Eric Bledsoe
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Bucks GM Jon Horst: ‘We are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe’

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The Bucks have shown trust in Eric Bledsoe at every turn.

They traded for him when he put himself on the block, supplanting reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon at point guard, in 2017. Milwaukee gave Bledsoe a four-year, $70 million contract extension last year. Then, with the promising Brogdon looking to return to point guard, the Bucks signed-and-traded him to the Pacers, allowing Bledsoe to keep his role.

So, with Bledsoe trade rumors emerging, Milwaukee shot them down.

Hard.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst, via Bleacher Report:

“We have no talked to any teams about trading [Bledsoe], since the day that we traded for him,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “And I think it’s evident, pretty strongly, in the fact that we extended Eric, what he means to us. The fact that we currently have the best record in the NBA, had the best record last year in the NBA, he’s an All-NBA First Team defender and a guy that we feel strongly should be an All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks this year. We have not had those conversations, and we are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe.”

I believe Horst. He didn’t have to go such lengths to deny the rumors. But Horst knows how much he values Bledsoe and how the market looks. Horst is positioned to follow his own decree.

“We are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe” is unequivocal. I doubt Horst is callous enough to trade Bledsoe after that. If dealing Bledsoe after this upset him, that’d be another team’s problem. But reneging would be such a quick way to erode trust with the remaining Bucks.

Few point guards would be an upgrade over Bledsoe, though Milwaukee does have valuable backup George Hill and could theoretically move Bledsoe for help at another position. I wouldn’t be surprised if Horst canvassed the teams with better point guards and issued this statement only after determining there’s no workable trade. (My favorite target for the Bucks was Chris Paul.)

Bledsoe has excelled this season, and he fits well in Milwaukee. He shouldn’t be an All-Star, but he at least warrants real consideration. He’s a good starter on the NBA’s best team right now.

However, the Bucks are ready to aim higher than regular-season success.

Bledsoe has struggled the last two postseasons. He did more defensively last year to compensate for his lackluster shooting, but he was still a liability. Maybe that’s just a small, unrepresentative sample. Or maybe there’s something about playoff basketball that really hinders Bledsoe.

The Bucks – facing significant pressure this season – are taking a big risk sticking with Bledsoe. The 2020 NBA championship and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future in Milwaukee could swing on this decision.

As long as they’re going this direction, the Bucks are expressing their confidence in Bledsoe loud and clear.

Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

Bulls guard Coby White vs. Hawks
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The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus

Jaren Jackson torn meniscus
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Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 22 points and was the best Grizzlies player against the Pelicans on Monday night, showing off his athleticism and touch from three.

He also tore the meniscus in his left knee during the game, the Grizzlies announced Tuesday.

Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.

This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.

Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.

First, Jackson has to get healthy.

Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers

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Devin Booker is a serious problem.

The Suns All-Star guard scored his 34th and 35th points of the night on a turnaround game-winner at the buzzer= over Paul George — who defended him well. He called game.

Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.

Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.

The bubble Suns are now 3-0.

As 19-point underdogs, Nets top Bucks in biggest NBA upset since 1993

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nets big Donta Hall
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The Nets looked like one of NBA’s the worst continuing teams. They were underwhelming during the regular season, and their roster was decimated entering seeding games. Brooklyn had even more absences against the Bucks today.

No Caris LeVert. No Joe Harris. No Jarrett Allen.

But despite entering the game as 19-point underdogs, the Nets upset the Bucks, 119-116.

David Purdum of ESPN:

Obviously, Milwaukee is way better than Brooklyn overall. But the Bucks didn’t have much incentive to chase a victory. They’ve already all but clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Starters Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews didn’t play. Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half.

That created an opening for the Nets, who blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead then rallied to win.

What they lacked in talent, both teams made up for in effort – and feistiness.

Antetokounmpo was restrained from Brooklyn big Donta Hall after getting knocked down during a second-quarter tussle for a rebound:

That stood out in an eventful game for the Nets.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led Brooklyn with 26 points. Jamal Crawford looked assertive early, but he left the game with a hamstring injury. And Jacque Vaughn got what could be considered a signature victory if the Nets were already favoring keeping him as coach.

Should anyone overreact to a game played under these conditions? No. But for a Brooklyn team overmatched in the bubble, this was at least a feel-good – and historic – moment.