The Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers have been connected throughout the offseason. Phoenix was a vital cog to the Blazers meeting the trade request of Damian Lillard, as their involvement allowed the necessary pieces of the puzzle to fall into place with the Milwaukee Bucks. Ultimately Dame landed in the Cream City, and with the Suns' help, Grayson Allen came to Phoenix. Oh! And the two teams switched starting centers, with Phoenix also receiving Nassir Little and Keon Johnson in the transaction.
If you thought the crossing of paths would end there, you would be incorrect.
Earlier this week the Suns waived Ish Wainright — who played football at Baylor University — as they needed to trim down the roster. While the fan base lamented the move, seeing as he was one of the longest-tenured Suns and someone who was well-liked, it was the correct operational move for the franchise to make.
Suns head coach Frank Vogel hinted that Ish could be back if he were to clear waivers, stating before their preseason finale on Thursday, “We’re hoping to bring him back”. The Suns’ social media team, who bid Wainright farewell on X following his departure, quickly deleted their post.
All signs pointed to the Suns bringing Ish Wainright back, doing so by filling their final two-way contract spot, a spot Ish has filled in the past.
Alas, it was not meant to be. On Saturday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers chose to waive the former 9th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Kevin Knox (drafted by the Knicks, not Rip City), and sign the former member of the Phoenix Suns Ish Wainright.
Wainright averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds in 12.1 minutes over his two seasons in the Valley, playing in 105 games. His 37.8/32.8/76.7 splits weren’t where he earned his reputation. His broad shoulders and ability to provide physicality on a team full of finesse players is where he earned his keep.
Facing a calf strain that negated his availability during the preseason, the Suns chose to cut him as they rostered 17 non-two-way contracted players in training camp. The league allows for 15 to start the season. Ish’s non-guaranteed contract made him an easy choice to waive, seeing as no penalty would concur for doing so.
The Suns will first play the Blazers on November 21 in downtown Phoenix, where they will battle Deandre Ayton, Toumain Camara, and newly acquired Ish Wainright.