The Phoenix Suns have signed unrestricted free agent Yuta Watanabe to a two-year, $5 million deal, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. His deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season.
Watanabe, 28, went undrafted in 2018. The Japan native has played for three other NBA teams: Memphis Grizzlies (2018-20), Toronto Raptors (2020-22), and Brooklyn Nets (2022-23 season). He’s now reunited with former Nets teammate Kevin Durant.
Per a few NBA betting sites, the Suns hold third-shortest odds to win next season’s championship in 2024. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics.
The Phoenix Suns signed forward Yuta Watanabe to a two-year, $5 million deal, league sources told @hoopshype. The deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season. Watanabe shot a career-high 44.4 percent on 3-pointers last season with the Brooklyn Nets.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 6, 2023
In 58 appearances with Brooklyn in the 2022-23 season, Yuta Watanabe averaged career highs of 5.6 points and 16 minutes per game. Along with logging 2.4 rebounds per game, the 6-foot-9 forward also shot 49.1% from the floor and a career-best 44.4% beyond the arc.
Watanabe tied Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon for fourth place in 3-point shooting percentage this past season. Memphis Grizzlies’ Luke Kennard (49.4%) led the NBA in 3-point accuracy, followed by Celtics’ Al Horford (44.6%), and Suns’ Damion Lee (44.5%).
Phoenix Suns sign former Brooklyn Nets forward Yuta Watanabe to a two-year, $5 million contract; deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season
In the Nets’ 109-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 17, Watanabe scored a season-high 20 points in 29 minutes off the bench. He finished 5-of-7 (71.4%) shooting from the field and 5-of-7 (71.4%) from 3-point range while tallying seven boards and two assists.
While with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, Watanabe made 32 starts in 33 appearances. He averaged 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 33.9 minutes per game while shooting 43.6% from the floor and 33.1% from downtown.
“The last time my parents came to America was in the winter of 2019,” Watanabe wrote on Instagram in February. “That time they came to watch the game in Memphis G League.
Do I still hold the record of 3min run? ???? https://t.co/NYCmjTmLmE
— Yuta Watanabe 渡邊 雄太 (@wacchi1013) July 5, 2023
“Many things have happened since then, but this time I was able to see an active player on the NBA court from the court side, and once again I thought I was glad I didn’t quit when it was hard.
“In this world that[‘s] full of challenges. That’s why it’s rewarding. Just gotta crawl back up from another one.”
Yuta Watanabe was also grateful to have the chance to play with the Nets. “Brooklyn, thank you for everything. I’ll always be grateful. Will miss you,” Watanabe posted on Twitter. The George Washington product will play under new Suns coach Frank Vogel.