Jeff Hornacek told Doug and Wolf on KTAR that Bledsoe is actively testing the market, but it is only a matter a time before he reaches a deal with the Suns.

The free agency frenzy has begun to slow to a crawl, and Eric Bledsoe apparently has yet to receive a serious offer from anyone. Aside from a rumor that quickly evaporated about the Milwaukee Bucks preparing an offer sheet, Bledsoe's name has been surprisingly scarce among the daily onslaught of free agency rumors.

When fellow restricted free agents Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons received max offer sheets, logically one would have assumed Bledsoe to be the next in line. Yet nothing has happened, and suddenly it's looking like he may have to settle for something closer to the 4 years, $48 million that Kyle Lowry accepted to stay in Toronto.

Perhaps it can be chalked up to his'injury history, or saturation in the point guard market. Either way, the Suns are in no rush and seem to be just fine and dandy with Bledsoe taking as much time as he needs to test the waters, as expressed by Jeff Hornacek to KTAR's Doug and Wolf this morning.

"I think Eric and his people are just trying to find a place that gives him an offer sheet to see what we'll do with it," Hornacek said. "I think we're committed to do anything we can to keep him so I think it's probably just a matter of time until we work out a deal with him."

Clearly the Suns aren't bidding against themselves and haven't offered him a max deal, which they shouldn't. They're going to let the market dictate Bledsoe's price, and so far it's working in their favor.

Most of his potential suitors have already spent their big money and are now moving on to filling out their bench and role players. For Bledsoe, this could very well mean that the contract he ends up signing won't be quite what he had hoped for.

The more time that passes, the greater the chances that Bledsoe will lock up with the Suns -- possibly for cheaper than we thought.

More Hornacek

A few other quotes by Hornacek that you might find interesting.

When discussing Isaiah, more stuff came out about Markieff starting: "We're going to have to move Markieff (Morris) to starting now, so that's going to give other guys like Marcus (Morris) more time at the 4 with the second group, so we just felt that someone who puts on a little more pressure scoring-wise can open up some of those other guys."

And then later in the interview, he backtracked a bit: "When I say Markieff will be the starter, we're still at the point in the season where anyone can earn it."

On Isaiah: "He's going to help with the leadership that we maybe lost with Channing, so he's going to be a second voice."

On the development of Miles Plumlee: "The biggest thing for Miles is we want him to make a 15-foot jumpshot and not hesitate, so that teams have to honor that."

My take: If Bledsoe is in purple and orange for less than the max and Miles Plumlee is draining 15-footers without hesitation, color me one happy Suns fan.

Isaiah Thomas wasn't the glitziest free agent this summer, but that doesn't mean he's not a hidden gem. In terms of performance, fit and value Thomas promises to coruscate for the Phoenix Suns.

The first time that Thomas really caught my attention was back in January when I noticed that he was having a quietly spectacular season while writing about Goran Dragic's chances of being selected as an All-Star. At that point I slated Thomas as the seventh most deserving guard in the Western Conference behind Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard and Dragic. If he would have been performing at that level for a more competitive team instead of the hapless Kings I thought he would have received more attention.

Even noticing him there I mostly ignored him going into free agency.

I'll admit that Thomas wasn't really on my radar going into the free agency period. It wasn't a situation where I was dubious of his talent, but more that I was expecting the Suns to focus on different areas of need as the backcourt was already the team's greatest strength. It turns out that Phoenix seized an opportunity to bulwark it even further.

Performance

We spent a lot of time on this site last season discussing the historical significance of Dragic's stupefying volume efficiency, which culminated in him becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 20 points and five assists per game while shooting over 50% from the field and 40% from three point range. Goran absolutely earned the plaudits he received, and his selection to the third team All-NBA, but you might be surprised to see exactly how lofty of company Thomas found himself in the midst of.

This table is a list of the players that scored at least 20 points and dished out at least six assists per game last season. If the criteria was limited to players who averaged more points and assists than Thomas it would shrink to LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.

This is the type of offensive threat Thomas represents. Although he may give some back on the defensive end, not everyone on this list is known as a formidable defender.

Want some more evidence of what type of player the Suns are getting? In the history of the NBA the only other players under 6' tall to put up 20/6 are Calvin Murphy, Dana Barros, Damon Stoudamire and Michael Adams. Only Murphy did it twice. The Suns are getting a very unique talent that has the potential to thrive in their system.

Fit

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Last season backup point guard wasn't an area of great strength... and by that I mean it was a crippling weakness. This deficiency was exacerbated by injuries to Bledsoe (mostly) and Dragic. Past those two there was no scoring threat.

Ish Smith (bless his heart) played 1,006 minutes for the Suns last season and made one three point shot (out of 23 attempts). Prorated across the same number of minutes Thomas would have made 50. The Suns were fourth in the NBA in three point attempts last season and emphasized that as part of their arsenal. With Frye leaving the fold Thomas can help replace those attempts, even though it doesn't provide the same spacing advantages. After the impressive shooting improvements several players on the Suns made last season Thomas may very well be able to improve upon his percentage under new guidance.

With Thomas in the fold the team should have much more even guard play. In fact, despite the distinct stylistic differences, the offensive numbers for Thomas, Dragic and Bledsoe were strikingly similar. All three guards can penetrate and create free throw attempts. While Dragic and Bledsoe were both successful at getting to the line last season, only Markieff Morris averaged more than 3.6 attempts per 36 minutes among the other seven regular rotation players.  That's not to imply that the team was bad at generating free throw attempts, though, because the Suns finished ninth in the league. The presence of Thomas should only improve another strength here.

The Suns wanted to push the tempo last season and were somewhat successful, finishing eighth in the league in pace. Thomas should also help the team improve in this facet since he excels in transition. The Suns second unit (with the current roster) will likely feature a lineup that includes Thomas, Dragic or Bledsoe, Gerald Green and Marcus or Markieff. That combination should have no problem playing breakneck basketball and scoring in bunches.

Thomas, Dragic and Bledsoe all averaged between 33-35 minutes per game last season. There is no reason to think this workload shouldn't be mollified... since with only 96 minutes per game to split at the two guard spots coach Hornacek's mission will be able to appropriate enough minutes to his guards instead of limiting them. Instead of trying to eke out a few minutes to get Goran a breather Thomas will play well enough at times that it will be hard to substitute him back out of the game. The Suns new depth at point guard also gives them insurance against injuries. Not just major injuries that cause a player to miss extended time, but nagging injuries that could be palliated by a night off. Having Bledsoe or Dragic out of the lineup wouldn't feel like a death sentence going into a game.

Value

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Contract information courtesy of Mike Prada with SBNation.

This is a list of free agents who have signed more lucrative deals than Thomas this summer. Not all of them are worth more total, but all are more money per year. I think you could make a case that Thomas outplayed all of them last season with the exception of Kyle Lowry.

Thomas actually has something going for him that not all of these other players do. He has an elite talent. Thomas is an elite scorer. Only 21 players in the NBA were able to score at least 20 points a game last season and only nine of those did so more efficiently than Thomas. This isn't a mirage, either, as his TS% has been .574 in each of his first three seasons. Isaiah Thomas is a firecracker.

Players like Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons are being paid based on hopeful future production rather than previous performance. It's hard to imagine Marcin Gortat being worth anywhere near the money he's getting paid in the last two years of his contract. Jordan Hill is getting $9 million to get a team 10 and seven. Avery Bradley is more limited offensively than Thomas is defensively, but still getting paid more.

The four year contract Thomas signed will take him right into his prime and should be easily movable over its duration. This gives the team flexibility to move him in a package deal or even keep him and move other players in the backcourt.

A short term solution like Pau Gasol doesn't really fit the vision of a young team growing together. Based on money and performance Thomas may be the best fit for the Suns of anybody on this list. Does the shift of point guard minutes from Ish to Thomas outweigh the shift of minutes from Frye to Marcus Morris? I'd say very possibly...

Isaiah Thomas has ascended all the way from being the last player selected in the 2011 draft by the Sacramento Kings to becoming a quality NBA player. He even managed this feat despite being drafted by a hellish, career-killing team. The fact that they let him go in favor of Darren Collison gives me even more confidence this was a win for the Suns.

I think Thomas will succeed in Phoenix... because apparently he doesn't know how to fail.

Options. That’s all the Phoenix Suns ever want and that’s exactly what they’ve had this summer. As it stands, it appears that the sign-and-trade for Isaiah Thomas could end up being...

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It's over.  We lost.  Or didn't you hear?

But that's alright.  Because clearly Cleveland needed the King more than Phoenix did.  All over television, radio, and social media Cavaliers fans expressed how proud they were to be from Northeast Ohio.

The very return of LeBron to Cleveland brought tears to the eyes of many fans, one radio host remarked, "This is the first time someone chose us."

This is disturbing.

I've been to Cleveland.  I did not care for it.  As someone born and raised in the Hoosier State who now calls Southern California home, I can appreciate that we all have different tastes, and what works for me might not work for you.

That said, if the catalyst for eliciting such an emotional response of loyalty for your community is the return of a professional athlete, you live in a dump. I remind people at every opportunity that I'm from Indiana, rarely does that conversation involve the Indiana Pacers.

Maybe I'm wrong though.  This report reads that LeBron's return will bring Cleveland upwards of half a billion dollars. That leads me to ask two questions.  One, do you think the blubbery mess we were exposed to last weekend had these financial repercussions in mind?  Two, do you think they are the beneficiaries of such a financial windfall?

This totally happened, Cleveland. You are the crazy ex-girlfriend of sports cities.  How touched in the head are Cavaliers fans?  They are congratulating each other for not burning their own clothes.

LeBron knows you're nuts.  That's why he signed the contract he did. And you can bet, if every single move next season isn't to his liking, he's gone.  On the court, off the court, James is in charge.  Dan Gilbert owns the team, LeBron operates it.

Lest it be said that I'm unfair to a sports town that's been through more rough times than perhaps any other city in America, I'll confess.  Sports has also brought me to tears. I can remember exactly where I was watching that game.  I was crushed.  Absolutely, positively crushed.

I was 11.

Get it together, Cleveland.  Have some pride.  In less bat s*** crazy NBA news:

P.J. Tucker shed some tears.  These were a little easier to understand.

T.J. Warren is off to a fantastic start. Alex Len is off to a less fantastic start.

In the wake of the LeBron James circus, Phoenix did make a run at Miami's Chris Bosh.  Bosh resigned with the Heat, but Isaiah Thomas is headed to the Suns.

Seth Curry's audition has commenced.

Doing NBA business in Las Vegas was advocated by Robert Sarver, per Commish Adam Silver.

You'll have to wait at least one season for the Bogan Bogdanovich experience to kick off.

And finally, if you want a taste of what those Cleveland fans were feeling, grab a pair of headphones, crank up that terrible "Coming Home" song, and take a look at what the NBA would look like, if every player "went home."

Game 1: New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Hornets

Langston Galloway was the highlight of the day. The Knicks as a team have had some of the best energy here, which is mainly due to Thanasis Antetokounmpo who I talked about on Friday. Galloway has been his running mate in being loud on the bench and doing all the things you see the emphatic bench player do. He was ranked in the top 100 by a lot of sites for this upcoming draft so you look at that kind of guy to have a chance to make a roster. I don't really see that from this game, but he had a great moment to remember here in Vegas today.

Galloway only played 10 minutes on Friday missing all of his shots and did not play on Saturday. He responded today by scoring 17 points in the first half and the best part was the starters on the bench like Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, and Cleanthony Early going bananas once Galloway got on a roll. It's always cool to see the best players on the team getting rowdy for some of the guys who don't get a chance to play much, and they were going insane after every make for Galloway. Kudos to Derek Fisher for keeping in Galloway for most of the second quarter. Bullets..

  • Noah Vonleh flashed some more of his offensive game today. He had a very pretty play when he attacked the basket from outside, did a dream shake, and hit a double-clutched jumper off the glass. It looks like his handle and body are ready to be a weapon in attacking from the perimeter, he just needs to start hitting that three now. He did not hit one in the two games I saw.
  • Cody Zeller played today after not doing so yesterday and he still looks to be a work in progress. The Hornets attempted to establish him early and he got out-manned and just looked very elementary in the way he was trying to work from the post. I'd take a guess and say that Vonleh is more likely to play alongside Big Al than Zeller, so that gives Zeller even more time to develop. I never saw any flashes for him today and considering the names on the Knicks side as far as bigs go that was not a good sign.
  • Shane Larkin was much better today. He was not forcing his offensive game and instead he was just running the sets and taking the openings when they were there. He's very composed when he finishes with contact or takes a jumper, which is important because of how much bounce he has which can lead some players to be out of control.
  • ASU alum Jordan Bachynski got some minutes, but it's important for bigs to have guards that will set them up and Bachynski lacked that in the Hornets second unit. I think he has a future as a backup center in this league but he was not granted many chances to show himself off.

Game 2: Toronto Raptors vs. Dallas Mavericks

Yawn. Our second straight blowout of the day was between two teams that have not been that interesting to watch. Bruno Caboclo is an interesting prospect, but he's most certainly not in the "can't miss" realm like others. He's proven that he's a reliable three-point shooter and can play defense, but he's lost on the floor a lot and that will just take time. I think he's a lot closer than he was evaluated, but there's no question he's still a project.

  • I have yet to mention DeAndre Daniels and that's because he hasn't had much to show in Vegas. His shot hasn't been falling and he hasn't been having an impact all around the floor like he did at UConnn. To me it looks like the athleticism of this level might be too much for him. He needs to put on some muscle and then go from there.
  • Eric Griffin has been a fan favorite. Griffin is a high flyer who had the dunk of the season so far in the first day. He's one of the most bouncy players here and he's surprised me with how much of an impact he has across the floor besides just creating highlight reels through the air.
  • Bernard James has probably been the most impressive player from either team. He's a loooooong 6'10 center that has so much bulk and length that it makes up for the extra inch or two other centers have on him. He's a great rebounder and shot blocker who understands how to use his length without fouling. He's had opportunities in the post this weekend and I've seen enough to conclude that there is some potential there.
  • The crossover and scoring machine Ricky Ledo was at it once again. Ledo's shot selection is questionable at times but when he uses his quick handle to draw fouls and get to the line like he did today he can have a big impact on games. 5 assists in the first half showed that he was reading the defense well and trying to play a more complete game from him. This Ricky Ledo could turn out to be a very good pro.
  • C.J. Fair could never figure out the flow of the games this weekend. Fair was one of my favorite players in college who evolved into a very good player from his freshman season to his senior season at Syracuse. He did enough around the floor besides score and was versatile enough in scoring that you thought he had a future as an NBA player. He put Bruno Caboclo on a poster, but it didn't come together for him in Vegas so far. That obviously doesn't mean his career is over so keep an eye on him.
  • Yuki Togashi was a fan favorite once again. Togashi is only 5'7" so he sticks out to the crowd obviously. This was by far the loudest the arena was so far today, as they were begging for him to shoot and he went 0-2 from three. I've never been a fan of this as it sort of emasculates the player in my opinion. As our own Geoff Allen pointed out in the comments on Friday, Togashi is probably the best player in Japan at only 19. I think it sort of disrespects him as a basketball player like a lot of previous bench heroes before (Scalabrine, Burke etc.) but it gives the crowd some fun so sure I guess. Togashi did a good job running the offense and set some players up through his three games but never did much more than that.

Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Nerlens Noel was superb. Noel is just about everything you could ever want out of a low post defender. He was the best one I saw in Vegas by a landslide and I think it will translate to his rookie year. Noel has spectacular instincts when it comes to poking for a strip, getting in the right position for a blocked shot, and blocking a passing lane. Noel had 4 blocks and 2 steals at the end of the third quarter and that's not counting all of the strips he had that didn't get taken and all of the shots that he altered significantly because of his closeouts. His agility and movement on the floor is great and that allows him to make these recoveries for himself or his teammates.

Offensively you can see where the potential is. It really is a question of "if" when it comes to him being a reliable post-up option, but he's got the feel for some of it so far. His bounce and length allows him to get a hook shot off, but it doesn't have that great of a success rate so far. His jumper is still a work in progress but it does look half decent in terms of both his misses and his makes. It's a KG like super high release that is pretty much unblockable. If he can bring consistency to it like KG did later in his career it would be a monster weapon. The area of his game that is both the most promising and the most troublesome is his work off the dribble. He has such a quick step that he can get by just about any center so when he faces up that's what he looks for. His ball handling is so sloppy and loose that it makes it really easy for other defenders to poke it away and it's something that has to be developed. He is such an athlete though that he can shake someone.

I'll mention this only once before I start a fire in the comments (this probably already will but that's the nature of the beast), I was all in on him over Len. The explosion and instincts of Noel defensively are so rare and I don't think Len will ever be able to touch him on that end. Len's face-up game is enticing and he shows some good instincts offensively, but I think Noel has shown enough offensively like I said so the difference is not as incredulous as it is on the other end. I wasn't a fan of it then and after seeing both in person my opinion hasn't changed. It's going to be really fun to see them over the next couple of years and of course I am rooting for Len to prove me wrong. I am more so hoping that both stay healthy enough so that we can have that legitimate discussion a couple of years down the road.

  • Side note, I had to leave this one in the late third quarter. The arena has a policy that when the COX Pavilion is full if you leave your seat for any reason you lose it. For both food and bathroom reasons I had to call it quits then.
  • Andrew Wiggins had two of the best plays in Vegas but wasn't the standout in this one. His spin move leading to a two-handed slam was incredible to see and his blocked shot after that showed off how ridiculous his vertical truly is. A pull-up jumper he had later in the game showed his ability to read the defense past his initial defender and the height on his jumper is so hard to recover on.
  • Anthony Bennett looks to be a great scorer from the perimeter but I'm not sure where else his game can go. He is a lot quicker than I thought he would be both with the ball and making cuts back and forth. He really has a feel for how to react to a defender when he catches the ball on the outside, but he doesn't appear to recognize playmaking opportunities when he makes his moves for a pull-up jumper or to attack the rim. He's still forcing his jumpers too much but that appears to just be a summer league epidemic for numerous players. He's a great athlete as he has shown in transition the past couple of games, but I wonder how far this extends when he gets a true power forward on him. If he gets one that can keep up with him defensively and outmuscle him offensively (these guys are becoming more and more common) it's going to be a nightmare for him.
  • K.J. McDaniels was decent. I was all in on him after Orlando with the way his game looks. He's much more composed and smooth in his slashing than I thought he would be and with his athleticism you know he can finish. His defending extends all the way to steals and blocks besides locking someone up, which he did well on Wiggins tonight. His three-point stroke looks ready to go for me and I would not be surprised if he was in the Sixers rotation.
  • Jerami Grant was nowhere to be found. Grant was awful in the first two Orlando games before making a great recovery in the third one. He couldn't find a way into the game and failed to make an impact as a defender or an athlete like I thought he'd be able to do. He's going to take a while.
  • Jordan McRae is a name to keep an eye on for tomorrow. McRae is a bouncy scorer who can score in bunches while making impact plays in transition and on defense. He had a couple of blocks two days ago and four steals with a block today. He, along with McDaniels and Casper Ware will probably be playing in the NBA this season for Philly.
  • Casper Ware will be an interesting matchup for Tyler Ennis. Ware is a pesky and fast point. He really loses the flow of the offense sometimes but won't quit and is really tough on the floor. Ennis is going to have to keep a consistent effort on him defensively in order to win that battle.
  • Sean Kilpatrick tore it up on Saturday but never found a way into the game today. He is a volume shooter who gives full effort on both ends so watch out for him tomorrow.
  • One more thing I want to get out of the way, it's pretty ridiculous to use fouls as a barometer for anything from the summer league. The refs overcall just about everything in an effort I assume to "teach the players" but it just makes no sense. If you move well enough laterally to cut the offensive player off that's a foul, and so on and so forth. Aggressive defenders get mutilated like Gary Harris (7 on Saturday) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (11 in two games). Noel had 7 today but that's because he embraces the contact inside.

Game 4: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz

The final game here was a treat and featured two of my favorite teams to watch throughout my stay in Vegas. Milwaukee has two can't miss guys in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, while the job that Dante Exum and Trey Burke do moving the ball for Utah is endlessly entertaining. Despite being a sloppy game like most, this one was fun to watch and featured a lot of these guys trading shots.

The one thing that stood out to me that almost made me explode in basketball nerdness was Antetokounmpo guarding Exum. It was fascinating to see Exum plot his attack against a guy who was long enough and quick enough to at least make it somewhat difficult for him to get to the rim. Antetokounmpo isn't a lockdown defender yet and still has some things to figure out there, but his athleticism and build get him so far already. We are very lucky as NBA fans to have these two ridiculously exciting players to watch on two very bad teams.

  • Rodney Hood wasn't hitting threes again until the second half when he hit approximately 400. He looked better defensively and attacking the basket today but that's not why he got drafted. If he shoots like he did in the second half then all is well.
  • Giannis had some great takes to the rim. The length for him is so unbelievable not only because of the way he can finish but it's also in how long his strides are. A defender can be in good position and then he just stretches his away around them somehow and gets inside. A powerful player like Jabari will help Giannis learn more about that aspect of offense as well as help improve his already pretty decent IQ.
  • I would have taken any bet on Jabari Parker having an explosive scoring game in one of these three affairs, but it never happened. I'm pretty sure it's just summer league, but Jabari was forcing things way too much. Suns fans saw how frustrated he got by Miles Plumlee's block and that just furthered the drive to shoot. His great basketball IQ and court vision had us all thinking that he would be able to find the open man, but in some of these situations it's just him and a defender he can't get by. He's way too satisfied with pull-up jumpers and although they go in a lot he needs to find a better way to go about scoring.
  • Johnny O' Bryant found his way into the starting lineup the past two games and he's been a force. He's a prototypical post player that has shown off some pretty decent range on his jumper as well. He was faced off against Rudy Gobert for some of this one and that did not stop him one bit in terms of going about his powerful inside game. I like.
  • Dante Exum hit a couple of jumpers tonight and that's where you start to get excited. He has shown off how incredible his handle and agility are already and with that he's always going to be able to create space. The question is if he can hit the jumper now so defenders can't just back off of him and dare him to shoot. It's an incredibly short sample size but it looked good so far.
  • Rudy Gobert keeps flirting between a big sequence of plays and just taking over a game. I already wrote about him before but he's among just about everyone here in that it'll be interesting to see if any of this translates to the regular season.

Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers Preview

Tomorrow the Suns play the Sixers at 5PM. For a preview of the Sixers you can check out what I wrote about them here. As far as the Suns go, I would love to see something like Warren at the 4 with a Curry and Ennis backcourt with the offense centered around those two. Noel did not play in any games the day after a previous one in Orlando so that's something to keep an eye on. K.J. McDaniels on Warren will be tremendous. There are only 3 games in each arena tomorrow so my post will be up around 7PM.

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