Summer Suns fall to Kings; Ish Wainright’s future in Phoenix

Jul 15, 2022, 7:04 PM

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns is fouled by Quenton Jackson #3 of the Washington Wizards dur...

Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns is fouled by Quenton Jackson #3 of the Washington Wizards during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns’ second-to-last Summer League game was an 82-69 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

Phoenix had a chance to play in the championship if it had won by a certain margin but a loss sealed its fate to a consolation game on either Saturday or Sunday.

The Suns’ offense in Las Vegas has either been great or not so great, and the latter came on Friday and put them down 15 points midway through the second quarter.

They showed their fight, going on a 16-1 run to get within 10 at 5:34 remaining. Those minutes were led by a lineup that had forward Ish Wainright playing the 5, something he’s familiar with.

He finished with a team-high 13 points.

With Deandre Ayton’s future sorted out, one more potential returnee worth mentioning is the unrestricted free agent Wainright.

The 27-year-old signed with the Suns on a two-way contract last season and did everything right in his rookie year. His personality and work ethic were a seamless fit, and as a small-ball five option at a bulky 6-foot-5, he took advantage of every opportunity he got in the rotation.

That rightfully earned him a spot on the playoff roster, a move that required the Suns to release an injured Frank Kaminsky.

While Wainright is older than the average rookie, there’s clearly a rotation-caliber NBA player in there and there’s the obvious comparison to former Sun P.J. Tucker. Both spent time playing in Europe before getting their next shot with Phoenix and cover similar lanes when it comes to the role they play.

The X-factor for Wainright is his 3-point shot, one that was hardly utilized in college at Baylor before he started taking it more in his last two years, ending up at 33.1% on 1.3 attempts per game for his collegiate career.

That was five years ago, though, and Wainright has put in a ton of hard work to become a better shooter. He made that clear when he got chances to prove it last season, and has again in Las Vegas.

This type of footwork is the byproduct of endless practice reps, and he’s been using a noticeably quicker release in Summer League play as well.

Wainright is 9-for-21 (42.8%) on 3s in four Summer League games.

The potentially good omen for his future has been Phoenix using Wainright in the role he would play on the Suns, as opposed to putting him on the ball more as a featured player. Summer League head coach Steve Scalzi has also used Wainright as a small-ball 5 for a few segments of games too, which also qualifies. It makes sense if they want him to get used to it!

Wainright, in this writer’s opinion, deserves a standard NBA contract after the calendar year he’s had for Phoenix. With that said, he can still be added as a two-way player again. The rule is a maximum of two years under that type of deal with the same team, and Wainright’s only entering his second season in the NBA, meeting the threshold of under four years of experience.

He wants to be back.

If the Suns are able to execute a Kevin Durant trade, it will leave their depth in a challenging position, a group that would be in a slightly better spot if Wainright was a part of the wing rotation.

Empire of the Suns

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns dives for the ball against Jaxson Hayes #11 of the Los Angeles ...

Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns exit in-season tournament in controversial fashion vs. Lakers

The Phoenix Suns sure made the NBA In-Season Tournament eventful, giving it its first controversy in a loss to the Lakers.

7 hours ago

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns du...

Kellan Olson

Suns tip off NBA In-Season Tournament bracket with rematch vs. Lakers

There is significance whenever the Phoenix Suns face the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA In-Season Tournament will. bring even more.

2 days ago

Devin Booker and Desmond Bane scrap for position in Suns-Grizzlies...

Kevin Zimmerman

Devin Booker’s return helps Suns beat Grizzlies in learning session

Devin Booker took advantage of the Memphis Grizzlies' overly aggressive defense to score 34 points in a Phoenix Suns win.

3 days ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns takes a shot against Jacob Gilyard #0 of the Memphis Grizzlies ...

Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns own strong odds to advance in NBA In-Season Tournament

NBA In-Season Tournament action ended on Friday with the Phoenix Suns having a great chance to advance to the knockout stage.

9 days ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns makes a three-point basket with 1.7 seconds left in the fourth ...

Kellan Olson

Devin Booker leads shorthanded Suns to 7th straight victory in win vs. Knicks

The Phoenix Suns escaped Madison Square Garden with a 116-113 victory over the Knicks, their seventh consecutive win and best of the season.

9 days ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns handles the ball against Bismack Biyombo #18 of the Memphis Gri...

Kellan Olson

Suns keep in-season tournament hopes alive, beat Grizzlies behind Booker’s 40

Even in a shorthanded state, the Phoenix Suns were just fine with Devin Booker, defeating the depleted Memphis Grizzlies 110-89.

12 days ago

Summer Suns fall to Kings; Ish Wainright’s future in Phoenix