Suns owner Robert Sarver on Eric Bledsoe: “We think it’s a fair offer”

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Eric Bledsoe is in a tough spot.

He wants a max extension — five years, $80 million — but the Phoenix Suns’ offer on the table is four years, $48 million. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent so any team could make and offer and force the Suns to match or let him go, but the feeling around the league was the Suns would just match so why offer and tie up your money for a few days while other guys keep signing?. Because of that no other offer came, Bledsoe never had the leverage he needed.

The two sides are at an impasse, their relationship is reportedly strained, but Suns owner Robert Sarver didn’t sound like a guy about to budge speaking to Andrew Gilstrap of ArizonaSports.com.

“We think it’s a fair offer. I think you could argue, you know, I mean some would say it’s maybe a little high; some would say it’s low,” the owner said. “What’s fair is important to us, and also important to him — him and his agent. It’s not necessarily us to determine what he thinks is fair; it’s him to determine that.”

About that strained relationship, the owner doesn’t see it.

“I think Eric’s a great guy. And he’ll be happy here when he gets here, whether that’s for one year or for four years or five years,” he said. “I think his agent’s trying to do the best job he can, too. And I have a pretty good relationship with his agent. It’s just part of the process. I wish it would have been resolved earlier, but it is what it is.”

First off, it was floated in this article and has been by some that Bledsoe’s agent, Rich Paul, was in over his head here. That’s a load of crap. For example No. 1, how much better did his main client LeBron James handle that move with Paul guiding him? Paul is not inexperienced, he’s worked for major agencies and gets how the contract game is played. His problem was no other team wanted to make an offer because the Suns would just match. No agent could fix that. (Now the only team with the cap space to make that kind of offer is the Sixers and they are not interested.)

The problem for Bledsoe is he comes to an agreement with the Suns now or he can play one year at the qualifying offer of $3.7 million and then be an unrestricted free agent. That’s a huge amount of risk that can be blown up by a freak injury or a host of other things.

Eric Bledsoe is in a tough spot.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.