Local sportscaster on Fox, Jude LaCava, dropped a bombshell yesterday on FoxSports910 - the Suns have shifted into "deal" mode with point guard Eric Bledsoe.
"I'll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it's reported," Jude LaCava said on Tuesday, "I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe."
"That's the new chapter to this and I wouldn't back off of that information. I think it's 100% correct."
Any objective person would agree with LaCava that the Suns have been open to trade possibilities on Eric Bledsoe since the day he was acquired. In fact, the Suns should have been open to trade possibilities on the entire roster in that time as well.
When you are a rebuilding team, you need to keep building. You can't ever sit tight, overpay to keep and think you're going to continue to improve.
"I think it's safe to say 'open for business'," LaCava said. "The decision makers, [managing partner Robert] Sarver and [PBO Lon] Babby and hopefully Ryan McDonough, they are open to that possibility. It's got to be right. It's got to be the right return in what they are looking for.
"It's to the point that if they can accommodate Bledsoe and get something they want in return, trade possibilities are very, very real and they have been discussed."
The most important thing here is that the Suns need to "trade up" with Bledsoe. There's no dumping him for prospects and draft picks. The Suns still have Bogdan Bogdanovic waiting overseas, four first rounders not old enough to drink alcohol on the roster and four more first round picks in the next two years coming to the team. The Suns don't need future draft picks.
What the Suns do need is a power forward around whom to build. Is that a player like Paul Millsap? Considering he's only got one year left on his contract, I'd say no. At least, as the centerpiece.
So who? I have no idea.
LaCava rightly says that this is still a lottery team. The Suns need to improve, not regress. Losing Bledsoe without getting equal or better value in return would be a step back, and the Suns can't afford to do that. Not now. If the Suns can't find something better, they will stay with Bledsoe even if it's on the qualifying offer.
Where the conversation derailed is when LaCava absolved Ryan McDonough of any wrongdoing in the strained relationship with Bledsoe, pinning all problems on incumbents Robert Sarver and Lon Babby.
"That's where the relationship went south in the early weeks last year," LaCava said. "The guys at the top made a decision that we're not going to extend you right away, we want to see you play first. And I think that was a bit of an affront, at least from Eric Bledsoe's perspective. And I don't think it ever recovered after that."
Rumors went around to that effect, I guess, if you considered Bledsoe a max player last summer. Remember, it was Bledsoe who showed no sign of taking a discount off his desired price. Rumors floated that Bledsoe wanted max money a year ago, and that the Suns - as LaCava said - wanted to see him play first. The Suns reportedly offered something south of 8 figures per year (under $10 million), but Bledsoe wouldn't bite.
Was that an affront to Bledsoe? Maybe. Should it have been? No. Bledsoe had never, ever played full time as a point guard since high school. He was entering his fourth year with a career scoring average under 8 points per game. Is that a max player? No.
But LaCava felt that the Suns missed a golden opportunity there.
"If you have a plan, you have to execute that plan. If you're going to go after a particular player in a trade or free agency, you have to close and commit. I'm not blaming one side or the other."
This final exchange was the worst, at least to me.
Question from radio jockey: If Ryan McDonough was able to negotiate unilaterally with Eric Bledsoe, do you think he would already be re-signed by the Suns?
"Yes I do," LaCava responded without hesitation. "I think if Ryan had his way, it would have been done last fall. That's just a hunch. The three greatest assets to this organization right now are Ryan McDonough, Jeff Hornacek and Goran Dragic. I do believe that in a perfect world that Ryan McDonough would have found a way to get this done last fall."
Sure the Suns relationship with Bledsoe is not a great one. Yet, who exactly is to blame here?
The Suns rightly didn't want to commit to the max last fall to Bledsoe. That's a smart decision.
The Suns treated Bledsoe with respect when he got hurt, never once pushing him to return sooner than he wanted to return. Bledsoe missed half the season while the Suns treaded water on the edge of a playoff berth.
And then when free agency started, the Suns wanted to get a deal done but it's been nothing but silence since a $12-million-per-year offer was put on the table. Bledsoe still wants max, and thinks a half-year of starting is all he needed to prove it.
Look, if this relationship doesn't work out then that's a shame. It's bad for Bledsoe, and bad for the Suns.
Bledsoe will be hard-pressed to find a better place in the NBA than running Hornacek's system that helped him succeed. He will be hard-pressed being the only playmaker in a traditional offense.
The Suns, on the other hand, will be a much worse team without Bledsoe. A starting back court of Thomas and Dragic is lot less scary than Bledsoe and Dragic, with Thomas off the bench.
If the Suns make a trade, it will be to trade up. Otherwise, we might just see one more year of Bledsoe followed by a teeth-gnashing, fingernail-biting summer of both Dragic and Bledsoe on the open market in July.
The Phoenix Suns are flush with point guards, considered by far the strength of the team. Yet none of them are projected to be in the league's Top 10 point guards for the 2014-15 season.
Bradford Doolittle, an analyst for ESPN, used some projections of the WARP (wins above replacement player) to tell us who the Top 10 point guards for the 2014-15 season will be.
None of those Top 10 include any of the Suns three luminaries at a position considered the Suns' biggest strength.
Listed in the Top 10, in terms of projected WARP:
So, the Phoenix Suns point guards all rank somewhere between 11 and 22 among NBA point guards. Anyone else think that's crazy low?
Last year, the Suns' three point guards were 3 of only 10 point guards in the NBA to average at least 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Going even further on how good these guys were last season, just using raw, simple stats:
And these guys can't even sniff Top 10 for the 2014-15 season when listing only point guards, huh?
Here's a quick explanation of where this guy was coming from on the list:
20 of next season's top 50 players by projected WARP are point guards. Championship trends aside, it's a point guard's league.
Starting Monday with point guards, over the next week we'll rank players by position according to forecast WARP, which is perfect for this kind of exercise because it accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context. This also means that injury and age played a part in the rankings, so notable veteran point guards who suffered injuries last season, like Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, are absent from the top 10.