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Suns Weekly (Aug 21): What to make of Ayton’s rise and the schedule’s drop

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

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Welcome to the weekly news roundup of your Phoenix Suns. (Formerly called Center of the Sun)

This week, Part 1: Ayton, Gordon lead Bahamas to biggest week in Bahamian Mens Team history!

Gotta kick off the week in review with big applause for two Phoenix Suns who played their first competition with Bahamas and won the whole damn competition!

Thanks to Deandre Ayton and Eric Gordon, the Bahamas Mens Team won their biggest games of their country’s history by winning the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament 2023 — Americas.

What, you totally missed it because you’re not scrolling your social media timeline faster than your heart beats? Get caught up with Damon’s excellent coverage all week:Game 1 win | Game 2 win | Game 3 win | Championship Game WIN

The Bahamas had never won a FIBA competition in their history, yet when Deandre Ayton (native) and Eric Gordon (mother) joined the team this past week, they went out and won their four-game Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament against six other countries trying to do the same thing. In Sunday’s Final, they knocked off Argentina, who are still ranked 4th in latest FIBA World rankings.

Ayton led the tourney in rebounds (11.5 per game, while scoring 15.5 per game) and Eric Gordon led the tourney in scoring (20.3 per game, with 45/65/83 shooting splits). Teammate Buddy Hield (Pacers) was second in scoring (19.8 on 43/29/87 splits). On Sunday, they knocked off Argentina behind Gordon’s 27 points and Ayton’s 21 rebounds.

Now Bahamas are one of the five teams (out of 40 participants) who lived to play another round next summer. Bahamas, for the first time in their history, will join a field of 24 next summer to fight for the final four at-large Olympic slots.

Wouldn’t it be crazy to see Ayton and Gordon face off in the 2024 Olympics against a handful of Suns on Team USA, including potentially Devin Booker and Kevin Durant (Gold in 2021 Olympics), Bradley Beal (invited in 2021, but got COVID) and former Suns Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson (2023 Worlds)?!

This week, Part 2: The Suns 2023-24 schedule is out, and its full of revenge games!

Let’s mark all the “homecoming” games on the schedule, either for new Suns at their former arenas or former Suns coming back to Phoenix

  • Oct 8 @ Pistons — Deandre Ayton might have motivation to play well against former coach Monty Williams, though the regular season matchup later on would be more valuable
  • Oct 24 @ Warriors — I’d put 99% chance on Chris Paul, if healthy, playing 35 minutes in this one and posting something like 15 points and 15 assists. BONUS: Projects to be the first game Kevin Durant plays at Golden State with fans in the stands since leaving in 2019.
  • Oct 31 vs. Spurs — Keita Bates-Diop probably wants to show the Spurs they shouldn’t have let him go. All he got from the Suns was a minimum salary with a second-year player option, so the Spurs just let him walk away for nothing
  • Nov 5 @ Pistons — Here’s where Deandre Ayton might want to show out well against Monty and his cadre of high-drafted big men (Bagley #2 in 2018, Wiseman #2 in 2020, Duren #13 in 2022)
  • Nov 22 vs. Warriors — Chris Paul returns to Phoenix in a different uniform after three great years
  • Dec 12 vs. Warriors — Chris Paul return game part deux (just in case he misses the first one)
  • Dec 13 vs. Nets — Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson will play in Phoenix for the first time since being traded last February; alternately this could be the Yuta Watanabe revenge game, since the Nets let him walk for nothing this offseason
  • Dec 27 at Rockets — Eric Gordon returns to Houston after 6 years in a Rockets uni; also, just a personal hope that $8 million man Jock Landale has a good game against his former team
  • Jan 31 at Nets — Kevin Durant will hear the fans’ reaction for the first time since forcing a trade away
  • Feb 4 at Wizards — Bradley Beal returns to his 11-year home to face his fans for the first time; Beal was highly loyal to Washington fans and will feel ‘some kind of way’ in this one
  • Feb 10 at Warriors — Kevin Durant gets his second crack at visiting Golden State’s fans, just in case he misses opening night
  • Feb 14 vs. Pistons — Monty Williams returns to Phoenix for the first time since being fired in April

That’s a lot of homecomings for both sides, eh?

Quotes of the Week

“They tired as f*@k. Come on.”

—Suns C Deandre Ayton, imploring his Bahamian national team to lock down in the 4th quarter as the pulled away from higher-ranked Argentina in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament of the Americas.

And then, in the Final on Sunday:

Suns around the web

Good Bright Side reads you probably missed

Each week I’ll highlight some Bright Side articles that didn’t get as many eyeballs as they should have. It’s worth your time to give these unique takes a look before they’re lost in the ether forever.


No transactions this past week.

And here’s the bottom line.

The Suns are over the second apron if you only count the guaranteed money (i.e. only $300k of Goodwin and none of Ish Wainright).

While you really should count the money — each team has to have at least 14 guys under NBA level ‘standard’ contracts — you can dream of who could possibly take Ish’s spot as an upgrade on that 15th roster spot.

Important Future Dates

  • Aug. 31: Last day for teams to waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2023-24 salaries.
  • Sept. 30: Training camp opens for teams participating in preseason games outside of North America
  • Oct. 3: Training camp opens for remaining teams
  • Oct. 5: Start of preseason
  • Oct. 20: End of preseason
  • Oct. 24: Start of 2023-24 regular season; Suns are @ the Warriors on NBA’s Opening Night on TNT to help open the 2023-24 NBA season.
  • Nov. 3: NBA In-Season Tournament begins
  • Dec. 7: NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals
  • Dec. 9: NBA In-Season Tournament Finals
  • Feb. 16-18: NBA All-Star Weekend 2024
  • April 14: 2023-24 regular season ends

This week’s poll

Here’s a list of guys still on the open market as of August 20, and getting more and more likely to take a veteran’s minimum from a team offering playing time.

  1. Christian Wood — unlikely to appreciate a bench role on minimum. Looking for starting job.
  2. Kelly Oubre Jr. — would slot behind several Suns at small forward minutes
  3. Jaylen Nowell
  4. Terrence Ross
  5. JaMychal Green — theoretical stretch big
  6. T.J. Warren
  7. Bismack Biyombo
  8. Will Barton
  9. Wenyen Gabriel
  10. Kendrick Nunn

Who’s your top candidate?


Who’s better than Ish?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Christian Wood — really wants a starting job, but isn’t a forward
    (24 votes)
  • 37%
    One of the former Suns Oubre, Warren or Ross
    (94 votes)
  • 7%
    JaMychal Green — low-minute stretch five
    (19 votes)
  • 11%
    Kendrick Nunn — Cam Payne kinda role
    (28 votes)
  • 5%
    (14 votes)
  • 28%
    Just keep Ish
    (71 votes)
250 votes total Vote Now

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