Suns Sign Gani Lawal to Three-Year Contract

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
Stefan Swiat,
Updated: August 3, 2010

The life of a second-round pick offers no guarantees. However, Suns second-round selection Gani Lawal now has one from Phoenix.

The Suns inked the rookie forward out of Georgia Tech to a three-year deal Sunday, with the first season being completely guaranteed and the remaining two years being partially guaranteed. Since only first-round picks are assured guaranteed deals by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the move signifies how impressed the Suns are with Lawal’s talents.

“He plays hard, rebounds extremely well, has a lot of athletic ability and he’s really explosive,” Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle said. “If he keeps working, he’ll be hard to handle in the block. He just has to learn how to play in this league, get into better shape and become more polished offensively.”

The 6-9 power forward led Phoenix in scoring, rebounding and blocks at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League last month. The former McDonald’s All-American also led Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding the past two seasons.

The signing of Lawal allows the Suns to retain his rights, while giving the organization the opportunity to monitor his progress. By holding his rights, Lawal will be a restricted agent at the end of his contract, allowing the Suns a better opportunity to re-sign him at the conclusion of the deal.

“If he’s as good as we hope he’s going to be it would be difficult to keep him if we don’t retain his rights,” President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “It works to our advantage and it also allows us to make an investment in him, in both time and energy. We can be assured that if he wanted to be, and we hope he will be, he could be a Phoenix Sun for a long time.”

The move brings the Suns’ roster to 12 guaranteed spots with training camp set to tip off at the end of September. Phoenix is permitted by the league to carry as many as 15 players.

With the departure of power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, the Suns have now bolstered their frontcourt by the acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick, as well as the signing of Lawal. Named to the All-ACC Third Team in both his sophomore and junior seasons, the 46th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft ranked third in the ACC in rebounding while also leading the ACC in double-doubles and 10-rebound games during his sophomore season.

Lawal continued to lead Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding his junior year, despite playing alongside the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Derrick Favors. The Suns’ newest forward is also ranked sixth all-time in blocks in Georgia Tech history.

“I love his energy level and I love the rebounding and the shotblocking that he brought to the table out (in Las Vegas),” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think you’ll see him improve more and more as he learns the pro game.”

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