At the All-Star Break, the Phoenix Suns had a decision to make. Forward Ish Wainright was active for 50 games during the first leg of the season, making him ineligible going forward due to the nature of two-way contracts in the NBA; he wouldn’t have been able to play in playoff games anyway if he had games remaining either.
Friday evening, James Jones changed both facts for the Suns and Wainright, who’s become a key depth cog following the exodus of so many wings at the trade deadline. While it tracks out to be a minimum deal, it also provides a touch of long-term security:
The Phoenix Suns are signing two-way forward Ish Wainwright to a new two-year, $2.5 million deal, his agents Jim Tanner and Deirunas Visockas of Tandem Sports told @TheAthletic @Stadium. Team option on the 2023-24 season.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 24, 2023
In his second season as a pro, Wainright is averaging career-highs across the board with 4.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 15.5 minutes per game. The 28-year old has also emerged as a leader around the organization, dating back to his time leading the Summer Suns in Vegas in 2022.
Now that his availability isn’t a question for the final leg of pre-playoff action, I’m free to start theorizing what certain funkier lineups could look like involving Wainright like one as the 4 next to a small-ball 5 of Kevin Durant or surrounding the core 4 as a whole. He’s 4th on the team in defensive rating this year, and that’s a fit I like.
Also, never forget that Ish caused one of my favorite Mikal Bridges moments:
Hey Ish! @Wainright24 pic.twitter.com/EKIEO0iy4Z— Double Barrel Durant (@Fruit_Tuesday) July 2, 2022