Phoenix Suns PGs Mike James, Tyler Ulis learning to run an NBA offense

Oct 25, 2017, 7:27 PM | Updated: 8:49 pm
Phoenix Suns' Mike James (55) looks to pass the ball as Portland Trail Blazers' Zach Collins (33) d...

Phoenix Suns' Mike James (55) looks to pass the ball as Portland Trail Blazers' Zach Collins (33) defends during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

PHOENIX – Between Mike James and Tyler Ulis, the two Phoenix Suns point guards have barely over a year of NBA experience. James is a rookie, despite five seasons playing overseas, and Ulis is just beginning his second season.

By comparison, Eric Bledsoe is eight years into his pro career.

Of course, Bledsoe is not with the team, so the Suns are severely inexperienced at the position at this early stage of the season. And right now, that’s OK for interim head coach Jay Triano, who, despite the youth at arguably the most important position on the floor, trusts James and Ulis implicitly.

Triano wants them, not him, running the offense.

“If they look at me, I’m ready for them. But, if they don’t look at me, they can call plays. That’s how they’re going to learn how to run a team,” he said Wednesday, ahead of the Suns hosting the Utah Jazz. “They’re out there. They know what they have a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

“It’s part of what’s going to be their growth is being able to run a team. Now, if I want to get something in, I’ll get it but I told them, ‘look north and south, don’t look over at me” or (the offense) will slow down and we don’t want to play that way. We don’t want to play where they look at me and then translate it to the players on the floor. Let’s just play.”

Told of Triano’s comments, James smiled.

“It makes you more free,” he said, referring to play-calling duties. “It makes you feel like you’re more comfortable…and that’s a good thing when you’re a point guard (because) then the offense feels more natural.”

And more importantly, the offense doesn’t stall.

“That’s something that I’ve thrived on all my life as a point guard,” Ulis said. “When I went to Kentucky, Cal (head coach John Calipari) gave me the keys early. That’s something as a point guard that you need because you go out there and you’re not over-thinking, just going out there and just playing and going with the flow.

“Coach has a trust in us and me and Mike are just taking this opportunity and making the most of it.”


It was less than five minutes, but forward Jared Dudley made his season against the Sacramento Kings on Monday. And it wasn’t the amount of time on the court, or that he even played, but the mere fact that he was in uniform. Given the events of the prior 24 hours — Earl Watson fired and Bledsoe sent home — Dudley felt like he was needed.

“That’s the time when you need a little more leadership even if I’m not playing that much,” he said. “The pre-game speech and the timeouts, it’s different when you’re on (the court) when you have a headband and uniform on than when you’re in suit (sitting) behind the bench.”

Dudley underwent a left toe ligament and bone procedure in the offseason, and he was not expected to return to action until mid-November. Still, there he was, still probably two-to-three weeks shy of being in 100-percent game-shape.

“It says a lot,” Triano said. “I appreciate the fact that he sped up his recovery rate. The sooner he can play, the better we’re going to be.”


No one played more minutes than center Tyson Chandler in Monday’s win. That’s not likely to continue, though, it is a reflection of how Triano will rotate players in and out of the lineup: Good play will be rewarded with more minutes.

“I trained my (expletive) off this summer so I was prepared for anything,” said Chandler, who at 35 years old grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. “Of course, it’s still my 17th year so I got to be wise about it but I prepared for these moments.”


— A familiar face was back inside Talking Stick Resort Arena with the Utah Jazz visit on Wednesday. Mike Elliott, who had spent 14 seasons as a member of the Suns’ athletic training staff, is in his first season with the Jazz as Vice President of Performance Health Care. Elliott is a Phoenix native and attended Arizona State University.

— Now open at the State Capitol Museum is the “Suns at 50” exhibit, which features a timeline from the franchise’s inception in 1968 to the present with unique memorabilia and artifacts including game-worn jerseys and autographed shoes from the likes of Charles Barkley, Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. The museum is open daily and free to the public.

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Phoenix Suns PGs Mike James, Tyler Ulis learning to run an NBA offense