Suns GM says team will pay Eric Bledsoe ‘whatever it takes’ to keep him in free agency

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The Suns have been one of the most positive surprises of the first two months of the season, getting out to a 19-11 start after trading away players for reasons that initially appeared to be geared more towards salary cap relief and rebuilding for the future than they were meant to help the team win this season.

But a new head coach and consistent contributions from guys like Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green that no one saw coming has Phoenix legitimately in place to make the playoffs in a year that was supposed to be a lost cause.

Eric Bledsoe, who the Suns acquired in the offseason, wasn’t exactly as unheralded as those other guys. Many believed Bledsoe would produce the way he has, but he had yet to do it consistently since he was stuck in a backup role behind Chris Paul in Los Angeles.

Now that Bledsoe is showing he can be productive as a starter with averages of 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 33.5 minutes per contest, Suns GM Ryan McDonough isn’t planning on letting him get away next summer when he enters free agency.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

“Obviously we don’t have a whole lot of money committed for the future, we don’t have a lot of long-term contracts on our books. So we’ll have no problem stepping up and paying Eric whatever it takes to keep him.”

Whatever it takes?

“Correct,” McDonough said. “Any reasonable offer.

“We have some advantages. We’re able to give him another year, five instead of four if we choose. We’re able to give him higher-percentage increases than other teams too. And then if another team does make an offer, we can always match that. So we feel like we’re holding the cards with Eric, and more importantly, I think Eric’s had a good experience here so far. He’s played well and the team has played fairly well. I think he kind of likes what we’re doing.”

Phoenix had nothing whatsoever to lose at the time they traded for Bledsoe; many teams coveted him in a deal, but it was the Suns who were the aggressors, and sought out the Bucks and the asset they possessed in J.J. Redick to put the three-team trade into place.

Giving up only Jared Dudley, who is a great teammate and glue guy that would be better suited playing for a contender than a team starting over, along with a second round pick for Bledsoe was a no-brainer, and about as low-risk of a trade as possible. Bledsoe came cheaply for this season while playing out the final year of his rookie contract, and if he didn’t work out for whatever reason, the Suns could simply have let him walk in free agency once the year was finished.

Since Bledsoe has met the Suns’ expectations, however, Phoenix will make him a qualifying offer to retain his rights as a restricted free agent. And by the looks of things, they’ll lock up Bledsoe on a long-term deal, likely near the max, when the time comes.

Reports: Nick Nurse to become Canadian national team head coach

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Nick Nurse got the Toronto Raptors to their first ever NBA Finals appearance. The Raptors beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night. Already a budding Legend in Canada, it appears that Nurse is going to increase his sway in Ontario.

According to multiple reports, Nurse will become the head coach of the Canadian men’s national basketball team. He will also hold executive duties for that organization.

And the kicker? Nurse will also apparently have more involvement and interaction with Drake’s brand OVO.

Via Twitter:

Everything is coming up roses for Nurse. If he can eat some tape and figure out a way to slow down the Warriors the way he did with Antetokounmpo, he might just be able to give the two-time defending champions a run for their money.

Report: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert hospitalized after possible stroke

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Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has reportedly suffered a stroke but is resting comfortably in the care of medical professionals.

According to the Detroit News, Gilbert was hospitalized on Sunday morning after evidencing stroke-like symptoms. His current condition is not known, but his company released a statement saying his family was seeking privacy.

Via Detroit News:

“He received immediate medical attention and is currently recovering comfortably,” said a statement issued by the Quicken Loans family of companies following inquiries from The News. “Our collective thoughts and prayers are with Dan for a speedy recovery.”

Details of his diagnosis and prognosis were not released; the family requested privacy.

Gilbert, 57, is the founder of Quicken Loans and the majority owner of the Cavs. He was scheduled to speak on Wednesday at a conference on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. It’s unclear if Gilbert will be keeping that appearance date as we don’t yet know the severity of his injuries.

The often-bombastic Cavaliers owner has made waves over the years, most recognizably with his Comic Sans letter. Recently, Gilbert said that he felt the Kyrie Irving trade was a winner for his team, and that Irving was likely to leave the Boston Celtics.

Gilbert has owned the Cavs since 2005.

Report: Raptors could get OG Anunoby back during Finals

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The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.

Via Twitter:

Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.

We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.

That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.

Drake gave Nick Nurse another shoulder rub (VIDEO)

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People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.

There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.

Via Twitter:

Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.