Former Phoenix Suns Returning to NBA in Wake of COVID-19 Outbreak

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns are free—at least for now. As one of just six teams without any players or coaches stuck in NBA health and safety protocols, they did well to avoiding the latest COVID-19 spike over these past few days.

The rest of the league, and entire world for that matter, has not been so lucky.

Most teams with players stuck quarantining find themselves not just missing one or two guys, but massive chunks of their roster. Earlier this month, the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets even saw up to 10 players become excused from basketball activities, even forcing a few game postponements.

In a desperate effort to field a roster, such teams have essentially signed guys off the street. The NBA now looks filled to the brim with players you either forgot about, or never heard of in the first place, all playing big time minutes.

Although the Suns need not to sign any of these replacement players, the remain somewhat involved in the scramble, with many of their former players signing up to fill such roles with other teams.

At this point, the league is just a few steps away from calling up Jackie Moon, Billy Hoyle, Calvin Cambridge, and Lola Bunny, but for now, these prodigal “Suns” have found their way back to the NBA amidst all the hysteria.

Langston Galloway

Galloway ran with the Suns just last year, helping the team reach its first NBA Finals since the 1992-93 season. Although he played a deep reserve role, Galloway managed to average 4.8 points per game while shooting 42.2 percent from three.

He went unsigned this past offseason, but when the Brooklyn Nets lost nearly their entire team, including Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, they signed Galloway to a 10-day contract.

The team went into a pause shortly after, but Galloway suited up for two games with the Nets. First going against the Philadelphia 76ers, he contributed three points to a winning effort, and then added four against the Orlando Magic a few days later.

Isaiah Thomas

Most remember Thomas for his days with the Boston Celtics. Putting together a near MVP-winning campaign, he averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists per game for Boston during the 2016-17 season.

Before all that though, he played for the Suns, averaging a modest 15.2 points and 3.7 assists per game during the 2014-15 season. Following his tenure with both teams though, hard times fell on Thomas, forcing him out of the league almost all of last year.

But now, Thomas finds himself wearing the purple and gold, reunited with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers. They signed him to a 10-day contract, and in his first game with the team, he scored 19 points while going 5-12 from the field.

Shaquille Harrison

After going undrafted in 2016, Harrison signed with the Suns, and after spending roughly two years in the G-League, Phoenix extended him a 10-day contract. But after playing 23 games while averaging just 6.6 points during the 2017-18 season, the Suns cut him.

Since then Harrison bounced between Chicago, Utah, Denver, and now finds himself with the Brooklyn Nets, who signed him just three days after Galloway. With only eight players to spare after agreeing to terms with him, Harrison played 21 minutes for the Nets during his first game, adding four points, three assists, a steal, and a blocked shot.

Davon Reed

Reed also played briefly with the Suns during the 2017-18 season, selected during draft’s second round that year. He suited up for 21 games and averaged three points, but never progressed, prompting Phoenix to send him back down and eventually cut him.

He played a bit for the Indiana Pacers the following year, but then found himself out of the league, until this week when the Denver Nuggets came calling. Having played seven games and even started two so far during his tenure with the team, he finds himself averaging 3.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game.

Marquese Chriss

For a time, Chriss looked like a potential building piece for the Suns. The Sacramento Kings selected him eighth overall during the 2016 NBA Draft, and the Suns immediately traded a package that included Bogdan Bogdanovic for him.

During his rookie year, Chriss started 75 games for Phoenix, averaging 9.2 points which got him named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team. Chriss still showed promise especially as a defender during the following season, but his decreased scoring discouraged the Suns, who traded him to the Houston Rockets.

He later played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and then the Golden State Warriors. After averaging a career-high 9.3 points per game with Golden State during the 2019-20 season, he finally started to gain some traction. But just two games into the following year, Chriss broke his right leg. Golden State eventually traded him again, and then he was waived.

But this year, the Dallas Mavericks gave him another shot, signing him to a 10-day contract on Tuesday. He played well during his first game but really turned it up last night, scoring 13 points in 13 minutes, while coming away with five rebounds and two steals.

Cheick Diallo

After bouncing around several teams since being drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2016, Diallo spent his 2019-20 season with the Suns, appearing for 47 games. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Although his tenure with Phoenix was not all too fruitful, he put up a career high 22 points with them in 2019 against the Denver Nuggets.

This week, he signed a 10-day contract with the Detroit Pistons and finished with two points in a near-upset over the Miami Heat last night.

Joe Johnson

Iso Joe returned to the NBA just two nights ago, and it put a much needed smile on just about everyone’s face. He came in during an already decided game for the Boston Celtics, the team that actually drafted him way back in 2001, and splashed one of his patented midrange faders.

Before that, he played multiple seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and of course the Suns.

With Phoenix, he averaged 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 39.3 percent from deep. He played countless games beside Penny Hardaway, Shawn Marion, and Steve Nash.

Jared Harper

Harper went undrafted in 2019, but the Suns brought him in to play Summer League and eventually signed him to a two-way contract. However, he almost never saw the court, appearing during only three games before the team released him.

He then played a bit with the New York Knicks G-League affiliate, and then with the Pelicans. New Orleans actually released him earlier this year, but with everything going on, they decided to bring him back, signing him to a 10-day on Tuesday.

Tyler Johnson

Coming by way of the deal which sent Ryan Anderson packing, the Suns acquired Johnson during the 2018-19 season. He played hard for Phoenix that year, averaging 11.1 points per game and helping to end a 17-game losing streak with an 18-point performance.

In the months after that though, Johnson ran into some injury troubles, missing countless games to finish that season and start the next, forcing Phoenix to eventually release him.

After that, he came back into the NBA limelight in a stint with the Brooklyn Nets during their run in the bubble. He stayed with the Nets up until last year, playing slightly over 18 minutes per game and averaging 6.5 points per contest.

The Nets neglected to re-sign him this past summer, but the Philadelphia 76ers brought him in this week. Against the Atlanta Hawks last night, he hit a triple and finished with four rebounds.

George King

The Suns took King with the No. 59 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he only suited up for one game and never scored any points. He then spent time overseas, but eventually came back to the NBA, signing with the Los Angeles Clippers last year and spending time with their G-League affiliate.

JaVale McGee reflects on Basketball and Family. dark. Next

This week though, he signed a 10-day contract as a replacement player beside Chriss for the Mavericks. He got his first NBA point last night, hitting one of two free throws and grabbing a rebound.