Report: Suns discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe

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The Suns and Eric Bledsoe are at an impasse in contract negotiations, but since Bledsoe is a restricted free agent, Phoenix holds all the leverage.

Bledsoe wants a five-year max contract, but the Suns were only willing to go as high as four years and $48 million — which, frankly, seems fair for someone with career averages of 8.7 points and 3.4 assists in four NBA seasons, and who has had injuries limit him in two of those four years, including last season in Phoenix.

When healthy, however, Bledsoe has shown the value that he seeks. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals in Phoenix last year, but again, durability is a concern, as he was able to make just 43 regular season appearances.

Bledsoe has one way to shift the negotiations in his favor, but it’s extremely risky. He can sign to play for one year under the qualifying offer of $3.7 million, and then pursue bigger money as an unrestricted free agent the following summer — an option that gets more likely with each passing day.

If it gets to that point, however, it’s virtually guaranteed that Bledsoe will bolt Phoenix in free agency, in part due to the bad blood created by the way this scenario is playing out. The Suns would be wise to look at their options in a trade for Bledsoe, so that they don’t lose a player of his caliber without getting something of worth to replace him — and the latest report says the team is doing exactly that.

From Jude LaCava at Fox Sports 910 (via Dave King at Bright Side of the Sun):

“I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” Jude LaCava said on Tuesday. “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.”

“That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.”

It would be the smart thing to do on Phoenix’s side, if in fact things in the relationship have gone so far south. The problem for Bledsoe remains the same, though, which is that he wants a five-year max deal — and there don’t appear to be any suitors for him at that price.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.