Jared Dudley says ‘expect a lockout,’ Gani Lawal discusses injury and Zabian Dowdell finally joins the Suns


PHOENIX — Most NBA fans know that the league may be on the verge of a lockout, but Jared Dudley shared how serious this issue really is before Friday’s game against the Knicks.

Dudley is the Suns’ rep for the NBA Players Association and he recently met with NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter, who is meeting with every team to inform them of the status of the collective bargaining agreement.

“The message was, ‘It’s serious,'” Dudley said of what Hunter relayed to him. “I think both sides are trying to work toward an agreement. I don’t think any progress has been made, Billy said, but just to reiterate to players save even more than you have been.”

Dudley said that the league sent the players union a proposal recently, and Hunter and the NBPA are developing a counter-proposal that works for both sides.

Although news of a potential lockout seems fresh, it’s been talked about since Dudley’s rookie season when he was a player rep for the Bobcats.

“(Hunter) was telling people then like, ‘Hey, expect a lockout. Hey, this is serious, now’s the time, the economy’s down, you should expect it,'” Dudley said. “So we’ve been hearing about it for three, four years now. I know I have.”

Dudley also noted that players haven’t received their annual “licenses check” for the last two seasons so that the players union can pool together more money. Every player used to earn the same amount for their licenses check that came from jersey sales, video games and other miscellaneous items, but that income is no longer.

The Suns’ forward is scheduled to meet with Hunter again during All-Star weekend, but from what he’s heard so far, every player should be expecting a lockout.

“You should definitely expect it, if you’re a player then you should definitely expect it and plan for it,” Dudley said. “If not you’d not be the brightest going in there. You won’t have any money so you should definitely plan for it and expect it.”

“You keep hearing about it, he’s meeting with every team, so if you’re not expecting it, you’re not saving, then you only have yourself to blame,” Dudley added. “I’d be worried just because not only for the money, but it’s my job and something I love to do, so I’m slightly worried.”

Gani Lawal talks ACL injury

Just when rookie power forward Gani Lawal was starting to gain momentum as an active member of the Phoenix Suns, he suffered a season-ending knee injury during Thursday’s practice as he tore his ACL and slightly tore his MCL, knocking him out of the rest of the regular season.

“I was just making a move. I did it a thousand times,” Lawal said. “I went baseline, went to jump stop and then tried to take off to dunk. My knee buckled, I just thought it was a buckle when it happened but I guess the forces or whatever were so potent that it just made my ACL snap or whatever.”

The 22-year-old Lawal made his season debut against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 31 and was starting to string together a few productive practices after spending the majority of his rookie season in the D-League. But surgery, which he will undergo after the swelling in his knee goes down, has him questionable for summer league.

Because of his undeveloped talent, Lawal desperately needed this year to fine-tune his raw talent, but he’ll need to wait five or six months before he can get another crack at developing into the player he has the potential to become.

“I was thinking the same thing, like man I was kind of just getting my groove so to speak and I knew my playing time was going to come and I felt it was coming pretty soon, but it’s just a minor setback,” said Lawal, who had never suffered a major injury in his basketball career.

“Luckily, I was talking to the doctors, it’s only an ACL and a minor MCL, it wasn’t any meniscus, it wasn’t any LCL so those tend to heal pretty well and he said the fact that I’m so young the scar tissue will heal really fast, too.”

Even so, Lawal described the injury as “devastating” and could be seen hopping around US Airways Center prior to the Suns’ Friday game against New York. There’s nothing Lawal can do now, however, and he’s trying to stay in good spirits.

“I’m trying to keep a positive mindset about it, use the time to get a lot of mental reps,” he said. “I’m going to still be here every day, watching the games, the guys, practices, film. So I’m just trying to keep my body right.”

Suns finally sign Dowdell

After four years of bouncing from country to country and D-League team to D-League team, Zabian Dowdell will finally get his shot in the NBA as the Phoenix Suns signed the 6-foot-3, lefty combo guard to a 10-day contract on Friday. Dowdell, 26, has been invited to the last two Suns training camps, but never earned a roster spot.

The Suns need a practice point guard to play against Goran Dragic when Steve Nash sits out, however, and Dowdell is the perfect guy to assume that role; Dudley has been playing point in practice for months. Dowdell probably won’t see much game time, if any, but he has the confidence to make something of himself in this league.

“When I’m on the court I feel like I’m the best player. I’ve always had that mentality. That’s just the type of guy I am,” he said during training camp. “I work hard, I put time into my game, I feel that strongly about my game. I’m a competitive guy, I just feel like I’m the best player when I’m out there.”