1988–89 Phoenix Suns season
The 1988–89 Phoenix Suns season was the 20th season for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association. Cotton Fitzsimmons, Suns head coach for the '70–'71 and '71–'72 seasons, returned to the franchise where he got his first head coaching position. The Suns also enjoyed the benefits of the NBA's first free agent signing which brought Tom Chambers to the Valley of the Sun, who would have an All-Star season his first year in Phoenix. The Suns' regular seasons successes were carried on through the playoffs, sweeping Denver in the first round and defeating Golden State four games to one in the Western Conference Semifinals. The Suns saw their playoff fortunes reverse in the Conference Finals when they met the season's MVP Magic Johnson and the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, getting swept four games to zero. All home games were played at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Chambers headed a triplet of Suns who averaged 20 points or more for the season, with Chambers leading the way at 25.7 points per game. Eddie Johnson, who would earn the season's Sixth Man Award, came off the bench for 21.5 per while second-year point guard Kevin Johnson obtained his 20.4 average through a starting role. Johnson, enjoying his first full season with the Suns after a midseason trade the year before, earned Most Improved Player of the Year Award while finishing third behind future Hall of Famers John Stockton and Magic Johnson in assists per game with a 12.2 average. Johnson blossomed in his role with the Suns, appearing in 81 games and finishing second in the league in average minutes per game.
The Suns used their first-round pick to select power forward Tim Perry from Temple. Perry averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in four years with the Owls. In his first three years with the Suns, Perry would average 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game playing in a limited role. After becoming a starter in the 1991–92 season, Perry averaged 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. After the season, he was traded, alongside Jeff Hornacek and Andrew Lang, to the Philadelphia 76ers for superstar forward Charles Barkley.
The Suns received the 14th pick from a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1988. With the pick they would select swingman Dan Majerle from Central Michigan. Majerle averaged 21.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in four years with the Chippewas. Majerle would spend his first seven seasons with the Suns, appearing in three All-Star games before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995. He would return to play for the Suns in the 2001–02 season before retiring. His number 9 jersey was retired by the franchise in 2003.
The Suns received the 28th pick from a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1988. With the pick they would select center Andrew Lang from Arkansas. Lang averaged 6.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in four years with the Razorbacks. Like Perry, Lang played a limited role in his first three seasons, averaging 3.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. After becoming a starter in the 1991–92 season, Lang averaged 7.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, before being traded to the 76ers.
In 1987, the Suns traded their second-round pick to the Sacramento Kings for Eddie Johnson. The pick was then traded to the New York Knicks and then to the Detroit Pistons, who selected small forward Fennis Dembo with the 30th pick.
The Suns received the 38th pick from a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1988. With the pick they would select center Dean Garrett from Indiana. Garrett averaged 13.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in two years with the Hoosiers. Garrett suffered a fractured foot before appearing in any games, and missed the entire season. He was waived before the start of the 1989–90 season without appearing in any games for the franchise.
The Suns received the 50th pick from a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1985. With the pick they would select guard Steve Kerr from Arizona. Kerr averaged 11.2 points and 3.4 assists per game in four years with the Wildcats. Kerr would spend most of his rookie season on the injured reserve, averaging 2.1 points per game in 26 games, before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989.
The Suns used their third-round pick to select point guard Rodney Johns from Grand Canyon. Johns averaged 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in two years with the Antelopes. The Suns signed Johns to a contract on September 27, but he was waived on November 1 before the start of the season.
|Phoenix Suns roster|
Record vs. opponents
|1989 playoff game log|
First Round: 3–0 (Home: 2–0; Road: 1–0)
Conference Semifinals: 4–1 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–0)
Conference Finals: 0–4 (Home: 0–2; Road: 0–2)
|1989 playoff schedule|
Awards and honors
- Tom Chambers was named Player of the Week for games played January 23 through January 29.
- Kevin Johnson was named Player of the Week for games played March 13 through March 19.
- Kevin Johnson was named Player of the Month for February.
- Cotton Fitzsimmons was named Coach of the Month for April.
- Tom Chambers was selected as a reserve in the 1989 All-Star Game. It was his second All-Star selection.
- Kevin Johnson received the Most Improved Player Award.
- Eddie Johnson received the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
- Cotton Fitzsimmons received the Coach of the Year Award.
- Jerry Colangelo received the Executive of the Year Award.
- Kevin Johnson was named to the All-NBA Second Team. Johnson also finished 8th in the Most Valuable Player voting.
- Tom Chambers was named to the All-NBA Second Team. Chambers also finished 9th in the Most Valuable Player voting.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
* – Stats with the Suns.
† – Minimum 55 three-pointers made.
^ – Minimum 125 free throws made.
|December 14, 1988||To Chicago Bulls----||To Phoenix Suns----|