The Suns have made a number of major trades since the end of the 2012/13 season, but arguably none were bigger than the three-way deal that sent Eric Bledsoe to Phoenix. In Bledsoe, the Suns acquired a player capable of being a starting NBA point guard, and one with star upside.
While the trade itself was a coup for the Suns, skeptics immediately questioned how Bledsoe would fit with incumbent point guard Goran Dragic, the club’s most productive player last season. Team executives insisted the two players could coexist in Phoenix’s backcourt, but there were rumblings that Dragic, an acquisition of the old regime, could be shipped out by new GM Ryan McDonough.
McDonough denied that he was interested in moving Dragic, and things got a little more interesting when the Suns failed to work out an extension with Bledsoe last week. That means the former Clipper will be a restricted free agent next summer, and will likely be in line for a much larger salary than the $7.5MM being earned annually by Dragic. I wouldn’t expect Phoenix to let Bledsoe walk, but it sounds like a sign-and-trade isn’t out of the question, if the price tag gets too high.
Keeping both Bledsoe and Dragic long-term doesn’t make much sense for the Suns, since each player represents a valuable asset that could be turned into a productive piece at another position. Still, that doesn’t mean that the club won’t ride out the 2013/14 season with both players still in tow.
What do you think? Will Dragic be the next veteran player moved by the Suns, or will he stay put through this season’s trade deadline?
Dirk Nowitzki publicly questioned Mark Cuban‘s approach to retooling the Mavericksback in January, and the team struck out on its top target again this summer when Dwight Howard decided to join the Rockets. But Nowitzki tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he’s pleased with the roster Cuban and Donnie Nelson put together this offseason, and he’s encouraged by the club’s direction.
“I think as a franchise, we’ve moved on,” Nowitzki said of the failed attempts to recruit star free agents. “We didn’t go for the whole cap space deal again, like we did last year, so I was obviously pleased to see that.”
Here are a few more Friday afternoon odds and ends:
With the D-League draft set to get underway at 6:00pm CT tonight, the Iowa Energy traded the third overall pick as part of a deal with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Heat camp invitee and NBA champion Jarvis Varnado headed to Iowa in the move, as Keith Schlosser writes at Ridiculous Upside.
One player who won’t be playing on a D-League squad anytime soon is free agent big man Jason Collins, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Stein hears from a source that Collins isn’t considering playing overseas or in the D-League, since he still believes he’s an NBA player and prefers to continue his workout regimen at home in Los Angeles.
In a separate ESPN.com story, Stein writes that the Suns are comfortable with Eric Bledsoe heading into free agency next summer. However, it sounds like Phoenix hasn’t ruled out the possibility of facilitating a sign-and-trade involving Bledsoe in July if he gets too pricey, so the team likely won’t shop Goran Dragic for now.
Many around the NBA believeGoran Dragic will be the next player the Suns trade away after Friday’s Marcin Gortatdeal, but Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough insists that won’t be the case, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic notes. “He’s a good player on a good contract and a great guy,” McDonough said. “So, no, we’re not looking to move Goran Dragic.”Andrew Bogut is another player who probably won’t be traded this year now that he’s signed his extension, and he’s glad to stick around the Warriors, as we explain amid our look around the Pacific:
Andrew Bogut understands he could have snagged a better payday if he had held off on an extension and performed well this season, but he tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he didn’t want to play the season as a trade candidate on an expiring contract. Bogut says he’s put his anger about the Warriors‘ pursuit of Dwight Howard behind him and encourages his teammates to take discounts on their next deals so the team can stay together.
The Kings face a Thursday deadline for decisions on Jimmer Fredette‘s fourth-year option and extensions for Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, and GM Pete D’Alessandro remains circumspect, observes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. ”We’re still looking at things and evaluating before making a decision. … I think there’s some spirited conversations going on about all the guys near the deadline,” D’Alessandro said.
The moves that D’Alessandro and company have made so far during their brief tenure aren’t above reproach, but the key is whether their long-term investment in DeMarcus Cousins works out, The Bee’s Ailene Voisin opines.
There is a “growing expectation” around the league that the Suns will at some point try to trade Goran Dragic in a deal similar to this afternoon’s Marcin Gortat swap, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com writes in his report on today’s deal. The Suns remain in talks with point guard Eric Bledsoe about a rookie-scale extension, and Dragic plays the same position. The Suns have expressed optimism that Bledsoe and Dragic can coexist as backcourt partners, but that might be more a stopgap solution than a long-term plan.
Dragic, 27, is entering the second season of a four-year deal that pays him $7.5MM annually and includes a player option for 2015/16. Phoenix may be loath to commit that kind of money long-term to a player who shares a position with one of its young building blocks. The Suns might be more inclined to keep Dragic around if they can’t reach a deal on an extension for Bledsoe by the October 31st deadline, but the Suns ultimately wield the hammer with Bledsoe, since they could match offers for him if he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.
The notion that the Suns may look to do a deal similar to the Gortat trade suggests GM Ryan McDonough will again look for a first-round pick, as he did today when he secured the Wizards’ 2014 first-rounder and this summer when he acquired the same bounty from Indiana for Luis Scola. The Suns have their own 2014 first-round pick, and they could wind up with the 2014 first-rounders of the T-Wolves, Pacers and Wizards, depending on how protection on each of those draft choices plays out. McDonough might want to fortify his picks for 2015 and beyond, drafts for which the only pick the Suns are owed is the Lakers’ 2015 first-rounder.
The Suns will be running an uptempo offense under new head coach Jeff Hornacek next year. That's good news for ostensible starting point guard Goran Dragic writes Suns.com's Matt Peterson. Though Dragic could face some competition in the back-court from former Clippers backup Eric Bledsoe, who the Suns acquired in a three-team trade involving the Clippers and Bucks earlier this summer.
Goran has teamed with his brother Zoran Dragic for an impressive opening with the host country of Slovenia at EuroBasket 2013. After today's 72-68 win over Georgia, the Slovenian team is 3-0 during the European tournament – including an upset of defending champion Spain earlier this week. Dragic is a large reason why, and his play in the open court could fit nicely with Hornacek's plans for the offense next season.
Dragic isn't the only Suns player performing for his home country during EuroBasket 2013, but his teammate, Marcin Gortat, isn't faring as well.
Playing for the country of Poland, Peterson reports that Gortat recorded 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks during their a loss to Croatia that pushes them to a dismal 0-3 in the European championship tournament this year.
Tongue compares Beasley to the early 2000s Blazers, who featured a host of players involved in off-the-court incidents like Beasley. Despite the behavior, players like Rasheed Wallace, Zach Randolph and Damon Stoudamire, got it done on the court.
But Tongue lumps Beasley in with three other "Jail" Blazers, Bonzi Wells, Ruben Patterson and Qyntel Woods, who weren't as productive as the first three mentioned, and who largely underperformed throughout their careers.
But RealGM columnist Jarrod Rudolph disagrees and tweets that Beasley is an All-Star talent who's a high reward, low risk addition in the right situation, which may be with the Heat.
With seven NBA games on the docket for Monday night, here are some odds and ends from around the Association:
J.J. Redick has made Orlando his home and hopes to stay, he told Michael Scotto of RealGM. But Redick also realizes that trade speculation is inevitable and therefore has stayed in close contact with his agent and the Magic general manager Rob Hennigan.
Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge provides a transcript of an interview of Neil Olshey in which the Blazers GM discusses his team's roster and potential future moves.
Andrei Kirilenko handpicked Minnesota as his destination this offseason because he found the roster intriguing as well as conducive to his game. Unfortunately, due to the Timberwolves' long list of injuries, Kirilenko has yet to find out if his vision was as good as it seemed this offseason, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
Danny Ainge said that he fully expect Rajon Rondo to be ready for training camp come October, tweets Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. How realistic that truly is will go a long way in determining the Celtics' next move.
Despite sitting at 15-30 and in last place in the Pacific division, the Sunshave a reason for optimism in Goran Dragic, writes Derek Page of HoopsWorld. Dragic, Page says, is the most important piece of Phoenix's rebuilding plans.
We've already heard that Marreese Speights could be moved before the trade deadline despite rumors that the Cavaliers have coveted him for years. The Plain Dealer rounds up some Speights-related buzz, linking to a Sam Amico article that says whether the team keeps Speights depends on whether it can do so without sacrificing its financial flexibility. Amico, of Fox Sports Ohio, says that Speights will likely opt out of his deal after the season and seek a payday.
Most players that signed new contracts over the summer will become eligible to be traded as of this coming Saturday, so Grantland's Zach Lowe took the opportunity to take a look around the league at some potential trade candidates. Here are a few of the highlights from Lowe's piece:
Even though the Rockets didn't expect to land Jeremy Lin this summer, and didn't expect to acquire another star ballhandler in James Harden, it's still "extremely unlikely" that they'd move Lin.
There's no indication that the Hornets would consider dealing Ryan Anderson, who Lowe clarifies (via Twitter) becomes trade-eligible this month rather than next month, as we'd previously thought.
Teams around the league are eyeing the Suns to see if they can extract some value there, but Phoenix almost certainly won't move Goran Dragic and can't trade amnesty pickup Luis Scola. Lowe also notes that "you can count on zero hands" the number of clubs interested in acquiring Michael Beasley.
It's not out of the question that Courtney Lee could become a trade candidate if the Celtics are seeking a big man.
Jason Thompson is "coveted around the league" due to his reasonable long-term salary, and is blocking Thomas Robinson in Sacramento, so the Kings could attempt to gauge his value.
The Mavericks may be a buyer rather than a seller, but they'll be wary of adding any salary that would affect their cap flexibility next summer.
The Sixers will be in the market for a big man once trade talks pick up.
Rival executives are wondering if it's too early for GM Neil Olshey and the Trail Blazers to explore the trade market for LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Suns are an interesting team this season, with some observers thinking they'll be one of the worst teams in basketball, and others having faith that they'll fight for a playoff spot. Here's a look at a few recent articles about the team that should give us a clearer view of where they are, and where they're headed.
According to Coro, incoming forward Luis Scola is happy to be in Phoenix, and believes the team has a good mixture of experience and skill to be competitive.
This offseason the Suns made it clear they weren't afraid to make a financial splash, offering Eric Gordon a maximum offer sheet that was eventually matched by New Orleans. Apparently, they were also very interested in the recently traded James Harden, tweets Coro.
The Suns aren't expecting offseason signee Goran Dragic to replace Steve Nash's production, as coach Alvin Gentry tells Derek Page of HoopsWorld: "We don’t really talk to him about replacing Steve. We could go through the whole league and they couldn’t replace Steve…. We all know what Steve brought to our team but now we’re trying to get ourselves in a situation where Goran can step into a role, where he feels confident in what he’s doing and he can become the best Goran Dragic. That’s what we’re trying to get him to do, which would be pretty good."
In looking back at the Warriors' offseason, ESPN.com's John Hollinger (Insider link) says Draymond Green was one of his favorite players in the draft, but he's not a huge fan of the team's Carl Landry signing.
Dwight Howard engaged in a post-practice interview with the local media, admitting that he's "still trying to get his legs up and get in some shape" and also elaborating about the different options on offense that he has with his new Lakers teammates. In response to recent comments made by Shaq about being subordinate to Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez, Dwight replied, "I don't care what (he) says…He's done. He's gone. It's time to move on." (Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports). Ken Berger of CBS Sports further discussed the chance for Howard to put his recent past in Orlando behind him through his new challenge in Los Angeles. Here's what else is brewing out of the Pacific Division tonight…
Lakers guard Steve Blakereturned from injury and practiced today, says McMenamin. The back up point guard was originally projected to have a three week recovery after puncturing his foot, but was given full clearance to play just ten days after his injury.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin appears to have fully healed from his knee surgery in July, reportedly moving well during scrimmages and connecting on some signature dunks (according to Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld). Pincus also gives his impressions from DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Lamar Odom from scrimmages and also mentions that while Chauncey Billups isn't ready to play yet, the activity level and mobility that he displayed is a good indication that he is progressing along nicely with his rehab.
Tim Kawakami of Mercury News tweets that Warriors center Andrew Bogut looked good during his individual workout today, going through a 40-45 minute session with the team trainer after practice.
In this report from CSNBayArea.com, Klay Thompson talked about his goal to improve his efficiency this season as he embarks on his sophomore year in the league. Coach Mark Jackson also spoke confidently about the young shooting guard, saying that Thompson is "going to get his shots." In the miscellaneous section, Jackson seemed non-committal on who the Warriors' starting small forward will be at this point.
Newly acquired Wesley Johnson has shined during Suns team scrimmages, writes Paul Coro of AZCentral.com. Aside from more observations from practices, Coro also says that Goran Dragic may continue to do more work during the team's two-a-day session on Friday, and that Jermaine O'Neal will withdraw from tomorrow's practice because of soreness.