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NBA Three Things to Know: Suns put Eric Bledsoe on trade block

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA, which is longer than I suspect Ivanka Trump’s punk phase lasted.

1) Eric Bledsoe now has all the time he wants to go to a hair salon: Suns send him home, put him on the trade block. On Sunday, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe Tweeted this.

A day after the Suns fired coach Earl Watson, Bledsoe got called into the principal’s office was called into the office of GM Ryan McDonough to explain the Tweet and if he wanted to be part of the rebuilding effort in Phoenix. The answer was obviously “no,” but Bledsoe said the Tweet was about being at a hair salon with his girlfriend. McDonough wasn’t buying that (nor should he) and called Bledsoe out for it publicly. McDonough sent Bledsoe home from the team and started actively looking for a trade.

The problem for McDonough and the Suns is they aren’t going to get much — they have no leverage and not many teams are looking for a point guard right now. The market is pretty dry. We know that the Knicks, Bucks, and Nuggets reached out — on paper Denver makes the most sense (they can throw Emanuel Mudiay and other salary such as Kenneth Faried to make it work). The Cavaliers and Clippers get mentioned by fans, but neither has the pieces to pull off a deal. Other teams could be lurking (Orlando has come up, my man Steve Kyler speculated New Orleans would work) and with the price so low some team could snag him on the cheap. One way or another, expect Bledsoe to get moved relatively soon.

Despite all the drama, the Suns picked up their first win of the season Monday, knocking off the Kings 117-115.

2) Grizzlies play a little old-school “grit ‘n grind,” go on 20-2 run to close game, beat Rockets. The book on beating a Mike D’Antoni team hasn’t changed — be physical, slow the game down, contest their threes. Memphis may not be playing “grit ‘n grind” anymore, but they pulled it out against Houston Tuesday night — the Rockets had 93 possessions, six below their season average, and shot 23.7 percent from three for the night. As for physical, we’ll let Mario Chalmers show you how to guard James Harden.

Memphis was still down but closed the game on a 20-2 run to get the 98-90 win and stay undefeated this season. It’s just 3-0, but the Grizzlies have now knocked off the Warriors and the Rockets this young season. Everyone who wrote them off as a playoff team owes Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and the team an apology. Memphis is going to be in the playoff hunt in the West this season.

As for Houston, they are shooting 27.5 percent from three and have missed more threes than 27 NBA teams have even taken this season.

3) Spurs stay undefeated with win over Toronto.
Kawhi who? The Spurs are 3-0 to start the season, and now 17-4 the last three seasons without Kawhi Leonard, after a 101-97 win over the Toronto Raptors. The two big keys for the Spurs in this one were, first, the glass, where they grabbed 39.6 percent of their missed shots and got a second chance. That’s a lot of extra shots. The second was the lineup of Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay, and LaMarcus Aldridge who went on a 19-4 fourth quarter run to pull the Rockets from behind into the lead.

While the rest of the league has gone small ball happy, the Spurs are a big team, and that has advantages — they had 12 blocks against the Raptors. (To be fair, most of the good Spurs lineups in this game were without Pau Gasol.) The Spurs continue just not to beat themselves and in the NBA regular season that is going to get them a whole lot of wins.

Bonus video: Ben Simmons gets his first triple-double. Simmons had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Sixers got their first win of the season over the Pistons. Enjoy the highlights.

Did Lakers help keep LeBron James in Cleveland with trade?

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When the trade went down between the Lakers and Cavaliers before the deadline — sending Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye plus Cleveland’s 2018 first-round draft pick (top-five protected) — it caught the NBA by surprise.

The first reaction for a lot of people to the deal? This opens up as much as $70 million in cap space for the Lakers this summer (depending on other moves with players such as Julius Randle). Los Angeles could sign two max players — LeBron James and Paul George. Why would Cleveland help Los Angeles open up room to steal LeBron.

The Cavaliers didn’t see it that way — they knew they had to make a major shakeup or LeBron was gone. At that point, does it matter where? So in a series of moves, Cleveland GM Koby Altman radically remade the roster around LeBron. The goal was to energize them back into being the team to beat in the East, and from there make it hard for him to leave as a free agent. Since the trades, the Cavaliers are 2-0 and LeBron has clearly been reinvigorated, plus they will add Kevin Love back in a few weeks.

Altman’s plan seems to be working, one executive told Mark Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive said. “The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron.”

I had heard from sources for a while LeBron to the Lakers was not likely (Paul George is another story, that door remains open). As Spears notes, the Lakers did not have an All-Star in Sunday’s game. Even if LeBron and PG13 went to Los Angeles, that team was third or fourth best in the West next season. LeBron is in full on legacy mode and wants to win rings. Los Angeles is not the place to do it.

Houston is interesting (and it’s still a team I hear some execs think has a real shot), but the gutting or role players on that roster to make it work would be a concern. Maybe a dark horse such as Philadelphia can emerge. However, if LeBron can lead this newly-energized Cavaliers team to the Finals again (his eighth consecutive trip there), they get a high draft pick with the Brooklyn pick, then LeBron gets a commitment from Altman and owner Dan Gilbert to keep spending and being aggressive, where is he going to be closer to a title than at home?

Lou Williams trolls Jimmy Butler for resting during All-Star Game

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Jimmy Butler was in Los Angeles and enjoying his well-earned All-Star slot on Team Stephen.

Well, except for the actual playing basketball part. Butler did not set foot on the court during the All-Star Game at his own request.

“Rest,” Butler said when asked why he didn’t play. “I have to rest. I have to rest my body up. This Timberwolves season is very, very important to me. I’ve got to make sure I’m ready to roll when I get back there.”

Lou Williams, the Clippers’ guard who likely would have been near the front of the line for an open All-Star roster spot in the West (likely second in the queue behind Chris Paul), but instead took part in the Saturday Skills Competition then had Sunday off, trolled Butler for it on Twitter.

This seems more good natured than genuinely bitter.

Williams will roll with it, but his point’s a valid one — if you’re an All-Star, at least play a little and give the people what they want. Get out there for five minutes or whatever. LaMarcus Aldridge only played four minutes, no big deal.

If you’re not going to use the roster spot, give it up to someone who will.

Report: Raptors won’t sign Vince Carter if he gets bought out

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Of returning to the Raptors, Vince Carter said, “It’ll happen one day.” It sounds as if the Kings would buy him out if he wants.

Will he end the season with Toronto?

Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050:

After speaking with a few team sources, I can confirm that they’ve had internal dialogue and debate about the idea of bringing Vince Carter back. It’s something that they wanted to do over the summer. That’s why they made him an offer, something that I’ve reported in the past. And it’s also something that they’d be open to in the future, perhaps next year in some capacity. But they’ve decided now is not the right time. And I think the consensus seems to be there’s so much going on right now, and they want this season to be about this team, their accomplishments and their playoff push and not the sideshow that I think would come with a Vince Carter return.

The Raptors (41-16) are on pace for their best record ever. They’re excelling offensively and defensively. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are spearheading a more dynamic offense that spurs hope for more playoff success.

Toronto is probably correct to save the Carter reunion for another year – though it depends who else is available. That 15th roster spot could be useful. If Carter is the best player who’d sign, the Raptors should sign him and deal with the hoopla.

But it’s not clear whom they could get or whether they could even get Carter. He hasn’t sounded like someone who’d forgo guaranteed salary to play for the minimum.

Tiago Splitter announces retirement

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Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.

Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.

But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.

HoopsHype:

Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.

Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.

Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.