Gina Mazell: After his exchange with Igor Kokoskov spread on the Interwebs last night, Mikal Bridges said he apologized to his coach on the flight back from Portland: “All he was trying to do was just get my attention. I was kind of beating up on myself, and I was being disrespectful.” #Suns
Gina Mazell: More Bridges: "I know how I was raised. My mom was even beating me up (about) it...we're good now. We talked about it, and saw each other today like it really didn't even happen." Important to note that Bridges has constantly been praised for his maturity as a rookie. #Suns
That led to Ayton talking about being an “emotional guy,” which showed itself when he and Booker, who is out with a hamstring injury, exchanged words with the media present in the locker room following the 10-minute cooling off period. While they didn't scream at each other, Booker and Ayton clearly were at odds.
“I start to feel stuff,” Ayton said. “When I don’t sense it, that the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it doesn’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too. Just show more. Even if I think I’m showing more, just show extra. Exaggerate it a little bit just to make it spread. Make it vocal. Make everybody see it.”
Phoenix’s top two players, Booker and Ayton, exchanged words after the 10-minute cooling off period as members of the media entered the visiting locker room for the tail end of that conversation. These two have had words before on the court, with Booker correcting Ayton on what to do on certain plays. Both have agreed to hold players accountable, but this felt different. “I’m an emotional guy, too,” Ayton said. “I start to feel stuff. When I don’t sense it and the energy is not there, that’s when you start to hear my mouth. I don’t care who it is. Nineteen-year vet or 15 years, it don’t matter. We all have a job to do and I have to step it up a little more, too.”
From Jamal Crawford, one of the more positive players in the NBA, slamming the ball on the floor at the end of the third quarter to the friction on the bench between Bridges and Kokoskov, the frustration was apparent. “How long have you been around basketball,” Suns veteran Trevor Ariza asked a reporter in a calm voice when asked what the conversations are like on the bench when trailing by 25 after the first quarter. “So what do you think the conversation would be like after that? “Probably not very positive." Ariza laughed. “Exactly,” he said. “Not too happy, but again, that’s on us for not playing hard.”
Being 4-21 can bring out the worst in a team and Kokoskov, a first-year NBA head coach, has the challenge of trying to keep the Suns together just as all seems lost right now for an franchise having its worst start ever. “At this point, we’ve got to just look in the mirror,” Suns reserve center Richaun Holmes said. “We’ve got to change something.”
Jamal Crawford: Frustrations are part of the game, but we won't let the outside divide us. Win as a team, lose as one…
Booker isn’t certain how to make this happen, but he knows the Suns need to establish the type of closeness that allows them to get on each other. “All good teams have that trust and chemistry where you’re able to get on each other and know it’s for a better purpose,” Booker said. “I don’t think we have that right now. We’re not comfortable with each other. Step on each other’s toes. We don’t push each other. I think that’s what we need to do.”
Ayton has an idea of how do to that. “Know who to yell at, know who not to tell at,” Ayton said. “Know who to encourage. There’s certain guys on the team, you curse them out, you’re basically cursing with them. That’s what amps them up. Cuss me out. Like, why you not on me? Some guys, you have say, ‘Come on man, let’s go, let’s go.’ ”
Scott Bordow: News: Suns are saying Chriss isn't suspended per se but won't be at Sunday's game. They're describing it as a cooling off period. Chriss was not at practice today. Both McDonough and Triano told me thy're handling it "in house."
June 28, 2022 | 5:31 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac has agreed on a three-year, $33 million extension, his agents Jeff Schwartz and Mike Lindeman of @excelbasketball tell ESPN. The Clippers declined his $7.5M team option for 2022-2023, clearing the way for Zubac’s new deal.
Law Murray: Source confirms to @Theathletic that LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac is getting a raise. 3-year, $33 million. @Wojespn first. No options, fully guaranteed, hits market 2025. Not trade eligible this offseason. Longest-tenured Clipper returns as unquestioned starting center.
Tim Cato: I’ll add to the chorus: the Mavericks have had a belief for at least the past couple weeks, multiple sources tell me, that Jalen Brunson would sign with the Knicks. at this point, it’s seen as a certainty.
James Edwards III: Sources: The Pistons will not pick up the team options of Frank Jackson, Luka Garza and Carsen Edwards. Additionally, Detroit’s two two-way guys are Braxton Key and Buddy Boeheim, so Jamorko Pickett no longer holds one of those spots.
Matthew Tynan: Spurs have announced their Summer League roster. Joshua Primo, Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley will all be in Las Vegas.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard James Bouknight underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair a tendon in his fifth digit on his right hand. The surgery was performed by Dr. Brandon Valentine at Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital in consultation with Hornets team physician Dr. Marcus Cook. Bouknight will not participate in the 2022 NBA Summer League.
Marc Stein: Yet I can unreservedly say that this old newspaper nerd is absolutely entranced by this platform and all of its possibilities … as much as I miss the honor of seeing my words printed on the NYT’s pages. I can honestly say, with gratitude and relief, that I thought I would miss the printed word more. It doesn’t torment me nearly as much as I anticipated when I see a Times rack and know that there is a zero percent chance that I have a story on those pages. I’m too busy trying to map out what to write next and when to print it to best connect with my loyal (and patient) readers, whose faith and support make it possible for me to cover the league as an independent journalist. All the costs attached to proprietary reporting — like travel, health care, etc. — fall almost fully on me now, so the assistance is vital in helping me produce the best possible content.