Suns sign Dionte Christmas to partially-guaranteed deal

The Phoenix Suns added to a bloated backcourt on Friday by agreeing to a contract with guard Dionte Christmas. Paul Coro reports that Christmas will have a small guaranteed portion on the first year of a multi-year deal.

“We’re excited to add Dionte to our roster,” said general manager Ryan McDonough in a press statement. “He was a key contributor for our Las Vegas Summer League team and his scoring ability, leadership and toughness will help us this season.”

Christmas averaged 10.1 points and two assists per game with the summer Suns this year. He has played in Israel, Italy, Russia, the Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey since leaving Temple University in 2009. In college, Christmas was consistently one of the NCAA’s most potent scorers. Since leaving college, he has struggled to stick on an NBA roster but likely caught the eye of McDonough while playing for the Boston Celtics summer league team and signing a similar, partially-guaranteed deal to join the team for last year’s training camp.

Phoenix’s roster now stands at 17 players heading into camp, and the Suns are especially deep at the guard positions. NBA teams can only carry 15 players into the regular season, meaning that Christmas will likely be competing with Ish Smith and Malcolm Lee for the finals roster spots.

Here’s a story about Christmas’ road to make an NBA roster from NBA writer Paul Flannery.

Schwartz’s take

This is another in a long series of small moves that smart rebuilding teams make that have become a staple of the Suns’ new regime.

They are essentially taking a gamble that Christmas will turn into a productive player by offering “a small guarantee” in the first year on a multi-year deal that could put him under team control at very favorable prices through the length of the contract. That’s similar to the deal the Suns signed last year with P.J. Tucker, which is now looking like a steal for their potential starting small forward, and like the bargain-hunting Houston Rockets signed with Patrick Beverley.

It’s the kind of chance the Suns can afford to take with their $6.5 million-plus worth of cap space since there is little opportunity cost to providing small guarantees for the potential return of a productive player on a multi-year minimum contract. If he doesn’t work out, the Suns will be in the same position they are now minus however many thousand dollars they are guaranteeing.

Once again, the Suns found another way to take advantage of their cap room.

– Michael Schwartz

Tags: Dionte Christmas

  • Scott

    It’s Christmas in September! :)

  • GoSuns


  • HankS

    Well, I for one still don’s get the Suns’ overall guard policy. It seems clear the bulk of the playing time must go to Dragic, Bledsoe, Goodwin and Marshall. They re-signed Shannon Brown (why?), willy-nilly absorbed the contracts of Lee and the Ish guy, and now add yet another mediocre guard. I do hope McDonough knows a lot more than I do which, fortunatelly, is quite probable…

  • http://none Keith

    Love it. More moves a-comin’. Ish and Lee are gone. Hopefully we can trade Brown and or Green. Christmas’s shooting would help us more than those guys. I like the signing. Low risk. Now let’s get some of the other guys cleaned up.

  • Scott

    @Keith -

    I doubt the Suns can move Brown or Green, and I hesitate to even ponder what they would get back in return. Nothing good, I assume!

    Actually … I suppose the Suns could trade Green and Brown to SAC for Salmons and McCallum. (I apologize for continually bringing up variations of this trade, but Salmons is one of the few bad contracts left, and McCallum is a quality rookie PG on a value contract, playing for a team that has 4 PGs.)

    That trade would be an expensive way of obtaining McCallum, but not all that bad. Salmons did shoot 37% from 3 last season, so it’s not like he and McCallum break the play scheme.

    Like you, I assume signing Christmas brings the roster to 15, with Lee and Smith out.

    Gortat, Len, Plumlee
    Frye, Markieff, Kravtsov
    Tucker, Marcus, Green
    Dragic, Goodwin, Christmas
    Bledsoe, Marshall, Brown

  • foreveris2long

    HankS I hear you but I think you lose credibility when you comment that the bulk of the playing time for the guards must include Marshall. I could be wrong but I doubt Hornachek is a fan of Marshall. I they they begging for a way to dump him ASAP. He might be the worst point guard on an NBA roster this season.

    Good for Christmas, as he shoots without a conscious and has fairly decent results. I like the move.

  • HankS

    @ foreveris2long:

    While I agree Marshall probably isn’t Hornacek’s guy, I doubt the Suns will shut down the former first-round pick completely. Unless he’s traded, which might be a good thing for him as well as the team, I still expect him to get whatever playing time’s left at PG after Dragic and Bledsoe are done. I’m not saying it’ll be 15 mins a game, but it should be more than Ish or anyone else trying to play PG gets. (That is to say, I don’t think Goodwin is or should become a PG.)

  • Scott

    ^^ I see it the same way.

    Hopefully we’ll get an indication of the way the wind blows with Marshall during pre-season.

    I thought his play in Summer League showed, if anything, a regression. His best game as a Sun was the final game of Summer League last summer, not this summer.

  • Ty-Sun

    I betting that McD has some trade in the works that will move one or more of the guards, probably tied in with a deal for Gortat.

  • Roger

    Alex Len has been cleared to start playing. McD may be feeling good now to begin the process of trading Gortat with or without Marshall and Brown. Cap Flexibility of $6m+ might be quite handy for Gortat trade.

  • Scott

    FWIW, Nemanja Nedovic outplayed Tony Parker in the Eurobasket tournament. That’s probably going to prevent the Suns from getting him on the cheap, if that was ever possible or in play.

  • foreveris2long

    HankS, normally teams do not have 3 point guards as being part of the rotation. I am sure they would love to showcase Marshall but it seems he looks worse the more he plays. While he may get some minutes here and there, I think he will have a number of DNPs.

  • Aventine
  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Aventine, I like this trade idea, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. Essentially, it’s a Jordan-Gortat trade.
    The Suns would get a worse center in return who has 2 years left on his contract which is higher paid than Gortat’s contract. A worse player for more money doesn’t sound that awesome. On the other hand he is younger than Gortat and if you plan for Len to be the starting center Jordan would be the best backup center in the league (maybe 2nd best after Asik).
    The Clippers would get a solid center for less money who could help their defense a lot which I think they need very badly. Also Gorat is friends with Dudley which could improve the atmosphere in the locker room as well. So if I were the Clippers I would do this deal instantly. But it’s not that great for the Suns in my opinion.

  • frenchysunsfan

    Good signing, Christmas is a good long-range shooter.
    I think he could be a steal.

  • Aventine

    I was also looking at Bullock being a pretty good get in that deal. He hasn’t played in the league yet, but seems NBA ready and the perfect mold of a 3 and D guy ala Battier… and he is on one of those great rookie contracts…
    Also, any deal that gets Gortat out of the locker room is good… he is not going to be happy this year…

  • Chad

    He might not be happy but gortat is playing for a contract so he’d want to be smart about his attitude and play this year. If he can come out and be the rim protector that he was at the start of last year, we might be able to get something nice for him.