A mostly Dragonless Slovenian team fought hard in the second half to beat the strong and agile Angola that showcased some great shooting. I will not mention the awful refs, I will not mention the awful refs...damn

A shorter summary this time, I wasn't able to write it while watching the game. Plus, there really isn't that much to talk about.

First period a.k.a. is it game-time already?

Slovenia started really lackadaisical, not really paying attention on defense and moving way to slof on offense. It took two minutes for them to score, predictably with a shot form deep. Goran got an offensive foul in his first real drive (bs call, the opposing player was clearly moving his feet) and got a bit vocal with the refs, earning him a technical foul on the spot. Klobucar immediately replaced him, something he wasn't really ready for and it took some time for him to get warmed up, all the while Angola was pushing hard on D and winning the battle on the boards. There really wasn't anything else worth mentioning, the score was 17 all at the end of the first. Not something we wanted, but not completely unexpected, if we're honest as this team clearly lacks motivation against "lesser" opponents.

Second period a.k.a. Goran Dragic show jr.

Angola scored 8 consecutive points in less then a minute but The Dragon brothers with Domen Lorbek quickly answered right back, Goran with 5 consecutive points, Lorbek with a three to even the score at 25. But Angola was fighting back, taking the lead with some good ball movement and great hustle on the offensive boards. Enter the Dragon, with drives, kicks and shots from deep, he scored 14 in the period, and Slovenia came out on top at 44:43 at the half.

Third period a.k.a. the Ref show

Slovenia started the second half with some good ball movement and finally involving their bigs that were clearly superior in their ball-handling and footwork but there's no jumping over the Angolans, not without some mayor team hustle. The refs (damn, sorry about that, again) were still calling some ticky-tack fouls and Zdovc got a technical foul after expressing his opinion in a manner unbecoming a coach. A fe seconds later, another technical foul was given to Balazic just because (who was perfect from behind the line up to that point 3 for 3) and two good attacks later Angola was up by 8. But Slovenia fought back with good hustle on D and afther three periods, Angola was up by a point with 65:66.


Fourth period a.k.a. Ok guys, let's make things right

With Dragic on the bench, Slovenia couldn't get the lead it wanted but Edo Muric brought some energy to the team, fighting on D and hitting a three to push the score to 79:74, Slovenia's biggest lead up to that point. A few minutes later Klemen Prepelic finally hit his first  three point shot of the tournament and made it a 10 point game with a little over 3 minutes left in the game. Angola didn't give up, scored two consecutive threes and tried everything to pull off the upset and qualify for the next round, though they were visibly exhausted. Full court pressing didn't do anything other than give Lorbek a few freebie shots from the line, upping his total points to 17, making him the best scorer on the Slovenian team. Final score was 93:87

Summary

A must win game, Slovenia remained undefeated and kept the first place in the group. Considering all the other scores in their group today, Slovenia will keep first place after the game against Lithuania with a win or with a loss with less than 8 points, but let's all hope it doesn't get to that, as Lithuania is beatable (shown by Australia, who were themselves beat by Dragon and co.). Plus, winning the group stage, Slovenia avoids team USA until the semifinals, giving them much better chances to actually get a good result.

Goran had early temper/foul trouble, limiting his playing time to only 17 minutes (a blessing in disguise probably) and 14 points (shooting 5/8 including 4/6 form deep) all scored in the second period, and two assists together with three fouls and rebounds as well. One more Dragonsanity tomorrow and then the real fun starts.

Goran Dragic sat the majority of the second half as 4-0 Slovenia limited its starters in a 93-87 win against Angola on Wednesday, but it wasn’t before he scored 14 points in 17 minutes of play....

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It looks like the Phoenix Suns won’t be playing in U.S. Airways Center next season. At least, not under that name. The Arizona Republic reports that American Airlines, which merged with U.S....

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The presumably inimical negotiations between Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns are drawing closer to some kind of resolution, but while Bledsoe has plenty to risk by accepting the qualifying offer he also has the power to make this a losing situation for the Suns.

Orange is the New Black is a Netflix original series based on the experiences of Piper Kerman. Piper, a bisexual female played by Taylor Schilling, is sentenced to 15 months in prison for an offense (transporting drug money) that happened ten years earlier.

The show is based on the novel Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison.

The Suns may be approaching their own (dark) comedy-drama this fall.

Orange is the New Black: My Year on a Qualifying Offer.

Starring Eric Bledsoe.

In this case, though, the prisoners will be fans of the Phoenix Suns, with Bledsoe playing an unlikely warden and the organization handcuffed in their own right.

All of this is because, despite his obvious risk, Eric Bledsoe has complete control over this situation... and he can make choices which would make this end badly for the Phoenix Suns.

Here's how this shakes down.

All information per Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap/Collective Bargaining Agreement FAQ.

1. Bledsoe can't be traded without his approval right now.

If he doesn't agree to sign a new deal with his potential suitor a trade can't be consummated. In this type of situation the team is basically maneuvering under a set of player dictated stipulations. This isn't favorable to the team's best interests, or very conducive to constructing any type of realistic package at all. There hasn't been any a huge demand for Bledsoe's services, but this further expunges practical options.

2. Once Bledsoe signs the qualifying offer he has veto power over any trade.

Per CBA FAQ #100

There are two additional circumstances in which a trade requires the player's consent: (the first of which is) When the player is playing under a one-year contract (excluding any option year) and will have Larry Bird or Early Bird rights at the end of the season. This includes first round draft picks following their fourth (option) season, who accept their team's qualifying offer for their fifth season. When the player consents to such a trade his Larry Bird/Early Bird rights are not traded with him, and instead becomes a Non-Bird free agent.

In addition to this, Bledsoe can't be traded until December 15th. The trade deadline is February 19. That gives the Suns a little over two months to work out a deal during the season, but this situation is even further complicated...

3. Any team trading for Bledsoe will need cap space to re-sign him.

That last part of the previous citation is very important. Here are the ramifications of becoming a Non-Bird free agent.

Per CBA FAQ #25

Non-Bird Exception: Players who were to be Larry Bird or Early Bird free agents, were playing on one-year contracts, and were traded mid-season.

This exceptions allows a team to re-sign its own free agent to a salary starting at up to 120% of his salary in the previous season (not over the maximum salary, of course), 120% of the minimum salary, or the amount needed to tender a qualifying offer (if the player is a restricted free agent), whichever is greater.  Raises are limited to 4.5% of the salary in the first year of the contract, and contracts are limited to four seasons when this exception is used.

What this means is that if a team trades for Bledsoe during the season they will need to have cap space clear next summer to sign him to a new deal. If a team isn't under the cap the most they can give Bledsoe is 120% of his 2014-15 salary ($3.7 million), which is about $4.5 million.

Any team that has the cap space to re-sign Eric in that scenario will be able to sign him as a free agent. There will be no reason to trade for him ahead of time.

4. Bledsoe can't get more than four years on a sign-and-trade deal next summer.

Per CBA FAQ #91

Sign-and-trade contracts must be for at least three seasons (not including any option year) and no longer than four seasons.

This is the final death knell for the Suns. Once Bledsoe hits free agency the Suns can't facilitate him getting a better deal than he could with any other team on a free agent contract.

The Suns would have the capability to give him the most money and years (five, which no other team can offer), but at this point does it seem realistic Bledsoe would consider that option? It would seem safe to surmise that Eric wouldn't be salivating at the prospect of signing a deal with a team that forced him to take on this risk to "prove" himself.

The final possibility is that the Suns could work with Bledsoe to send him to a team that isn't in a financial position to make a "reasonable offer"... This still makes some sense, but there are other ways for teams to shed salaries (see Rockets, Houston).

Other cap considerations with matching salaries come in to play here, some of which Geoff Allen described in his article on Bledsoe's possible destinations, so obstacles are still prevalent. Even assuming Bledsoe wants to work with the Suns things will be still be difficult.

Will orange be the new black?

Will the promise of the most electric and terrifying trio of guards in the NBA wither under the pall of the stygian cloud of Bledsoe's impending free agency?

A scenario exists where Bledsoe has an outstanding season and leaves the Suns as a free agent next summer with nothing coming back in return.  A scenario which Bledsoe has complete control over. A scenario that seems to be gaining momentum.

This wasn't supposed to play out this way. The qualifying offer wasn't even part of the equation going into the summer. After all, since 1995 only 17 players have opted to go this route. Only one of those players ended up re-signing with his team...

Only Ben Gordon signed a deal worth more than ~$7 million per year (five years, $58 million).

This type of thing just doesn't happen.

But maybe it will start to more. Players are prisoners in the NBA in their own right. When a student graduates from medical school he has the opportunity to pick and choose his employers. Which hospital to work at. Which city to live in. The most talented college basketball players typically get sent to the worst teams and/or franchises (think Detroit/Minnesota) in cities nobody would want to be transplanted into (think Detroit/Minnesota).

Perhaps if the Suns aren't overpaying in terms of a max contract (which they shouldn't do) the freedom to choose his next destination offsets the risk of foregoing a huge sum of guaranteed money. Perhaps for Eric... Phoenix just isn't a desirable destination.

Barring an increasingly unlikely trade, however, Bledsoe is stuck wearing orange for one more year. A year that may be a little more black than anyone cares for.

After 3 games Slovenia is left as the only team in group D with no losses. Junaki doing their job so far.

Yesterday Slovenia managed to assert their dominance over Korea (at least in the second half). Coach Zdovc said this was the game he was most afraid of because the guys automatically relax against teams that are supposedly less talented. The guys quickly realized this was no time for slacking. It felt like Korea couldn't miss in the first few minutes and they kept that momentum going for the whole half. Thank Goran Dragic for carrying the team till halftime (to be fair most of the time). Coach Zdovc apparently got mad enough during the brake that our guys started taking things more seriously, had an outstanding 3rd quarter and took the 89:72 win.

Goran Dragic after the win against Korea:

We have to congratulate the Koreans. They play, not really weird basketball, but they are in constant movement, they do everything in sprint, so it's very hard to play them. If you relax just a little, are late just a bit, they immediately punish you and that's what they did in the first half. Then Jure (Zdovc) gave them a bit of a talking-to and we finally came together and got this difference.

And because it looks so, so nice, here are the Dragon's stats so far in the tournament.

gogistats.0.png

Take note; he is doing all of this in 26 minutes of playing time. So freaking efficient. If anyone wants to be in awe some more, check out players statistics on the FIBA page.

Today they face a new opponent: Angola. The two national teams did meet each other in a warm-up game prior to the cup. It was a blow out game in which Slovenia took a 21 point win playing without Goran Dragic. One would think this would ease our minds, but the pre-Cup Angola team was more of a B league team and really only one or two players from that team are at the World Cup. So it's a completely different opponent. That trip to China was such a waste.

So far Slovenia has 3 wins and provided it takes the win against Angola today, we still have a safety net of a max 8 point loss vs Lithuania tomorrow to take first place in group D. This has to happen in order for us to meet team USA as late as possible in the bracket. In this scenario: semifinals.

But like Zdovc, I don't want to discuss this in detail yet. First and foremost is today's game. The team knows they should not underestimate any opponent. Angola is highly motivated fighting for the last spot that will advance them into the second round. Subconsciously, it still happens. Hopefully that first half against Korea proved as a lesson.

Here are the standings so far:

Standings

Slovenia:Angola starts at 8:30AM Phoenix time

Poll
Which place will Slovenia take in Group D?

  66 votes | Results

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