With a number of frontcourt injuries, including one that will keep Deandre Ayton out for his second-straight game tonight, general manager James Jones knew that Phoenix needed to bring in some size.
Bolden played for Suns head coach Monty Williams during the 2018-19 NBA season. At the time, Williams was serving as an assistant on Brett Brown’s staff for the Philadelphia 76ers. Bolden was just a rookie.
Selected with the 36th-overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bolden was never able to fully impress the Sixers front office. Despite having an impressive physical profile—Bolden is 6-foot-8, with a 7-foot-3 wingspan—and a reputation as a stretch big, the 24-year-old was waived when the 76ers acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III at the trade deadline.
The Australian forward will now have just over a week to show the Suns what he can do. With Ayton on the shelf, along with Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric, Bolden should slot in behind Cheick Diallo as the short-term backup center. Given his familiarity with the way Williams likes to do things, he should be ready to step in and play.
Last season, Bolden turned in several impressive outings for the Sixers. His best game came against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Mar. 30, 2019, when the big man finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 31 minutes of action. It’s hard to imagine him having a big role for Phoenix over the next 10 days, but he can do a lot for himself by simply working hard on the defensive end and cleaning the glass.
For what it’s worth, Bolden’s advanced stats from last season suggest he could help the Suns defensively. According to basketball-reference.com, the Australian had a 2.0 defensive box plus/minus last year. He also has an analytics-friendly shot profile, as nearly all of his shots come from either right around the rim or behind the three-point line.
The reason Phoenix has an open roster spot is because the team decided to send Tyler Johnson packing. Johnson was in the final year of his deal and was not helping the Suns out of the backcourt. He had played well in his short time with the team last year, but he was never able to get comfortable this season.