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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.”

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs’ Larry Drew Discusses Brandon Knight’s Play of Late

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The Cleveland Cavaliers knew that when they acquired Brandon Knight in a trade deadline deal with the Houston Rockets, that they were acquiring a player that may be a ways away from returning to form.

Knight, who missed the entire 2017-2018 season and appeared in only 14 games this season due to a torn ACL, has been showing signs of a return to form in his short stint with the Cavs, and it has caught the attention of Cavaliers’ head coach Larry Drew.

“I know what he’s gone through over a period with the injury and trying to come back from it,” Drew said of Knight, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

“I know what he’s capable of doing. I know what type of player he is. He’s a fierce competitor. Not only does he do it from an offensive end, but defensively, he’s a tough kid. That addition in our lineup gives us a little versatility as far as we can move people around. … And I know how bad he wants to get back to the Brandon Knight of old. Certainly if he can get back to that, you guys are going to see a terrific player.”

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Eastern Conference

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet Expected To Miss At Least Three Weeks

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Toronto Raptors Fred VanVleet is expected to be sidelined at least three weeks after he suffered a partial ligament injury in his left thumb, according to an official team announcement.

VanVleet will wear a splint on the thumb for around 3 weeks before he will have it removed to be re-evaluated.

The Atlanta Hawks are expected to reach a buyout with point guard Jeremy Lin, who is expected to then sign with Toronto.

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Suns’ Deandre Ayton Says There’s Bigger Things Than Rookie of the Year

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Overshadowed by the phenomenal rookie season of Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the impressive rookie campaign of Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.

And while it will come down to Doncic and Ayton for Rookie of the Year consideration, with Doncic a big favorite, Ayton says there are bigger things to him than the Rookie of the Year honor.

“Right now I think there’s bigger things than Rookie of the Year for me,” Ayton said, during an interview with The Step Back’s Ti Windisch.

“This is a franchise that needs a winning culture, and I think I have bigger things ahead other than a Rookie of the Year. I’m trying to change a whole city around.”

Ayton is having a solid season, averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game for the Suns, who own the NBA’s second worst record.

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