Matt Janning signs multi-year deal with Phoenix Suns

Matt Janning signed a multi-year deal with the Phoenix Suns after a solid run with their summer team. (CAA)

Matt Janning signed a multi-year deal with the Phoenix Suns after a solid run with their summer team. (CAA)

Lost in the flash of Scottie Reynolds’ sparking Summer Suns debut on July 12 against D-League Select, Matt Janning played the kind of game that made me think maybe just maybe he could be an NBA player.

Although I spent the majority of my time focusing in on Reynolds (and Gani Lawal and Earl Clark of course), I couldn’t help growing to like Janning throughout that game and really summer league as a whole.

Still, I kept telling myself, “No way he can play in the NBA, but he’ll be one helluva player in Europe.”

Well, somebody thinks he can play in the NBA and that somebody is the Phoenix Suns, as they announced on Wednesday they have signed Janning to a multi-year contract.

Coupled with the signing of Gani Lawal earlier in the week, the Suns have now reached the roster minimum that they have generally stayed at the past couple seasons.

This was a surprising move, especially this early, because Janning is not exactly a pure point guard and the Suns figured to desire such a player as insurance in case Nash or Dragic get injured and to have another point guard who can take reps in practice to allow Nash to rest.

They also figured to be in the market for a veteran big and they still have yet to sign second-round pick Dwayne Collins. Perhaps the Suns will carry 15 on their roster since they won’t be luxury tax payers and there will be additional moves to be made, but otherwise Janning was a kind of curious pick.

However, it’s not hard to see why the Suns like Janning, who played for Boston’s summer league squad before joining the Summer Suns. He was one of the standout performers for Phoenix in summer league, averaging 12.6 points (third on the team) and 5.8 boards (second). He played like a veteran, showcasing an outstanding feel for the game as well as a sweet shooting stroke.

In college playing for Northeastern, Janning was a two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association first team selection, and he took home CAA player of the year honors as a junior. He averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists over the course of his collegiate career and was named Northeastern’s top scholar-athlete as a senior.

Definitely count Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle as a Janning fan.

“I love Matt, I think he’s great,” Thunder Dan said. “Can really shoot it, he’s athletic. The thing I like about him more than anything is he knows how to play. He’s got a big basketball IQ, understands what we’re looking for, and he’s a hell of a player.”

When pressed on if his lack of physical gifts could prevent his from being an NBA player, Majerle compared him to Jeff Hornacek.

“He’s got the same kind of body,” Majerle said. “What he lacks physically as far as the strength he can make up for. He knows how to play, that makes a big difference.”

If Janning was battling with Taylor Griffin for a roster spot during summer league, he vastly outplayed Blake’s big brother. At the same time, barring injury I can’t imagine him playing anything more than the Taylor Griffin role this season.

From what I saw of him in summer league he seems like a good guy who will work hard in practice and genuinely embrace the towel-waving role. I still question if he has the physicality to be an NBA role player, but he now has his chance to prove himself as a member of Phoenix’s roster.

I do question why the Suns made this offer before training camp, but perhaps they feared an overseas team would snatch him up like what happened with Scottie Reynolds before he could even get to training camp.

So while I would have preferred a third point guard (such as Reynolds), Matt Janning will be a solid fit at the end of the Suns’ bench.

Tags: Matt Janning

  • QC

    I watched Matt play in Vegas. During warm ups he looked like he was 16. Watching him get ready, I was surprised how quick he was, also how well he shot. I never saw Hornacek dunk, but Matt was throwing down windmills during warmups. He played under control the entire game, played solid defense with a handful of steals. I am excited the Suns are giving him a chance. He might be able to develop into great role player. Had a chance to visit with him after the game. Real nice kid. Congrats Matt on the signing. We are rooting for you.

  • HankS

    This is quite a surprise… it makes me wonder if signing another guard migt not mean that a J-Rich for an elite PF trade is in the offing after all.

    And whatever does "multi-year contract" mean?

    At any rate, it's apparently another move against the traditional "cheap Sarver" line.

  • JC

    Now, Suns just need to swap Earl Clark, D.Collins and 2nd Draft Pick for Jason Thompson and Phoenix is ready to compete for the title this season.

  • JasonK

    Would Janning really play PG? He's listed as a 6-4 SG, and seems more like an insurance behind Richardson and *swing SF playing the 2*.

  • Steve

    I’m glad they gave him a chance. I would have rather had Reynolds, simply because I think there is more potential there, a higher ceiling. Also, it would have been nice to give Zabian a break, but the NBA isn’t a charity organization. I hope this guy can develop into the type of player we can use, or at least someone who will push the starters in practice.

  • Michael Schwartz

    @Jason He’s not a point guard and I don’t think he’s got the size to play any kind of 3. And frankly I’m not sure he can guard NBA 2s. I doubt he could run a team, but perhaps he could help out at the 1 in practice. And really you just never know. As much as on one hand I really don’t think he’s got an NBA future, he does seem like he could be the kind of guy whose inner will leads him to continue defying the odds and making a nice career for himself.

  • Drew

    I agree with QC completely. Watching him in summer league made me wonder why he didn’t get just as much consideration as Reynolds. Great athlete, smart and always under control. JC, I am still holding out for a Jason Thompson or Carl Landry trade, too. That would be great. Even though I like all of the moves so far this summer, I want to keep the same roster for a couple of years and let us gel. Continuity is underrated in the NBA.

  • Mel.

    That is one king-hell sweet stroke of a shot. Practically as much teardrop to it as Nash’s 18-footer.

  • Morgan

    I get what Michael is saying, Janning isn’t really a point guard, but he does have a huge basketball iq. Watch his highlights with the celtics on youtube. The guy can stroke it. He knows how to use screens and move without the ball. I think with time he can develop into a role player. He got to give these guys a chance. Look at all the D leaguers that came up last year and contributed. He will at least be better than Griffin and we at least now have a sg on the bench now.

  • Steven

    I watched and have goten to know Matt when he was in high school in Minnesota. I also watched him when he played AAU ball in Minnesota. I think that he is a great shooter. I think that he has some good handles. I like this kids game. Will have to see how he handles the leagues pressure.

    In high school and AAU Ball he also had a nice three-point shot.

    Good Luck in the league buddy.