Eric Bledsoe says guards ‘weren’t competing’ during Suns’ early season struggles


The Suns got off to a slower-than-expected start to the regular season, and Eric Bledsoe thinks he knows the reason why.

Phoenix began by winning just 12 of its first 26 games, after finishing last year with 48 wins, and just a game out of the playoffs in the highly-competitive Western Conference.

The Suns have found their way recently, however, winning eight of their last 10 while posting quality victories over teams like Toronto, Washington and Dallas.

So, what’s changed? If Bledsoe is to be believed, it’s that he and his teammates are now bringing it on a nightly basis — something that wasn’t true earlier in the season, at least in his eyes.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

“When we added Isaiah into the mix to Gerald (Green), guys were thinking about how they were going to score,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Now, they’re just playing. They’re playing and sharing the ball. When Eric and Goran are out there, that’s two huge weapons that teams have to deal with and they’re both playing great.” …

Bledsoe said they took “a look in the mirror” about how they played last season. They seem to be recapturing that, showing chemistry instincts that come with familiarity.

“When we (were) losing, I think our guards, me in particular, weren’t competing,” Bledsoe said. “I thought every time somebody came in, we pretty much went out there with a nonchalant attitude. (In Sunday’s win against Toronto), we just were playing and competing every minute, all 48 minutes.”

It’s an honest look at things from Bledsoe, whose opinion should matter most since he’s one of those living in the situation.

But there were other factors that contributed to the slow start in Phoenix.

The loss of Channing Frye in free agency to the Magic was a big one offensively, as his floor spacing and ability to play credible pick-and-roll defense on the perimeter wasn’t easily replaced. Then you had three true point guards in Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and newcomer Isaiah Thomas all finding their way with each other, while Hornacek experimented with different rotations — which was something that Dragic admitted early on was no easy task.

If you add all of that to guys giving less than maximum effort as Bledsoe seemed to indicate, it can obviously affect a situation rather negatively, to the point where it will take longer than necessary to figure things out.

Kevin Love on back slide: ‘I don’t know what the hell that was’ (video)

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Leave a comment

In the Cavaliers’ win over the Bucks last night and his first game back from injury, Kevin Love fell while shooting then very oddly slid up court on his back.

Rob Perez:

Love, via Chris Fedor of

“I don’t know what the hell that was,” Love told a private group of reporters while being shown the video at his locker. “I was just having fun.”

When I saw that, I was having fun, too.

Potential top-three pick, Texas C Mo Bamba, declares for NBA draft

AP Photo/Michael Thomas-
Leave a comment

Slovenian point guard Luca Doncic and Arizona center DeAndre Ayton are considered frontrunners to go 1-2 in the upcoming NBA draft.

No. 3 is more up for grabs – with Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Texas’ Mo Bamba, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. in the mix.

Bamba is committing to the competition.

Texas release:

University of Texas freshman forward Mohamed Bamba has declared himself eligible for the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft and will not return to school, the University announced Tuesday.

Bamba – 7-foot with a 7-foot-9 wingspan – is an elite rim-protector. He’s also fluid enough to stifle opponents on the perimeter. He brings an awesome defensive package. Considering his size, he rebounds and finishes predictably well.

But his offense his otherwise raw. He attempts a fair number of jumpers, including 3-pointers, which suggests a capability. But he shoots poorly on those attempts and has displayed minimal court vision as a passer.

He’ll also turn 20 in May, making him the oldest of the top 2018 draft prospects. Mamba will carry some physical advantages to the NBA, but how much was he dominating college opponents because he’s more physically advanced?

Bamba carries risk, but an NBA team will almost certainly bet on him sooner than later in the draft.

Former Mavericks marketing manager: Mark Cuban oversaw business side, still doesn’t get it

AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
Leave a comment

Sports Illustrated detailed a predatory environment – including sexual harassment and domestic violence – in the Mavericks’ business office.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban denied much interaction with the business side, expressed outrage this occurred and vowed to fix the problems.

Melissa Weishaupt, whom Sports Illustrated cited anonymously in its initial article, says Cuban hasn’t responded appropriately.

Weishaupt in Sports Illustrated:

I’m using my name because I’m still not sure the Mavericks get it. Since the story broke, owner Mark Cuban has repeatedly claimed he oversaw only the basketball side of that franchise, not the business side.

Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You own 100% of the team, Mark. The buck stops with you. When I worked on the Mavs’ business side, all marketing, promotional and broadcasting decisions went through you. Nothing was decided without your approval.

I am using my name because I am convinced that Cuban still doesn’t recognize the culture he’s helped create or the plight of the women who still work for him. From where I sit, Mark’s response was to rush in like some white knight in a T-shirt and jeans and yell, Don’t worry, ladies of the Mavs, I will help you with paid counseling and a hotline you can call!

Now you want to help? We are not fragile flowers. We don’t long for counseling. (As for that hotline: I’ve spoken with a dozen current and former team employees; we have no idea what this is or how to find it.) We want equitable pay. We need to be treated with respect. When deserved, we ought to be given the same promotions as our male counterparts.

This problematic culture exists throughout the world. It would hardly be a shock if it still exists within the Mavericks, even after a spotlight was shined on them. In fact, there are indications it does.

If Cuban is sincere in his desire to provide better conditions for the women working for him, he should listen to people like Weishaupt. He can defend himself if he disagrees with her claims, but he also shouldn’t act as if he automatically knows all the solutions to these problems.

Report: Pistons interested in hiring Chauncey Billups to work with Arn Tellem in front office

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
1 Comment

Update: Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Of course, this doesn’t preclude the Pistons from eventually hiring Billups. They could claim they weren’t interested while Van Gundy held the presidency then became interested in Billups later.

But such a sharp statement seems unlikely if the Pistons planned to go that route. They’d probably leave the door open wider than this.


Pistons owner Tom Gores made it sound as if president-coach Stan Van Gundy would lose his front-office title.

The rumored replacement? Former agent Arn Tellem, who’s an executive on the Pistons’ business side.

Tellem could also have new help – like Chauncey Billups.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

That would certainly turn heads in Detroit, where Billups is still beloved after playing for the Pistons and leading them to the 2004 championship. His reputation remains sterling there, because he was traded before the major downturn of that era.

For a team struggling to fill its new arena, Billups could make a splash (just like the Blake Griffin trade was designed to).

But if Billups and Tellem aren’t ready to build a winning team, the good feelings would be short-lived. Detroit-area fans have proven they support good teams and not otherwise.

To Billups’ credit, he has worked to position himself for a front-office job. He was a very smart player and good communicator, and he has always eyed an executive, rather than coaching, role. The Cavaliers nearly hired him last year. He and Tellem might be up for the task.

It’s a substantial one. The Pistons’ roster is expensive for the next couple years, and Detroit is down a first-round pick from the Griffin trade. The top two players, Griffin and Drummond, don’t fit seamlessly.

The Pistons could easily make the playoffs next season, especially if Reggie Jackson is healthier than this year. But greater success will be hard to come by no matter who takes over.