kevin Durant saga. Basketball News

Suns Championship Odds Drop to +850 as Kevin Durant Trade Gets More Unlikely. Sports Betting Dime

Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges needs to up his game even more. Sportsnaut

Suns’ Cam Johnson hears trade rumors, focused on offseason growth. Arizona Sports

VIDEO – Suns’ Cameron Johnson on his 3v3 tournament for charity. Sports 360 AZ

Suns’ Mikal Bridges Shows Off Karaoke Talent with ‘My Chemical Romance’ Performance. OutKick

Luxury tax 2022-23: How much is each team projected to spend? Hoops Hype

This Week in Suns History & Suns Trivia

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. By the time he returned to Phoenix, Miller’s weight was rumored to be near 400 pounds.

The CRAZY Career Of The Heaviest Player In NBA History!

On August 1, 2000, the Suns signed Tony Delk as a free agent. Although drafted in the first round with the 16th pick in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets, Delk would spend his 10 year NBA career as a journeyman, never spending more than a season and a half with a single NBA team. For one night though, he was virtually unstoppable as he scored 53 points (at the time the 3rd best scoring performance by a Suns player in team history) in a losing effort against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 2, 2001. Today his 53 point night still ranks as the 5th best in team history.

On August 3, 2005, following the Quentin Richardson trade to the NYK and while in the extended process of shipping Joe Johnson to Atlanta, the Phoenix Suns signed SG Raja Bell to a five-year, $23.75 M contract. A hard-nosed defender, Bell also shot 39.0% from 3 the previous three seasons.

On August 5, 1999, the Suns traded Pat Garrity, Danny Manning, a 2001 1st round draft pick (Jason Collins was later selected) and a 2002 1st round draft pick (Amar’e Stoudemire was later selected) to the Orlando Magic for Anfernee Hardaway. Two years later, as part of a three-team trade the Magic would trade that same 2002 first-round pick back to the Suns along with Bo Outlaw in exchange for Jud Buechler (and cap space). If not for this second trade with Orlando - in order to dump salary and create cap space for the Magic - Amar’e Stoudemire would have likely never been a Phoenix Sun.

Classic Suns Highlights

Oliver Miller MVP Performance 1993 Playoffs

Tony Delk - 53 points (MOST UNLIKELY 50-POINT SCORER)

Raja Bell Mix

Important Future Dates

August ? - Regular season schedules expected to be released.

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.

October 18 - Regular season begins.

December 15 - Most players signed during offseason can be traded.

January 5 - 10-day contracts may now be signed.

January 15 - All players signed during offseason can be traded.

February 17-19 - 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend/All-Star Game (Salt Lake City, UT)

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