PHOENIX — Hear a rumor about an NBA star changing jerseys, and the Phoenix Suns will likely come up.
At this point, it’s a natural law of the NBA.
General manager Ryan McDonough understands he’s in a favorable position with cap flexibility, plus a trove of assets in young players and draft picks. He also knows that his involvement in trade talks and the related rumors come with the territory.
“We’ll always look at anything that we think will improve our team,” he said Wednesday after introducing re-signed center Alan Williams at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “I always assume there is no deal until there is a deal.”
That the signing of Williams and McDonough’s contract extension have been the move of the summer shows the Suns’ commitment to patience.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be talking.
Most recently, the Suns were linked to Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who reportedly asked to be traded.
John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station reported Tuesday that the Suns weren’t going to meet Cleveland’s demands of trading Bledsoe, rookie Josh Jackson and an unknown addition or two for the 25-year-old Irving.
They’ve also been mentioned in trade talks involving Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis and now Irving.
“I don’t want to name names, but I think there have been like three All-Star players that have been traded in the last six months and we’ve had conversations with all those teams — and I think had the ability to do deals to get those players if we chose to do so,” McDonough said. “For whatever reason, some of them, we didn’t feel like the timing is right in terms of the cost for us and also the players’ contractual situations.”
SUNS AWAIT OUTCOME OF LEN’S FREE AGENCY
Roster spots are dwindling in Phoenix, but the team continues to wait on the free agency process of center Alex Len.
The Suns extended a qualifying offer to Len at the start of the free agency period, and McDonough said he’s been in contact with Len and his agent while in Las Vegas since.
Will Len end up taking the qualifying offer?
“It’s up to Alex and his agent. Obviously, that’s on the table,” McDonough said. “We’d like to have him back.
“We’re certainly open to discussing different scenarios, potentially. But one way or another, we’d like to have him back.”
Len averaged 8.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in his fourth season while shooting 50 percent from the field, but he lost playing time to Williams down the stretch, when the Suns rested starting center Tyson Chandler.
Williams officially signed a three-year deal on Wednesday after holding off on making the signing official. McDonough said that allowed the Suns to pursue other potential options — they could have gone over the salary cap with an acquisition by signing Williams afterward.
Now that Williams is locked in, it seems less likely a big signing or trade is in the works.
It also would put Len in a tough spot in terms of earning minutes.
And it could be a while before the rest of the NBA landscape shapes up enough for Len and his agent to determine the best fit for him.
“Sometimes these deals get done right away on July 1 and sometimes they get done in late September,” McDonough said. “I hope it’s not the latter for my sanity and Alex’s sanity. You never know. It seems like free agency, in general, around the league is moving a little slower this year.”
ULIS ON THE MEND
Second-year point guard Tyler Ulis missed NBA Summer League after undergoing ankle surgery but is expected to be prepared for training camp. He should be cleared for five-on-five play in the next month, McDonough said.
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