The Phoenix Suns opened their 2011-12 training camp Saturday night at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. Due technical and timing issues related to the waiver of Vince Carter, the team was only able to field nine players for their first workout but according to Coach Alvin Gentry, it was good just to be back out on the floor.
"We had a good workout, got some things done," Gentry said.
Not available were free agents Grant Hill and Sebastian Telfair along with camp invitees, Marcus Landry, Jeremy Hazell and Dwight Buycks. Those players are expected to be available to begin practice with the team Sunday evening.
Also not practicing was backup point guard Zabian Dowdell who was out with a knee injury. It's not yet known how serious the injury is, but it would be unfortunate if he missed too much time as Dowdell is expected to compete with Telfair for the job backing up Steve Nash.
Gentry said the focus for the first workout was running and "doing it on every play". With the limited time to prepare for the season that's going to include more games per week than a typical year, Gentry stressed the need to be careful with conditioning during camp and yet still do enough to get in basketball shape.
"You have to be a little be careful right now thinking you can get everything done in 16 days," the Suns' coach said.
The plan is to cut back on some of the things that would put in offensively but put more time into defense during this abbreviated preseason. According to Gentry, the Suns don't run a complicated system so the new guys should adjust quickly.
The team is staying at a hotel and practicing at Grand Canyon University instead of working out at the practice facility at US Airways Center. The thinking is that the time away from families and the change of scenery will give the team time to bond and focus.
While several key players were missing from the first practice, new addition Shannon Brown was available. The 6-4 guard was described by his new coach as an "athletic guy" who can bring toughness and be a good defensive player.
"I'm loving it so far," Brown said. "All my teammates, fans, great owner, everybody's great, so I'm just ready to get out there and play."
Brown is expected to compete for a starting job with Jared Dudley.