July 26, 2016, 9:18 am
The Phoenix Suns are deep in what appears to be a much needed rebuild. They shocked the league a few seasons ago, just barely losing out on the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after being expected to compete for the top spot in the draft lottery, and have seemingly struggled to live up to expectations ever since.
This recent era for the team has been dominated by the idea of having multiple starting point guards on the roster. This all seemingly began when the organization found success featuring both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and continued when the team decided to add Isaiah Thomas to that group the following off-season. Even when Thomas and Dragic were dealt at the trade deadline, Phoenix used one of the more valuable assets in the league, the Lakers top three protected first round pick, and turned it into Brandon Knight.
This strategy does not appear to be working. Isaiah Thomas has blossomed into an All Star point guard for the Boston Celtics after struggling to find a fit in Phoenix, and Brandon Knight hasn’t been able to replicate the success that he had with the Bucks just before the trade.
It’s easy to see that Knight is not the player that he was during his final season with Milwaukee. His numbers are down across the board with the Suns, and the chatter about him being more of a combo guard has gotten louder ever since.
According to Basketball Reference, Brandon Knight dished out eight assists per 100 possessions as a Buck to go along with an assist percentage of 27.5%. Those numbers drop to 6.9 assists per game and an assist percentage of 24% as a Sun. While you may expect his turnover numbers to follow this trend, he actually had a lower turnover percentage with the Bucks than he did in Phoenix.
Knight has also been asked to be more of a floor spacer as a Sun. He saw his 3-point attempts per 100 possessions increase from 7.5 to 9.2 as a Sun, and subsequently, his percentage has dropped in that category. He has also seen his 2-point attempts and free throw opportunities diminish. He’s being asked to drive to the basket and run the offense less, and has been turned into a more one-dimensional player as a result.
So what’s the problem with Phoenix? While this may not be the entire answer, part of the issue could be the adjustment to playing shooting guard more often than he’s used to. Basketball Reference shows that Knight was only asked to play the off guard position six percent of the time while he was in Milwaukee, and that number skyrockets to 55% in Phoenix.
Many have noted that Brandon Knight may be more suited to play shooting guard, but this experiment in Phoenix has to be discouraging that idea.
There should be hope that that the revolving door that has characterized the Suns’ shooting guard position could finally be solidified. Devin Booker, a true shooting guard at 6-6 with a more-than-ideal physical profile for the position, has emerged as a legitimate option far earlier than he was expected to. Booker needs minutes, and the organization would be foolish to not find them for him any way that they can.
The Suns would be equally foolish to let Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight rot on the bench as backup point guards. The organization has committed financially to both of them, and now is the time to move on from one and move forward with the other. The idea of having both of them starting hasn’t worked, and with a promising young option on the wing it’s time to pull the plug on the experiment
Which one should they commit to? That’s a complicated answer that can really only be answered by the front office. Because of his success on both ends of the court, one would have to imagine that Bledsoe would bring in a far more attractive return than Knight would, but the flip side of that is the value that each player would bring back to the team if they were to return next season. If Bledsoe is thought to command a bigger return, then he also should be the more valuable asset to his team going into next season.
The decision now comes down to what the organization can get for either player, and what type of assets the team is even looking for. If they’re looking for more of a retool than a rebuild, then maybe you look at the type of return that you’re offered. If the best offers that Phoenix receives are proven player for one guy, and a group of picks for the other, then the decision can be made easier right there. The team could also be much higher on one player than the other.
It’s hard for me to sit here and speculate about what the team is looking for. They could prefer either guy long term, and could be getting drastically better offers for one than the other, but the fact remains that one should be gone before next season starts. Devin Booker looks to be an incredibly promising player that is ready for all of the minutes the team can give him. The Suns should be serious about making him a major part of their franchise, and that starts with committing to him as their starting shooting guard.
July 16, 2019, 11:59 amNicolo MelliPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.
This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.
July 16, 2019, 11:32 amBam AdebayoC, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo is envisioning himself as a better all-around player, with averages of 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this upcoming season.
Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With the Heat trading center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers earlier this month, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center and a fantasy breakout candidate.
Source: Miami Herald
July 16, 2019, 10:49 amReggie BullockSG-SF, New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks for less than the $4.7 million exception.
It was reported that Bullock intitally had an offer for two years and $20 million so this is a considerable drop on the monetary terms. The two parties had to rework their agreement after unanticipated health issues that almost made the deal fall through. This is also the end of the domino that had Marcus Morris back off his initial agreement with the Spurs and sign a deal with the Knicks instead. New York seems to be loaded in the forward positions and it’s anyone’s guess who earns the minutes to become fantasy relevant next year.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 16, 2019, 10:24 amDragan BenderPF, Phoenix Suns
As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, the Cavs and the Raptors are among the teams that have inquired about the former lottery pick.
The European market also remains an option for the Croatian forward as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are monitoring his situation. Bender is still only 21 years old and teams around the NBA could still take a chance on him after what has been a disappointing NBA career so far with averages of 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 131 career games.
July 16, 2019, 9:36 amRaul NetoPG, Philadelphia Sixers
Raul Neto could end up being Ben Simmons' backup to begin the 2019-20 season.
Right now, the two candidates to be the backup to starter Ben Simmons are Neto and former two-way player Shake Milton, a second-year combo guard who earned a lot of minutes at the point in the NBA Summer League. Neto started 53 of the 81 games in which he appeared as a rookie in 2015-16, but only started once over the past three seasons. He has averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 37.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14.2 minutes and it’s highly unlikely that he gains fantasy value even if he earns the backup job.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times
July 16, 2019, 9:27 amChris PaulPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the Heat are open to the idea of teaming up Chris Paul with Jimmy Butler, but what has hung the entire negotiation up is the discussion of picks.
The Thunder holds two of Miami’s future first round draft picks, an unprotected selection in 2021 and a protected one in 2023. The Heat want those included in a potential deal and Oklahoma City has no shortage of assets as, since draft night, Sam Presti has acquired a remarkable eight first-round picks. Windhorst also added that the Heat seem to be CP3’s preferred destination and if he actually ends up in South Beach, he could retain his strong fantasy value.
July 16, 2019, 8:53 amKyle LowryPG, Toronto Raptors
Josh Lewenberg of TSN is hearing that the Raptors have no intention of moving Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, at least not before the season.
All three veterans are on expiring deals and Masai Ujiri will give this group an opportunity to sink or swim before choosing a path and deciding what comes next. With those three and Fred VanVleet hitting the open market next summer, the Raptors will have over $90 million coming off their books and plenty of flexibility. It’s clear that there won’t be a fire sale in Toronto anytime soon while this group has proved that it is capable of winning games even without Kawhi Leonard. Things could change quickly though and Ujiri has never been shy of pulling the trigger so the future looks murky for the veteran champions.
July 16, 2019, 12:38 amDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have rescinded their qualifying offer to big man Daniel Theis, making him an unrestricted free agent.
This is move is to maximize the team's remaining cap space. Theis will eventually be signed to a deal using his Early Bird Rights. Theis will have value as a deep-league source of blocks. He will be competing with Robert Williams to back up starting center, Enes Kanter.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 10:52 pmKelan MartinSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kelan Martin led the Wolves in their 92-95 loss against the Grizzlies on Monday with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting while adding three 3-pointers, five rebounds and an assist.
Martin helped the Wolves claw back into the game with a big third quarter, but the team just fell flat. He was by far the best player on the Wolves tonight, but it's still uncertain as to whether or not tonight's performance was enough to push him onto an NBA team to start next season.
July 15, 2019, 10:51 pmKeita Bates-DiopSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Keita Bates-Diop scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, an assist and a 3-pointer in Monday's loss to the Wolves.
Bates-Diop was outplayed by his fellow benchmates in this one, but nailed a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Wolves within a single possession late in the fourth. He's struggled with consistency which is why it'll be hard to envision him having an impactful role to start next season.