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Latest News in Williams, AZ

Monty Williams unworried about Kevin Durant trade rumors impacting Suns

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams does not sound like a leader in damage-control mode after nearly two months of Kevin Durant trade rumors.He does not expect his job will require any mending of fences with players mentioned in trade scuttle before Durant made up with the Brooklyn Nets this week.In an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, Williams for the first time acknowledged the weird situation some of the Suns’ b...

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams does not sound like a leader in damage-control mode after nearly two months of Kevin Durant trade rumors.

He does not expect his job will require any mending of fences with players mentioned in trade scuttle before Durant made up with the Brooklyn Nets this week.

In an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio, Williams for the first time acknowledged the weird situation some of the Suns’ best players were put in after Durant requested a trade from the Nets on June 30, followed by reports that he’d like to land in Phoenix.

“I never talked to any of our guys about that,” Williams said. “One, people don’t understand how hard trades are to pull off. When I first heard about the Kevin Durant stuff, I was kind of blown away by it just because, you know, we’ve been so blessed here to have guys want to come. At the same time, ‘at the expense of what?’ was my thinking. And I like our team. I love our guys.

“I wasn’t going to have conversations that didn’t need to be had,” the Suns head coach added. “I think our guys are mature enough to understand that part of our business. I didn’t want to have conversations about stuff that didn’t need to be brought up. Part of it is because I’ve been in the business so long. It’s just hard to pull trades off.”

“At the expense of what, was my thinking”?

Suns head coach, Monty Williams, shares his thoughts on the Kevin Durant to Phoenix rumors. @TermineRadio | @JumpShot8 pic.twitter.com/7JzV3hkqPg

— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) August 26, 2022

Williams was likely a reason Durant reportedly requested that the Suns were atop the All-Star’s favored landing spots. Williams was an associate head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015-16, Durant’s final year with his first NBA franchise.

Durant and Brooklyn have since made up, and the Suns had already moved forward, re-signing center Deandre Ayton, who was reportedly not of interest to the Nets in any Durant deal.

That all left Mikal Bridges as the key exchange piece in any Durant proposal from Phoenix’s end. He has seemingly taken the trade chatter in stride.

Im sittin here watching just like yall lol

— Mikal Bridges (@mikal_bridges) August 22, 2022

While Williams believes the Suns can move forward easily, other teams can’t say the same.

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, who was reportedly his team’s biggest asset in pursuing a Durant deal, appeared to let some of his frustration over his link to the Durant trade request be known on Twitter during the saga.

Smh

— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) July 25, 2022

Homelessness is aggravating harm caused by the Phoenix heat, medical personnel say

PHOENIX — It's a hot morning in Phoenix and Paul Yager is getting his vital signs checked at a mobile clinic providing care to homeless patients. He's 64, he's HIV positive and on most nights he sleeps in a park nearby. He credits this team with keeping him alive."I've got a lot of life to live, and with God's help, maybe I can live another 10 years," Yager said.But surviving summers in Phoenix without shelter is hard. In July, when temperatures here stayed above 110 for over a week, Yager said he collapsed and ...

PHOENIX — It's a hot morning in Phoenix and Paul Yager is getting his vital signs checked at a mobile clinic providing care to homeless patients. He's 64, he's HIV positive and on most nights he sleeps in a park nearby. He credits this team with keeping him alive.

"I've got a lot of life to live, and with God's help, maybe I can live another 10 years," Yager said.

But surviving summers in Phoenix without shelter is hard. In July, when temperatures here stayed above 110 for over a week, Yager said he collapsed and couldn't get up for hours.

"I'm not good anyhow, so it's just not good — it's not healthy for me to be out in this kind of weather," Yager said.

No major U.S. city gets more triple-digit days than Phoenix. But that famous desert heat is harming more and more Arizonans each year. The Phoenix metro area averaged 78 heat-associated deaths per year from 2005 to 2015, according to county records. But the death toll has reached a record-breaking high every summer since 2016. Last year, the region saw an unprecedented 339 heat deaths. This year is on track to be the deadliest yet. Advocates say the real concern is not that Arizona has too much hot weather, but that it doesn't have enough homes.

"This is a really bad summer for us," Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center, told reporters in July.

Pavements can heat up to more than 150 degrees in the Phoenix sun. Every summer, Foster treats patients who fall, can't get up and develop severe burns.

The Arizona Burn Center has treated a high volume of patients this year. And Foster said patient demographics are changing. In the past, patients have typically been older adults who struggle with balance. Recently, Foster's patients have been younger. He said that now they are more often homeless and that more of their falls are related to substance abuse.

"They go down and they stay down for a long time. They end up not only getting really bad burns, but they suffer heat prostration and heatstroke. Oftentimes, their temperatures coming in are 108 or 109 degrees Fahrenheit."

County records show similar demographic shifts. Heat deaths are increasingly occurring outdoors among homeless people. About 60% of cases involve substance use.

"Each and every one of these deaths can be prevented," said David Hondula, director of Phoenix's newly launched Office of Heat Response and Mitigation. "My interpretation is the increase [in heat fatalities] is much more related to what's happening with social services than it is related to climate."

Hondula is concerned that the region's already-hot temperatures are rising. The National Weather Service projects Phoenix will average more than 120 days per year with triple-digit heat by the end of this decade.

But Hondula is more troubled by another trend. The unsheltered homeless population of Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, has tripled since 2016.

A construction shortage dating back to the 2008 Great Recession, paired with explosive population growth, has sent housing prices skyrocketing. That's contributing to a growing population of Arizonans without homes. Hondula said that's turning heat into a more critical public health threat.

"Our unsheltered neighbors are absolutely at the highest risk of heat-associated death," Hondula said. "Our best estimate is that the unsheltered community is at about 200 to 300 times higher risk than the rest of the population."

It's not just the long hours spent outdoors. Hondula said people without shelter also have limited access to medical care, increased likelihood of chronic health problems and high rates of addiction, all of which can raise risk.

Dehydration and exhaustion also can be disastrous for mental health, said psychiatric nurse practitioner Nina Gomez, at the mobile medical clinic run by the nonprofit Circle the City.

"The stress from the heat really exacerbates psychosis, and then it becomes so much harder to get people in to engage in any services," Gomez said.

The city of Phoenix is making large investments to address the housing crisis, announcing in June that it was allocating ​$70.5 million for affordable housing and homelessness programs. But these issues can't be solved overnight. So for now, organizations like Circle the City try to deliver short-term solutions.

"We're trying to intervene early, so get people hydrated, get them some food, see if they need anything before it gets to a full crisis," Gomez said.

And as the summer drags on, Yager and other unsheltered people at the clinic say they'll drink water, keep a hat on and just try to stay cool.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Analyzing Arizona football’s season-opening depth chart

Arizona dropped its first official depth chart of the 2022 season on Monday afternoon, giving us a good idea of which players are going to start the opener at San Diego State and who else is expected to contribute.Not surprisingly, there are a lot of names on here that weren’t around a year ago, the result of Arizona completely overhauling its roster between the first and second seasons of Jedd Fisch’s tenure. Of the 102 players listed, 29 joined the program since January including eight potential...

Arizona dropped its first official depth chart of the 2022 season on Monday afternoon, giving us a good idea of which players are going to start the opener at San Diego State and who else is expected to contribute.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of names on here that weren’t around a year ago, the result of Arizona completely overhauling its roster between the first and second seasons of Jedd Fisch’s tenure. Of the 102 players listed, 29 joined the program since January including eight potential starters.

“We’ve got 70 players that have never played together,” Fisch said Monday. “We have (50) players that weren’t our team (in 2021).”

Below are some things that stand out from the first depth chart:

Depending on which player gets the nod at tight end, Arizona could have five new starters on offense: Jayden de Laura at quarterback, Jacob Cowing and Tetairoa McMillan at receiver and Jonah Savaiinaea at right guard have been locks to start since the spring, while freshman Keyan Burnett and Southern Utah transfer Tanner McLachlan are battling Alex Lines for the tight end gig.

And if the Wildcats opt to start out with two tight ends, as they did four times in 2021, or two running backs, which happened five times, then even more newcomers could be on the field first since freshman Jonah Coleman and Florida State transfer DJ Williams are right behind Michael Wiley on the RB depth chart.

Arizona’s defense is a lot more similar to last season, in starters if not scheme. It’s only up front, where USC transfer Hunter Echols is listed as the starter at the “Kat” edge position and UCLA transfer Tia Savea is considered the co-starter at defensive tackle alongside sophomore Paris Shand, that you’ll find newcomers on the top line.

The Kat position isn’t the only difference between Johnny Nansen’s system and what Don Brown ran. Arizona’s base defense is a 4-2-5, with that traditional third linebacker replaced by a hybrid cornerback/safety “Star” position.

As expected, sophomore Gunner Maldonado gets the Star spot, with sophomore Jaydin Young and redshirt freshman Jeffrey Robinson behind him. Robinson is one of three walk-ons on the defensive depth chart, same as on the offense.

Nansen plans to rotate a lot of guys in on defense, mostly by choice, but the uncertain status of corner Treydan Stukes as he comes back from a leg injury suffered in camp may press true freshmen Ephesians Prysock and Tacario Davis into action right away.

As notable as it is to have so many true freshmen in the mix for Arizona, it’s also worth noting that some of the youngest guys that Fisch and his staff inherited—and who have stuck around—are in line to be big contributors this season.

Only eight of the 16 players from the 2021 recruiting class who signed with the UA between Kevin Sumlin’s firing and Fisch’s hiring are still around, and four of them are on the defensive depth chart. That includes redshirt freshman Kolbe Cage, the first player to commit to Arizona in the 2021 class, who is listed as the starter at Will linebacker.

Elsewhere, Dalton Johnson is Christian Young’s backup at boundary safety, while Evan Branch-Haynes and Kevon Garcia are third at their respective positions on the defensive line.

Almost every offensive and defensive position lists at least three players, with all five scholarship quarterbacks and six of the seven scholarship running backs (where are you, Jalen John?) on the depth chart.

And then there’s the O-line, where only one backup is listed for each of the five spots despite Arizona having 15 offensive linemen on the roster. And one backup, redshirt junior Sam Langi, is listed as the backup at both left guard and left tackle.

Backup center JT Hand can also play guard, while starting left guard Josh Donovan can fill in at either tackle position if needed, so the situation isn’t as dire as it sounds. It just means that, at least at this point, 40 percent of the Wildcats’ offensive linemen aren’t considered ready to contribute except on special teams.

Speaking of special teams, the only surprise in that area was the lack of kickoff and punt returners. Coordinator Jordan Paopao mentioned a bevy of options for those gigs during camp, most of whom are starters on offense or defense, but either Arizona doesn’t know just which ones it wants to use yet or it’s keeping that part a secret.

Or maybe it plans to fair catch all punts and take a knee on all kickoffs, getting the ball at the 25. The latter might not be a bad philosophy, since Arizona averaged less than 19 yards on kick returns last season and only four times returned one more than 25 yards.

ARIZ

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Darrel Williams Brings Success Experience To Cardinals

Since entering the league in 2018, winning is the only thing Darrel Williams has experienced.In four seasons with the Chiefs, the running back has been to four AFC championship games and captured a Super Bowl ring with the 2020 squad.The Cardinals haven't had the same level of success, despite making a postseason appearance last year for the first time since 2015. But Williams believes he be an asset in that regard in ...

Since entering the league in 2018, winning is the only thing Darrel Williams has experienced.

In four seasons with the Chiefs, the running back has been to four AFC championship games and captured a Super Bowl ring with the 2020 squad.

The Cardinals haven't had the same level of success, despite making a postseason appearance last year for the first time since 2015. But Williams believes he be an asset in that regard in the locker room.

"Just knowing what it takes to get there," Williams said. "Whether it helps guys see things or make corrections. I can give all the knowledge to young and older guys here."

Williams signed with the Cardinals this offseason after the Chiefs didn't offer the running back a contract to return. Williams finished 2021 with 558 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 144 attempts, adding 452 receiving yards on 47 receptions and two touchdowns for the Chiefs.

Williams said he's excited to join an offense that uses its running backs in a similar fashion to the Chiefs, although he acknowledged there will be a learning curve with coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense.

"I've never been in an offense that has signals," Williams said. "That's something new to me, but the adjustment been smooth, and I feel like I got everything down."

Williams has built chemistry with James Conner, the Cardinals' main rusher this season, by praising his natural receiver skills. The two bond off the field as well.

Though the RB1 position is set, RB2 is to be determined. Williams will battle with Eno Benjamin, Keaontay Ingram, and Jonathan Ward in training camp for the job. It's a crowded room with talent, something that Williams embraces to the fullest.

"It's good to have competition," Williams said. "I feel it brings out the best of me."

SIMMONS VS. HOPKINS ALL GOOD

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons shut down any talk of potential friction with wideout DeAndre Hopkins after things between the stars got feisty during practice on Tuesday.

"Hop is actually my best friend on the team and my big brother," Simmons said. "To get under his skin, I had to keep going, but we hugged it out at the end of the day. He knows there are no hard feelings. That's why I was smiling the whole time, but I was glad to see him get a little fiery because he's really calm and peaceful. To see him get like that was good to see."

Simmons wasn't exactly sure what he did to make Hopkins mad and said it's the first time he's done it.

"He (usually) makes me mad because he tells me everything I don't want to hear, which is something you want from someone like him," Simmons said. "Normally, it's the other way around, so I had to take advantage when the script flipped."

THE SEARCH FOR PUNT RETURNERS

As the Cardinals seek their punt returners for the season, Kingsbury acknowledged the return game as a whole -- for both kickoffs and punts -- has morphed. With the rules on kickoffs and punters who can place the ball deep in a territory or longer hang times, the definition has evolved.

"You don't see the time of notoriety it might've had back in the day," Kingsbury said. "Like Devin Hester and what he was known for because the opportunities aren't there.

"You always want a guy you feel safe with back there; that's going to possess the ball and get into the offense. But I don't think the emphasis is put on it like it once was."

In the Kingsbury era, the Cardinals have averaged 7.2 yards on punt returns and 21.3 yards on kickoff returns. Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore were the primary punt returners last season. This year, with Kirk gone, Moore is still a possibility, with Greg Dortch and Victor Bolden getting looks there. On kickoffs, Dortch and Eno Benjamin are two possibilities.

Jada Williams Decommits From UCLA Women's Basketball, Joins Arizona

One of the Bruins’ longtime commits has flipped her decision, choosing instead to join a Pac-12 rival.La Jolla Country Day School (CA) class of 2023 point guard Jada Williams is no longer in line to join UCLA women’s basketball, as the five-star flipped her commitment to Arizona on Monday evening. Williams previously committed to coach Cori Close and the Bruins in March 2021, but a recent official visit to Tucson – along with the her Country Day teammate, post Breya Cunningham, committing there in June – likely...

One of the Bruins’ longtime commits has flipped her decision, choosing instead to join a Pac-12 rival.

La Jolla Country Day School (CA) class of 2023 point guard Jada Williams is no longer in line to join UCLA women’s basketball, as the five-star flipped her commitment to Arizona on Monday evening. Williams previously committed to coach Cori Close and the Bruins in March 2021, but a recent official visit to Tucson – along with the her Country Day teammate, post Breya Cunningham, committing there in June – likely helped sway Arizona into favor.

Williams isn't the first high-profile guard to flip from the Bruins to the Wildcats in the past year either. After five-star point guard Kiki Rice committed to UCLA in November, five-star guard Paris Clark decommitted from the Bruins and wound up committing to Arizona a month later.

With Williams’ decommitment, UCLA now only has one commit for the class of 2023. Four-star guard Amanda Muse committed to the Bruins on May 25 and remains a verbal pledge at this time.

Williams is a consensus five-star recruit and the No. 20 player in her class, according to espnW's HoopGurlz rankings. She stands as ESPN's No. 5 point guard in the nation.

The Bruins had been involved with Williams’ recruitment since she first burst on the scene her freshman year of high school. Before committing to UCLA, Williams played at Blue Springs High School (MO) for two seasons, averaging 19.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game her sophomore year.

Switching to Country Day ahead of her junior campaign connected Williams with Cunningham, who had UCLA in her top-two earlier this spring before committing to Arizona. Williams averaged 11.4 points, 4.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game alongside Cunningham, showcasing her all-around skills on the court.

Williams and Cunnigham took a joint visit to Westwood on May 9, posing with incoming freshmen forward Gabriela Jaquez and guard Londynn Jones in photos Jaquez shared via her Instagram account.

The Bruins’ top class of 2023 targets are largely off the table with three months left until the early signing period. Williams and Cunningham committed to Arizona, guard Amari Whiting committed to BYU and Muse is a UCLA commit. Europe has recently become a hot recruiting ground for the Bruins’ coaching staff, however, meaning UCLA could add recruits from overseas instead.

The incoming class of freshmen will likely help weather the smaller recruiting class for 2023. Rice, Jaquez, forward Christeen Iwuala, Jones and forward Lisa Sontag should be playing large roles in years to come, giving Close & co. a cushion to build out their future classes.

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Read more UCLA stories: UCLA Bruins on Sports IllustratedRead more UCLA women's basketball stories: UCLA Women's Basketball on Sports Illustrated

PHOTO COURTESY OF JADA WILLIAMS/INSTAGRAM

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