David Lighty will be one of the players to keep an eye on during the Suns' Summer League


With all of the attention being paid to the free agency pursuit of Eric Gordon, the loss of Steve Nash, and the signings of Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley; little has been said about the 2012 Phoenix Suns' Summer League team that is set to begin playing in less than a week.

For those of you who may not know, most NBA teams put together a summer league team that competes in Las Vegas each summer full of first and second year players, along with Euro/D-league hopefuls and recently undrafted college prospects looking to gain an invite to an NBA training camp.

The Phoenix Suns have now finalized their summer league roster, and the team will play their first game next Sunday July, 15th against the New York Knicks at 1 p.m. PST.

In addition to Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall who will be headlining the team, there are a few other very recognizable names to watch for. Continue reading after the jump for a full roster breakdown and the complete schedule.

The complete 2012 Phoenix Suns' Summer League roster with a short summary of each player courtesy of myself and SBN Arizona's own Kristopher Habbas:

  • Diante Garrett, PG, Iowa St. - Garrett is a 24 year old 6'5" 181lb PG formerly of Iowa State University. Garrett averaged 17.3 pts and 6.1 asts during his senior year at Iowa St., but went undrafted in 2011 and spent this season playing in Europe where he bounced between teams and struggled to find his shot. Garrett is an interesting prospect because of his size and length for a point guard. His 6'5" frame along with a 6'9" wingspan plus above average strength gives him a physical advantage over other guards. Although Garrett isn't a great shooter, he likes to attack the rim and can play either on or off the ball as well.
  • Matt Gatens, SG, Iowa - Gatens is a 23 year old 6'5" 213lb SG from the University of Iowa. Gatens was not drafted this year, but he reportedly visited the Suns twice before the draft which you can read about here. Phoenix may be looking for Gaten's three-point shooting ability which he shot at 41% last season for Iowa while averaging over five attempts per game. He also shot the ball well from inside the arc averaging 46% from the field overall for approximately 15 pts per game. Gatens is a combo guard who started all four years with the Hawkeyes. His biggest drawback is that he lacks the quickness and athleticism to defend faster, quicker guards on a full time basis; but his shooting ability could make him an attractive potential role player for a team like the Suns.
  • Matt Howard, PF, Butler - Howard is a 23 year old 6'8" 230lb PF formerly of Butler University. Howard had a storied four year career at Butler helping the Bulldogs get to the NCAA Championship game in both 2010 and 2011, although losing both times to Duke and Connecticut respectively. Howard averaged 16.4 points and 7.7 rebounds his senior year at Butler. He can play the post as well as shoot from anywhere on the court...he is a forward who can do it all. He is a very fundamentally sound player and a very good shooter who uses his skills to overcome his below average size, strength, and athleticism. Don't count him out...this kid can play, and was one of the most celebrated players in college two years ago.
  • Akos Keller, PF, Hungary - Keller is a 23 year old 6'9" PF from Hungary. I personally don't know anything about Keller being that he is a Euro player and I only watch NBA and college basketball. But the scouting report on Keller shows that he averaged 11 pts and 6 rbs per 26.5 min playing for Hungary last season while shooting at 61% from inside the arc. He's not a great three point shooter but does have the ability to knock it down from beyond the arc as a stretch four as well.
  • Marcus Landry, PF, Wisconsin - Landry is a 26 year old 6'8" 219lb PF formerly of the University of Wisconsin. Marcus is an undersized stretch-four who knock down the three and also plays pretty good defense. Some of you may remember Marcus Landry from his brief training camp stint with the Suns last season. Marcus is Carl Landry's brother who bounced around the D-league for the past few seasons before playing overseas last year. Landry didn't fare too well in Europe last season averaging only 4 pts and 2.5 rbs in 13 min. He was more productive the past two seasons when he played in the D-league and the Suns might be looking to see if he can produce against similar competition.
  • David Lighty, SG, Ohio St. - Lighty is a 24 year old 6'6" 216lb SG from Ohio State University. Lighty was a stand out player and one of the best defenders in the Big 10 during his time at Ohio St. After going undrafted in 2011, Lighty went to Europe where he averaged a pretty respectable 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds per 30 min of play. Lighty can score the ball from anywhere on the court and is a very nice option as a spot up shooter, but his best asset is certainly his lock down perimeter defense. I really liked Lighty at Ohio St., and if I were to pick any one of these players as a favorite to get a training camp invite from the Suns it would be him.
  • Kendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina - Marshall is a 20 year old, 6'4" 198lb PG from the University of North Carolina. In case you've been living under a rock for the past month, Kendall Marshall was the Suns' first round draft pick this year. He'll get an opportunity to show his stuff against tougher competition starting this week.
  • Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU - Mitchell is a 26 year old 6'6" 246lb SF formerly of Louisiana State University. Mitchell is an athletic wing that excels in transition and can score at the rim. However, he is not a great shooter and struggles in a half court offense. Mitchell last played for the D-league in 2010/11 where he posted 16.5 pts, 5.7 rbs, and 2.2 asts per 33 min. Mitchell was cut by the Cavaliers during training camp last year and hasn't played professionally since. If you want to read more about Mitchell as a player you can find a pretty good write up about him here.
  • Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas/Suns - Morris is a 6'9" 241lb PF formerly of Kansas and now playing for the Phoenix Suns. We all know Kieff and what he's capable of on the court. It will be fun to see him paired with Marshall on the Summer League team...I'm hoping for a dominant performance.
  • Patrick O'Bryant, C, Bradley - O'Bryant is a 26 year old 7'0" 260lb C formerly of Bradley University. O'Bryant has a 7'5.5" wingspan and a 9'5" standing reach. O'Bryant was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft by Golden State. After being sent to the D-league and then bouncing around the NBA for a while O'Bryant took his talents to Greece where he averaged 9.6 pts, 5.9 rbs, and 1.5 blks per 22 min. The Suns will take a look at O'Bryant because long and semi-athletic 7-footers who run the floor well are always worth giving another opportunity.
  • Doron Perkins, PG, Santa Clara - Perkins is a 29 year old 6'3" 195lb PG formerly of Santa Clara University. Perkins will be the Grant Hill of the Suns' Summer League team at the ripe young age of 29 years old. Perkins has been playing overseas in Europe for the last four seasons, and last year he averaged 11.6 pts, 6.8 rbs, and 3.6 asts per 30 min. Perkins is probably a long shot to get a training camp invite with the Suns, but our last point guard that played for Santa Clara in college did pretty well, right?
  • Jacob Pullen, PG/SG, Kansas St. - Pullen is a 22 year old 6'1" 194lb combo guard formerly of Kansas St. Jacob Pullen and his beard were two of the most recognizable items in the NCAA two seasons ago. Pullen is an undersized, yet very talented and dynamic player who averaged 20 pts and 3.7 asts per 32 min during his senior year at Kansas St. After going undrafted in 2011, Pullen played in Europe last season where he averaged 16 points and 3.3 asts per 36 min as well. Pullen is a clutch shooter with NBA range who can create his own shot and light up the scoreboard on any given night. I believe he will have to show improved court vision and play making ability for others to pique the Suns' interest.
  • DeShawn Sims, PF, Michigan - Sims is a 24 year old 6'8" 230lb PF formerly of the University of Michigan. Sims averaged 16 pts and 7.6 rbs per 32 min as a senior with Michigan. After going undrafted in 2010, Sims played for the D-league in 2011 averaging 20 pts and 7.7 rbs per 36 min. Sims is limited by his lack of a jump shot and is really only affective around the rim. But he is a strong athletic player who rebounds well and could give the Summer League team an inside presence when resting Morris.
  • P.J. Tucker, SF, Texas - Tucker is a 27 year old 6'5" 225lb SF formerly of the University of Texas. Tucker was a stand-out player for the Longhorns where he averaged 16 pts and 9.5 rbs per 34.5 min as a junior. Tucker was selected 35th overall by Toronto in the 2006 draft where he played only limited minutes for the Raptors that season. Tucker went to the D-league in 2007 where he did fairly well, but he decided to play in Europe the following season and has played overseas ever since. Tucker is a talented combo forward who is a very good rebounder despite being only 6'5". Tucker is a tough, strong player and an average athlete and shooter. Kristopher Habbas described Tucker as a "power forward trapped in the body of a wing" and I very much agree with his assessment. He will need to show the Suns he can do more than just rebound if he has any shot of getting invited to training camp.
  • Erving Walker, PG, Florida - Walker is a 22 year old 5'8" 176lb PG from the University of Florida. Walker was an effective four-year player for Florida. Walker is very undersized, but still managed to rack up 12.1 pts and 4.6 asts per 31 min during his senior year at Florida. He's a very good three point shooter and can also drive the lane and score or kick out to perimeter shooters. On the other hand, he showed a questionable shot selection by forcing too many bad shots. However, Walker's biggest issue may be character concerns after he was caught trying to steal a taco...yes, a taco from a Florida street vendor late one night. He plead guilty to the charges and paid a $301 fine for his stupidity which you can read more about here, but a player who would do something so dumb right before the draft really makes you wonder about his decision making.

Schedule:

  • Sunday, July 15th vs. New York Knicks at 1 p.m. PST
  • Tuesday, July 17th vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at 5:30 p.m. PST
  • Wednesday July 18th vs. New Orleans Hornets at 5:30 p.m. PST
  • Friday July 20th vs. D-League Select Team at 7 p.m. PST
  • Saturday July 21st vs. Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. PST

The Summer league team will be coached by Dan Majerle, and all five games will be shown live on NBATV. If you don't have access to NBATV, you may also purchase the Summer League broadband package from NBA.com for $14.99 by going here.

Poll
Who are you most looking forward to seeing on the Suns' Summer League team this season?

  515 votes | Results


It surely seemed odd that the New Orleans Hornets agreed to a sign-and-trade deal to acquire Ryan Anderson, parting with quality young big Gustavo Ayon in the process, when the Hornets could have...

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Ah, the NBA these days. Millionaires being petulant, wanting not only their money but also unmitigated adoration from those closest to them and, sometimes more importantly, from those who sign their paychecks and/or decide how much their paycheck will be.

Not so different from the real world, actually. Raise your hand if you'd rather get positive feedback from your boss than nothing at all. Now, imagine your company is considering layoffs, and you know that half the people around you will be given their walking papers any day now. Raise your hand if you'd rather hear SOMETHING from your boss than nothing at all. That's everyone, right? When it comes to job security, silence can be worse than any alternative.

Now imagine NBA free agency. Half the league's players are free agents on some level every summer. That leaves you stumping for a job, hoping for that callback from a team that wants your services. Few free agents get to choose their next employer from among multiple job offers.

Now, imagine those free agents who don't even get a courtesy call from their current employer, the one who allowed their existing contract to expire. That team has the most flexibility to re-sign you, so why not? You played hard for them. Couldn't they at least call you to say "yay" or "nay" on next season's prospects?

Let's apply that scenario to 38-year old 2-time MVP Steve Nash, 23-year old backup C Robin Lopez, 26-year old one-time league MIP Aaron Brooks, and 23-year old potential all-star Hornets SG Eric Gordon.

Of these 4 players, the least accomplished is Robin Lopez.

And of these 4 players, the ONLY one called or visited directly by his current team on July 1 was Robin Lopez.

Three of the four players (Lopez, Brooks and Gordon) are restricted free agents, meaning that their current team has right-of-refusal on any contract to which that free agent signs with another team. Also meaning that those three players already have a 'qualifying offer' for a 1-year contract worth more money than any prior salary that player has seen. So, the current team does not necessarily have any dire need to contact those players.

Yet, remember that silence is deafening. And unnerving. That current team can pull that qualifying offer any time they want, without forewarning, before July 11. And even after that, unless you sign that 1-year deal, they can pull it out from under you at their whim. That's not job security.

Each of those players wants a multi-year contract. But even more than that, each of those players wants to know their team WANTS them back. And simply talking through the player's agent, rather than talking to them directly, is not good enough.

Robin Lopez got a personal visit from Babby, Blanks and Gentry. They gave him a custom-made comic book in which Lopez was the hero. Whether Lopez wants to re-sign with the Suns or not, or whether he wants a fresh start on a new team giving him a starting job, he had to be thrilled that the Suns spent part of Day 1 of free agency with HIM.

In contrast, 2-time MVP Steve Nash did not get a direct call or visit from the Suns. Sure, they contacted his agent to say they would get back to him after they see how things shake out, but Nash said there was no contact with him, and no contract offer either. Nash told reporters that it "stung" to be ignored, just as other teams were lining up at his Manhattan doorstep.

Neither did Aaron Brooks get a call. And even a few days later, he was set free entirely. So much for that job.

And finally, we get to Eric Gordon of the Hornets. If you believe his recent vitriolic comments, Gordon was highly peeved that none of the Hornets brass called or visited him on July 1 or since then. Sure, they contacted his agent. Sure, they made statements all spring about their desire for him as their cornerstone, but when July 1 rolled around the only calls he got were from OTHER teams.

So can you blame him for being peeved? The team that has his exclusive rights didn't even bother to make personal contact, while other teams rolled out the orange carpet for him.

Even after visiting the Rockets, the Pacers and the Suns, and signing an offer sheet with the Suns, and clarifying his position of feeling neglected not once, but twice in three days...

Still nothing. By the time Gordon was interviewed by a pool of reporters on Friday after practicing for Team USA, he was seething.

Even with GM Dell Demps on hand to watch his Hornets try out (Gordon and Anthony Davis were both trying out for the team), there had still been no personal conversation between them. Gordon saw Demps in the stands all day, knew that Demps was aware of his publicly-stated unhappiness, and STILL no contact.

Do you blame Gordon for feeling slighted?

Sure the Hornets have exclusive rights to Gordon. Sure they didn't need to stroke his ego in this small, busy timeframe. Sure it's smart business to have someone else set Gordon's price, and to save (at minimum) that fifth year and those higher raises that other teams cannot offer.

But come on.

The Suns visited the guy they wanted to keep, and kept the ones they didn't want to keep at arms length.

Is New Orleans doing the same? Do they really not want Gordon in their future? Or at least, did they want to pay Gordon the least amount of money possible, damn the ego?

Or did they just drop the ball?


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