Phoenix grabbed Gani Lawal in the second round this season as a project. Coming out of Georgia Tech he had all the physical gifts you want in a big man, but playing next to Derrick Favors on a team where the guards didn’t get him the ball in good position, it was a little hard to judge just how good he might be.
Now it’s going to take longer to find out — Lawal is out for the rest of this season after surgery to repair a torn ACL and a partially torn MCL in his right knee, the team announced.
This doesn’t impact the Suns on the court, Lawal never played a minute in the NBA had had been sent to the Iowa Energy of the D-League. But it does set back his potential growth. The Suns gave him a three-year deal but the last two years are not fully guaranteed.
UPDATE 11:08 AM: According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, it’s not a make-good deal after all. Despite earlier reports from the Republic pointing to a fully unguaranteed, make-good agreement, the Suns have signed Lawal to a three-year contract with the initial season fully guaranteed for $473,604. The second and third seasons will only be partially guaranteed, and could be options.
8:00 AM: It was a little hard to judge Gani Lawal coming into the draft. He was a power forward for Georgia Tech which meant two things: He had Derrick Favors on the other side of the lane drawing a lot of attention, and he had point guards incapable of getting him the ball in a good position.
So he dropped to the second round, where the Phoenix Suns grabbed him at 46.
Then Lawal went to Summer League in Vegas and impressed — he was athletic, hard working and consistent. He got out on the break, he was very good at drawing contact and getting to the line. He averaged 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Suns coaches spoke well of him, as did scouts watching the games.
The Suns and Lawal have agreed to a deal, according to the Arizona Republic. This is a make-good contract — meaning he gets invited to training camp but the deal is not guaranteed. They can still cut him.
Lawal has a chance to make the roster, however. For one thing, the Suns now have just 12 people under contract, so there is roster room. Also, he showed at Summer League he can play in the system, and coaches like guys who are hard workers. He could fill that Lou Amundson role coming off the bench. At least, he’ll get the chance to prove he can.