Childress Returns to the NBA Via Phoenix
For a guy who’s been out of the league for a couple of years, don’t expect Josh Childress to have much trouble getting back into game shape for his return to the NBA.
Fresh off a successful two-year stint with the Greek powerhouse Olympiacos, the 6-8 swingman announced his return to the NBA Wednesday, inking a deal with the Suns for five years as part of a sign-and-trade with Atlanta.
“I’m definitely excited about the chance to be back and also be a part of this organization,” the 27-year-old told media at US Airways Center. “Phoenix is a great place with great fans and a great team, and I’m excited about the challenge.”
The 2004 first-round lottery pick spent four seasons with the Hawks, averaging 11.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 1.8 apg in 31.3 minutes in 285 games (67 starts). A career 52.2-percent shooter from the field (36% 3FG), Childress averaged double-digit scoring in all four of his NBA seasons.
Most recently, Childress led Olympiacos to a 23-3 record in Greek League play in 2009-10 and a berth in the Greek League Finals. He paced the squad with a team-leading 15.8 ppg and 5.4 rpg last season, while averaging 15.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg in overall Euroleague play.
“My initial decision to leave (the NBA) was tough,” Childress said. “Moving to another country with a different culture, food and language… I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I’m happy with my decision and how things ended, coming back (to the NBA) with a great city and a great team.
“I was prepared to spend a third year in Greece with my contract. That was on my mind when I signed that originally. Over the past two weeks, things have been all over the place for me. Teams were interested, and then randomly last Saturday, my agent called and said, ‘What about Phoenix?’ I was thrilled.”
Crediting his time playing overseas as helping him improve mentally on the court, Childress says a return to an up-tempo style is an exciting prospect, especially when compared to that of Europe.
“It’s a lot slower (there),” he added. “The talent level isn’t as high as in the NBA. They are great players, who maybe can’t jump as high or are as fast, but they are still effective and they know how to control a game. It’s a physical game over there. It was definitely a good experience for me.”
In addition to working out in the Bay Area this summer, the newest Sun has plenty to look forward to when he reports for training camp and his first season in the orange and purple.
“I think I’ll fit in here pretty well. Talking to Head Coach Alvin Gentry and (Managing Partner) Robert Sarver, I’ll fit in personality-wise. They are really focused on the locker room and being able to come in and assimilate to the culture here with team. I’ll fit in on the floor pretty well, too, playing with great players like Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Jason Richardson. They are good players and good teammates. That’s what excites me.
“I’m not worried about coming in and proving myself. I just want to come in and help my team win whatever way possible.”