EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Ish Wainright returns to Phoenix Suns on 2-way contract, per report

Aug 3, 2022, 2:27 PM

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference...

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 10, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 110-80. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a two-way contract with forward Ish Wainright, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Wainright returns to the Suns for the second time on a two-way deal and takes the other spot alongside guard Duane Washington Jr.

League rules allow players to be on a two-way contract with the same team only twice, so if Wainright were to return to Phoenix the following season, it would have to be on a standard deal.

As a rookie, Wainright played in 47 games and averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.

Wainright is a notable player in the tenure of general manager James Jones, as the first success story Phoenix has had with a two-way contract.

The 27-year-old was signed in late October just before the regular season started. It was his first NBA season after playing for four years at Baylor, going undrafted in 2017 and spending three years playing professionally overseas before nearly making the Toronto Raptors’ roster for the 2021-22 season.

Some of that past included Wainright playing tight end on the Baylor football team and earning a training camp invite with the Buffalo Bills.

When Wainright arrived in Phoenix, it immediately became clear that his work ethic and engaging personality fit like a glove with what the Suns are about.

Beyond that, the stocky forward listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds showed promise on the court. Phoenix’s rocky injury report all season allowed him opportunities as early as late November, and Wainright displayed sound feel and ability defensively, as well as some feel for making quick decisions with the ball.

All of this came to a head in January during the NBA’s COVID-19 outbreak, giving Wainright more playing time and eventually putting him at a comfort level where he could be injected into games to make an impact. That happened on Jan. 30 in a win over the San Antonio Spurs when a sleepy Suns effort was sparked by Wainright’s insertion as a small-ball 5 for the whole fourth quarter. He had a career-high 10 points to go with two rebounds, an assist, steal and two blocks in a career-high 20 minutes.

Wainright kept proving he belonged, doubling his career-best in points to 20 against the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring all of them in the fourth quarter of a loss that produced a franchise-record 48 points. In that game toward the end of the regular season, the Suns rested four starters, and Wainright was still out there going full bore to nearly spark a 39-point comeback.

The next day on April 7, injured center Frank Kaminsky was waived, clearing the way for Phoenix to sign Wainright to a standard contract so he could be eligible to play in the postseason. The Suns did just that a week later, showing a commitment to Wainright and deservedly rewarding him for all the work he had put in.

Wainright recently played for the Suns’ Summer League squad and averaged 11.0 points per game.

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