On Feb. 22, Jonah Bolden played the final game of his 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns. Despite Bolden performing admirably with the team, he will not be getting another deal. Instead, Phoenix has opted to move forward with an open roster spot.
Bolden was brought in because the Suns had been dealing with a ton of injuries in the frontcourt. But those issues are now in the past. Deandre Ayton, Aron Baynes and Dario Saric all returned for Phoenix last Friday. With all of them having firm spots in head coach Monty Williams’ rotation, it was going to be hard for the Suns to find time for Bolden.
Deandre Ayton’s Return
With Ayton back in the mix, most of the center minutes are already spoken for. The 21-year-old played 36 minutes in Toronto on Friday. He then followed that up with another 35 minutes in Saturday’s victory over Chicago.
Speaking of that game in Chicago, Ayton had 28 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks in that one. It was one of his best games of the season, and it was most certainly one that signaled to the front office that the open roster spot would probably be better suited on finding a backup for Devin Booker. The Suns haven’t had a productive backup at shooting guard all season, and waiving Tyler Johnson didn’t exactly make things any better.
Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss Together in Golden State
In other Suns-related news, Dragan Bender got his first significant chunk of playing time for the Golden State Warriors the other night. In 20 minutes of action, Bender had six points, five rebounds, three assists and a block. He was a plus-1 in a game the Warriors lost by 14 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
With Bender now in Golden State, he is reunited with former Suns forward Marquese Chriss. Phoenix selected both players in 2016, hoping the two would pair to be the franchise’s frontcourt of the future.
Bender and Chriss never quite showed their worth to the Suns front office, and the two of them actually bounced around before finally landing in Golden State. Chriss signed a two-year contract with the team earlier in February, but Bender is currently on a 10-day contract.
Chriss has already done enough to show the Warriors that he can be a part of their rotation next year. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins all around, Golden State should be in the mix for a title. So it says a lot that the Warriors front office believes that Chriss can help.
As for Bender, the big man’s versatile game should fit in nicely with that group. He’s no guarantee to stick with Golden State moving forward, but Bender is a decent outside shooter that does a nice job of finding his teammates, and he also takes pride in playing defense. He’s going to need minutes in order to continue developing—he was considered a project when the Suns drafted him—but he should get a lot of time with Golden State currently in rebuilding mode.
While it stings to see two former Suns doing better elsewhere, it’s nice to see them finding themselves. You can’t blame a player for getting drafted in the wrong spot, and not all situations are created equal. Phoenix has not done a great job of developing talent over the last decade, so it’s possible that being a part of the Warriors’ championship culture is exactly what Bender and Chriss needed.