BY: ED COLE
PHOENIX — Tyson Chandler didn’t want to beat around the bush when it came to signing with the Phoenix Suns, and neither did Brandon Knight.
“It was fairly quick. These guys (Suns) made me a fair offer, a very fair offer,” Knight said. “With what I’ve been through, and being here for a little bit less than half the season, I didn’t play much, but I got to be around, I got to see how things were done, I got to see the direction that things were going in. I didn’t really entertain many other teams; that wasn’t really what I wanted to do.”
“I knew the city of Phoenix, I knew what it was like, I knew I enjoyed it. I know I didn’t like the snow, so it made my decision a lot easier,” Knight said. “We met the morning of July 1, and it was fairly easy.”
When Chandler spoke of the Suns at his press conference, he talked about the “first-class” treatment he and his wife received when they met with everyone. That put the Suns over the top for him in his decision. Knight almost spoke word for word with Chandler in how the organization treated him from Day One.
“From Day One, the organization showed me how they do things,” Knight said. “They really did things the right way, (they) asked my opinion on a lot of things, (they) welcomed me with open arms and showed how much they wanted me. I think that’s a big reason as to why I wanted to commit so early in the process, instead of dragging it out and being wined and dined by certain teams. I just really knew after being here for a couple months where my heart was at.”
The respect factor went both ways in this negotiation process between Knight and the Suns.
Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough says the team – along with Knight and his representation – “kicked around” a few different ideas as to where they would meet up on July 1 to start working on a deal once 9 p.m. rolled around in Arizona, which signified the start of the free agency period. All parties agreed to meet in Los Angeles, Calif., which is where Knight’s agent – Darren Matsubara – is located.
McDonough says if Knight wanted to meet up in his hometown of Miami, Fla., they would’ve flown there in order to get the deal done. Knight didn’t want to put the team through the trouble of flying cross-country, so he agreed to the meeting in California.
“One of the things that was reassuring to us after we sat down with Brandon (Knight), and Darren (Matsubara), and went through the process and made him an offer, is that they said, ‘We don’t need to talk to anybody else. You made us a fair offer. Phoenix is where we want to be,'” McDonough said.
Here’s where Knight really shined, even beyond the negotiations: Knight asked McDonough where else could he help the team, to which McDonough responded with the team wanting to meet with Chandler after they were done with their negotiations. Knight said, ‘Tyson (Chandler) would be great. How do I help get him?’ After the team signed Chandler, Knight wanted to be a part of the meeting with then-free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Suns lost out on Aldridge when he decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on their part and on Knight’s part.
“Every step of the way, the theme has been the same: it’s been sacrifice (and) unselfishness,” McDonough said.
It doesn’t stop there with Knight and his giving. Knight’s cap hold is $8.9 million. A cap hold is an amount of money that is charged to a team’s salary cap number, even though the player isn’t under contract. Knight committed to the Suns a few weeks ago. He could’ve been selfish and signed his contract then, which would’ve counted more against Phoenix’s salary cap, but he waited until the team signed Chandler, forward Mirza Teletovic, guard/forward Sonny Weems and guard Ronnie Price before he signed on the dotted line.
“It wasn’t about him (Knight), it wasn’t about his day in the sun. We assured him that day would come, and it’s today, and we’re happy for it,” McDonough said. “That’s been a consistent theme with him, and we certainly appreciate his sacrifice, and I think it tells you a lot about what kind of player he is, and what kind of person he is.”
Knight struggled early on in his career with the business side of basketball seeping over to the actual playing side of basketball. It made it hard for him to concentrate on what he had to do on the court; but now, with all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, Knight and his mind can be at ease knowing all they have to focus on now is playing basketball for the Phoenix Suns.
“I’m definitely thankful for the things I’ve been through, because it helped me grow as a player. (It) really helped me mature, (it) really helped me learn, so when I get into a situation where I can truly focus on basketball, I think it’ll help (me),” Knight said. “I’m a guy that likes to make guys around me better, so I can really focus on making our young guys better, (and) making the players around me better. That’s what it’s all about.”