While from the outside it looked like the Suns were going bad to get good this season, they never saw it that way.
Young new GM Ryan McDonough traded for Eric Bledsoe and believed in the Goran Dragic/Bledsoe backcourt when few did. He was right.
More than that he stockpiled picks and also went and got Miles Plumlee. Most of all he found a quality coach ready for the big stage in Jeff Hornack.
McDonough came from Boston and it was his experience there that taught him the perils of tanking for a pick, as he told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. There was always a bigger plan — one that has worked out with a 17-10 record and has the Suns as the NBA’s biggest surprise this season.
When the Celtics missed on Kevin Durant and Greg Oden in the 2007 lottery with the fifth overall pick, Ainge had the assets to make deals for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics had cultivated young prospects and gathered picks to make the trades. McDonough was part of it all, as he had been the failed free-agent courtships to come play in those cold New England winters. For all of the Celtics’ tradition and history, Phoenix has been a far more appealing professional and lifestyle destination for players.
“To have a season where everything goes wrong and you’re just hoping for the pingpong balls to bounce your way – and then hope you draft the right guy, who then turns into a great player – that’s not something I’m comfortable doing and Jeff (Hornacek), Lon (Babby, Suns president) and ownership wanted no part of it,” McDonough told Yahoo Sports.
“We can keep drafting and adding to our talent, or we have six first-round picks over the next two years and could accelerate the process using picks and our cap space to trade for a star player.
“We have max cap space next summer and we will be chasing the top guys. But if we don’t get them, it won’t be the end of the world. Then, we will hope to draft well and put together a group that might take a little longer to get to a contending level, but will have a longer timeline together.”
Some team is going to strike lottery gold this season, maybe more than one team — and maybe not the franchise that lands the No. 1 pick, you never quite know how draft picks will pan out (see Greg Oden).
But whether you do or don’t there has to be a plan in place to build. They have that in Phoenix. It already is showing on the court, but for Suns fans the best days seem to be just a few years ahead.
The Pistons will start Reggie Jackson at point guard, and they signed Ish Smith to provide better backup at the position.
The competition for the third point guard spot is heating up.
With Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum already signed to unguaranteed deals, Detroit is adding undrafted Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman.
Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops:
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.
With 32 wins and missing the playoffs, last season wasn’t exactly what the Knicks hoped for. However, last season also came with hope in the form of Kristaps Porzingis.
And there were highlights. Check out the team’s Top 10 plays, courtesy NBA.com.
It starts with some Derrick Williams moments, and ends with a Jose Calderon game winner, but there are moments from players the fans actually like in between.
At this point, there is zero chance Russell Westbrook‘s posts are a coincidence.
First. he posted a video of himself singing along to Lil Uzi Vert’s “Now I Do What I Want.”
Then came the shoe ad that was another little jab at now Warriors Kevin Durant.
Now comes Westbrook’s return to karaoke posts, this time singing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.”
Apparently, Westbrook and Durant are having one rough teenage breakup.
One of the great stories of last season was the return of Paul George to All-Star level form (then to watch him be crucial to the USA winning gold this summer).
It was a great story because vintage Paul George was so great. Watch this throwback video of him blowing by LeBron James and dunking over Chris Andersen from a few years back — this is vicious.
By the way, if you’re not following NBA history on Twitter and Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.