Suns Sign Guard Raja Bell
The Phoenix Suns today signed Utah Jazz unrestricted free agent guard Raja Bell, a proven defensive stopper, to a multi-year contract.
The five-year NBA veteran (Philadelphia, Dallas, Utah) is coming off his best statistical season with the Jazz in 2004-05 after posting career highs in scoring (12.3), rebounds (3.2), assists (1.5), field goal percentage (.454) and minutes played (28.4). The Jazz co-captain played in 63 games with 32 starts.
“Raja represents everything you look to add to your team to help you win basketball games,” said Suns President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “Raja is another piece that will radically improve our efforts on the defensive end, but you can’t overlook his offensive skills. People-wise, he is as impressive a young man as there is in the game. Phoenix fans will love him.”
The 6-5, 210-pound guard also led the Jazz in three-point percentage (.403) last season, marking the second time in the last three seasons that he has shot 40 percent or better from three-point range (career-high .412 three-point percentage in 2002-03 with Dallas).
After earning a reputation as a strong defender guarding the likes of Milwaukee’s Ray Allen (now with Seattle) and the L.A. Lakers’ Kobe Bryant in the 76ers’ 2001 NBA Finals run, Bell has steadily improved his offensive game. Bell averaged 11.6 points over the past two seasons with Utah from 2003-05 after averaging 3.8 points in his first three NBA seasons split between Philadelphia and Dallas, where he was a former teammate of 2004-05 league MVP Steve Nash in 2002-03.
The 28-year-old has come off the bench in 219 of his 299 career games played and finished ninth in balloting for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2003-04.
Bell, who was born in St. Croix, is a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands National Team, and moved to Miami in the eighth grade. He went undrafted in the 1999 NBA Draft after playing two seasons at Florida International following a two-year stint at Boston University.