Have the Suns built a contender? Plus, Anthony Edwards’ responsibilities

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I like my fireworks loud and my hotdogs with condiments on them.

Rising Phoenix?

Did the Suns do their job?

The Phoenix Suns finally added Eric Gordon to their roster. It was 11 years after he tried to flee New Orleans, signed an offer sheet with Phoenix, begged the Hornets (now Pelicans) not to match and still had NOLA bring him back. This is clearly a very different version of Gordon, who enters his 16th season and is scoring more sparingly than he used to, though he’s still a danger to knock down shots against any defender.

It was a successful move by Suns GM James Jones and possibly Isiah Thomas (a discussion for another time). It was also a bit of a surprise, considering Gordon was believed to have plenty of suitors with more money to spend than the Suns could muster. These are the Suns’ additions in free agency so far (a reminder that players can’t officially sign deals until tomorrow):

These are some very solid players. And they didn’t wait to get hold of those guys either. They had a list and executed the plan quite well, capping it off with the Gordon Coup.

Former Suns executive and current NBA analyst Amin Elhassan described the additions to me on SiriusXM NBA Radio as “July 18 signings on July 1.” There is some merit to that description. Other than Gordon, these are mostly guys you’d get after all the meat has been plucked from the free bone. But they are also quality role players for the most part. Maybe they’re just not big names compared to various other role players.

The Suns needed to get guys on the cheap after their investment in the super team of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. This would always be the likely strategy to fill this list. As we usually find out with big threes or super teams, the cost effective role players have to figure out how to do the little things at the championship level. Otherwise, it will all work out.

Phoenix may have made a bunch of additions on July 18th on July 1st, but if it gets the Suns into play in June, that’s all that matters.

READ: John Hollinger says the Suns are early free-agency winners

LISTEN AND WATCH: Best, worst and overlooked free-agency additions

The latest from Shams

Eyes remain on Philly, Portland

With most of the big free-agency moves off the board, the eyes of the basketball world remain on Damian Lillard and James Harden and their ongoing situations after the two superstars each requested a trade and are waiting to be settled.

In either situation, it’s clear that the two teams directly involved, the Blazers and Sixers, remain committed to doing what’s best for their franchises above all else. It’s also clear that the two superstar veterans have very clear preferences about where they’d like to be traded, and reason enough to believe that they deserve some consideration as to where they’d like to play.

For Harden, the preference, I’m told, is still to return to his hometown of Los Angeles, where he could team up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers. As for Lillard, I’m told, he continues to be very adamant about only wanting to play for the Miami Heat.

In either case, expect to see a process where teams continue to explore their options, listen to offers from other teams and track the market, including what they could get in potential three- or four-team deals. This could play out over days, but could very likely still take weeks in what is a very fluid process. But while teams will do everything they can to position themselves as best as possible, both Harden and Lillard’s preferences hold weight, as no team will want to take on the possibility of adding a disgruntled superstar to their mix.

Back to you, Zach.

The Wolf Pact

The responsibility of Anthony Edwards

It shouldn’t be a surprise that a No. 1 overall pick has become a franchise player for a typically failing franchise, and three years into his career they’ve rewarded him with a max rookie extension. That’s a bit off the mark when it comes to giving bad teams the benefit of high draft picks. Although we are getting used to the current money being Scrooge McDuck swimming pools, this is supposed to be the next step for all aspiring young stars.

Anthony Edwards just agreed to an extension with Minnesota for five years and potentially $260 million. A quarter billi. The responsibility it places on him (and any young star) is huge, and it’s something we should expect him to embrace.

Edwards feels almost Wolves-proof. He is so good. He just had a career year across the board and it feels like there is so much more to develop. He is one of eight players in NBA history to average 24 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first three seasons of his career.

The Wolves need him to get even better. To quote Don Draper, that’s what the money is for. But being big enough to carry that franchise has been a rarity. Kevin Garnett is an all-timer, and he could only get the Timberwolves deep into the playoffs once. Edwards currently has a talented but flawed support group around him. And there is little room for improvement.

So Edwards’ greatness carries a ton of weight, something he seems oddly built for. His decisions at the end of the game need to be improved and he can maximize more in defense. But his future improvements at some point will feel like cheating. Edwards is the real deal and worth every penny.

READ: Jon Krawczynski on what’s coming with this Edwards expansion

Freezeri, the beautiful one

The facade of the sausage eating contest

This isn’t NBA related, but it’s time to reveal the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. On our country’s birthday yesterday, the competition was delayed by over two hours before everything got underway. They considered it a lightning delay, followed by a weather delay. In fact, there were reports that it had been canceled before we finally saw the men’s portion of the competition happen.

I was horrified to think that a storm would stop the competitors from housing hot dogs left and right. If we can play football in the pouring rain, we can see people suffocating frankfurters as they fight every instinct in their body to shake them up.

On top of that, I’m just sick of Joey Chestnut and his ilk being crowned great competitive eaters by eating the dog without the bun before dropping the buns into a tank of tap water and/or sports drink to make it easier to grab in the carbohydrates as quickly as possible.

These hot dogs should be eaten dog-in-a-bun and with condiments. Otherwise, you don’t eat hot dogs. You eat lies. Fix the competition.

Bounce pass

Player power has finally hit Dame Time on the clock.

Keegan Murray is leaning on his All-Star point guard this summer.

Are the Celtics really capable of adding another core piece to this loaded roster?

Have the Warriors done everything they can to fix the guard in free agency?

James Edwards III breaks down a very crowded Pistons depth chart.

Seerat Sohi analyzes the “consequences of loyalty” when it comes to Lillard.

Summer League screen game

All times eastern.

  • Main screen: Grizzlies–Thunder (4 p.m. NBA TV). Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Chet Holmgren are opposites in every way, which is why this matchup is so good.
  • Second screen: Heat-Kings (7 p.m. ESPN). Jaime Jaquez Jr. is worth the price of admission.
  • Show of the night: “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (Hulu). Forget the “Year 20” tweets about LeBron. We’re going to tweet “Year 16” about “Sunny”.

(Photo of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)

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