According to Adrian Wojnarwoski, the Phoenix Suns are going for the whole enchilada
We here at Bright Side have been touting LeBron James to the Phoenix Suns for a while now, and we believe that the Suns offer the best combination of present and future for LeBron.
Armed with an offer that no else in the NBA can make - a chance to partner with Carmelo Anthony on an instant championship contender - the Phoenix Suns are planning an aggressive pursuit of LeBron James on Tuesday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Suns officials understand the bid will be something of a long shot, but are determined to get a meeting with James to convince him how the possibilities of two full max contracts, a roster stocked with talented, young players and the chance to pick the superstar free-agent partner of his choice ought to make Phoenix one of his most appealing suitors.
If its pairing LeBron with Kevin Love (via trade this year, or free agency next summer), Carmelo Anthony (free agency) or Chris Bosh (free agency), the Suns have the assets and cap room to not only make it work but give LeBron his best combination of young talent in his entire career.
The Suns would instantly become a title contender with LeBron and any second star and have so many assets they could surround him with young talent for the rest of his career.
The Suns currently have four players 20 years old and younger (Warren, Ennis, Goodwin and Len) and half dozen mid-20s players. No one on the roster would be older than 29 next year (Gerald Green).
Make it happen, McBabbaRobacek!
Bogdan Bogdanovi?, the 27th draft pick, is a good long-range shooter and a capable defender.
If his improvement stays constant he won't be stashed overseas for long (unless McStunna has other ideas for him), although there are many aspects of his game that need work.
Position: Shooting guard
Last season Euroleague stats (those matter, the ABA league really isn't close to NBA level)
Games played: 23 (723 minutes)
Points average: 14.8 (340 total)
Field goals: 42.6% 2FG, 37% 3FG, 75.4% FT
Rebounds: 3.7 (3 Deff, 0.7 Off)
His numbers dropped later in the season, when the starting PG for Partizan (Leo Westermann) went down with an injury and Bogdan was required to step into the PG role. While this is not his strong point, it was obvious he actually handled it pretty good because of his good court vision, ball handling and passing. This is definitely a plus considering the current Suns team incarnation thrives on guards with drive-and-kick capabilities. That being said, he is still young and often makes mistakes and bad passes under pressure, hence the quite high turnover count.
His first step really isn't that quick, his speed not meep-meep and most of his drives come off screens, but when he gets to the rim, he can finish with both hands, although he does seem to shy away from contact, something that will not do in the NBA. Watching some highlight videos, his playing style brings to mind one of the best European players of all time never to play in the NBA, Dejan Bodiroga. Problem is, Bodiroga was a virtual jump-shot and free throw machine, something Bogdan really needs to work on (his efficiency inside the arc is troubling for a guard) and he could finish through contact like a man possessed.
Bogdan's best weapon by far is the catch-and-shoot and coming off screens where his range comes in handy and he'll let it fly from pretty much anywhere on the floor. Even if it's a bad shot. Even if it's a bad, contested shot and the shot-clock is nowhere near the bottom. Another thing, if he's not tuned in, he can force plays that aren't there and be on the whole very careless with the ball and passing it to non-existent teammates or directly into opponents hands on cross-court diagonal lobs. Let's hope time and experience cut that down to a minimum.
Here again, his size is a good thing, his wingspan even more as he's able to defend multiple positions. He's also quite quick going laterally and coupling that with his good footwork and understanding of the game, he is good at staying in front of his man, fighting through screens (although NBA bigs will be a problem if he doesn't bulk up) altering shots and also at not getting pump-faked out of his socks (cue one of my all time favorite pump fakes. Disclaimer: it's Gogi in a rockets uniform).
His defensive capabilities are somewhat hindered though by the mental aspects of his game, the above mentioned spacing out at times. And there doesn't seem to be a lot of drive to compete defensively, probably because up to now he was used primarily as a scoring threat, which in a young guard from the Balkans usually translates to: I don't need to play defense, really. But the fundamentals are there, if he's willing to put in the effort.
Summing it up
Bogdan Bogdanovi? is on track to becoming a contributor in the NBA, if he stays the course of his improvement, works on his mid-range and free throw shooting as well as bulking up and being prepared to go to the rim harder, as he has the size to do it. And he will need to put in heavy minutes into decision-making and reading the game as well as being more engaged on the defensive end.
Fit for the Suns
The current Suns roster would benefit from a confident long range shooter that would space the floor and put up solid numbers across the board, the only problem is that same roster is quite busy at the guard-end and it will take improvement in all aspects of his game for him to actually crack the rotation. But the potential is definitely there and I'm excited to see what he'll make of it.
Agree or not? Discuss.
T.J. Warren didn't receive much hype here before the draft. Adreian Payne, Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris were generally preferred choices, but Warren's list of achievements and potential as a 20-year old is impressive. The Suns landed themselves an elite scorer at #14 with "Scorin'" Warren.
Going into Thursday night's NBA Draft, Suns fans held high hopes for a franchise-changing trade, or draft pick, or both. Instead, the Suns hung onto their #14, #18 and #27 picks, and selected three players with impressive resumés.
Can any of those selections prove to be franchise-changers? Maybe not, but the Suns used their first selection on a big-time scorer from an elite NCAA conference in ACC Player of the Year T.J .Warren, a player who brings a skill set last season's team was missing.
The 2013-14 Suns were built around the 3-point shot. Their #8 finish in 3-point % and #2 finish in opponents' 3-point % were central to the team's 23 win improvement from the 2012-13 squad. Still, too often, the Suns' potent offense settled into an over-reliance on the 3 with a lack of other offensive options, and they lost leads in the process.
Markieff Morris displayed a solid, much-improved mid-range and post game, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe could finish at the basket well, but the Suns were in dire need of another threat closer to the paint. There's nothing wrong with shooting a lot of 3s in the modern NBA, but other options are essential for success.
Anthony "T.J." Warren specializes in getting looks from 15 feet and closer, then nailing them. In scoring 24.9 PPG last season at NC State, Warren made 58% of his 2-point attempts, and went to the FT line 6.5 times per game. He does this with a bag of tricks that includes nifty footwork and a killer floater. It won't be as easy to do what he does on the next level, but a lot of those slick moves will transfer just fine.
A diversification and expansion of the Suns' offensive arsenal will involve crafty players who can play close to the basket; Warren is that. The knocks on him are that he's a "tweener", and that he lacks the perimeter game to be an effective NBA small forward. I'm not buying either as a fatal flaw for this talented, hard worker.
Warren grew his game from the 5th leading scorer on his team as a freshman at 12.1 PPG into becoming the leader of last year's Wolfpack, by a country mile, at 24.9 PPG. Warren carried a weak team (his 31.3 PER was next followed by Jordan Vandenberg's 15.3) to the NCAA Tournament by scoring in every way imaginable.
While his usage rate rose from 19.5 to 35.5, his TS% dipped only slightly, from .638 to .574, despite Warren being the focus of every opponent's defense. This wasn't a quality NC State team outside of Warren. He was just about all they had going, and he produced enough to take them to the postseason, while Warren topped #2 pick Jabari Parker for ACC Player of the Year honors.
In Thursday night's press conference, both GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek expressed their intention that Warren is a pure SF, who could possibly play PF in small ball lineups, but no "tweener." The 6'8" (with shoes), 220 lb-er with a 6'10" wingspan would compete with P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris for playing time, assuming both those players return.
Warren's scoring abilities were deemed "elite" by McDonough, who said, "He has a unique ability to put the ball in the basket. He's got good size and strength, but more importantly, he has terrific instincts and a fantastic touch around the basket. We feel like he has a lot of the things you can't teach. He still needs to keep working on his outside shooting, but we think he has a chance to be a pretty special offensive player."
Hornacek addressed Warren's supposed defensive shortcomings by saying, "A lot of these guys are big scorers in college, I think the coaches are telling them 'don't get in foul trouble,' and they may look terrible defensively on tape, but then when you get them live and see....In one of our drills, it was a mix. One time he guarded a point guard, next time it was a forward, next time it was a center who tried to back him down. He stopped all three of them pretty easily."
A player who possesses great instincts, touch and a reputation for strong work ethic, as he lost weight and improved his conditioning between his freshman and sophomore seasons at NC State, Warren needs to continue to expand his range. Fortunately, he'll be coached by Hornacek, who maximizes his players' shooting abilities.
Warren may never be a 3-point sniper, but won't have to be when on the court with a playmaker and other floor-spacers. No, the Suns will need him to be what he is: A versatile, crafty scorer from all over the floor.
Welcome to Phoenix, T.J. Warren. You're exactly what the Suns need.
Any number of 20 different teams would likely love to have Eric Bledsoe. The only teams who don't want him would be those with All-Stars or young studs already in place.
But as of yet, no team has openly leaked interest in Bledsoe. Yes, I used the term "openly leaked" because that's how it is these days. Teams don't hold media scrums to list out their targets. They simply let someone know on the sly, via text or phone, who they want.
Or, the agents leak interested teams to media folks. Sometimes it's to drum up business, and sometimes it's lies, lies, and damn lies.
But still, there's been no outward word of who wants Bledsoe.
So let's just take a look at the landscape to see who can extend him an offer sheet in July. Remember, Bledsoe is a restricted free agent who will be courted via offer sheets by teams with enough cap room. Alternately, teams without enough cap room can initiate a trade with the Suns, as long as Bledsoe wants to sign with them and the Suns want the assets back.
For now, let's focus on the former - teams with cap room to make an out right offer sheet in early July. Teams who make an offer must have the open cap room to do so. Barring significant trades to shed salary, these are the only teams with enough open cap room on July to get his signature.
You will note that the recently-bereft Miami HEAT are not on this list. That is not an oversight. While all their players but Norris Cole and Chris Anderson have opted out, leaving "55 million in cap space", the HEAT have cap holds on all of them that they won't be renouncing. Cap holds on Wade, James and Bosh alone far exceed the cap. So no, the HEAT have 0 cap space for free agency unless the Big Three re-sign for the midlevel. And, they just drafted PG Shabazz Napier for LeBron.
Back to reality.
Out of that group with real cap space, only the Lakers, Mavericks, Pistons and Bucks could use an upgrade at point guard. The Toronto Raptors are close behind, at $10 mill of space. Of those five, only three teams appear to be "interesting" to a young feller like Bledsoe.
I mean really. Would YOU sign with a team in Detroit or Milwaukee unless you had no other options? I'd rather take a little less and work out a contract with Phoenix if those are my only bidders.
Nash is on the books for $9.7 million and has been adamant that he will not retire. However, the Lakers could conceivably convince someone to trade for him, but they would have to give something up to entice a team to take on Nash and all they have is Randle and their 2017 first round pick. Not happening.
Sure, the Lakers could use Bledsoe. But they just drafted Jordan Clarkson (purchased, from second round selection) who Kris Habbas had rated as high as 17th overall on his Big Board for nbadraftinsider.com and most outlets had Clarkson in the top 30 on their Boards. Along with PG Marshall still under cheap contract, the Lakers might prefer to fill their center and small forward positions first.
In fact, there's a rumor this morning from Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN that their first targets are Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. Secondarily, if they lose out on the top two, the Lakers are also expected to have a strong interest in Washington free-agent forward Trevor Ariza, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, Detroit center Greg Monroe and Phoenix forward Channing Frye, according to Ramona's sources.
No mention of Bledsoe yet.
Think they need an upgrade there? So do I.
The Mavericks have the cap space and probably the inclination. The only thing holding them back is whether they really want to tie up money in a Bledsoe offer that the Suns might match while they pursue the same suspects that the Lakers want: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Seems to me that Bledsoe will be waiting around for a few weeks to see who loses the James/Anthony race and then can only hope those teams turn their attention to him.
The Raptors are also shaded in red because they have close to the right amount of money and a free agent point guard (Kyle Lowry) who might be on the move. Also, the Raptors lost out on Tyler Ennis last week. Wouldn't it be ironic if it was Tyler Ennis that put the Suns in a bind on Bledsoe.
The Raptors could easily release John Salmons and add another $6 million to their cap space, giving them more than enough money to lure Bledsoe. They have a great cap situation, just won 48 games, and could really use Bledsoe to continue that hot run they started last year.
The downside for the Raptors is tying up money during free agency while the Phoenix Suns think about matching, and the Suns have told everyone they will match any reasonable offers.
Another downside for them is committing max money to Bledsoe. Their next biggest contract is DeMarr DeRozan, whose contract is under $10 million/year. Wouldn't they rather just re-sign Lowry for about what DeRozan makes and be done with it?
The Suns won't bid against themselves. It's not smart to outbid yourself, without knowing what the competition is. The beauty of restricted free agency is that no one can take your guy without your permission. They must either convince you to do a trade, or you have to refuse to match their offer.
The Suns have said all along that they will match any offer.
The only way I see that changing is if (a) Bledsoe begs to leave and (b) the Suns can get comparable value back in trade. No way the Suns take a "future first" or "future second" to agree to a sign-and-trade. No way they take back bad contracts. The Suns will want a booty worthy of Bledsoe.
I see Bledsoe being part of the secondary free agent market, and maybe not even hearing of a strong rumor until mid-July unless the Suns and Bledsoe come to a mutual agreement on a less-than-max contract to pre-empt the competition.