Kurt Helin

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) grabs his leg after falling to the floor in the first half after being injured in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, in Phoenix. (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGAZINES OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT

Suns’ Eric Bledsoe has torn meniscus, will require surgery

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We have been telling you it wasn’t good since Eric Bledsoe collapsed to the court and was grabbing his knee, then had to be helped off the court. The Suns called it a sprain at first, but it always seemed worse than that.

It is — a torn meniscus that will require surgery, something first reported by Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic, and later confirmed by the team. From Coro:

An awful Suns basketball night turned worse after the Suns learned that leading scorer and playmaker Eric Bledsoe suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee during Saturday night’s home loss to Philadelphia, according to sources. The injury is expected to require surgery that could sideline Bledsoe for several weeks or longer.

Several weeks is kind; it is expected Bledsoe will be out until after the All-Star Game in February.

It adds to the chaos around a team where coach Jeff Hornacek’s job is reportedly in danger, where management is interviewing players to see what is going on in the locker room, and forward Markeiff Morris threw a towel at the coach and now pops up in trade rumors.

Bledsoe is also the primary playmaker and leading scorer at 20.4 points per game. Without him — and considering all the other issues around the team — making the playoffs in the West will be a challenge. Especially without Bledsoe.

Spurs’ Tony Parker on Boris Diaw’s lack of rest: ”Pop wants him to lose weight”

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 20:  Tony Parker #9 and Boris Diaw #33 of the San Antonio Spurs talk during a break in the action against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on January 20, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Spurs defeated the Nuggets 109-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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It’s a joke, people. Every team has guys talking trash and making jokes at each other’s expense once the media is out of the locker room. But the Spurs have no fear poking fun at each other through the media.

The latest was a little back-and-forth between Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. The topic was the Spurs rest, and how 33-year-old Diaw rarely gets any the way Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili do. From the Associated Press (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

”I think it’s because Pop wants him to lose weight,” Parker said about his friend and fellow Frenchman. ”But I have to give credit to Bobo though he’s been playing very well and been taking care of his body. He’s looking good and he played great tonight.”

Diaw sees his lack of rest differently.

”Why would I? I’m so young,” he said. ”I’m same age as Tony, but I don’t age as much as much as they do. I stay young.”

Diaw’s weight has been an issue as long as he’s been in the NBA, but he has been more committed to conditioning since arriving in San Antonio. Also, remember that Parker and Diaw are both French, grew up playing together on national teams and the like, and are good friends. This is just guys being guys.

And the Spurs being the Spurs.

Jazz guard Alec Burks out indefinitely with fractured fibula

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Alec Burks #10 of the Utah Jazz dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during their NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on December 23, 2015 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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It looked bad when it happened (you can see the video below). Utah’s Alec Burks attacked the rim, Paul Pierce rotated over and fouled him, and Burks landed awkwardly.

It is bad — Burks has a fractured fibula and is out indefinitely, the team announced Sunday. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports says Burks will be out at least six weeks. From the team’s official press release:

Following today’s examination, Jazz physicians Dr. Travis Maak and Dr. David Petron confirmed that Burks suffered a fractured left fibula. Burks was also previously diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms by the Jazz medical staff…. No surgery is required and Burks will remain out indefinitely.

Burks joins point guard Dante Exum (ACL injury, out for the season) and Rudy Gobert (knee injury) as key Jazz players to be sidelined for extended stretches due to injury. None of that was pretty, but Burks was hard to watch.

The Jazz at 12-16 are still battling for a playoff spot in a down bottom of the Western Conference, but this will be a setback (however it does not end their chances entirely). Burks had played in every Jazz game this season averaging 14.3 points a contest (third on the team) and shooting 38.7 percent from three. Burks being out means more Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles at the two spot. Utah will need their depth to step up if they are going to hold on to the eight seed.

Report: Suns’ Eric Bledsoe may be out until All-Star break with knee injury

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, center, is helped off the court after being injured in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, in Phoenix. (David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via AP) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGAZINES OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Non-contact knee injuries are always the scariest.

That’s what happened to the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe Saturday night against Philadelphia, and he was moving across the court to cover his man and just went down.

While the Suns officially called it a sprained knee after the game, the rumors have been it is more than that, more likely it’s a meniscus injury. Brian Windhorst of ESPN has the lastest rumor (we are still awaiting an official announcement from the Suns).

Combine this with coach Jeff Hornacek’s job being in jeopardy trade rumors swirling around this team, and some internal dissension, the Suns’ playoff chances are setting. (although with the weak bottom of the West they may not fall out of contention).

Bledsoe leads the Suns averaging 20.4 points per game, he has an above-average true shooting percentage of 55.7 percent, he dishes out 6.1 assists per game, he hits the three, and his PER of 20.9 is the kind of number you expect of an All-Star. That is production the Suns cannot easily replace.

Report: Suns’ coach Jeff Hornacek’s job in jeopardy after slide

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29:  Head Coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns looks on during an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on November 29, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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UPDATE 4:31 ET: When the owner and GM are talking to players to see what the problems are, that rarely bodes well for the coach. Welcome to Jeff Hornacek’s world. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough held individual meetings with Suns players on Sunday, trying to gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the team’s spiral, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

We will see where this leads over the next 48 hours. But a coaching change is not going to change the fortunes of this banged-up, mismatched roster in the short term.

3:04 ET: Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver doesn’t believe in tanking, in being bad to get good, he expects a rebuild on the fly and the Suns to be a playoff team. Which the Suns haven’t been for five seasons, tying a franchise-record drought (dating back to the 1970s when this was a young franchise).

Now with the Suns have lost four in a row, have players throwing towels at their coach, won just 3-of-10, and are sliding out of playoff contention. With all that coach Jeff Hornacek finds himself on the hot seat, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Phoenix Suns’ 5-15 nosedive, which included a home loss Saturday night to the Philadelphia 76ers, has put the job of coach Jeff Hornacek under immediate threat, league sources told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Suns have been forced to contemplate a coaching change far sooner than they hoped to because of a slide that has dropped them to 12-20 and 11th in the Western Conference, with fears growing within the organization that the team is no longer responding to Hornacek.

Players throwing towels at their coach is a sign of a lost locker room, although said player is not exactly the easiest guy to deal with around the league. Rumors about Hornacek’s stability had been circulating since the Suns chose not to pick up his option for the 2016-17 season this summer, making him a lame duck coach in his final guaranteed year.

Any coach who takes over for Hornacek right now will struggle to turn anything around this season. The key reason is the Suns likely will be without leading scorer Eric Bledsoe for an extended period after he suffered a non-contact knee injury Saturday (there is no official report yet of how long he will be out, but reports are it will be a while). Combine that with the fact Tyson Chandler isn’t the player they thought they were getting, Markeiff Morris isn’t playing as well as expected, and the trade rumors swirling around this team. That said, in a down bottom of the Western Conference the Suns remain just a couple games out of the playoffs.

Hornacek surprised everyone by winning 48 games his first season in Phoenix, doing it with a team most expected to be near the bottom of the league (that season 48 wins was not enough to make the playoffs in the West). However, that season may have set expectations too high that this team was farther along the rebuilding path than it was, and the past two seasons have shown that. Since the strong season, the Suns have switched the guard combo to Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, made a big move for Chandler on the back end of his career, and seen other free agent moves not pan out. Rather than a slow rebuild, this has been a push to playoffs not worrying about the ceiling.