Who needs an ace up your sleeve when the Suns have the best medical staff in the NBA in their deck? If LeBron James comes to Phoenix the Suns' doctors will have his back... and every other body part.

Thaumaturge (also thaumaturgist): a worker of wonders or miracles; magician (see Nelson, Aaron).

In the race for free agent immortality every facet of recruiting counts. Medical and training staffs may not be the sexiest selling point in the eyes of the general public, but to players the quality of these groups can weigh substantively in their decisions.

Luckily for Suns' fans theirs are the best.

Leading the Team

Aaron Nelson just finished his 20th season with the Suns and is the gold standard of Head Athletic Trainers. He was named the NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2008-09. The ramifications of having someone so eminent in his field should not be understated. Trainers and players end up sharing a special bond, which Nelson spoke of in an azcentral.com interview.

We're around them seven days a week. On off-days, we're still coming in to treat them. We have a lot more exposure to the players. It's not just the physical side of things, but the mental and emotional sides, too.

Nelson is far from alone in these duties, though. Just this past season his protege Mike Elliott was named the NBA Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Elliott has been with the team for 11 seasons.

Also in the fold is head team physician Dr. Tom Carter, who is an expert in the field of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. Dr. Carter is a national authority on subjects related to arthroscopic surgery. He has been the team doctor for 14 seasons. Dr. Carter performed Eric Bledsoe's knee procedure this past season in January. Kind of nice to have an in house expert.

Not only does this unit provide unmatched care, but as the tenures listed above suggest there is also a great degree of stability within the organization.

Testimonials

Shaquille O'Neal, Grant Hill and Steve Nash can attest to the prodigious nature of the medical gurus in Phoenix.

Shaq came to the Suns in a trade during the 2007-08 season. After working with the Suns' training staff he revitalized his career. O'Neal made his final All-NBA team after a two year hiatus. He was also the All-Star game MVP after missing the festivities the previous season. Most impressively, for the selfish purposes of this article, he managed to play in 75 games in the 2008-09 season. He had only managed to play that many games in one season (27 years old) since the age of 22. O'Neal was 36.

After suffering a litany of cruel injuries Grant Hill came to the Suns as a player who had only managed to play in 200 games in the previous seven seasons. At the age of 36 Hill played in all 82 regular season games for the first time in his career. He only missed three games in three seasons for the Suns, between the ages of 36-38, which were the healthiest of his career.

Steve Nash was recruited away from the Dallas Mavericks after concerns about his longevity made the team leery. Nash proceeded to miss just 37 games the next eight seasons. Not only did Nash win two MVP awards after the age of 30, but he also led the NBA in total assists at the ages of 35, 36 and 37. That's total assists, illustrating the amount of time he was able to stay on the court.

The Suns have a proven track record of getting veterans back into the best shape of their lives and extending their careers.

LeBron may not be staring down his own NBA mortality, but it never hurts to get a head start. James will be in his early thirties during his next contract and it gets harder to maintain peak physical shape with every passing year. LeBron is basically a mutant, and probably won't have any problem producing at a high level into his late thirties, but the grind of playing extra games by virtue of deep playoff runs is something he would surely love to abate.

What could be more applicable at this time is what the training staff might be able to achieve with LeBron's teammates. During his time with the Heat there was a huge veteran presence from players like Mike Miller, Ray Allen and Shane Battier (just to name a few). These types of complementary players can help lift a team over the top. The Suns have shown proficiency at bringing in veterans and resurrecting/extending their careers. Adding these types of missing pieces shouldn't be a problem.

Trust and Eric Bledsoe

I can probably empathize with Bledsoe to an extent, because I just had an allograft acl reconstruction and meniscectomy about six weeks ago.

The surgeon that operated on me was the same doctor that performed an acl reconstruction on my sister-in-law. Her procedure went well and she made a full recovery. After my right knee injury threatened to end my recreational sports career she lined me up with him and I went into surgery with confidence that I could regain my previous form. So far, so good. I'm well ahead of recovery timelines.

Results and referrals.

Of course my 30" vertical doesn't compare to the millions of dollars associated with the crooked inches above that where Bledsoe ascends, but the dynamic I'm attempting to convey still exists. Eric Bledsoe's knee injury this past season puts him in an excellent position to talk to LeBron about the quality of care he received. I would be surprised if LeBron isn't familiar with the handling of that situation. Players talk about these types of things and Bledsoe and James are like family.

What could be better than his commendation?

With James poring through all the minutiae that complicate his decision on where to play basketball in the near future it is hard to know exactly what the tipping point will be. There are just so many things to consider. There is a saying that the Devil is in the details, meaning that the small details of a situation can sometimes make it difficult or challenging, but in this instance the detail of which team's training staff is the best is easy.

It's the Phoenix Suns.

I know he's this year's Archie Goodwin, where everyone is predicting his future NBA stardom. But to put it frankly, we need to see what happens to Archie before we see what Bogdan can do. They play the same position, and it would be difficult to develop them at the same time.

The Suns had three first round picks this year, after having two last year. With only five positions on a basketball court, it was inevitable the Suns would double-down on their developmental prospects in several places. This year, it was at the PG spot (Tyler Ennis), the SG spot (Bogdan Bogdanovic) and the SF/PF spot (T.J. Warren). The Suns were already doubled down on the center spot, with 2012 draft pick Miles Plumlee and 2013 pick Alex Len.

No room at the Inn

The Suns drafted the 21 year old Bogdan Bogdanovic with the express intention to have him play in Europe for another 1-2 years as he develops. There simply wouldn't be minutes for him in Phoenix this season, barring a major trade, and the Suns clearly thought he wasn't ready yet anyway.

It's better to have Bogdan develop in Europe and then come over to the NBA in a couple of years when he's ready to step right onto the court and contribute.

Many Euro players in the past have come over too soon and wasted their development on the end of an NBA bench when they could have played big minutes on a contender in Europe.

Two years in Fenerbahce

Now, it's appears that Bogdan has a great opportunity to play big minutes on a Euro contender.

Bogdan Bogdanovic signed a four-year deal with Fenerbahce, according to Ismail Senol.

The Serbian combo guard has a 2+1+1 contract with NBA out in 2016.

Partizan Belgrade will get around $1 million to shop Bogdanovic to the Turkish powerhouse.

Our Euro friends, like Javier Pastore and Pece and Jogi and others, will follow Bogdan through his time with Fenerbahce to give us the inside scoop on his development.

As we all expected, the Phoenix Suns are holding true to their word and are right now negotiating a new contract with Eric Bledsoe before he has to sign any offers from another team.

Just as they always said they would do, the Phoenix Suns are reportedly negotiating a new contract with restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe right now with the intention of signing him themselves rather than matching someone else's offer sheet.

Screen_shot_2014-07-06_at_6.26.22_am_medium

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports was likely following up with Bledsoe's people on the report that the Milwaukee Bucks are considering an offer sheet to Bledsoe. If Bledsoe signed a Bucks offer in the coming days, that would put the Suns in a bind for cap room while trying to work their other deals.

This report from Spears matches what we've all been thinking, and it perfectly matches with what managing partner Robert Sarver, President Lon Babby and GM Ryan McDonough have been saying without exception for months. Since the beginning of the season, actually.

The Phoenix Suns have every intention of keeping Bledsoe in a Suns uniform. But with restricted free agency the way it is, the Suns don't want to - or have to - bid against themselves.

So it's a tight rope of letting Bledsoe test his contract demands on the open market while not letting "suitors" get so far as to wine and dine and make Bledsoe fall in love with them. The Pelicans, in 2012, let Eric Gordon get so far down the road of leaving that he embarrassed himself, his team and his fans with his pledge of allegiance to another team.

The Suns want to keep Bledsoe for a long time, but at the most reasonable price possible. It's a business. And if it's handled perfectly, everyone comes back next year happy with each other.

Bledsoe may still get a mini-max deal (roughly 4 years, $63 million) out of this, which he may or may not have been requesting since being acquired last summer. But if the Suns play it right, it would be the mini-max that other teams can offer (4 years, 4.5% raises) rather than the max the Suns could offer (5 years, 7.5% raises).

Either way, the Suns are winners if they keep the summer's best young free agent in the fold.

On timing

If the Suns can come to terms on a verbal agreement with Bledsoe, they only have to get his signature after everyone else has been signed/acquired. The Suns will keep Bledsoe's cap hold right there at $6.5 million as long as they need it to be.

On Goran Dragic

Many have viewed the contract dynamic between Bledsoe and Dragic to be a major problem down the road, only exacerbated by the belief that they can't play (and win) together for a long time.

First of all, let's wash that second argument down the toilet. The otherwise under-talented Suns were 23-11 with Dragic and Bledsoe in the same starting lineup. That's even including the last two games where Dragic was playing on one leg. I'd say that's proof enough they can play together.

Now let's talk contract.

If Bledsoe makes $14 million next year, he will have made $16.5 million in his first two years as a Phoenix Sun. Goran Dragic, over the same period, will have made $15 million. If Dragic makes the All-Star team next year, he will get a million dollar bonus. Pretty much a draw here.

Next summer, Dragic can opt out of his contract to become a free agent. Clearly, he is underpaid in today's NBA versus what was once a market value contract. Dragic will want to be paid similar to Bledsoe, though the Dragon's asking price might be a little lower considering he is 5 years older than little Bron.

Can the Suns afford to spend $26-28 million per year on their starting back court? Many think not, but let's consider this tweet from Stu Jackson, who recently worked in the NBA front offices.

Screen_shot_2014-07-06_at_6.54.30_am_medium

Whoa. In two years, the NBA's salary cap will rise by nearly $17 million over this current year, which is already nearly $5 million more than last year. And the average NBA salary will be $8 million per year.

So, let's ask a new pair of questions:

Can the Suns afford to re-sign Dragic next summer at his market rate (probably $12-14 million per year)? Yes. They have his Bird Rights. They will be able to give Dragic any contract they want to give.

Can the Suns afford, in future years, to have $28 million invested in two players who play the guard position? Well, if the cap is $80 million in 2016/17, the answer to that is a resounding YES. To give you a point of reference, that's the equivalent of having paid Dragic and Bledsoe $10 million each last year. YES. That is reasonable.

Sign Bledso to his market rate this summer, and Dragic to his market rate next summer. Having just 35% of your cap invested in two All-Star caliber players is a BOON, not a bust.

Bring it on!

Robert Sarver is typically hated by most Suns fans, and might be holding Phoenix back from landing LeBron James. But Sarver might not be a big as a cheapskate as you might think.

The Phoenix Suns are looking more and more like realistic suitors in the LeBron James free agency sweepstakes every day.  They are in a unique position, as they have cap space for both James and (with some maneuvering) an additional max free agent, as well as the ability to keep the core of last year’s team together.  Phoenix is arguably the best situation for James, but one of the frequently made arguments against the Suns is majority owner Robert Sarver and his notoriously cheap reputation.

Mr. James, I implore you not to count out Phoenix because of Robert Sarver.

Sarver certainly doesn’t have many huge fans around these parts, but I’m going to argue that he’s not as cheap as you might think (Heresy! After proposing a Goran Dragic trade earlier this week and now this, I am sure I am now the most hated man on BSotS). Let's take a look at how he has evolved as an owner during his tenure.

A Rocky Start

Sarver’s first few years as owner were admittedly…questionable.  He jettisoned a boatload of first-rounders, wouldn’t pay up for Joe Johnson, and traded Kurt Thomas, along with two draft picks, in what has to go down as the most blatant salary dump in NBA history.  These were all finance saving moves.

It wasn’t a good start for Sarver, but take into consideration that he was taking advice from Bryan Colangelo, Mike D’Antoni, and Steve Kerr.  Colangelo is heralded for some big moves throughout his career, but is for the most part vastly overrated as an executive. D’Antoni’s big splash was to sign Marcus Banks to a $21 million dollar contract.  He also played a tight rotation, with rookies hardly ever getting playing time, so he wanted nothing to do with draft picks.  Kerr was mostly forgettable during his tenure, though he struck gold (got lucky?) by replacing Shaquille O'Neal with Channing Frye in the summer of 2009 to drive the Suns back to the Western Conference Finals.  Sarver certainly earned that cheap reputation in his early years, but he didn’t exactly have the best executives surrounding him.

But we tend to forget that Sarver showed a willingness to spend after that.  From 2008 to 2010, he paid luxury taxes for the team.  The Oklahoma City Thunder have never paid the luxury tax. Sarver has not been afraid to dole out big contracts; they’re just usually misdirected on players like Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress, and fan favorite Michael Beasley.

Don’t forget that max offer to Eric Gordon, either.  It seemed like the necessary price at the time, but would have turned out to be a typical Sarver contract had New Orleans not matched.  Sarver was again taking the advice of a bad GM, this time in Lance Blanks, but he at least demonstrated that he had abandoned his penny-pinching ways (As a side note, let the record show that Sarver insisted on signing Dragic over Raymond Felton, despite strong support for Felton among the Suns front office).

Edit: As MarkSmith pointed out in the comments, Sarver also offered A'mare Stoudemire a $96.6 million dollar contract in the summer of 2010. It was a few million short of the $100 million dollar contract he eventually received from New York, but more importantly, Sarver had the foresight to include minutes/games played requirements Stoudemire had to meet to guarantee the money. Crisis averted.

A Changed Man

Now, Sarver has a respectable GM in Ryan McDonough running the show.  We have yet to see McDonough spend any of Sarver’s money on any big free agents, but there’s no reason to be discouraged.  They have already stated their planned all-out assault on LeBron James.  If that doesn’t work out, however, look for the Suns to still spend big this offseason.  During an interview with Arizona Sport’s Gambo, Sarver expressed his hope and intent to go over the salary cap.

"One of the interesting benefits we have this year is the cap hold right now on Eric is less than his market value.  We’re in a unique position this year if we can attract the right free agents or make the right trades, we have a chance to go significantly above the salary cap this year."

--Sarver, on KTAR/ArizonaSports620's Burns and Gambo show on June 26

Clearly, Sarver correctly sees Bledsoe’s cap hold as something of a boon, which allows the team to spend up to the cap, and then resign Bledsoe.  He’s willing to spend the money, but also expressed caution to spend it wisely:

"One of the lessons I’ve learned is you can’t just spend to spend.  You got to make sure you’re putting all of the right people in there, and not using all your powder on stuff that’s going to get you mediocre."

At least Sarver can own up to his mistakes.  He has spent a lot in the past, albeit on poor contracts.  Sarver will undoubtedly spend that cap room with more prudence this time around, but he won’t shy away from spending big if he has to.  McDonough will help in this regard.

Sarver has definitely grown as an owner. Coming out of the gate, he exercised plenty of cost-cutting moves. He eventually realized you have to spend money to be good in the NBA, although he didn't at first know how to properly do so.  He's learned the value of draft picks and youth as well, retaining all three of his picks this year.  He just needed a little time to learn the ropes.

So, Mr. James, please don’t count out Phoenix because of Robert Sarver.  He had a bit of rocky start, and it took him a while to figure out how to spend money correctly, but he’s on track now.  He’ll even let you pick the max free agent of your choice.  And he’s at least better than Dan Gilbert.

Looks like Eric Bledsoe has a suitor, but is it a suitor he wants?

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, we have our first big tire-kicking of Eric Bledsoe coming from Milwaukee.

Screen_shot_2014-07-05_at_12.49.49_pm_medium

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. I can't imagine Bledsoe wanting to play in Milwaukee, but money talks louder than anything else.

The Suns will almost certainly match any Bledsoe offer, so don't start worrying about losing one of the Suns best players.

However, a signed offer sheet to either Suns RFA Tucker or Bledsoe could mess up the Suns desired timing. The Suns would like to re-sign Bledsoe and Tucker last, after any and all free agents and trades. Bledsoe's cap hold is currently $6.5 million while Tucker's is $2.8 million, but if either signs an offer sheet above that and the Suns match the offer, their cap hold is replaced by his new salary.

Speaking of P.J.

Tucker is apparently having a hard time getting an offer sheet.

Screen_shot_2014-07-05_at_12.57.28_pm_medium

Again, the Suns would like to re-sign these guys last, not first.

Let's hope the market really stays dry for them for another week or so, and then they get all the money they deserve (and the Suns match).

Page 24 of 1365

24

Sponsored Ads