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A few years ago, ValleyoftheSuns founder Michael Schwartz got as close as anyone has in trying to understand how the Phoenix Suns’ training staff prevents injury. Head athletic trainer Aaron...

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Here we are again, on our own. Going down all the dumb topics we've ever known. Bright Side After Dark - Episode 6. Catch the fever - its communicable

Good afternoon! Good evening!  Good Morning!

I know you haven't had your fill of Scott Howard or Sreekar just just - and while you've almost certainly had your fill of the Grinchy Bryan Gibberman well hey I'm sorry and I'll do my best to make it up to you.

On this episode of Bright Side After Dark the guys talk about Sreekar's twitter recruitment of Eric Bledsoe (which leads to a delightful interactive game for all of you), the use of half-quotes to create unnecessary panic, which NBA teams had the best offseasons, our thoughts on the failure of the League of Nations, and a dramatic reading of How the McGrinch Cut Christmas.  There's definitely other stuff in there too but you've just got to listen and find out.

As per usual - here are a few listener testimonials for you:

@sreekyshooter @Gibberman10 @ScottHoward42 It felt just like being trapped in a car with 3 Suns nerds who love-to-hate-to-love each other.

— Mike Lisboa (@MikeLisboa) July 22, 2014

Oddly fascinating #BrightsideAfterDark

— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) July 22, 2014

@DaveKingNBA #brightsideafterdark is the podcast equivalent of sharknado

— Jack Kolbe (@JackKolbe) July 22, 2014

Work is always so much better with a little BSAD. Big shout out to @sreekyshooter @ScottHoward42 and @Gibberman10 . Love the fetus talk

— Daniel Shoch (@shochme) July 22, 2014

If you want to hear Gibby mispronounce the word "queue" and play the interactive Sreekar Twitter game, listen here:

Listen To Basketball Internet Radio Stations with Bright Side After Dark on BlogTalkRadio

According to noted player development coach David Thorpe, who also writes for ESPN, Suns rookie T.J. Warren showed enough skills to make him the draft's best offensive player.

There are varying opinions on T.J. Warren's viability in the NBA, given that he's not a supreme athlete and among the typical NBA players he will pale in comparison.

But Warren is unique to many NBA players in terms of body control and ability to create shots where none exists. It's good when nationally renowned player development coaches feel the same way, as does David Thorpe, the Executive Director of Pro Training Center.

The Suns definitely put Warren in position to show well in Vegas, and Warren delivered. Warren scored 17.8 points per game over 5 games in SL, numbers depressed by a 7-minute stint in game two (stitches) and a poor final game where he was forced to play center.

"He's got a knack for scoring," coach Mike Longabardi said before SL started. "A knack for cutting and moving without the ball. We want to utilize that. We want him to play to his strengths. He's going to have to improve his shooting, which he works on. We've got to just try to exploit mismatches and put him in position to be successful."

The biggest knock on T.J. Warren these days is the lack of opportunity he will see next year for a very good Phoenix Suns team.

P.J. Tucker is the starter at small forward, and Marcus Morris is a proven backup. Tucker is the heart and soul of the Suns, producing in unconventional ways but doing so many good things it's tough to sit him down. On just 20 minutes a game, Morris produced 10 points and 4 rebounds (by comparison, Anthony Tolliver put up 6 and 3 in as many minutes in Charlotte).

Barring a trade, where will Warren see his minutes?

And even in the wake of a trade to put Warren in the top 2 of a small forward depth chart, are the Suns really better off playing a soon-to-be 21 year old rookie who needs to learn to play D ahead of two proven SFs returning from last year?

Warren was impressive in Summer League, and is a wonderful insurance policy in case of injury or free agency (next year, Morris is an RFA) or trade.

Let's commend the Suns front office for bringing in a high-upside talent at what is generally a deep position. It's the same mentality that they used to double down at the point guard spot, finding two better talents than last year's #3 point guard, Ish Smith.

In fact, the Suns have a high-upside kid at 4 of 5 positions: C Alex Len (21 all season), SF Warren (21), SG Archie Goodwin (20) and PG Tyler Ennis (20). The only position the Suns still lack a "future" player is at PF.

The here-and-now is bright for the 48 win Suns, but the future is bright as well. McBabbacek is really doing their job.

There is still plenty of time for Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns to reach an amicable agreement on Bledsoe's contract, but both sides appear dug into their current positions. Bledsoe made his first public statement on the ongoing negotiations today, and his words tell the story of a man who hates the game, not the player.

Eric Bledsoe doesn't have the most gregarious, dynamic personality, so it's no surprise he had said nothing as his contract negotiations entered their fourth week. He broke that silence today while attending a street ball tournament in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. According to Birmingham WVTM sports reporter Kyle Burger:

"First off I'm going to let my agent handle it," Bledsoe said, while attending a "Ball Up" street ball tournament in Birmingham. "I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using a restricted free agent against me.  But I understand that."

Here is the video, if you want to see for yourself:

Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

As we've discussed at length here on BSotS, these negotiations have gone exactly as prescribed by the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bledsoe had the opportunity to shop his services and solicit an offer, but no offers came. The Suns are reported to be offering  a 4 year/$48M contract to Bledsoe, but he's holding out for more and is said to be asking for the maximum, 5 years/$80M.

From an objective viewpoint, 4/$48M seems fair. It matches what the Raptors signed Kyle Lowry for, and Lowry's an underrated player. I'd say he's the Raptors best player and leader, which can't be said of Bledsoe and the Suns. Sure, Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons were overpaid in the RFA process, and I can see where Bledsoe might be bothered by that, but the market had their cracks at him. With no offers, or teams who can even offer what he's asking for, he holds little leverage.

The leverage he does possess includes only negative, lose-lose measures such as signing his qualifying offer for one year, not playing at all, or playing overseas. Extremely unlikely, but there's a reason the phrase "cutting off one's nose to spite their face" exists. It's because people sometimes do it. Still, I seriously doubt it comes to that.

So, all fair, right? The process played out, and Bledsoe is left with a contract offer that seems reasonable. But Bledsoe still isn't ready to sign, and is unhappy with the result. Some have speculated that he doesn't love playing for the Suns, but if he's asking for a 5-year contract, that contract will make him a member of the Suns for his prime. Doesn't sound like a guy looking for a different team to me.

No, he's upset because, although things have played out exactly as they should have under the current rules, he simply doesn't like the rules. It's a rage against the machine, if you will, and I somewhat understand. Bledsoe's a free agent, but he really isn't. He can go negotiate with other teams, yet they know the Suns still hold the trump card. If he were truly a free agent, and his salary and the salary total of teams weren't arbitrarily capped, how much would Bledsoe make?

I support the concept of a salary cap for the objective of competitive balance but, if I'm a player, I'm asking, "Where is the cap on owners' profits? Why can a horrible person and owner like Donald Sterling make boatloads of money even though he's managed his team incompetently by all accounts? Where's the cap on that?"

In the 2011 NBA lockout, owners squeezed the players hard for concessions. Although the players were able to stave off some of the owner's demands, the owners still routed the players in the deal. Owners complained that teams were losing money, and now we see franchises valued higher than ever before, so what gives?

I'm confident that Bledsoe and the Suns will settle before training camp, and the other half of the Suns explosive backcourt combo will be back in purple and orange, but this situation is revealing labor relations problems down the road for the NBA. Say what you will about Bledsoe's agent Rich Paul, but he also represents basketball's best, most marketable and most powerful player in LeBron James.

If LeBron wants to use his muscle, through his representative, to effectively protest the conditions of the CBA, there is more labor discord on the horizon.

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