Suns plan to play Bledsoe, Dragic at same time in backcourt

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One of the shifting attitudes around the NBA is in regards to position — the size and skill of players today don’t fit neatly in the “point guard” or “power forward” molds of the past. How do you define the position of Dirk Nowitzki, or LeBron James, or Kevin Durant.

As teams work more into a “positionless” system what they want to see are guys that work well together.

Which is why in Phoenix they plan to see if just acquired Eric Bledsoe can play with Goran Dragic in the backcourt. New Suns GM Ryan McDonough said as much to Paul Flannery of SBN talking about what Bledsoe offers.

“I see him as a basketball player,” McDonough said during an extended sit-down interview at the end of the NBA Summer League. “I try not to differentiate (positions). That’s one of the things we had success with in Boston on a limited basis with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. I’m hoping to see some of the same stuff with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. If guys are both tough and aggressive and can pass and shoot well, that leads to a lot of good things.”

The Suns are going to run under Jeff Hornacek, and both Bledsoe and Dragic will do well in transition. Both work well off picks and so expect the Suns bigs to set a number of drag screens (a top pick-and-roll set early in the clock before the defense sets), plus designed pick-and-rolls in the offense.

It’s a bit of an experiment, but the Suns can afford to do that. While they will deny tanking they are clearly in the “woeful for Wiggins” lottery chase for next season (and they have multiple picks in the 2015 draft as well). Here is how McDonough put it.

“This year is all about establishing a culture,” McDonough said “Playing hard, playing unselfishly, sharing the ball and developing a system. I won’t measure our success this year in terms of wins and losses. Are we getting better and are our guys buying in and playing the right way? That being said, I don’t want to be in the lottery forever.”

It’s a good plan. The Suns are not going to be good, they hope to be young and improving. Maybe in that they can find some combinations that work. Maybe Bledsoe and Dragic.

Shabazz Muhammad awkwardly mentions Collective Bargaining Agreement during halftime interview (video)

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The Timberwolves surprisingly led the Spurs by nine at halftime last night, which takes us to Shabazz Muhammad‘s mid-game interview.

Muhammad:

We’re doing a great job on defense, Wiggs, myself, everybody. It’s a tough team, especially Kawhi and the guys. So, we’re doing a really good job and everybody’s collective – Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Um. What?

To be fair, I can’t even imagine what type of nonsense I’d spew in the midst of a taxing workout or a high-pressure situation – let alone something that qualifies as both.

Unfortunately for Muhammad, Minnesota eventually fell to San Antonio, 100-93. But hopefully, he can laugh at this moment. He should, at least.

hat tip: reddit user cjsplash

Duke’s Jayson Tatum, California’s Ivan Rabb declare for NBA draft

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Wednesday a couple of forwards expected to go in the first round of June’s NBA draft said they plan on making the jump to the NBA.

As expected, Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Cal’s Ivan Rabb made their decisions official.

Duke announced Tatum’s decision.

Tatum is expected to be a top-five pick, DraftExpress.com currently has him as the No. 4 pick. The 6’8″ wing can flat-out score the rock, which is why teams are intrigued, as Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk told us in a recent podcast. However, teams wonder if he can create shots for others and not just himself, and if he’s going to be a good defender at the NBA level. He has the physical tools to do be a good defender, but will he put in the work game in, game out?

Rabb is a 6’10” sophomore who has a great NBA build and athleticism to spare, but at the NBA level everyone is a great athlete. Rabb doesn’t have a great perimeter game and needs to develop one and be a consistent defensive force to be a difference maker (or have a lengthy career) at the NBA level. DraftExpress.com has him going 22nd in this draft, and his stock seems to have fallen over the course of the season.

PBT Extra: What coaches are on hot seat? Alvin Gentry at front of list.

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This season, for the first time in 46 years, no NBA coach will be fired during the season (nobody is getting canned at this point).

However, once the off-season starts, there will be a few changes.

Alvin Gentry in New Orleans and Fred Hoiberg in Chicago are the names most mentioned, but there will be an unexpected firing somewhere around the league. Some GMs are on the hot seat also (Rob Hennigan in Orlando leads that parade).

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.

Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, Bulls’ Robin Lopez each suspended one game for thrown punches

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It was obvious this was coming. Get in a shoving match “fight” in the NBA and you get a fine. However, actually throw punches and…

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Robin Lopez each have been suspended for one game by the NBA “for throwing punches at one another during an altercation,” the league announced. What that works out to is a $120,715 hit for Lopez and a $111,364 ding for Ibaka.

Also, Raptors assistant coach Jamaal Magloire earned a $15,000 fine shoving the Bulls Nikola Mirotic and “acting as other than a peacemaker as part of the same altercation.”

This all came out of what seemed a rather innocuous play. Ibaka and Lopez were battling for rebounding positioning, it went on for a second after the ball went through the hoop, Ibaka caught Lopez with a little chicken wing elbow in the back, Lopez spun, and, boy, that escalated quickly. Lopez’s punch missed, while Ibaka’s caught Lopez in the hair more than the body.

Both men got technicals and were ejected.