The Phoenix Suns announced Tuesday afternoon that they have released rookie guard Matt Janning and assigned rookie forward Gani Lawal to the D-League’s Iowa Energy.
With Robin Lopez out “several weeks” with a sprained MCL and PCL, the Suns wanted to make room for free agent 7-foot, 250-pound center Earl Barron, who they are expected to sign once he passes his physical.
Releasing the 6-foot-4, 198-pound Janning was the obvious choice, as he would become even more insignificant, sliding one more spot down the bench.
The Suns coaching staff coveted Janning since he averaged 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds for them in the Vegas Summer League, but he remained inactive for every game this season and proved to be the odd man out with Steve Nash and Goran Dragic already established.
Janning (@MJanning23) tweeted this early Tuesday: “Just want to reach out to all the fans in Phoenix, it has been a true pleasure being a part of this organization… Everything happens…For a reason. Thanks to all my great teammates here as well for helpin me out along the way. Gonna miss everyone here.”
Grant Hill responded to Janning by tweeting: “Keep your head up. You have a great future in this league.”
While the Janning move wasn’t much of a surprise, it is a bit puzzling why the Suns would assign Lawal one day after he was active for the first time all season. They can use help up front with Lopez out for a while, and the 6-foot-9, 234-pound high-energy forward could provide some depth.
But the Suns clearly don’t think Lawal is ready to contribute this early in his career. These moves aren’t all that significant in the grand scheme of things, although they do foreshadow the Barron signing, which seems to be right around the corner.