Per ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns have made a deal that will add some much-needed size to their roster. Former first-round pick, Udoka Azubuike will be heading to Phoenix on a two-deal.
“Free agent C Udoka Azubuike has agreed on a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns, Zach Kurtin and Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted on July 31.
The Utah Jazz selected the Azubuike with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He played three seasons for the Jazz, averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 76.9% from the field.
With the uncertainty surrounding the Suns’ bench, Azubuike and his 6’10 frame could be an important addition to head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation.
Some Concern on Rockets Landale Signing
Another reason that the addition of Azubuike is so important is because of all of the concerns surrounding the center position in Phoenix. It’s uncertain if starting center Deandre Ayton will be part of the franchise going forward and the jury is still out on how effective 7’2 center Bol Bol will be in Vogel’s rotation.
The Suns also lost some size during the free agency period after Jock Landale signed a 4-year, $32 million deal to join the Houston Rockets. Landale may have been a reserve but he played a much bigger role, especially during the playoffs last season. Suns former head coach Monty Williams would often have Landale and Ayton split minutes on the floor with the starters. But according to Jeremy Brener of Sports Illustrated, some are questioning whether the Rockets overpaid Landale.
“The Houston Rockets surprised many in free agency when they signed Phoenix Suns center Jock Landale to a four-year, $32 million deal,” Brener writes.
“Only the first season on Landale’s contract is guaranteed, so the deal looks like more than what it actually is. However, $8 million as an average annual salary is far more than what Landale has made in his career up until this point, which makes some question if the Rockets overpaid for their backup center.”
Landale Will Make “Double” With Rockets
Because they added Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal through the trade market, and thus put two additional max contracts on their books, the Suns were limited in what they could offer players from this summer’s free agent class. Phoenix was able to add some players who were willing to take a pay cut such as Eric Gordon and Yuta Watanabe. However, the window to get paid big money in the NBA is extremely limited, and Landale chose to strike while the iron is still hot.
According to HoopsHype, the Rockets are going to pay Landale double what he would have made in Phoenix.
“From what I’ve heard, Landale, this upcoming season, is going to make double more than what Phoenix was looking at offering at that point,” HoopsHype said of Landale’s upcoming deal with the Rockets.
“It was a no-brainer for him to go to Houston, which benefited him financially, even though, looking ahead, that contract is structured with some non-guarantees, so it can be traded.”
With a new head coach in Ime Udoka and an explosive young core, it will be interesting to see if Landale could help the Rockets make some noise in the Western Conference.