McDonough: Suns have options to open roster spot for Mike James

Nov 22, 2017, 4:35 PM | Updated: Nov 23, 2017, 10:37 am
Phoenix Suns guard Mike James (55) slips past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second h...

Phoenix Suns guard Mike James (55) slips past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough remains adamant he wants to sign point guard Mike James to a deal for the rest of the season.

For one, Phoenix needs a second point guard behind current starter Tyler Ulis.

James is on a two-way contract, meaning the 27-year-old rookie is not currently occupying one of the 15 roster spots. But because two-way deals — which are usually utilized on players jumping between the NBA and the G League — end after a player spends 40 days with an NBA team, James’ contract is set to expire on Dec. 6, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

The quick assumption was that the trade of point guard Eric Bledsoe would open a roster spot.

Instead, the Suns have integrated Greg Monroe, who joins Phoenix from the Milwaukee Bucks, into their plans. While it might appear the team would try to immediately flip Monroe or trade center Tyson Chandler to open a roster spot for James, general manager Ryan McDonough isn’t so quick to jump to that conclusion.

“There are different ways to make that roster move,” he told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday. “It’s not as simple as we’re definitely going to move one of those guys.

“We came into the season thinking we were going to have three centers,” McDonough added, pointing out the season began with Chandler, Alex Len and Alan Williams on the theoretical depth chart. “I don’t want people to think it’s for sure one of these centers going out. Obviously that is one option, but there are other ways to get there as well.”

With Williams, Brandon Knight and Davon Reed out for the season or at least significant stretches of it, one more injury would allow the Suns to apply for a hardship waiver to open up a roster spot.

That, obviously, is far from the hopeful resolution.

Barring that, the Suns could also consider waiving small forward Derrick Jones Jr., who has shuttled between Prescott Valley and Phoenix with only five brief appearances for the NBA squad under his belt this season.

Jones Jr. is on a non-guaranteed contract but has become a developmental project of sorts for the Suns and their Northern Arizona squad.


“Going hand-in-hand with the ball movement is the player movement. Coach (Jay) Triano’s really emphasized that. One of the things I think you see more of now is when a guy makes a pass, the passer moves right after he makes the pass. I think earlier in the year, the guy would pass and stand and kind of watch and it would be kind of take-turns basketball.”

— McDonough on the ball movement from the Suns

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McDonough: Suns have options to open roster spot for Mike James