Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is expected to make his return from injury Wednesday night against the Cavs. His minutes will be limited at first, but the player is ready to go “full-throttle”, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. How Bledsoe performs the rest of the season will have a huge impact on his next deal, writes Coro. Before he went down with an injury, the future restricted free agent averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.8 APG. After starting the season 19-11, the team has cooled slightly and gone 17-14 without Bledsoe.
More from around the west:
- The Rockets have sent Troy Daniels to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D-League, tweets Jason Friedman of Rockets.com. In two games with Houston, Daniels has averaged 2.5 PPG in 3.5 minutes.
- Gal Mekel has been recalled from the Texas Legends of the D-League by the Mavericks, the team announced via press release. In 30 appearances for Dallas, he has averaged 2.4 PPG, and 2.1 APG in 9.6 MPG. Mekel has appeared in three games for the Legends this season and averaged 9.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG in 27.7 minutes.
- One name that is expected to be mentioned in future free-agent rumors is Bobby Brown, whose season just ended in China, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Brown has already been mentioned as a possible target of the Clippers. Brown averaged 30.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 1.6 SPG for Dongguan this season.
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban would like to see the NBA expand the draft from its current two round format, writes Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’d like to see four rounds so you can draft guys overseas, get more guys drafted that are your property so you can try to develop them,” Cuban said.
As expected, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe tells Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic that he will likely return to the court this Wednesday (Twitter link). How well Bledsoe plays following a two month absence will impact both the Suns hopes for the playoffs as well as what kind of offers he will field during restricted free agency this summer. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Rudy Gay has been having the best stretch of his career with the Kings, but it’s a bittersweet accomplishment considering he’s doing it for a losing team in Sacramento. For the second season in a row, Gay has been traded from a playoff team to a non-contender, and he spoke with reporters including James Herbert of SB Nation about being moved from the Raptors, only to see them turn around and contend for the Eastern Conference’s third seed. “They’re a playoff team,” Gay said. “Of course I’d like to be a part of that. I’m in Sacramento now and I have to build this team. We don’t know if that would have happened if I were there, too. It happened early in the season. Nobody knows.”
- Prior to Thursday night’s games against the Clippers game on TNT, Kobe Bryant told Ric Bucher he believes there’s an 80% chance Pau Gasol will return to the Lakers next season, per a broadcast transcription from Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation. (H/T Serena Winters)
- In a series of tweets, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com laments the fact that Phil Jackson is likely headed to the Knicks instead of becoming a more influential part of the Lakers. The legendary coach was spurned by the Lakers in favor of Mike D’Antoni early last season, and it appears the complicated relationship he has with the Buss family will ultimately prevent a front office reunion.
Eric Bledsoe is scheduled to return to game action for the Suns sometime in the next week, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. He will be back on the court either Monday at the Clippers, or Wednesday at home against the Cavs. Before he went down with an injury, the future restricted free agent averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.8 APG. After starting the season 19-11, the team has cooled slightly and gone 16-14 without Bledsoe.
More from the west:
- Chris Haynes of of CSNNW.com details the choice that Blazers guard Earl Watson will have to make this off season between continuing his playing career or coaching.
- 37 year-old Vince Carter believes he can play two more seasons, according to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link). The Mavs swingman is averaging 11.9 PPG in 24.3 minutes per contest this year. Carter will be an unrestricted free-agent after the season.
- Mike Trudell of NBA.com looks at the dividends the recently acquired Kent Bazemore is paying for the Lakers. Since being picked up, he has averaged 15.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.5 APG while playing 32.5 MPG. Trudell also looks at whether this production is worth the team considering keeping him around beyond this season.
This summer, the Knicks will have a load of expiring 2015 contracts, including Tyson Chandler, who could be used as a pawn in a trade bid for Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (Marc Berman of the New York Post). One league source didn’t mince words when commenting about New York’s chances at dealing for the 6’10 big man, telling Berman: “They’re selling New York fans land in New Mexico.’’
Carmelo Anthony recently spoke about Love’s game, and when specifically asked about the similarities between them as stretch-fours, Anthony didn’t see a comparison: “I didn’t know we had similarities…He’s a guy who became a stretch 4 but never was a stretch 4. He worked on his shot, his 3-ball and stretching the floor and spreading the floor out. He can also go inside. He’s one helluva rebounder. He’s a big load. He’s gotten better every year since been in the league and still is.’’
Here are more miscellaneous news and notes to pass along tonight:
- Former NBA coaches George Karl, Avery Johnson, and P.J. Carlesimo weighed in on the state of the Knicks, the Warriors‘ title hopes, and who should have been moved during the trade deadline, among other topics (ESPN Insiders only).
- The Suns are poised to make their first postseason appearance since the 2009/10 season, thanks in large part to an All-Star caliber season from Goran Dragic. The 27-year-old point guard recently shared his thoughts on the season with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, speaking with the confidence one would ideally expect from a seasoned veteran: “I’m more relaxed…I know all of the situations I’m put in and I know how the opposing teams are going to guard me. I’m just more relaxed. It feels like I’m playing basketball with my friends back home, with no pressure. I just go out there and do my job. I’ve gotten some great support from my teammates and I’m just having fun. It’s not like I’m thinking too much or anything. I’m just having fun.”
- Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat are two players that the Mavericks should go after in free agency this summer, opines Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW.
- Brad Stevens’ emphasis on establishing a winning culture along with the players’ continued commitment toward playing hard is proof that the Celtics haven’t given up on the season just yet, explains Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston.
Welp, this figures to be a fun MVP race. In case you were leaning towards the likes of Kevin Durant or Chris Paul, LeBron James re-stated his case tonight in a big, big way. The Heat star put up a career-high 61 points on 22-33 shooting, 8-10 from three-point range, with seven rebounds, and five assists. LeBron bested his previous career-high of 56 (2005 against the Raptors) and blew past Glen Rice‘s franchise record of 56 points. Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..
- Former Oregon State star Jared Cunningham says he plans to sign with an NBA team this week, writes Conner Letourneau of The Oregonian.
- The Morris twins will be eligible for contract extensions in the fall and both players are hoping they’ll be with the Suns, together, for the long-term, writes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “The game is more fun when I have my brother. I look forward to it every day. look forward to getting better. I look forward to watching him get better and I know he looks forward to me improving and having good games. I’m excited when he plays good, even when I don’t play good. If I see him scoring and all the small stuff to win, I’m excited and that brings me up no matter what,” Markieff Morris said of playing with brother Marcus Morris.
- Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he’s interested in returning in some capacity to the Bucks, writes Andrew Wagner of the Associated Press. ”If I get a call, I will definitely offer my services,” said the Bucks’ career leading scorer with 14,211 points. “There’s nothing on the table right now. A couple of people have asked me and if I had the chance to be part of this franchise again, I would take it.“
- If Dwyane Wade continues to play at his current level and helps lead the Heat to another championship, there won’t be much negotiating when it comes to his contract, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. Wade recently re-iterated his desire to stay put in Miami to David Aldridge of NBA.com.
One of the bigger stories of the week was the Clippers signing Danny Granger for the rest of the season. Despite being in uniform he was unable to play in last night’s game thanks to a “clerical error” that accidentally listed him as inactive. But going forward, Granger should help bolster the team’s weak front line, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLos Angeles.com. Coach Doc Rivers thinks that his best fit on the team might be as a starter, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. This would allow Matt Barnes to return to a bench role and have Granger be more of a defensive asset for the first-team.
Here’s more from out west:
- The Spurs didn’t land Granger, but Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News doesn’t think the team needs him. Instead, he points to how Boris Diaw‘s numbers and production are comparable to Granger’s.
- Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman explores the possibility of the Thunder signing Ben Gordon if he is waived by the Bobcats. Since March 1st has passed, Gordon would be able to play for another team in the regular season, but not in the playoffs.
- In a separate article, Mayberry looks at 15 possible players the Thunder could sign to fill their 15th roster spot.
- The recently signed Caron Butler is expected to be in uniform for Tuesday’s game when the Thunder take on the Sixers, tweets Mayberry.
- Suns GM Ryan McDonough says the team’s long-term approach hasn’t changed, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “We’re trying to get great players, through the draft or trade or free agency, but in the short term I think we’re ahead of what most people thought we would be. If we can use things like our cap space to help solidify our team we’ll do that, but at the same time we’re happy with the group we have”, McDonough said. Washburn also analyzes how the Suns are set heading into the offseason and some moves the team might make.
- Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders analyzes the dividends that the signing of Andre Iguodala has paid to the Warriors.
3:46pm: The contract will cover the remainder of this season with a team option for 2014/15, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. It’s rare for team options to be a part of free agent contracts, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a non-guaranteed year rather than an option year.
1:21pm: The Suns have signed Shavlik Randolph, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. The team also officially announced the moves. Randolph is a 30-year-old power forward who’s played for four teams NBA teams over the course of his career, most recently for the Celtics in 2012/13, where he averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16 games. The specifics of the contract haven’t been revealed yet.
Randolph had been playing overseas in China, where he put up impressive marks of 22.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per night, albeit in just six appearances. This move should help bolster the Suns frontcourt depth as the team looks to make some noise in the playoffs after missing three straight postseasons.
In order to make room for Randolph, the Suns have waived rarely used center Slava Kravtsov. Throughout 20 contests, Kravtsov played just 59 minutes, and averaged one point per night. Phoenix will be on the hook for the remainder of his $1.5MM salary.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey said today that he asked Mark Cuban about acquiring Dirk Nowitzki this summer out of fears the Warriors would keep Dwight Howard from coming to Houston, according to ESPN (Twitter link). Cuban didn’t realize Howard hadn’t committed to the Rockets, and interpreted the proposal as a taunt over the Mavs‘ failed pursuit of Howard. Morey made his remarks at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and we’ve got more from that meeting of the minds as we pass along the latest from the NBA:
- Former Raptors and Suns GM Bryan Colangelo admitted that he attempted to tank a few seasons ago, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. Presumably, that happened during his Raptors tenure.
- Jimmer Fredette piqued the interest of the Celtics, but it ”wasn’t a good fit for either side,” as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters today, including Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- The Timberwolves have no interest in Fredette for “myriad reasons,” according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
- Some within the Lakers organization wanted to retain Pau Gasol through the trade deadline to keep his Bird Rights, but Gasol writes in his blog that L.A.’s financial advantage to re-sign him won’t play into his decision (translation via HoopsHype). The 7-footer says he wants to go where he can help a team win a title, but he’s not ruling out a return to the Lakers.
- Caron Butler‘s role on the Heat would have been similar to the one Mike Miller played in recent years, and part of his decision to instead join the Thunder centered on the chance for more playing time, notes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter links).
- The top half of the lottery picks in this year’s draft will be a star-studded bunch, but there are still other potential franchise-changing players in the mix, writes Zach Harper of CBSSports.com, who examines five potential steals.
The Suns have what it takes to attract top-level free agents, as team president of basketball operations Lon Babby tells Bob Young of The Arizona Republic.
“I don’t think we ever lost our status as a destination, because of the history of the franchise, the weather, the medical and training staff,” Babby said. “Those are constants that make it an attractive place. I wouldn’t deny that we have enhanced our position. I think we were always above average. Now I think we’re in the upper echelon because there’s an excitement and a spirit about the atmosphere and the culture here that is palpable.”
Young thinks Kevin Love should be the team’s next free agent target, though that would require waiting until the summer of 2015. In the meantime, here’s more on the Suns and their Pacific Division rivals:
- Ish Smith is poised to spend an entire season with a single NBA team for the first time in his four-year career, and he’s been an important contributor for the Suns, as fellow Republic scribe Paul Coro examines. Smith’s deal is non-guaranteed for next season.
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times interprets Pau Gasol‘s postgame comments Tuesday as veiled criticism of Mike D’Antoni, but Gasol didn’t hide his thoughts about whether all the expiring contracts the Lakers have are creating a negative atmosphere. “Probably. That’s part of it,” Gasol said. “But that’s why you have to be disciplined and implement discipline. That’s how you kind of make that better or make that not a factor. I don’t think there’s a lot of discipline right now.”
- It’s as if Kings executives think that they should keep making moves until they get it right, opines Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, who examines the team’s decision to let go of Jimmer Fredette and audition others on 10-day contracts. Sacramento is set to sign Orlando Johnson and reportedly worked out Royce White.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers will actively recruit bought out players that L.A. wants to sign in the coming days, he tells reporters including Arash Markazi of ESPN LA. “You always do. I’m not going to say any names, but there’s more than one team that wants all these guys, at least a lot of the guys. You have to talk to them, for sure.” Here’s more from the Pacific Division:
- Rivers also discussed Glen Davis per Markazi, who was recently bought out and is expected to pick between the Clippers and Nets for the rest of the year. In Davis’s case, Nets veteran Kevin Garnett is reportedly in a recruitment competition with Rivers. This doesn’t surprise Rivers, who coached both players to a championship with the Celtics: “I think they always liked him. It doesn’t surprise me at all. That group won a title together and came one game away from winning another one. You’d think there’s a kinship.”
- In the same piece, Markazi suspects the Clippers need to add multiple players to bolster their title hopes, even if Davis is the most noteworthy name on the market. Injuries to J.J. Redick and the team’s parting with Byron Mullens leaves the team thin in both the backcourt and frontcourt.
- The Suns went through Thursday’s trade deadline without making any changes, and players, coaches, and management all echo their comfort level with the team as constructed to Matt Peterson of Suns.com. Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is happy the team that has surprised with success will remain intact, saying, “It’s great that the team stays the way it is and we just keep going.” GM Ryan McDonough adds, “Unless there was a superstar or a blockbuster deal, we didn’t want to affect our group because they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do and they’ve played well. We’re 11 games over .500 as we get into late February. We didn’t want to make a move in-season just for the sake of doing something. We’re fine doing nothing because we’re happy with the guys we have.”
- In the same piece, McDonough tells Peterson that the Suns timed their trades for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and two first round picks over last summer because they didn’t think picks would be as easy to come by closer to the draft. He appears to be right, considering no first round selections swapped hands in the month of February.