Dionte Christmas puts trust in the new Suns front office

Posted by on October 2nd, 10:00 am

PHOENIX – Promises are thrown around in the NBA quite often but many times aren’t kept. Maybe that’s why Dionte Christmas held out in his commitment to join a team this summer until the Phoenix Suns called.

Many teams wanted the 27-year-old shooting guard from Temple for nothing more than a body in training camp, but even though the Suns have 16 players with guaranteed deals, Christmas could very well make the final cut.

New general manager Ryan McDonough’s relationship with Christmas is a big part of the guard’s presence in training camp. McDonough gave Christmas a partially-guaranteed contract offer to join the Suns just as he did last year, when the guard joined the Boston Celtics in camp before being cut.

“Ryan told me he wanted me here and wanted me for training camp,” Christmas said. “I’ve had teams that told me they wanted me and never called back and things like that. The last two years with Ryan, man, everything he’s said, he’s done. Everything he’s said, he’s meant it. My trust with Ryan is 100 percent. If he says he’s going to do it, he’ll do it.

“As a man, I respect that to the utmost,” Christmas added. “I’m a loyal guy. In the last two years, I’ve come to realize he’s a loyal guy as well.”

With McDonough, Phoenix hopes to quickly clean its dirty slate of untrustworthiness that popped up publicly – true or not – a few times last season.

It all started at the top. Alvin Gentry was pushed out after Suns owner Robert Sarver said his job was safe. Assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner refused to return to the bench once they were passed over for Lindsey Hunter as interim coach. Jermaine O’Neal reportedly got in a shouting match with general manager Lance Blanks – O’Neal later refuted the report – and Shannon Brown voiced his concerns about the team’s loyalty in a reduced role under Hunter.

Under McDonough, it seems the Suns have gained trust. For Christmas, it means he has a real shot at making the roster. In all likelihood, Phoenix will be chopping its numbers from the glut of guards but Christmas’ abilities could give him a better chance than, say, Malcolm Lee and Ish Smith. Lee, a point guard out of UCLA, has been injury-prone over the past year and he along with Smith won’t help much considering the point guard depth. Christmas is a scorer, through and through. The Philadelphia-born shooting guard averaged 10.1 points on 46 percent shooting off the bench for the Suns in the Las Vegas Summer League.

And while having a niche could give him a leg up on the other guards fighting for roster spots, Christmas is hoping he’s able to shed the perception that he’s only a scorer.

“Coming out of college I was strictly a shooter,” he said. “Now I can create my own shot. I’m a much better defender. I’m smarter, I’ve matured in a lot of ways, especially on the defensive end. I’ve gotten better physically as well.”

Since going undrafted in 2009, Christmas has played in Israel, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Greece, Russia and Italy. He’s been cut by his hometown 76ers and the Celtics, but it’s not a bother any more. Christmas is still waiting for a shot to make an NBA roster, and the Suns’ partially-guaranteed offer is not a sign he’s made it but a gesture that means he’s truly wanted.

“Last year (with the Celtics) was partially-guaranteed,” Christmas said. “You know how that ended up. It doesn’t really matter if it’s partially guaranteed or not but … knowing how many people are on this roster and me getting a partially guaranteed contract shows me those guys are really interested. That shows me those guys are really interested in me and they’re going to give me a chance.”

A chance is all Christmas wanted, and it’s all the Suns have promised – it’s good news for Christmas nonetheless.

And looking at the franchise as a whole, the gesture is possibly a sign that honesty is a new policy.

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns Analysis

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott L // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:15 am

    The Suns were an absolute mess from top to bottom the last few years, but even if the roster is still a mess it’s great the front office is starting to build a trustworthy foundation. Players and team personel talk and if the organization is a black hole of lies and broken promises, no player worth anything will want to come aboard. This one act of loyalty won’t be enough to change the rep of this floundering team, but every turn around needs to start somewhere.

  • 2 Sunsn7 // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Liked what I saw from the Christmas Kid during summer league. I hope he sticks.

  • 3 Sunsn7 // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Ryan McDonough is gonna be big in this town in the coming years. Love his championship pedigree. Yes im looking forward to seeing our new and young players develop bjt I really cant wait until this time next year. Suns have a real shot at Wiggins or Parker and the new faces of next year via the draft or free agency coupled with this years’ eventual core holdovers, we Suns fans have plenty to be excited about in the coming era. Basketball is relevant in the Valley again.

  • 4 hawki // Oct 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Will Christmas last until Thanksgiving ?

  • 5 Ty-Sun // Oct 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I like Christmas’ attitude. I’d rather the Suns hold on to him than Smith, Lee or even Brown. Brown doesn’t figure into the Suns’ future any more than Gortat does so I have no idea why they brought him back this season.

    But I trust Horny and McD to put the best TEAM possible on the court this season. Not just the best players but the best TEAM. The focus is finally on the future instead of this upcoming season. With a little luck, the Suns could be on the upswing and be back in the playoff race in 3 years. And not as a 7th-8th seed treadmill team but a team with future contender potential.

  • 6 Foreveris2long // Oct 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Are any of you guys attending the open scrimmage Saturday?

  • 7 dave:f32 // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Phoenix hopes to quickly clean its dirty slate of untrustworthiness that popped up publicly – true or not – a few times last season.

    It all started at the top. Alvin Gentry was pushed out after Suns owner Robert Sarver said his job was safe. Assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner refused to return to the bench once they were passed over for Lindsey Hunter as interim coach. Jermaine O’Neal reportedly got in a shouting match with general manager Lance Blanks – O’Neal later refuted the report – and Shannon Brown voiced his concerns about the team’s loyalty in a reduced role under Hunter.

    Under McDonough, it seems the Suns have gained trust.

    Wow! Revelations from behind-the-scenes to the forefront. So…..they (mainly Sarver) really just want to gain our trust. Freudian slip, indeed.

  • 8 dave:f32 // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Perception of the Suns starts with the owner, and as long as he is there….the snake wiggleth his head for the body of its actions, but P.R. didnt come before the chicken.

  • 9 dave:f32 // Oct 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Lip service until he is relieved of his duties, or lack thereof. Until then, or until i see the difference they speak of i will continue to be critical for my Suns lifelong Fandome sake.

  • 10 Kevin Zimmerman // Oct 3, 2013 at 1:30 am

    What’s the Freudian slip? You can criticize all you want, and that’s fair, but I’m not saying Sarver has some plan to play PR games with us. I’m saying this: maybe he has made mistakes and with the McDonough hire is trying to fix his mistakes. Honestly that’s what I believe.

  • 11 Sillmarillion // Oct 3, 2013 at 3:01 am

    I know you guys are all in favour of the new FO. 53% of you say that you’re “estatic” in the poll. However…
    I’m following the ESPN player ranking very closely, because I think it gives a veery good impression of how good a player is. I wrote about this in another comment I made on this page.
    Now yesterday they revealed places 120-140 (given 30 teams in the NBA being in the top150 means that you’re a starter). Only 3 of the current Suns made it into the top 150: Gortat, Bledsoe and Dragic. Two of them were already around last year (with the old FO).
    On the other hand ESPN ranked Scola at #129 and Dudley at #123. According to ESPN everything the Suns gave is up is much better than what they got in return. What do you think about this?

  • 12 Chad // Oct 3, 2013 at 3:16 am

    I think Dudley and scola are two veterans that weren’t in the vision forward (necessary rebuild) that we got decent return for. No one would expect to see suns players up the top, we are in complete rebuild with extra picks on their way this coming draft. This team probably isn’t about the players on the roster now beyond the rookies, although I’m sure they’d like some of them to turn out, it’s all about the future and our next strike at the top.

  • 13 Scott // Oct 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    @Sillmarillion -

    Keep in mind that those are established players in the middle or on the downslope of their careers. What the Suns are looking for are younger guys who have not quite hit their peak. So naturally the ranking on those young guys will be lower … for now.

  • 14 BCrayZ // Oct 4, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Will a leopard change a single spot?

    All of us should be fully aware that Lon Babby is a liar.

    Never has he made one statement that was even close to being true. He belongs in politics, as he is the type of sleazy liar that rightfully gives lawyers a bad name. Ryan may (or may not) be a good guy but, at the end of the day, he still must answer to that sleazy liar. Suns fans should not be fooled by any P.R. rhetoric & should not have any trust in our organization until Babby is long gone. What we should trust in is what has brought us proven success: “that killer bench unit.”

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

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