Your favorite Serbian appears to be on the move
According to sport24.gr, the Suns 27th overall selection in this year's draft Bogdan Bogdanovic is close to a deal with Turkish club Fenerbahce. Bogdanovic was previously playing for Paritzan in the Serbian League and is close to a contract buyout that would find him playing for Fenerbahce.
Partizan is in the middle of a young rebuild after some of their most successful time in club history, so a team like Fenerbahce who has reached the EuroLeague top 16 for four straight seasons will give Bogdanovic more opportunities to succeed. Bogdanovic's teammates at Fenerbahce will include former NBA draft picks like Andrew Goudelock (#46 overall by the Lakers in 2011) and Nemanja Bjelica( #35 overall by the Wizards in 2010).
Both the Suns and Bogdan have made it clear that he is going to stay overseas for at least 1-2 years so this is a good move for him.
Who is ready to watch some Fenerbahce basketball?
Gordon Hayward is one of the best free agents on the market, and had a great relationship with his former coach Jeff Hornacek. Will the Suns make a big offer?
I get this feeling of inevitability with Gordon Hayward and the Phoenix Suns. Sure, the Jazz say they will match any offer made to Hayward to keep him in Utah, but I still get this overwhelming sense of certainty that Hayward and the Suns want to make it work in Phoenix.
[On his favorite place]: "For obvious reasons, Miami and Phoenix; L.A. We go there a bunch. Places where in the wintertime, you kinda just want some warm weather, those places are nice. I mean, you just kinda feel better when you walk off the plane and it's sunny. And you know, you get stuck in this cold weather and snow..."
"You know, he played my position, kinda went through the same things. Obviously, a really good shooter, and knows usually what was wrong with what I was doing or he would give me a little tip here or there. But a lot of times just working with me, working on the shot, everyday."
Derrick Favors, on Jeff Hornacek/Hayward: "Man, he worked with me a lot. I mean, he didn't work with me as much as he did with Gordon [Hayward] and Jeremy [Evans], but you know, I used to always go over there to him when he got done working with Jeremy and Gordon, and you know, just ask him for little techniques or whatever."
Before the Jazz/Suns game in November, won by a Bledsoe 3 with no time left, Hornacek was vey complimentary about his former protege.
Hornacek spoke highly of Hayward before the game. He compared Hayward's development with his own, adding that he believes the Jazz swingman is a year ahead of where Hornacek was at the same point in his career.
"I truly believe in a couple years he could be an All-Star in this league," Hornacek said.
In Phoenix, Hayward would be the perfect small forward complement to the two-point guard system. Much like Thunder Dan Majerle in Hornacek's Suns days, Hayward is big enough to the play the small forward position and make a ton of three-pointers.
Under Hornacek's tutelage, Hayward made 41.5% of his three pointers in 2012-13 - better than any Sun did last year. Imagine the open threes he'd get with the driving Bledsoe and Dragic dishing him the ball. On corner threes, Hayward has consistently made better than 40% in his career.
Hayward can also be a third distributor. He averaged five assists per game last year, his best season ever, and has always produced a small handful of assists and rebounds.
Hayward is also a good team defender, which Hornacek expects out of his players.
The first and biggest obstacle is that the Suns would rather have LeBron James and are waiting patiently for LeBron to decide his next move. Until then, the Suns won't sign anyone big.
The next hit-you-in-the-face obstacle is his restricted free agent status. Any reasonable offer the Suns make to Hayward would be matched in a hearbeat by Utah.
So to get Hayward to Phoenix, the Suns would have to offer $2-3 million more per year than he deserves right now just to hope Utah chokes on the number. This doesn't seem like the Suns' style anymore.
Judging by what Kyle Lowry just got in Toronto ($12 million per year) and Marcin Gortat in Washington ($12 million per year), you can expect Hayward to get at least that much.
And if Hayward gets at least that much, then Bledsoe has to get that much too.
And if Hayward and Bledsoe get that much or more, then Goran Dragic will get that much next year.
And if that all happens, Hayward would have started a process that results in the Suns committing $36-40 million per year in their back court and wing positions. Not unheard of, but that's a lot of money in your "little guys".
Still, I think Hayward will very soon be putting up 20/5/5 on average and be a quality team defender on a quality team. He can be a #3 or a #2 on a playoff team. I firmly believe that.
If the Suns sign Hayward, they will have to make some hard decisions on the other guys. Maybe it's worth it to commit half your salary cap to three guys if they're good enough and have the right chemistry.
The awesome Mike Schmitz has created a scouting report on Hayward. Watch this thing. Please. Many of you have not seen Hayward play much. This is your chance to really find out what Hayward is all about.
What is the value of a penny? One cent? The unnecessary element in a 99c transaction in the state of Oregon? Think again...
There is a certain feeling that is unmistakable and difficult to shake off no matter the circumstances. When you have this feeling of an, unknown, but missing piece to the puzzle it eats at you until you can figure it out.
If you forget that actors name in that one movie you jump on the IMBD App and search until you find out. In a pinch Google searches make us all look and feel smarter than we probably are. This however is an unshakable feeling of loss that, until it is pinpointed to an origin, gnaws away at you like a dog on a bone until you get it back.
For the Phoenix Mercury in 2013 they had that feeling all year trying to figure out just what was missing.
They had their star back in Diana Taurasi, a rookie phenom in Brittney Griner, and a pair overqualified role players in DeWanna Bonner and Candace Dupree. That was good enough to get them to the Conference Finals, but then fell short as they were missing something. Missing someone...
What they were missing was leadership, fearlessness, 13.0 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game, and 5.0 free-throw attempts per game as a starter.
They were missing their (lucky) Penny Taylor.
Statistical impact only begins to describe the former robin to Diana Taurasi's batman in this line-up. Over the years her game has regressed because of injuries and age, but Taylor is still the same impact player she was five years ago when the Mercury won their second title in three years. Her demeanor, attitude, and presence have been a major boost for the team in a uniform rather than in a suit.
While Taylor is no longer the robin for this team she has the ability to play that role when necessary, like Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, doing what is necessary no matter what that means.
Then rising to the occasion when it matters the most.
"For me I'm not concerned about how much I do or how little I do," Penny Taylor on her role with the team. "At this point in my career I'm not concerned about scoring 20 points. It is all about helping in the right ways. I'm just playing a role and I am happy to do that."
Since being inserted into the starting line-up five games ago the Mercury are 5-0 on the season riding a five game winning streak (6-3 overall with her on the bench) and the team has found a gear to play with that suits them.
"She give us size, shooting, another play-maker, and on the flip side we put DB on the ball and she is guarding everyone," Taurasi on Taylor's impact on the entire team. "She is pretty much Scottie Pippen out there."
What happens with Taylor on the floor is more than points, rebounds, assists, and statistical impact on the court. She bonds the team together allowing Bonner to play great defense, Griner to have more one-on-one opportunities, Taurasi to get breaks in play-making, and Erin Phillips to come off the bench to lead the second unit. Her impact has fingerprints on every aspect of the game as Taurasi touched on with the change in Bonner's role.
After tonight's game barring unforeseen circumstances Taylor will have already doubled her minutes played in only 15 games so far this year from last year. The team made the conference finals with Taylor as a part-time player, part-time spectator and this year, the sky seems to be the limit.
Taylor is crashing at the rim, getting to the free-throw line, and playing like a vintage 2007 version of herself right now.
"I think I have always played that way and I think it kind of helps me with the injuries as well (laughs)..." Taylor assessing herself. "I do what I need to do. I'm better going to the basket and I've never been a mid-range player so this is pretty much what I have always done."
In a unique way Taylor is not allowing her injuries to scare her into a timid approach to the game, but flipping the script on common philosphy using the injuries as a rationale to play harder.
Like, what else can go wrong. I am just going to go play ball.
Penny Taylor is ballin' and the Mercury have found their Lucky Penny.