The Slovenian national team used 21 points from Suns guard Goran Dragic in a 90-80 victory to open the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The win was a promising one for Slovenia in Group D, where Lithuania is...

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If he wants to be traded, where could Eric Bledsoe go? Here are the options for the other 29 teams in the league.

The rumor mill is working once again, and the latest is that the Suns are actively shopping Eric Bledsoe in sign and trade scenarios. While some of the rumors are wildly outlandish (the 13th hour attempt to nab Kevin Love, for instance), there is likely some substance to these rumors.

The real question is, if the Suns are shopping Bledsoe, who are they shopping him to, and what are the chances that an actual deal could go down?

Assuming a trade involving Bledsoe is most likely to be a simultaneous trade, there are a few things to keep in mind about any trade that happens:

  1. If a team is a non-taxpaying team after a trade is made, it can accept: 150% of the outgoing salary (if the outgoing salary is under $9.8 million); $5 million + the outgoing salary (if the salary is between $9.8 million and $19.6 million); or 125% of the outgoing salary if it is over $19.6 million
  2. If a team is a taxpaying team after a trade is made, it can accept: 125% of the outgoing salary
  3. A team over the 'apron' ($4 million over the tax line - set at $76.829 million this season) cannot accept a sign and trade unless it lowers team salary
  4. A team cannot accept a sign and trade if it has already used its Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception; currently, none of the lists that track this have been updated, so I'll try to
This is important to keep in mind, as it establishes the range of money that would have to come back to make an Eric Bledsoe trade possible.

Another thing to keep in mind is Bledsoe's contract value.  While it is not guaranteed that a sign and trade involving Bledsoe would be for the full max (and, frankly, I don't think anyone would do that unless they were shedding a bad contract in return), we're going to assume that any sign and trade would only occur for the maximum contract Bledsoe could receive, $14.75 million dollars.

The contract value that must be returned for each team is a function of whether or not the trade puts the team over the tax line after the trade is completed.  All numbers will fall between $9.75 million (Bledsoe's contract minus $5 million) and $11.8 million (Bledsoe's contract divided by 1.25).
So use this as a resource for all your rosterbation fantasies. I have ranked each team with a categorical ranking, grading the chance of a trade. In order, they are NO CHANCE, FAT CHANCE, SLIM CHANCE and EH, MAYBE?

We'll go team by team, starting with the teams with the highest current payrolls and ending with the teams with the lowest.

Brooklyn Nets

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $89 milliion


- Contract value returning: NA

-Verdict: NO CHANCE. The Brooklyn Nets have already used their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (on Bojan Bogdanovic) and thus cannot accept Bledsoe in a sign and trade.

New York Knicks

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $86 million


- Contract value returning: NA

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. The Knicks have already used their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (on Jason Smith) and thus cannot accept Bledsoe in a sign and trade)

LA Clippers

- 2014-15 Salary: just a hair under $80 million

- Verdict: We're just gonna skip this one. There is no chance. They'd have to leverage back players they traded Bledsoe to get, while giving us players we might actually want, all for a backup...

Sacramento Kings

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $74 million (I know, right? Unbelievably high...)


- Contract value returning: No less than $11.8 million (125% of Bledsoe's salary)

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. This is the first team where the team isn't over the 'apron', and thus the Suns wouldn't have to take back more than $15 million in contracts, and instead could take back as little as $10 million. There is some talent here, and a combination of Jason Terry, Derrick Williams and a pick or one of the two young shooting guards could work mathematically while not saddling the team with money beyond this season.

LA Lakers

- 2014-15 Salary: Just under $74 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $11.8 million (125% of Bledsoe's salary, since they are just literally a hair over the salary cap taking on Bledsoe)

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? This is a weird one. Theoretically, this is one that could work pretty easily and beneficially for both teams: swap Nash, Randle and losing the restrictions on the pick for Bledsoe. LA can afford to pay Bledsoe gobs of money, and Bledsoe can be the heir apparent to Kobe. The Suns get a quality prospect at PF and the chance at a higher lottery pick from LA (face it, they'll still be bad, and their chances would be bound to two oft-injured guards and Carlos 'Spray-on Hair' Boozer...).

Oklahoma City Thunder

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $74 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $11.7 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. This is the stuff of rosterbation dreams for many an OKC fan - swapping Perkin's expiring and some garbage for Bledsoe would be great for a team that's biggest weakness was at shooting guard last season. The problem is on the Suns' end - would we be willing to trade Bledsoe for a prospect or two (or maybe the rights to guys in Europe like Abrines or Pleiss), a dead-weight contract that might be worth something at the deadline, and what is likely to be a super late pick? Probably not. But not impossible to imagine.

Toronto Raptors

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $73 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. They just re-signed Kyle Lowry and have DeMar DeRozan. No way Bledsoe agrees to go into a situation where he's probably the backup.

Denver Nuggets

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $73 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $10.9 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. There are a multitude of possible deals given the large number of mid-tier contracts the Nuggets possess. But it doesn't seem realistic to pair Bledsoe and Lawson (both considered a bit small), and the Suns wouldn't be getting a lot back, unless you really value someone like Gary Harris (who we passed on in the draft, so...)

New Orleans Pelicans

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $73 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $10.6 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Really, the cupboard of assets we might have a legitimate interest in is pretty bare. The Brow is obviously not available. Its so bad that getting a player we might want, like Ryan Anderson, would force us to accept contracts we likely don't want, like Austin Rivers. Unless we were willing to straight swap Bledsoe for Jrue Holiday and something, or Tyreke Evans and something, but that seems preposterous.

Golden State Warriors

- 2014-15 Salary: $72.5 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $10.35 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I really, really wanted to rate this as NO CHANCE. But the possibilities are too intriguing, and I can't imagine the Warriors wouldn't at least try. Bledsoe, Curry and Thompson, theoretically, could share the court. There are things we might be interested in - Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, maybe Festus Ezeli, and obviously picks.

Minnesota Timberwolves

- 2014-15 Salary: $70.1 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. There are players both sides would likely be interested in, especially if we buy into the idea that Flip Saunders really wants to win this season. The problem is the contracts - either we'd have to take back Thad Young, who I think Saunders wants, or we'd have to take back a BUNCH of players (like, Barea, Budinger, Hummel and picks...). However, again, we could potentially remove the restrictions on the Wolves pick, which might be a good value.

Indiana Pacers

- 2014-15 Salary: $69.9 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I don't doubt there would be interest from the Pacers - Bledsoe is almost definitely an upgrade over George Hill. But I cannot imagine the Suns are real interested - unless we want Hibbert or West, we'd have to take back George Hill. And Indy doesn't exactly have promising young players, as much as I love King Solo...

Memphis Grizzlies

- 2014-15 Salary: $69.3 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see it happening. While I think Bledsoe is better than Conley, I don't think he's worth twice as much as Conley. Plus, Conley has good synergy with Gasol and Randolph. Finally, the Suns really shouldn't have interest in the Memphis assets, unless they're really interested in Kosta Koufos...

Cleveland Cavaliers

- 2014-15 Salary: $68.4 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. Team owners, and likely a significant chunk of both the player and fan bases, would have a fit if this somehow came to be. Anyways, short of sending us Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova, it couldn't happen unless they're trading Kyrie, which they aren't.

San Antonio Spurs

- 2014-15 Salary: $68.1 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Its not out of the realm of possibility - there are players on expiring contracts we could use as leverage, and a few interesting young players (Kyle Anderson, Livio Jean-Charles). And a starting three in the future of Bledsoe, Danny Green and Kawhi would be formidable. But I just don't see it happening - there isn't enough to make the Suns bite, and the Spurs I think want to try to repeate with their core.

Portland Trail Blazers

- 2014-15 Salary: $67.25 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Did you know the Blazers are paying Brandon Roy $14.4 million this season? Eek. Anyways, while there are potentially assets here that the Suns may want - including incumbent shooting guard Wesley Matthews - I just don't see Bledsoe agreeing to go there to be second fiddle to Damian Lillard. Or that Portland would buy into Bledsoe as a legitimate shooting guard.

Boston Celtics

- 2014-15 Salary: $64.8 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. The only reason I have this as a slim instead of fat chance is because of the history between McDonough and Ainge. I have no doubt Ainge would love to have Bledsoe as Rondo insurance. But as it stands the Suns would have to take back a crap contract to make it work (Marcus Thornton or Brandon Bass, most likely). I could see the two GMs working as facilitators for each other, though, in a three team trade, a possible scenario.

Dallas Mavericks

- 2014-15 Salary: $63 million


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I have no doubt Mark Cuban would LOVE to have Bledsoe. He's an automatic upgrade. But the cupboard is bare in Dallas (Crowder, Mekel, Ledo and Greg Smith as their young prospects) and we'd have to take some crap back (Raymond 'When's Lunch?' Felton would almost have to be included, as would likely Brandan Wright [disclaimer: I think he would be decent])

Orlando Magic

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.9 million (Note: it appears there are problems with HoopsHype with this roster)


- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see it. This move would immediately relegate Elfrid Payton to the bench for the foreseeable future. I have no doubt the Suns would have interest, but they'd have to send us two crap contracts as well as a player we might be interested in.

Utah Jazz

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.9 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. They just drafted Exum, and they already have Burke and Burks. It isn't happening.

Chicago Bulls

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.8 million

- Verdict: No way this happens. Bledsoe doesn't agree to it, most likely, and Rose's contract plus Bledsoe's would be crippling - together they'd be more than half the team's salary cap through 2016-17, barring massive growth.

Washington Wizards

- 2014-15 Salary: $55.8 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. The only reason this gets any chance is because Wall and Bledsoe played together at Kentucky, and the Bradley Beal experiment hasn't exactly gone smoothly to this point. Swapping Beal, Seraphin and a couple of un-guaranteed minimum guys would do it, but it seems far-fetched.

Charlotte Hornets

- 2014-15 Salary: $55.1 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? The contracts line up relatively well here, and Kemba is not nearly as talented as Bledsoe, so it is an obvious upgrade. The Hornets also have some young players we might legitimately be interested in (Kidd-Gilchrist, Zeller, Biyombo) as well as some established guys it wouldn't kill us to take back (Gerald Henderson).

Atlanta Hawks

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.1 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see the Hawks being interested. Is Bledsoe worth twice what Jeff Teague is? Maybe. But they'd still be paying Teague and probably have to give us Al Horford. Just doesn't seem likely.

Houston Rockets

- 2014-15 Salary: $53.5 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. We know Houston is interested - pairing Bledsoe with Howard and Harden has the potential for a new, more tamed Big 3. But they would likely have to send/the Suns would likely have to accept Trevor Ariza in conjunction with whatever youth/picks they want, and I just don't see that happening without a third party facilitator.

Milwaukee Bucks

- 2014-15 Salary: $51.3 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? The Bucks are rebuilding, and the one place they have a fairly substantial hole currently is PG. They also have a ton of guys at the big positions, which is the biggest weakness for the Suns. The biggest question is likely, would Bledsoe agree? Something tells me no.

Miami Heat

- 2014-15 Salary: $49.2 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. The Suns would have to take back crap contracts, for what gain? Summer League All-Star James Ennis?

Detroit Pistons

- 2014-15 Salary: $38.4 million


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. I gotta imagine Bledsoe is considered a better player and prospect than Brandon Jennings by the Detroit FO. And, at least in theory, a straight swap of Bledsoe for Monroe would work. However, I just don't see it happening. Bledsoe would have to agree, and the Pistons would still be paying Brandon Jennings for two years to come off the bench.

Philadelphia 76ers

- 2014-15 Salary: Do they have one?


- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: WHO KNOWS. Sam Hinkie is either a mad genius, or a complete imbecile. Only time will tell. I have no idea what he's going to do at any given time. I don't think this trade should happen, and it would likely require us to take back Jason Richardson in combination with anything we wanted, but I just don't know.

Slovenia out-muscles Australia 90:80 in their first outing in the World cup, led by Goran Dragic (21 points) who set the tone early with a showcase of all the skills that make him the best PG on the Suns and an undisputed MVP for team Slovenia.

This is it boys and girls, no more limited minutes for Goran Dragic, no more hiding of tactics, no more half-assed (hopefully) approach to the game, this is where we see if The Dragon can bring his A-game despite him being the focal point of every opposing defense.

In the words of The Joker: And here.we.go...

Disclaimer: I may get a bit emotional watching this...

First period

Good defense, Gogi steals his first ball, players are really tuned into the game. Then Gogi gets an offensive rebound and finishes at the rim with two opposing players on him. Keep up the good work. And a good pick and roll later, our 23-year old center has 4 points after a strong dunk. And another great move by Gogi, draws a triple team and finds an open man for a wide open three. But the Australians are shooting well from deep. Gogi makes a great cross-over, step-back three and a steal for SLO in the next possession. And still the Aussies are shooting well from deep, keeping the game close. Our center is looking great and our guards are penetrating easily. Gogi passes to his bro for a wide-open three, that's run and gun for you, although the defense lacks some focus. Another strong move by Goran right into the Spur Aron Baynes and Slovenia is up by 8, forcing a time-out by the down-underdogs.

After the short breather, Zoran with two good defensive plays, if he gets his shot to fall, he's NBA-bound, you mark my words. Goran rolls under the rim and finishes over Baynes again, pushing the lead to 10, for a bit anyway. And then he gets called for an offensive foul...let's call that a questionable call. Good team defense by Slo and it's obvious our "bigs" are shorter but more agile, something they need to exploit.  Gogi is resting, the game slowed right down. After the first, Slovenia is up 27:19 and looking good offensively, shots are falling and Goran is on his game, step-backs, threes, drive-and-kicks, all the while the opposing D can't really do anything to slow him down. Let's hope he doesn't breathe fire only in the first. And we're great on D, 7 RBDs to 2, take that, Aussie bigs! (just kidding, don't hurt us).

Second period.

Great D by Slovenia, they're giving it all, just as we hoped. And Jaka Blazic makes a Wade-like shot. I'm pumped! Slo is up by 12. And another three by Blazic and another good defensive effort, 34:21 for Slovenia that is shooting 4/7 from deep. Gogi is back, looses the ball in his first possession. And another fumbled ball forces a time-out by coach Zdovc. Somebody is going to get yelled at, I guarantee it.  Aus closes the gap to 9 points 5 minutes into the second period. And Blazic gets the loose ball but the shot doesn't fall. Baynes has 10 points after an offensive rebound. Balazic from deep stops the bleeding, but defense is all over the place, but things are looking up. Another drive forces a t-o from the Australian coach.  And Goran hits a three off the backboard, he has 12 points so far. Dragic brothers lead a great transition attack, but Zoran misses at the rim. Goran hits another step-back three over Baynes, he's got 15. But Australians are also sharp from deep, keeping the game at +8 for Slo.

And Baynes gets a bit fiesty, pushes Balazic off with an elbow after the whistle and gets an unsportsmanlike foul and he's still steaming. And Baynes is pissed, gets an and-one again. Well, it's not like any our guys can guard him one-on-one. Slovenians are unfocused on D with a minute left and Aussies make it a 6-point game. And the crowd is chanting after a great p'n'r. At the break it's 49:43, Australia closed the gap with some great team plays and the Slovenians slipping on D. Gogi has 15 ppoints so far so here's hoping he goes off for 30!

Third period

Australians are getting the ball down low, getting an and-one immediately and it's a 3 point game. Gogi makes a great pass for a dunk by Omic but he's still to soft on Baynes on D. Gogi gets called for his second foul, on offense as well and Australia is right back in it at 51:50. It's run and gun basketball at the start of the second half, lots of running, the gunning is lacking so far. Btw, Gogi has 3 fouls already. And the game slows right down again after he steps out. But Slovenians are tuning into the game, looking sharper on defense, also some good plays on the other end and the lead is 57:50 some 4 minutes into the third forcing another time out by the Aussies. Keep it up boyos.

We're having trouble getting an open shot but at least we're finally getting some calls and making the free throws. And Omic is really looking good, passing to an open man but in the next possession we miss another lay-up. Focus, dudes! It's 62:54 with 3 minutes left in the third. But Jaka Klobucar is really playing well with Gogi on the bench, driving right to the rim. And Zoran makes a nifty 360 lay-up, to make it a 10 point game with a minute left and a block on the other end. And Zoran goes all Gogi on Baynes with a great lay up to make the score after third a sexy 69:60.

Fourth period

Good lay-up to start the fourth and Omic forces a travelling call on defense, he's really impressing me, though his hook shot is not a thing of beauty at all. Goran checks into the game with some 8 minutes left and lays up a beauty in his first drive. Zoran makes a deep three to push the lead to 14 with 7 minutes left in the fourth. And Goran gets his fourth foul but finishes at the rim on the other end. And the Aussies are starting to play a bit dirty, getting our youngsters worked-up, we are relentless going for the loose ball, Edo Muric pulled down a ball with an Aussie still attached to it.

With 5 minutes left, our D is working well but again our offense is slowing down with Goran sitting on the bench. And we've got 5 fouls to Australian's two. Nevertheless, we're still up by 13 with 4 minutes left in the game and Goran checks back in as it's obvious we're a class lower without him most of the time. Some good ball movement from our guys and a cold-blooded three from Domen Lorbek push the score to 81-67. The Australians are getting a bit nervous, trying to push the tempo, shooting the first chance they get, but so far it's not working and SLovenians are showing great composure, slowing the game right down. Baynes gets a strong dunk but lands awkwardly, let's hope it's just a sprained muscle.

But the Australians aren't letting up, they steal back-to-back balls, making it a 7-point game with under a minute left. And Goran draws a foul with a triple-team. Dome Lorbek gets a hand to the face but he stays cool and makes both free throws to make it 85:76. But Australians make a three from way behind the line, keeping it close. And here's a great shot of Gogi leading the team, shouting at his players. But a good defensive effort and nice ball movement bring the game to a close, the final score is 90:80. And the cheering you're hearing is "Kdor ne ska?e, ni Slovenc", meaning he who doesn't jump is not a Slovenian, an apt cheer as we actually grabbed more rebounds than the big Australians. And that's the only way we can hope for a good result, if everyone is giving it 100% all the time.


Goran had 21 points and would get even more if he didn't get into foul trouble early, but he was a confident leader, making clutch shots, good plays under the rim, a few great assists and generally being the best man on the court.

As you're used to, there will be a follow-up article by kajkejti with all the quotes and detailed stats and box-scores.

I'm off to get a beer.

Tyler Ennis was drafted 18th overall by the Phoenix Suns because of his pure point guard skills. He averaged 5.5 assists per game and ranked among the lowest turnover players in college basketball in...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Goran Dragic and Slovenia (Team Dragon) are playing their first world cup game against Australia today at 17.30 (SLO time).

Before we all get lost in the euphoria that is the FIBA World Cup, here is a translated interview (part of it anyway) the Dragon did recently with

Was there a moment that you could say was key for your career?
If I look back at it, probably the European Championship in Spain in 2007. Especially that game against France, where I was covering Tony Parker very well. When I was face to face with Parker a lot of things changed for me. Phoenix Suns scouts were there. I wasn't aware they were watching. Later they told be this was when they took note of me. They followed me when with Olimpia and made first contact at an NBA camp in Treviso. That's how my story with the Suns began.

Can a Slovenian basketball player become a superstar in the NBA?
Sure, why not? You have to be the lead player in a team that is reaching for the highest spots - win the ring in the NBA. We will see.. (laughs)

What are the limits of Slovenian national team?
It's very hard to answer that question. It's hard to expect for us to e in the lead places. We have to be aware of something. We have quality basketball players, but Slovenia only has 2 million people. This is already phenomenal. Look at the Americans, with 300 million. They can make more teams and still excel. Basketball leaders have a database of players, that's why they're at the top spots. It's easier for them, they have more money, have more quality leagues. Younger players can get to a higher level faster. We have to come from small Slovenia and take a few steps before getting to quality leagues. Before you leave, you're 20, 21, 22. Then you have to get used to the new system, new league and you loose time comparing to the competition.

Is there a great desire (within you) to win a medal with Slovenia in the biggest basketball event?
Of course there is. I hope it happens.

This year, next year?
This year, next year, every year (laughs)

Do you dream of success or are you more realistic?
I dream. Always when going to sleep, I dream I get a medal or something.

Are you the main hero of the dreams, like a superhero in movies, cartoons?
I'm always the one to hit the decisive basket from the middle (laughs)

So can Gogi become a superhero in Spain?
Hard to say. We'll see when the last shot is deciding (laughs)

Which superhero was your favourite?
Superman was always popular. Then there is Batman. Everyone who can fly (laughs)

What is the difference when you play for Slovenia or Phoenix Suns?
It's different because it is slower. I can bring the ball up court and call a play fast, but then I have to wait for the others. During the preparation games I was walking up court and calling plays. It'S not my game, but you have to get used to everything.

Are you happy with your form?
Oh, no. Not in form yet. I have to be realistic. I'm not feeling great yet. Maybe I was holding back a little bit during the friendly games, because I was worried about injuries and I hadn't play in a while.
Now, when the world cup begins, I'll play at full power and not think about that.

What are you expecting from the spectacle in Spain?
I wish we advance and make it to the quarterfinals. I'm also looking forward to next year, I want to make a jump with a strong team at the European championship and get to the Olympic games for the first time in history.

Slovenia is playing in group D along with Australia, Mexico, Korea, Angola and Lithuania (in order they play SLO). The first challenge will  be the game against Australia today, which Slovenia has to win in order to have some influence over who they meet in the second round in Barcelona. Goran Dragi? will be playing full force today so we can finally get excited about real Dragon basketball.

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