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Suns’ James Jones Talks Suns Rebuild, Deandre Ayton

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Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones isn’t under an illusions in his approach to the team’s rebuild, which has been taking it’s toll on both fans and players.

Jones says that the team is still a ways away from being a competitive force in the league.

“I mean, we’re a ways away” Jones said, during an appearance on the Doug & Wolf podcast.

“Consistency is a problem for us and you have to expect that “under 21”. But, we’ve made strides when we play hard and we compete. [When] we’re flying around, we’re disruptive, and we’re pretty good. When we don’t, when we slow the game, and you force us to read concepts and make plays and react to the game we struggle mightily.

Our young guys are figuring out you need to bring it or you get embarrassed.”

Jones knows that the road is tough, but points out it’s a road that they have to continue to take.

“Well, we can’t keep waiting and saying it’ll take time. We know it will take time. That’s just the nature of this business. A player has to grow into it.

But, our focus has to remain on forcing our guys to take strides and grow exponentially. We just have to push them.

We have to continue to raise the bar to see if these guys can get there. I can’t give you a definitive timeline but I can tell you that our focus right now going forward, in free agency, and the draft is to add players that will allow us to play, and not rely on the production of young guys.”

Jones also knows about the debate that still goes on regarding their decision to take center Deandre Ayton first overall over Dallas Mavericcks superstar Luca Doncic.

“Of course, of course” Jones said when asked if he would make the same decision if given a chance to do it again.

“We’re not looking at today, we’re looking at what Deandre will become. It’s not what he can become, it’s what he will become, because we’re in there with him every day.

We know that he wants to be great. He’s still figuring out why he’s successful. Things that he does he just does them naturally. But we won’t find a guy with his size, athleticism, touch and feel in this league very often. I think of some of the greats. We talked earlier about Hakeem Olajuwon, who I think is a great comp.”

Detroit Pistons

Pistons’ Dwane Casey Planning Flexibility with Blake Griffin, Thon Maker

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Detroit Pistons’ head coach Dwane Casey has a creative approach in mind when he utilizes Blake Griffin and Thon Maker this upcoming season.

While the Pistons don’t have a true center outside of Andre Drummond, Casey sees opportunities to get creative with his lineups, depending on the situation at hand.

“I see it being very situational,” Casey said, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

“The other guy we haven’t mentioned, we have played Blake at the five. Not good numbers off of that, so I don’t anticipate that but there are scenarios in the game, last two minutes of the game, where Blake could play the five. Looking for really a bump out of Thon, playing him at four/five, whatever it is, but a lot of nights if you look at the league, the rosters have gotten smaller and the traditional five has kind of gone the way of the dinosaur. The flexibility we have with Thon, with Markieff having the possibility of playing there, is really important.”

With Drummond focusing on developing his offense this offseason, the Pistons may lack some defense at the rim, and in the paint.

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Eastern Conference

Heat’s Bam Adebayo Discusses Team Picking Up Option

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Bam Adebayo

The Miami Heat recently picked up the fourth-year option on the contract of center Bam Adebayo, who is thrilled to see further commitment from the team.

Adebayo, the Heat’s starter at center, will make $3.5 million this season, and is now guaranteed $5.1 million in the 2020-2021 season.

“It’s definitely a confidence builder,” Adebayo said, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s one of those things that a lot of guys don’t get to see, but I’m glad it happened to me. So we’re going to keep this thing going and see if we can win some more games.”

Adebayo collected 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season for Miami.

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Eastern Conference

Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr. Out to Prove Something this Season

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While the New York Knicks made headlines as they whiffed on several big name free agents this summer, one of their promising young players believes that a big year is on the horizon.

Knicks’ guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks via trade, is looking to make a splash in his first full season with the Knicks.

“It’s just been relentless work. I feel like I’ve got something to prove,” Smith Jr. said, according to The New York Daily News’ Kristian Wingfield.

“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder still, but I’ve just been working. I try to attack each day and look at it as if I didn’t leave anything on the table. I got the most out of my day. … I’m gonna come in, bring that into training camp and be a leader, lead by example, earn my respect from these guys and then carry that into the season.”

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