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Center of the Sun: Flowers to the Nuggets and pondering Crowder

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

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2023 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns.

This week the Denver Nuggets accomplished a task that the Phoenix Suns have never done in 13 postseason matchups against the Los Angeles Lakers in their franchise history: they swept them out of the playoffs.

While Brian Windhorst was professing his undying-love for LeBron James and the Lakers, stating that it was the most impressive performance by a team that has been swept that he’s ever seen, it’s time that he and we give a little respect to the Nuggets.

Much like the Suns, you have to question who really harbours generational disdain for the Nuggets? Whose feelings have they ever truly hurt? Like Phoenix, they have zero championship banners hanging in the rafters of their arena. Like Phoenix, they reside in a populous city yet are never acknowledged as a “big city market”. Like Phoenix, they have a rabid fan base that loves their basketball. The only difference between Phoenix and Denver is that in the Mile High City the Broncos come first. Phoenix has been and will always be a basketball town.

Give credit where credit is due.

Denver has been a buzz saw this season and the majority of the NBA have been a two-by-four. Denver mailed it in the last month of the regular season because they could. They were 46-19 on March 1st and finished the season 7-10. They are similar to the Suns of the 2021-22 season in that they possess organic chemistry and dominated the regular season. The difference is they knew how to turn it back on in the postseason where the Suns simply didn’t.

Give the Nuggets their flowers, as the kids say, and put some respect on their name. The franchise is, for the first time in 46 years, making an NBA Finals appearance. Prior to this season they had only visited the Western Conference Finals a total of four times (1978, 1985, 2009, 2020).

Sure, I can say I’m happy for the Nuggets. My soul isn’t completely hardened. The brand of basketball that the Nuggets play, when it’s not at your expense, is fun to watch. They are fluid.

We will know tonight who they will play in the 2023 NBA Finals as the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are headed to quite the improbable Game 7. If the Nuggets can win a championship, it will be the 15th time that the Phoenix Suns have lost in the postseason to the eventual NBA champion.

Always the bridesmaid, eh?

2022-23 Season Highlights

Let’s look at the games this last season in which the Suns held their opponents under 92 points, shall we? Phoenix went 2-1 in those games:




News & Notes

Bleacher Report: Nets’ Mikal Bridges on Suns: Monty Williams ‘Is Not the Problem, But Who Am I?’

NBA Analysis Network: Bulls Could Make Point Guard Upgrade With Chris Paul Trade

Hoops Hype: Dallas a likely destination for Deandre Ayton?

Burn City Sports: Suns Linked to Two of the Top Coaching Candidates

The Athletic: Suns narrow coaching search to 5 finalists including Rivers, Nurse, Vogel: Sources

Burn City Sports: Monty Williams Likely to Not Coach in 2023-24 Season

The Athletic: How Kevin Young rose from Irish Super League to Suns’ head coach finalist

Arizona Sports: Phoenix Suns, Mercury partner with city to pursue future All-Star games

Clutch Points: Clip of Kevin Durant heaping praise on Nick Nurse resurfaces amid strong links to Suns job

NBA Analysis Network: Raptors’ Fred VanVleet Ideal Fit For Suns, Says Ex-NBA Executive

Quotes of the Week

“Monty ain’t the problem.” — Mikal Bridges

“We’re excited to partner with the City of Phoenix to engage the NBA and WNBA to bring both All-Star Games to the Valley.” — Mat Ishbia

“He has shown incredible aggression. Number one with Durant trade and then moving away from Monty Williams, who has a great track record. When you see something like that, you’re a little uncertain.” — Brian Windhorst on Mat Ishbia

“I’m excited to support our bids to be a host city, and am looking forward to hearing positive news back from the WNBA and NBA!” — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

This Week in Suns History

June 2, 1976

You aren’t going to get a plethora of early-June Suns’ moments throughout their history. In 55 years as a franchise, the team has played a total of 27 games in the sixth month of the year. 12 of those games came in 2021, when the NBA season’s scheduling was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phoenix is 15-12 all-time in the month of June.

Let’s go back to their first game ever played in the month of June, which occurred during the nation’s bicentennial year of 1976. In fact, it was the first game played in June in NBA history.

The Suns were making their first-ever NBA Finals appearance, playing the vaunting Boston Celtics, owners of 11 NBA championships to that point in their history. Phoenix entered Game 4 of the 1976 NBA Finals down 1-2, having won Game 3 on their homecourt on May 30.

Per Extreme Weather Watch, the high in Phoenix was 101° that day — mild for a June game and what we locals refer to as “warm” — but surely not what Celtics’ coach Tom Heinsohn was used to.

The Suns had a big first quarter, scoring 35 points to the Celtics’ 30. It was a whistle-heavy affair as the officials called 21 fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game. Both teams combined for 80 free throw attempts in the game.


Phoenix would hold tight to their lead throughout the game, and when a late fourth quarter push occurred by Boston, it was Ricky Sobers who hit the go-ahead shot to seal the deal for the Suns. Paul Westphal led all scorers with 28 points, Gar Head had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and Phoenix took Game 4, 109-107.

Important Future Dates

June 1: NBA Finals begin.

June 22: NBA Draft.

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 2023-24 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 2024-25 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 TBD: NBA schedule released.

August 31: Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2023-24 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 24: 2023-24 NBA season begins.

Bringing it Home

We’ll soon be discussing free agency, the trade market, and the draft. June is approaching, and it is often a busy month for the preparation of moves and roster restructuring prior to the start of the new NBA season. By mid-July, you should have a strong notion of who your team will be pursuing and what the following year will look like. August is a dormant month in the NBA. But we have a lot to look forward to in the next month.

An interesting little conversation in the Twitter-sphere this past week was whether or not you’d be for or against a Jae Crowder return.

I know, it’s stupid to even ponder. It’s not as if we are in charge of making the roster and our input matters. But it is a fun little conversation between fans that have nothing to talk about because their team has sadly been eliminated early from the postseason once again.

So I’ll fan the flames.


Would you be for or against the return of Jae Crowder to the Phoenix Suns?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    (160 votes)
  • 66%
    (322 votes)
482 votes total Vote Now

Let us know why or why not in the comments below!

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