Suns get early start toward building team chemistry

Sep 15, 2015, 1:52 PM
Phoenix Suns’ Tyson Chandler, left, the newly signed free agent, laughs along with head coach...
Phoenix Suns' Tyson Chandler, left, the newly signed free agent, laughs along with head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, as Chandler is introduced to the media during a news conference Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Training camp for the Phoenix Suns begins in two weeks, but for the better part of the past three weeks, several players have been working out at the soon-to-be-called Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The workouts, which include full-court scrimmages, are voluntary.

Players do not have to arrive until Sept. 28, the official report date, with camp beginning the next day in Flagstaff for the third straight year.

“We got a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces, so I mean the earlier you can get back and start getting that groove together, I think is important…to just build that chemistry, build that bond,” said point guard Brandon Knight, who added he’s “good to go” after offseason ankle surgery.

Either through the draft, free agency or trade, the Suns added six new faces this summer.  The biggest, literally, is 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler, who joined informal workouts this week.

“The more they can play with each and kind of get familiar with where they like the ball; I think it’s been helpful,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said.  “These guys have realized some things about these new guys.  It just helps them when they go out on the court that, for example, if the guy’s a shooter and they think he’s a good shooter, they look for him; if a guy’s a good roll to the basket they’re looking for that more.

“They played against most of these guys, obviously in games, but when you play with them day in and day out you see what their strengths are.”

The arrival of Chandler leaves power forward Markieff Morris, the longest-tenured Sun, as the only player missing among the 13 with guaranteed contracts.

Morris is not expected to show until required to do so.  He remains upset with the organization and has gone public with his desire to be traded after his brother, Marcus, was dealt to Detroit.

In Morris’ absence, Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer have settled into the forward position.

“He can shoot the ball,” Hornacek said of the 6-8 Teletovic, who averaged 8.5 points and a career-high 4.9 rebounds in 40 games last season with Brooklyn.  “He also can make some plays.  He’s got a good court-sense.  He’ll drive in there a little bit on a roll and he’ll look one way and pass it another way.  He understands how to set things up.”

Leuer, meanwhile, is 6-foot-10 and 228 pounds.  The Suns will be his fourth team in five seasons.

“Most of the time he ends up being on the winning team,” Hornacek said.  “He just does the little things.  He does the dirty work, he rolls hard to the basket, he brings guys to him, he can rotate and help defensively—he’s very good at that.

“Again, you’re trying to find guys that know how to play the game; makes life a lot easier.”

The Suns went 39-43 last season, missing the playoffs for a fifth straight year.  The number of early arrivals suggests players are anxious to end that drought.

“I think we’re going to have a really good team,” Knight said.  “I’m not sure how other people think, but we’re a very confident group; excited to see how it goes.”

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