Willy Hernangomez

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Knicks reiterate they won’t trade parts of young core for Eric Bledsoe

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There has been much speculation about the landing spot for Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe after he publicly tweeted that he no longer wanted to be in Phoenix. Or was it that he didn’t want to be in a hair salon? It’s hard to tell.

Whatever leverage the Suns may have had in the past is now gone with Bledsoe’s intentions apparently being made clear. That hasn’t stopped Phoenix from asking a king’s ransom for the star point guard, a sum that has taken aback many interested suitors.

One potential landing place for Bledsoe that makes sense is the New York Knicks. The team has previously been linked with Bledsoe. Phoenix tried to offer the PG up for the No. 4 pick in 2015, which New York used on Kristaps Porzingis. They were also linked to him this summer as they searched for a replacement for Derrick Rose.

Indeed, New York was one of the teams to reach out to the Suns after Bledsoe’s tweet. Phoenix, in turn, apparently asked for Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez, which the Knicks rebuffed. New York has said they are committed to their young players, something that president Steve Mills reiterated on Sunday morning.

According to Mills, New York is not interested in giving up Ntilikina or Hernangomez in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and the final $29 million of his contract, even if the pairing with Porzingis would likely be better than any offensive attack the Knicks have mounted since 2013-14.

This could be posturing on the part of New York — Ntilikina and Hernangomez are obviously nowhere near the contributors Bledsoe is — but it makes sense as teams try to internally and externally negotiate for Bledsoe with Phoenix. This is perhaps the most interesting part of a trade during the regular season, as what teams reportedly will and won’t do can get pretty hilarious and transparent.

Meanwhile, Bledsoe is not with the team. Phoenix lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, 114-107, and Bledsoe did not play.

Report: Teams ‘taken aback’ by Suns’ asking price for Eric Bledsoe

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The Suns have talked Eric Bledsoe trades with the Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets and others.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

In the initial conversations that the Suns had with teams yesterday – teams like the Bucks and the Nuggets and the Knicks and the Clippers are some of the teams that they’ve talked to – their asking price was very high. Some of the team that I’ve talked to were taken aback by what the Suns asked for.

If they’re going to keep their asking price very high – which is usually, in some of these talks, a young player and a draft pick or a young player and an established player – they may have to wait a while for the market to play out.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, via Arizona Sports 98.7 FM:

 We’ve gotten some pretty good offers, especially in the last 24 hours or so. We’re comfortable with the offers we’re getting. There are a few teams in particular that are being pretty aggressive. Contrary to what you might have heard or read, there is a strong market for Eric Bledsoe.

I think we heard from all 29 teams at this point.

Both sides are obviously trying to spin the situation in their favor. The Suns want to portray a robust competition for Bledsoe, driving up their return. Other teams want to paint Phoenix as unreasonable and get McDonough to lower his asking price.

We’ll see which side has more success, but McDonough sure didn’t help himself by treating Bledsoe like a cancer who needed to be excised before he infected the rest of the team and calling Bledsoe a liar. I’m not convinced the Suns properly understood Bledsoe’s trade value before sending home. There are few teams trying to win now that would also receive an upgrade at point guard with Bledsoe (let alone have the appropriate assets to send Phoenix, too). McDonough’s handling of the situation only hurt the Suns’ leverage further.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with a high initial asking price. Maybe it gets met. At minimum, it can anchor negotiations in Phoenix’s favor.

The Suns will probably have to lower their requests from packages like Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez, but there’s still time. Phoenix isn’t trying to win this season, anyway. Bledsoe can sit on the shelf for a while.

Of course, potential trade partners will want as much time with Bledsoe as possible. So, in that sense, his value depreciates by the day.

In the end, there will probably be a compromise, and Bledsoe will get traded. This angling is an early step.

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?

What happened to Willy Hernangomez’s minutes with Knicks?

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When talking about the Knicks’ young core going forward, Willy Hernangomez was one of the names that got mentioned by the front office (alongside players such asFrank Ntilikina and Tim Hardaway Jr.). The Knicks are crowded at the center spot — Enes Kanter got the start in the opener Thursday night, and Kristaps Porzingis should get minutes there (it’s ultimately going to be his NBA position), and this isn’t even mentioning Joakim Noah — but Hernangomez looked like a developing young player who needed some run.

He got just 3:46 minutes in the opener, and that was during fourth quarter garbage time. Kyle O'Quinn got nearly 22 off the bench at the five. That follows a preseason where Hernangomez saw his minutes drop seemingly game-to-game.

What gives? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News asked the same question.

“We have a lot of bigs,” Hornacek said. “(O’Quinn) and Enes earned the minutes in training camp. Willy’s not far behind. He’s got to keep working. When you got that many bigs, you can’t play them all. The other guys earned the minutes. I told all three of them it doesn’t matter if you’re in the rotation or out of rotation. If you’re in it, you’ve got to earn it to keep it.”

“I can score. It’s not difficult for me. I think the coach wants to see my effort on defense. That’s why I have to keep working hard everyday,” said Hernangomez, who is also Kristaps Porzingis’ best friend on the Knicks.

Without question, Hernangomez needs to work on his defense, but then again this is a Knicks team starting Kanter so it’s obviously not a requirement.

Hornacek needs to find a balance here — it’s early in the season, he wants to win games, he wants to put his best foot forward. But the Knicks are not a playoff team this season, and they are in the player development business. That means Hernangomez — as well as rookie point guard Ntilikina — need to get minutes, need to be thrown to the wolves a little, and need to learn from their mistakes. Hornacek needs to be coaching for a few years down the line… the problem is he knows he may not have this job that far down the line, so he’s coaching to get wins now.