Gugliotta finds an NBA home in Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) — Tom Gugliotta joined the Suns on Sunday, resisting down any temptation to badmouth the team he left, the Minnesota Timberwolves, saying only that Phoenix “is the right place for me.”
“I think to a certain degree we were moving in the right direction in Minnesota,” Gugliotta said. “I won’t say anything negative about there because I made good friends. I had good teammates. But I felt for the rest of my career, this would be a more positive situation.”
The 6-foot-10, 29-year-old forward signed a six-year, $58.5 million contract with the Suns, turning down a seven-year, $86 million offer to stay with the Timberwolves or perhaps sign with Minnesota and be traded.
“I was fortunate that I put myself in a situation where I didn’t have to make the contract the most important thing,” he said. “That left a lot of options open for me for what I really wanted to do.”
The Phoenix deal includes a clause that allows him out of the deal after five years, when he would be eligible for a much bigger contract as a 10-year player.
Gugliotta will wear his No. 24, even though that number was slated to be retired by the Suns this year because it had been worn by Tom Chambers. Chambers said he gave his permission to let Gugliotta wear the number, and Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said that from now on, names would be retired, not numbers.
Colangelo disputed the perception that Gugliotta was Phoenix’s consolation prize after Antonio McDyess decided to go to Denver.
“There was a time and place before all the rules came down that the goal was to have McDyess and Tom, and Tom was the No. 1 guy,” Colangelo said.
Asked to compare the point guard of the team he left, Stephon Marbury, and the one on his new team, Jason Kidd, Gugliotta wouldn’t take the bait and criticize his former teammate. But he did praise his new one.
“They contrast a little bit, but to play with a guy with Jason’s ability and size and quickness, his ability to defend and create fastbreak opportunities, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Gugliotta said. “They’re both very talented players and I’m looking forward to playing with Jason.”
Gugliotta said he’s looking forward to the up-tempo Suns’ style.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun playing with guys who at every position know the game,” he said. “They’re that unselfish. That’s one thing I noticed playing against them.”
With the addition of Gugliotta, the Suns have two major pieces of unfinished business, re-signing Clifford Robinson and Rex Chapman. That was expected to happen on Monday.
Gugliotta averaged better than 20 points the last two seasons.
“I’m going to come out here and try to continue my career in the direction it’s been going the last couple of years, playing at an all-star level and trying to help make this team very successful,” he said.
What does Gugliotta bring?
“I don’t like to be listed at any position. I’m a basketball player,” he said. “I can handle the ball. I can pass. I can shoot. I think I can help the team in a lot of different ways.”
Gugliotta is the last of the big-name free agents to commit to a team. He was in Phoenix last Thursday night and met with Colangelo, coach Danny Ainge and general manager Bryan Colangelo until about 3 a.m.
Then he and agent Richard Howell left for Atlanta, where Howell lives, promising a decision by 6 p.m. Saturday. The Suns were optimistic they’d get Gugliotta but waited anxiously until the word finally came.
“It’s been a little hectic. My voice is about to give out because I’ve literally slept about three hours in the past three days,” Gugliotta said. “But you know it’s worth it. It was a decision that affected the better part of my career. I wanted to make the right decision, and I know that I did.”