Portland Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum discuss how they were affected by playing with Suns coach Earl Watson, following Sunday’s Portland win over Phoenix. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Suns guard Devin Booker discusses his game-winning play to beat the Mavericks in Dallas on Saturday. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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azcentral sports’ Sarah McLellan and Doug Haller discuss the Suns’ loss to the Lakers, tanking for best possible draft pick and the Pac-12 basketball semifinals.
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Suns guard Devin Booker reacts to Thursday night’s loss to the Lakers.
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Suns guard Devin Booker talks about his team’s fight in Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards and the team’s attitude after P.J. Tucker was traded at the trade deadline. Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Shot Clock: Final Four contenders, Isaiah Thomas vs. Tyler Ulis and Taijuan Walker has a good outing for the Diamondbacks. Video: azcentral sports
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Phoenix Suns’ Tyler Ulis talks about his game-winning shot against the Celtics on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Doug Haller/azcentral sports)
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Suns center Alan Williams discusses Friday night’s win over the Thunder.
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Broadcaster Al McCoy, “The Voice of the Suns” talks about his induction into the Suns Ring of Honor on Mar. 3, 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher
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azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley break down the NBA MVP race and a possible reunion in the Cardinals defensive backfield.
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Jose Calderon made 415K for two hours and he didn’t even play. Veuer’s Nick Cardona explains why.
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This point guard is making his next inspirational move. Buzz60’s Emily Drooby (@emilydrooby) has the story.
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Former NBA player Eddie Johnson tells us who’s favored to win the NBA championship.
USA TODAY Sports
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PJ Tucker, after being traded by the Phoenix Suns to the Toronto Raptors said: “Phoenix has changed my life. All the people here, all the fans… I couldn’t ask for a better place.” Video: Doug Haller/azcentral sports
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Jay Dieffenbach and Doug Haller of azcentral sports talk about the Suns’ defensive future and the trade of P.J. Tucker to Toronto. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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Phoenix Suns center Alan Williams watches his mother, Jeri Williams, sworn in as Phoenix police chief in Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Paul Coro/azcentral sports)
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Hosted by head coach Earl Watson, who says the Suns “embrace and celebrate our youth.” Video: Phoenix Suns
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As his name surfaced in trade rumors, Tyson Chandler said he’d simply deal with it whenever management brought something to his “doorstep.” A few weeks later, after a pre-trade-deadline practice, the Suns veteran center met with General Manager Ryan McDonough in a conference room at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Exactly what was discussed that day is not known, but it came down to this: McDonough and team owner Robert Sarver asked Chandler his preference: go to a postseason contender or stay with the rebuilding Suns in a limited on-court role.
In his 16th season, Chandler chose to stay.
“That’s true,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “I feel like it’s a journey I started that I want to see through. If things change, I don’t know, but as long as I’m here, I’m going to try and do what’s right by these young fellas. I didn’t want to go nowhere. I wanted to be with these dudes and finish it out.”
Chandler, a starter who averaged 11.6 rebounds before the All-Star break, hasn’t played since Feb. 15, a stretch of 10 games. As part of management’s youth-evaluation plan, he pretty much has served as a player-coach the past month. He’s often the first to talk with center Alex Len or rookie Marquese Chriss as they head to the bench during timeouts and the last to talk with them as they return to the court.
Chandler’s importance was reflected in Sunday’s loss to Portland. He wasn’t with the team that night, out for personal reasons. In his absence, coach Earl Watson said no one stepped up to replace Chandler’s voice, an important element on a young team. Sometimes all it takes is for a player to suggest a play during a timeout. Or to urge the defense to get a stop or to pull aside someone and say, “Where are you right now? We need you.“
In a 110-101 loss to the Trail Blazers, that person was missing.
“There’s no analytics for voice,” Watson said. “A lot of times with young players it takes time because you’re really trying to figure it all out yourself and as you start to get older you realize you could’ve been talking early in your career because the truth is, no one has all the answers.”
As a rookie point guard, Watson said the 2001-02 Seattle SuperSonics had one voice, which belonged to future Hall of Famer Gary Payton. Watson didn’t find his voice until the next three seasons, playing for Hubie Brown in Memphis. He kept it the rest of his 13-year career.
“You can’t pick that person,” Watson said. “That person has to evolve and just take it upon himself.”
Like any player, Chandler wants to play, but he understands the plan. Plus, he’s experienced it from both ends. Fifteen years ago, he was the teenage rookie in Chicago. With the Bulls out of the postseason race, veteran Charles Oakley told management it made no sense for him to play the rest of the season. Get the young players out there.
“It’s kind of eerie,” Chandler said. “It reminds me of life’s cycle. He was like, ‘Look, these young players are the future of this team. Tyson needs to get these minutes. He needs starting experience and to understand how to close out games and understand what it takes to win.’ So he sat out and let me play, and I always respected him for that.”
Chandler admits: He didn’t know how to play.
“I did some of the craziest things down the stretch,” he said. “I remember a game in New York. I had the ball on the block. Forty-five seconds left. Eddy Curry cut down the middle and I threw a lob over my shoulder. He ended up getting fouled and going to the free-throw line, but I remember B.J. Armstrong coming over and laughing. He said, ‘You young fellas, you guys will do anything.’ I just laughed because the way I saw it, that was the right play. But I didn’t understand possessions and time and all that. A year later, I understood, but only because I got that time.”
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In the days leading to the trade deadline, Chandler appreciated management’s honestly. He said Sarver and McDonough were straightforward, telling him: Here’s our plan. Here’s our direction. Do you want to be a part of it?
“For me, I sit down and evaluate where I’m at in my career, where I want to go, what I want to accomplish,” Chandler said. “At that time, in my heart I felt like I was needed for the young players. In life, it becomes about the bigger picture and not just you as the individual. That’s what I felt in my heart.”
Watson wasn’t surprised.
“Tyson’s genuine,” he said. “He’s not in it just for the glory. He’s in it for the building process. He’s not an occupant. He’s not going to sit here and occupy space. He’s here to make a difference.”
Len said he hopes to play Wednesday against Sacramento. The 7-foot-1 center has missed Phoenix’s past two contests with a minor hip issue.
Kings at Suns
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena.
TV/Radio: FSAZ/KTAR FM 98.7
Sacramento update: The Kings (26-41) are 2-8 since trading All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline. They have split two meetings against the Suns this season. Since coming over in the trade, guard Buddy Hield has averaged 14.2 points, shooting 49 percent from 3-point range. C Willie Cauley-Stein has averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds since the All-Star break.