IOWA CITY — Matt Gatens discussed his immediate future with Phoenix Suns officials during his second visit with the NBA club on Monday.
After the NBA’s two-round draft concluded Thursday night and his name wasn’t announced, Gatens wasn’t surprised when his phone rang shortly thereafter.
“We talked to them before the draft about the summer league, so I was expecting it,” said Gatens, an Iowa City native. “They called and told me they were still really interested in having me come out and having me be part of their summer-league team, and they were excited. It’s a great opportunity, a great organization and I look forward to it.”
Gatens, a 6-foot-5 guard and four-year starter at Iowa, will join the Suns’ summer-league team for minicamp on July 9. Former NBA star Dan Majerle will coach the Suns’ summer-league squad, which begins play July 15 against the New York Knicks’ summer-league team. All five of Phoenix’s summer-league games are televised by NBATV and are played in Las Vegas.
After the summer league wraps up July 21, the Suns will select players to bring into training camp. That’s Gatens’ focus right now.
“The goal is to make the cuts and get into the camp and from camp to the team,” he said. “So that’s the process we’re taking.
“If it doesn’t work out, overseas is still an option or I’m an unrestricted free agent.”
Gatens, 23, took eight visits to seven NBA teams this spring and early summer. Phoenix was the only team he visited twice. The Suns had only a first-round pick and drafted North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall 13th overall.
Other than Marshall, the Suns are veteran-laden at guard. Point guard Steve Nash is a 15-year veteran, while Michael Redd has played 11 seasons. Other guards on Phoenix’s roster include Sebastian Telfair (seven years), Ronnie Price (six years) and Shannon Brown (five years). All but Telfair are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
“You never know what’s going to happen with that,” Gatens said. “There’s a lot of talk about Nash and what he’s going to do.
“They only had one draft pick (Thursday) so it’s not like they’re bringing a bunch of draft picks along with guys like myself. It’s a good spot, a good opportunity.”Gatens was a second-team all-Big Ten selection last year after averaging 15.2 points. He ranks sixth in points all-time at Iowa with 1,635 points and led the Hawkeyes in scoring the last three seasons.