Still working hard to piece together a deeper and more versatile bench, the Suns are talking to Philadelphia about a deal that would bring veteran guard John Salmons to Phoenix.
No deal has been struck, but league sources confirmed that Salmons is a player the Suns have targeted. Sixers general manager Billy King is believed to be weighing more than one possible offer for the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Salmons, who scored a career-best 7.6 points to go with 2.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season while playing in all 82 games and starting 24.
Phoenix’s offer is believe to be a second-round draft pick and the team’s $3.6 million trade exception, obtained last summer in the Joe Johnson trade with Atlanta. That exception expires after one year and must be used by Aug. 21.
The Suns likely see Salmons, who plays mainly the two-guard, as someone who handles the ball well and can add size, likely paired with Leandro Barbosa, in many situations. Barbosa played the two-guard spot much of last season but Suns coach Mike D’Antoni has said he is considering giving Barbosa another shot at the backup point after his abilities improved down the stretch and in the postseason.
The Suns have been seeking a bigger guard to replace Eddie House, one that would match up better with opposing backcourts and give starting point Steve Nash more rest. Nash, 32, played a career-high 35.4 minutes a game last season.
A 2002 draft pick out of Miami, Salmons had the best of his four NBA seasons in 2005-06, recording three double-doubles, scoring in double figures 31 times and putting up 15 points or more seven times, including a career-high 23 points against Toronto on March 14. He also dished out a career-high 12 assists to go with 10 points against the Clippers three days later, as he was asked to contribute more with Allen Iverson out due to injury.
The native of suburban Philadelphia, who shares the school record with 124 career starts at Miami (Fla.), has been inconsistent during his four-year stint with the Sixers. The Suns aren’t in dire need of another scorer in the backcourt, but would like someone who can slow down bigger guards for 15 to 20 minutes a game.
Meanwhile, the Suns’ entry in the Vegas Summer League dropped to a 1-2 record with a 90-87 loss to Detroit Monday night. Amaré Stoudemire scored 11 of his 17 points from the foul line and added eight rebounds but fouled out — after committing his 10th foul in the 40-minute game — with about four minutes left. The sloppy game featured 99 personal fouls, 104 free throws and took nearly three hours to complete.
Maciej Lampe hit all eight of his shots from the field and led the Suns with 19 points, while Ruben Douglas added 18 and kept Phoenix within striking distance late in the game.
Phoenix takes today off and resumes action at 1 p.m. Wednesday against the Trail Blazers.