Sponsors, buyouts, injuries and more...

This afternoon the Phoenix Suns announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement with the Annexus Group, an annuity design firm based in Scottsdale.

Per the terms of the agreement, the upper right-hand corner of the Suns’ practice jerseys will now feature an Annexus Group logo.  This is the first year that the NBA has allowed on-jersey advertising, and the Suns are now the second NBA team after the New Jersey Nets to pick up a practice jersey sponsor.

Suns coaches will also wear Annexus Group gear during practice and post-practice news conferences. In addition to the gear and jerseys, the Suns’ practice court will also be called the Annexus Practice Court, and Annexus logos will be painted at each end of the court and around the facility. While the jersey ad will only last for two years, the court sponsorship will last longer.

Paul Coro reports,”What’s great for us is it’s a locally based company with a growing business,” said Suns’ President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Welts. “They are known for innovation and technology, which are things we think the Suns are known for, too.”

Whether it is social media stuff like streaming live tweets on the big screen during games or being the first NBA team to play an outdoor preseason game, the Suns are certainly innovators. I have no problem with advertising on practice jerseys, but if game jerseys start to say “Annexus Group” rather than “Phoenix” it will be a sad day for the NBA.

Yes, viewers would still know the name of the teams, but advertising on the front of the jersey shows a lot about the NBA’s real motives. How many times have you heard that the NBA is a business? While that is common knowledge to players and most fans, take the business side out of the actual game play and leave it off the court.

Teams can advertise with companies all they want, but when it starts to affect the image of the NBA and the basketball product that so many fans pay money to see, it is an issue.

Pavlovic finally bought out

This is old news to most, but for those who missed it the Suns officially bought out forward Sasha Pavlovic yesterday morning. Pavlovic accepted a $1.25 million buyout, a $250,000 pay cut from his $1.5 million guaranteed salary.  The Suns saved a total of $7.4 million from the buyout, $3.7 million in salary and $3.7 million in luxury tax money.

Soon after the buyout, Pavlovic agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the MInnesota Timberwolves.

The news of the buyout was expected a couple of months ago but is reassuring nonetheless. The Suns needed cap space, not to sign a player, but to gain more of that financial flexibility Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver always harp on. While Kerr repeatedly stated that the Shaq trade was not a salary dump, it turns out the Suns ended up dealing the big man for $18.5 million in saraly relief, a move I am still not against.

The only flaw was that the Suns weren’t able to garner the Cavs’ first-round pick, which would have landed the Suns either Chase Budinger or DeJuan Blair. That would have been ideal, but not getting enough back in trades is what we have come to expect with Steve Kerr at the helm.

Shaq put up good numbers last season, but numbers don’t really show his impact on the team. Although he did everything he could possibly do, the fit just wasn’t right. He was a great teammate and a great locker room presence, but while his career was being revived, the Suns didn’t need him to play like he did five years ago.

But like most NBA players, Shaq thought he still had the talent and power from his glory days, something that hurt the Suns considerably. Once again, can you blame the man? He is one of the most dominant big men ever and was healthier than he had been in years. But like I said, the fit just wasn’t right.

Dragic injury update

Goran Dragic was held out of Slovenia’s game last Wednesday as well as its game yesterday vs. Turkey.  Dragic has a knee injury that Suns officials have been told is not major. It is believed he just needs a few more days of rest before he can start working hard again. The benching against Turkey was more of a precautionary move as Slovenia already qualified for the next round.

Dragic was playing particularly well as of late, but this knee injury appears to be setting him back a bit. The good news is that it’s not considered to be serious.

Powell invited to training camp, Dowdell as well?

Paul Coro reported that 6-foot-7 D-League standout and Summer Suns participant Carlos Powell has been invited to Suns training camp in San Diego. He participated in workouts with the team early this week. Powell didn’t get a ton of time in the Summer League, but he showed he can score the basketball.

He is a little undersized for his position, but he is extremely aggressive and has a scorer’s mentality. And everyone knows the Suns like guys who can score.

It also appears that my favorite Summer Sun Zabian Dowdell will be receiving a training camp invite. Dowdell looked great in the Vegas Summer League, at times outshining Dragic. He has been on the sidelines at Suns workouts rehabbing an injury.

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