Author: Kurt Helin

New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns

Report: Eric Bledsoe, Suns reach five-year, $70 million deal


In the end, it always made the most sense for Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns each to give a little and find some middle ground. Compromise should not be a dirty word. However, throughout the summer neither side would bend, at least publicly. The Suns stuck to their four-year $48 million offer and Bledsoe wanted five years at the max ($84 million).

But with pressure training camps about to open both sides got together and found the middle ground.

Phoenix threw in the fifth season and over the course of the deal bumped up the salary a couple million, Bledsoe came down on his max offer, And the two sides struck a deal, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

This seems a good deal for both sides — Bledsoe will get paid and the Suns lock up one of the best young guards in the NBA at a price (if he stays healthy) that will be fair. If you think that a $14 million a year average is too high remember the salary cap will make big jumps over the next several years with new television deal money coming in. This deal will look good in three years. Plus, Goran Dragic is a free agent for the Suns next season and while it’s not likely he bolts it is possible, now they still have an elite guard locked down.

This is also a big win for Bledsoe’s agent Rich Paul, who a number of fans (and some media) accused of making mistakes and being in over his head here. If you think he’s an amateur, you don’t know his whole story.

Bledsoe is an All-Star caliber guard — when healthy. Last season he averaged 17.7 points a game for the Suns with an impressive .578 true shooting percentage, plus he is a strong defender. The risk for the Suns is he hasn’t been healthy for a couple of seasons (he played 43 games again last season coming off knee surgery).

The Suns have Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and now Isaiah Thomas to play the point. Bledsoe can play some two, but that is a crowded and potentially very entertaining backcourt for Jeff Hornacek to figure out. Phoenix is one of the best training camp stories to watch this fall.

And now everyone in Phoenix should be happy.

Tim Duncan says Danny Ferry made a mistake, is not a racist

2014 NBA Finals - Game Four

There’s a steady refrain from the people who have worked with and know Hawks GM Danny Ferry — he made a big mistake but he’s not a racist.

You can add Tim Duncan to that chorus.

Ferry is currently on leave from the Atlanta Hawks organization following the backlash from a conference call with ownership were he paraphrased a scouting report on free agent Luol Deng that said he “has a little African in him” and used that as a synonym for being two faced. That led a lot of people to question Ferry, who has apologized multiple times.

Duncan said San Antonio sports radio ESPN 1250 that is not the Ferry he played with and knew from the Spurs organization (hat tip to Eye on Basketball).

Was this Duncan’s seemingly once annual radio appearance?

Even if it was a one-time thing, I’m not sure it can save Ferry’s job at this point (although it is all tied into the infighting and power grabs within the Hawks organization that has long held the franchise back).

The fact is that discussions are already with new potential majority owners of the team — currently lead owner Bruce Levenson (who had his own race issue in an email) and other minority owners will be selling enough to give someone majority control of the franchise — and that new person will need to make changes. That owner has to repair relationships with season ticket holders, sponsors and others around Atlanta. Can he really still do that with Ferry employed?

If you want to try and debate this was a one time mistake and that shouldn’t lead to a person getting fired you can make that case — Commissioner Adam Silver basically did. Doesn’t matter if other forces are overwhelming.

But it all falls in the hands of whoever becomes the new owner. Duncan can say what he thinks, but it’s not his call.

Phil Jackson again says Carmelo Anthony can thrive in triangle offense, but “the ball can’t stop”

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five

In his infamous conference call that ended up with Hawks GM Danny Ferry repeating some bigoted things that now has his job in jeopardy, he also talked about Carmelo Anthony. And pretty much hit the nail on the head.

“He can shoot the s—— out of it, but he screws you up in other ways. So is he really worth the $20 million? I would argue if he plays the right way, absolutely.”

Ferry’s comments are pretty much the norm on Anthony, and that includes talking about him in the Knicks new triangle offense.

Phil Jackson echoed the same ideas about ‘Melo in the triangle as part of a long Q&A with the New York Post.

Q: How and why will the triangle offense make Carmelo a better player?

A: It’ll give him opportunity to be a passer, a rebounder, and probably easier spots to score from than he’s had before. I think. I hope that’s true for a lot of the players….

And that’s where Carmelo’s gonna move forward this year in that situation — the ball can’t stop. The ball has to continually move. It moves, or goes to the hoop on a shot or a drive or something like that. In our offense, that’s part of the process of getting players to play in that rhythm.

When put in settings like the Olympic teams (he’s played in three, has two golds) Anthony has played within that kind of role and moved the ball. He trusted his teammates — but it’s easy to trust Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and players of that level. Can he trust Jose Calderon and J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire the same way?

The Knicks roster is a work in progress and a lot of triangle-friendly players need to be added. But ‘Melo is the key — he has to buy in, he has to play the right way, he has to be the change he wants to see. If ‘Melo says “screw this, I’m just taking over the game” he’s back to the situation that had him thinking about getting out of town this summer.

It drove Mike D’Antoni crazy how the ball movement stopped with ‘Melo touched the rock. We’ll see is Jackson and Derek Fisher can get through to him in a different way.

Jeff Van Gundy says brother Stan, Pistons will not make playoffs

Detroit Pistons Introduce Stan Van Gundy

It’s hard to rule teams out of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference — 38 wins got the eight seed last season and even in an improved conference a team hanging around .500 will have a legitimate shot (if not make it). There are only a couple of teams in the East that really have no shot at that goal (hello Philly!).

Jeff Van Gundy says his brother Stan and the Pistons are one of those teams. They have no shot

Jeff, the former NBA coach and long-time ABC analyst, was on SiriusXM NBA Radio Wednesday morning with hosts Frank Isola and Stacey King and said the Pistons (with Stan Van Gundy as coach and team president) had no shot at the postseason.

“Listen, they have a long rebuild. I think for the last five years Detroit has had the worst record in the Eastern Conference. And you think about that, that’s hard to do because a lot of the teams in the Eastern Conference over the last five years were trying to lose games. So, I mean, it’s a major rebuild. It’s a huge undertaking. I think they’ll be better. I don’t know what that translates to win-wise. I think they’ll be better but a lot depends on some of their perimeter play, how their frontcourt is going to mesh. I doubt you’re going to see the Josh Smith at small forward experiment very often. That was their starting lineup last year with Smith and [Greg] Monroe and [Andre] Drummond. I doubt you’re going to see that because you just don’t have any spacing or shooting on the floor. I’m interested to see how they play. I think there are a lot of things that they’ve got to correct and I think they are working hard at it but I just don’t see how they could make the playoffs.”

There is a lot of truth there. The Pistons have a serious rebuild ahead of them. Josh Smith playing the three is a terrible idea. Detroit’s inability to space the floor was a serious issue last year.

But I think there are things going right for Detroit that will make them a potential playoff team in the East. First, Andre Drummond is going to blossom coming out of those Team USA FIBA World Cup practices and I trust SVG will use him more wisely than the last regime. Greg Monroe is playing to get paid. The Pistons added Jodie Meeks and Caron Butler which should give them improved perimeter shooting and spacing. However the biggest thing to me is Stan Van Gundy will improve the Pistons’ defense, which was bottom 10 last year.

Is all of that enough to get them 12 more wins and up to about .500? Pretty close I think. Detroit may or may not make the playoffs but I think they are in the hunt for one of the last couple spots in the East. That’s a good first step after the past few years.

Dwight Howard with off-the-wall dunk (VIDEO)

dwight howard dunk contest

Don’t forget that Dwight Howard not only won the dunk contest back in 2008 he basically revitalized the event. That setting of putting on a show and getting a boost from being goofy was a perfect setting for him. He thrived.

And he can dunk.

As we get to see on Instagram. In slo-mo.