The Phoenix Suns started to practice on Saturday, so three days in, what does All-NBA point guard Chris Paul think of his new squad?
“I’m getting a chance to see first hand why they were so good in the bubble and the jump that they made from the season to the bubble,” he said Monday. “I think that’s what’s been really cool to see — to see Cam Johnson, to know Jevon Carter before I got here. Just to see how many hungry guys we got. I talk about E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway a lot because I played against them for years — to see, like I know they can hoop, but to see what type of guys they are in the locker room already is gonna be big for our team.”
Head coach Monty Williams is going to find the balance of maintaining that successful style from Orlando and implementing Paul’s all-world talents into his gameplans.
“He saw the way we played and that may have been appealing to him,” he said. “We like to think we’re a team that plays a certain way and that may be appealing to some guys. At the same time, I want to tweak a few things to fit his skill set.”
It seems like an extension of the bond formed in the bubble has carried over as a foundation that has the team clicking. When Paul was asked what has impressed him the most thus far, it was that.
“The camaraderie that we sort of built already,” he said. “Through team group texts … our team seems like we’ve been together for a while just because we got guys that want to compete, want to work hard but you can tell everyone enjoys being in the gym.”
The relationship Paul forms with Devin Booker on the court and off will dictate the team’s success, and Paul isn’t going to overcomplicate things there. When asked if there’s anything now on a day-to-day basis he’s eager to work with Booker on or wants to see Booker improve on, he kept it simple.
“Nothin’,” he said with a laugh. “I ain’t looking for nothing … I think his presence, his demeanor — one thing about Book is that he commands respect from everybody from just how he plays the game and how he carries itself. All the other stuff will take care of itself because he puts the work in.”
CROWDER’S STATUS UNKNOWN
Williams was asked about new forward Jae Crowder’s status being a player that just got done with a long playoff run in the bubble and said the following:
“I can’t comment on Jae’s situation right now. I’m just gonna leave it at that.”
Williams said Saturday he would not comment on whether players did or did not practice in fear of violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement, a more relevant issue with potential COVID-19 cases now a reality.
Williams held the same stance in the bubble, and the public did not learn that Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes tested positive for coronavirus until they themselves told the media. With practice in the Orlando bubble that season and the Zoom era of media availabilities continuing for everyone’s safety, reporters are obviously not physically present to see if a player is in attendance, as they were previously before the world flipped upside down.
That’s all the information at this time, so Crowder could very well have something else going on. We don’t know from him personally because Crowder hasn’t spoken through the team yet, and only on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Dec. 1 since signing with Phoenix.
The Suns’ preseason opener is on Saturday.