Kenneth Faried

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Suns GM Ryan McDonough says no timetable for Eric Bledsoe trade

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Eric Bledsoe is still a Phoenix Sun.

He doesn’t want to be. The Suns are trying to trade him, but they have not found an offer near their liking (and likely will not at the price they are asking). The Suns sent Bledsoe away from the team, so he sits at home — his trade value slowly diminishing — while the Suns try to find a trade partner.

Trying to regain some leverage in the situation, Suns GM Ryan McDonough is trying to play it cool, like he’s not in a rush. Here’s what he texted Scott Bordow of azcentral.com sports.

McDonough said by text message Monday that he had no timetable for a potential Bledsoe trade. It’s been speculated that Phoenix could wait until Dec. 15, when players who signed as free agents in the offseason are eligible to be traded.

“We are open to doing a deal whenever the best offer presents itself,” McDonough said. “Any other comments or thoughts from me would be pure speculation at this point.”

That’s precisely what McDonough should say, but know he wants to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

The Suns reportedly want to attach Tyson Chandler to a trade, although that doesn’t make a ton of sense because teams will offer less quality to Phoenix if they have to take on a bad contract. The Suns, who have the cap room, would be better off shipping Bledsoe to a team that will send a bad contract back to Phoenix and with it a better asset (for example, Denver will give up a better younger player in a deal if they can send Kenneth Faried or someone like that back with him).

Suns GM questions advice Eric Bledsoe getting from agent

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Rich Paul is known as an aggressive agent, a guy willing to take risks and drive hard bargains. That style has landed Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith big deals, but it doesn’t always (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope), and GMs are not fans.

Eric Bledsoe is a Paul client, and the point guard is forcing his way out of Phoenix. After Tweeting he didn’t want to “be there” — then coming up with a lame excuse of being at a hair salon for that Tweet — the Suns sent him home and are looking for a trade partner.

In an interview on Arizona Sports radio 98.7 Tuesday, Suns GM Ryan McDonough questioned the advice Paul is giving Bledsoe right now (transcription via Chris Haynes of ESPN).

“I was certainly surprised by it and disappointed by it,” McDonough said. “I think Eric’s a good person. I think he’s unfortunately gotten some bad advice and is listening to the wrong people. I think generally, any time you sign a contract, it doesn’t only work one way. It works both ways, and for a guy with years on his contract to say or intimate he didn’t want to be here anymore, I didn’t find that to be appropriate, and I think if he says he wants to be a leader, that’s the opposite of what a leader does and the opposite of what leadership is. So I think that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

Bledsoe and his representatives reportedly told the Suns before the season he wanted to be traded, the Suns are clearly rebuilding and he didn’t want to be part of that process. The Suns then started the season 0-3, getting outscored by 92 points in those games (they won the one game without Bledsoe).

What you think of Paul’s advice speaks to how you feel about whether a player should be able to force his way out of a bad situation. It’s obvious why McDonough hates it.

The second Bledsoe went public with his request, it put more pressure to get the deal done, but it also killed his trade value. Every team is going to lowball the Suns (not that Bledsoe cares, he is getting his wish to be moved). Phoenix is asking for a quality young player in the deal — for example, they asked the Knicks for Frank Ntilikina or Willy Hernangomez — and no team has been willing to go there, yet. Most likely, this deal gets done with a team that also wants to unload a big contract (Denver with Kenneth Faried, New Orleans with Omar Asik) and the Suns get either picks or a player to help their rebuild back. The Suns want to get this deal done, Bledsoe’s value only goes down as time goes on, but they have yet to find a trade they can stomach.

Reports: Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets among teams calling about Eric Bledsoe

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Eric Bledsoe is done with the Suns. His excuse that his “I Dont wanna be here” Tweet was about a hair salon is as believable as myself, Bruce Willis, and Andre Agassi Tweeting about our time in hair salons. The Suns have told him to go home, and they will work to trade him. Most likely, the Suns are going to get crushed in this deal — they have no leverage, Bledsoe is a free agent in less than two years (2019), plus most teams are not looking for another point guard. But he is being shopped, and he’d like to go to a winning team.

Where will Bledsoe get traded?

A few names have come up — the Knicks, Bucks, and Nuggets are the ones out in public now. There are more, but let’s take a look at those three.

The Knicks have one of the two worst backcourts in the NBA (the Bulls are in that mix, too) so they certainly could use Bledsoe short term. However, long term he doesn’t fit on the Kristaps Porzingis timeline so how much would New York give up to get him.

That price is too high, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

The Suns have asked about young Knicks such as Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez in trade talks about guard Eric Bledsoe, sources confirm. But New York have been opposed to trading either young player, sources told ESPN. Hernangomez has not been in head coach Jeff Hornacek’s regular rotation in the first two games of the season, which has left the second-year center frustrated. But Hernangomez’s lack of playing time isn’t a sign that the club is looking to move him. Ntilikina has dealt with several injuries early in his career but the point guard remains part of the young core New York wants to build around and management, as of Monday afternoon, did not want to move him in a Bledsoe deal.

Then there is Milwaukee.

On the court, this makes some sense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the point forward who has the ball in his hands, but Bledsoe is adept off the ball and can hit the three. The move would send Malcolm Brogdon back to the bench, which he may not like but is a good thing for a team looking to bolster its depth.

The trade likely would involve Jabari Parker going West, along with salary filler such as Matthew Dellavedova. Parker is coming off multiple injuries, but he still knows how to score inside and in the right system has value. Whether that system is in Phoenix depends on what kind of system they want to run and roster they want to build.

Then there is Denver.

Denver likes Jamal Murray at the point guard spot and is ready to move on from Emmanuel Mudiay, so there could be a point guard swap but with some more salary coming back to Phoenix (Denver likely would want to dump Kenneth Faried but the Suns will want something that helps them out more than that). This makes some sense as it gives the Suns a young point guard with some skills to try out, while the Nuggets get deeper at a spot of need.

Other deals are lurking (yes LeBron James and Bledsoe are tight, but that deal is a long shot), and the Suns rightfully are going to take the best deal they can find, regardless of whether Bledsoe wants to be there or not. The only questions are how fast do they get it done, and what are teams offering?

Nuggets hooked a big fish in Paul Millsap

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The Nuggets apparently didn’t see the exemplary move of their offseason coming.

They tried to trade Gary Harris and the No. 13 pick for Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love, but as Cleveland tells it, the Pacers backed out of the three-team trade. So, Denver traded down from No. 13 to No. 24, picking Tyler Lydon and acquiring Trey Lyles – two more power forwards to join a team that already had Juan Hernangomez, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur.

Finally, the Nuggets signed Paul Millsap – an upgrade over every power forward already on the roster and a better fit than Love – without surrendering any assets beyond cap space. And it wasn’t as much cap space as feared. Despite talk of a max contract, Millsap settled for $90 million over three years with a team option of the final season.

That’s a quite reasonable price for a potential franchise-changer.

Millsap isn’t Denver’s franchise player. That’s Nikola Jokic. But Millsap immediately elevates the Nuggets into a likely playoff team, and they got the 32-year-old without committing long-term.

After making Jokic a full-time start in December, Denver had the NBA’s best offensive rating (113.3). Better than the Warriors. Better than the Rockets. Better than the Cavaliers. Better than everyone else.

In that span, Jokic averaged 19.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game – marks hit over a full season by only Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Billy Cunningham and Kevin Garnett. That’s four Hall of Famers and a future Hall of Famer.

Still, the Nuggets finished just 40-42, a game out of playoff position. They had the NBA’s second-worst defense, and Jokic’s deficiencies were glaring. It’s just hard to hide a weak defensive center.

Millsap might do that, though. He’s one of the NBA’s best defensive forwards and even provides some rim protection. Importantly, he also spaces the floor on the other end, allowing Denver to still take full advantage of Jokic’s advanced offensive skills.

Typical development by a young core – which also includes Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – would have pushed the Nuggets forward. Millsap allows them to keep pace in a tough Western Conference that only loaded up this offseason.

Though well worth the complication, Millsap creates a crowd at power forward Denver has yet to address. At least there are plausible patches.

Faried can play center, though re-signing restricted free agent Mason Plumlee (whose $4,588,840 qualifying offer is outstanding) would reduce the playing time available there. Hernangomez can play small forward. Lydon might not be ready to play at all.

At some point, it’d be nice to get Hernangomez more minutes at his optimal position. He’s merely trying to tread water at small forward. As a stretch four who gets after rebounds, he could be a core piece.

For now, Millsap mans the power forward spot, and the Nuggets are better for it. Opening cap space for Millsap meant losing Danilo Gallinari in free agency, but Wilson Chandler and Will Barton are capable at small forward.

Denver’s sound drafting in recent years created a clean cap sheet, with several contributors locked into rookie-scale contracts – or, in Jokic’s case, an even smaller deal. The Nuggets could afford to splurge on a veteran who’d fast-track their ascension. Kudos to them for luring one – especially without a long-term guarantee.

Offseason grade: A

Report: Nuggets sign Paul Millsap to three-year, $90 million deal

AP
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The Denver Nuggets were fun last season, but I think they just got a lot more fun.

According to reports that were published on Sunday, the Nuggets signed Atlanta Hawks big man Paul Millsap to a three-year, $90 million deal.

The contract will pair Millsap along with Nikola Jokic in the Denver frontcourt, a combination that is no doubt going to be excellent at both passing and rebounding.

That’s without mentioning Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried, Mason Plumlee, Will Barton, and other young talent on the Denver roster.

Via Twitter:

Millsap joins Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Paul George as just some of the big names to move from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference in the first few days of free agency.

At age 32 Millsap will be one of the oldest players on the Nuggets roster, but he will allow them to compete in an increasingly difficult and competitive West.

Playing for the Hawks last season, Millsap averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per-game. He should add a much needed veteran presence as well as solidify that frontline for the Nuggets.

Denver might not be done just yet. It has been reported that the Los Angeles Clippers have been interested in getting Danilo Gallinari over to California, so they may just add another player via a sign-and-trade here soon enough.