The Phoenix Suns sent out less players than they received as a part of the Damian Lillard-to-the-Bucks deal. Phoenix sent polarizing big man Deandre Ayton to the Portland Trail Blazers along with 52nd overall pick Toumani Camara. They received in return Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson from Portland, as well as Grayson Allen from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Two out, four in. Two too many. You are permitted to have 15 players and, new this season across the NBA, three two-way contracts. The Suns currently roster 17 players and two two-way contracts.
The preseason has been more than an introduction to the substitution patterns of Frank Vogel and a display of Booker, Durant, and Beal, it has been a battle for a roster spot. Those battles have resulted in the Suns doing what we knew they mathematically had to: trimming down the roster. On Thursday we learned the fate of the first to be mathematically eliminated, one of the longest tenured players on the roster, wing Ish Wainright.
The Phoenix Suns have waived forward Ishmail Wainright, league sources told @hoopshype. Wainright has appeared in 105 games for the Suns over the past two seasons.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) October 19, 2023
Wainright has yet to play in the preseason as he has been dealing with injuries so his release isn’t surprising.
Ish Wainright played in 105 games in his two seasons with Phoenix. I still remember where I was as I wrote the piece welcoming him to the Suns two seasons ago. Sitting in a little garage inventorying small wares items prior to the grand opening of a restaurant in Palm Desert, California, Phoenix added the former Baylor football player. As confidence would have it, Palm Desert is where the Suns play tonight.
The broad shoulders of Ish averaged 3.4 points while in Phoenix, doing so on 37.8/32.8/76.7 splits. He grabbed 1.8 rebounds in 12.1 minutes played. These aren’t statistics that jump off the page at you.
But it wasn’t always about the stats with Ish.
From Wainright’s 2022-23 player review by So Says J:
Ish Wainright started the season dealing with something much bigger than basketball, as he tragically lost his father just two games into the season. Ish used the loss of the man he referred to as his “Superman” as motivation for the season. “He’s in the stands. That’s why I’m excited. He can see my play, workout, everything.”
Wainright’s strength through tragedy was important in a season where injuries to the Suns’ front court forced him into a larger role than expected.
His nickname is “Strongman” for a reason. As a 6’6” power forward, Wainright is forced to use his width and strength to defend taller players. He continued to do that effectively, as he improved on the defensive end this season.
Ultimately his skillset was similar to other acquisitions the Suns made that possessed more high-end talent. The team is packed with wings and Ish becomes the odd man out. Ish will be missed for who he was as a person, not so much for who he was as a basketball player.
The move widdles down the roster to 16 players. Another cut will occur prior to the start of the season. We all have our guesses to who that might be, as I am sure you do as well.