According to noted player development coach David Thorpe, who also writes for ESPN, Suns rookie T.J. Warren showed enough skills to make him the draft's best offensive player.

There are varying opinions on T.J. Warren's viability in the NBA, given that he's not a supreme athlete and among the typical NBA players he will pale in comparison.

But Warren is unique to many NBA players in terms of body control and ability to create shots where none exists. It's good when nationally renowned player development coaches feel the same way, as does David Thorpe, the Executive Director of Pro Training Center.

The Suns definitely put Warren in position to show well in Vegas, and Warren delivered. Warren scored 17.8 points per game over 5 games in SL, numbers depressed by a 7-minute stint in game two (stitches) and a poor final game where he was forced to play center.

"He's got a knack for scoring," coach Mike Longabardi said before SL started. "A knack for cutting and moving without the ball. We want to utilize that. We want him to play to his strengths. He's going to have to improve his shooting, which he works on. We've got to just try to exploit mismatches and put him in position to be successful."

The biggest knock on T.J. Warren these days is the lack of opportunity he will see next year for a very good Phoenix Suns team.

P.J. Tucker is the starter at small forward, and Marcus Morris is a proven backup. Tucker is the heart and soul of the Suns, producing in unconventional ways but doing so many good things it's tough to sit him down. On just 20 minutes a game, Morris produced 10 points and 4 rebounds (by comparison, Anthony Tolliver put up 6 and 3 in as many minutes in Charlotte).

Barring a trade, where will Warren see his minutes?

And even in the wake of a trade to put Warren in the top 2 of a small forward depth chart, are the Suns really better off playing a soon-to-be 21 year old rookie who needs to learn to play D ahead of two proven SFs returning from last year?

Warren was impressive in Summer League, and is a wonderful insurance policy in case of injury or free agency (next year, Morris is an RFA) or trade.

Let's commend the Suns front office for bringing in a high-upside talent at what is generally a deep position. It's the same mentality that they used to double down at the point guard spot, finding two better talents than last year's #3 point guard, Ish Smith.

In fact, the Suns have a high-upside kid at 4 of 5 positions: C Alex Len (21 all season), SF Warren (21), SG Archie Goodwin (20) and PG Tyler Ennis (20). The only position the Suns still lack a "future" player is at PF.

The here-and-now is bright for the 48 win Suns, but the future is bright as well. McBabbacek is really doing their job.

There is still plenty of time for Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns to reach an amicable agreement on Bledsoe's contract, but both sides appear dug into their current positions. Bledsoe made his first public statement on the ongoing negotiations today, and his words tell the story of a man who hates the game, not the player.

Eric Bledsoe doesn't have the most gregarious, dynamic personality, so it's no surprise he had said nothing as his contract negotiations entered their fourth week. He broke that silence today while attending a street ball tournament in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. According to Birmingham WVTM sports reporter Kyle Burger:

"First off I'm going to let my agent handle it," Bledsoe said, while attending a "Ball Up" street ball tournament in Birmingham. "I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using a restricted free agent against me.  But I understand that."

Here is the video, if you want to see for yourself: WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

As we've discussed at length here on BSotS, these negotiations have gone exactly as prescribed by the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bledsoe had the opportunity to shop his services and solicit an offer, but no offers came. The Suns are reported to be offering  a 4 year/$48M contract to Bledsoe, but he's holding out for more and is said to be asking for the maximum, 5 years/$80M.

From an objective viewpoint, 4/$48M seems fair. It matches what the Raptors signed Kyle Lowry for, and Lowry's an underrated player. I'd say he's the Raptors best player and leader, which can't be said of Bledsoe and the Suns. Sure, Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons were overpaid in the RFA process, and I can see where Bledsoe might be bothered by that, but the market had their cracks at him. With no offers, or teams who can even offer what he's asking for, he holds little leverage.

The leverage he does possess includes only negative, lose-lose measures such as signing his qualifying offer for one year, not playing at all, or playing overseas. Extremely unlikely, but there's a reason the phrase "cutting off one's nose to spite their face" exists. It's because people sometimes do it. Still, I seriously doubt it comes to that.

So, all fair, right? The process played out, and Bledsoe is left with a contract offer that seems reasonable. But Bledsoe still isn't ready to sign, and is unhappy with the result. Some have speculated that he doesn't love playing for the Suns, but if he's asking for a 5-year contract, that contract will make him a member of the Suns for his prime. Doesn't sound like a guy looking for a different team to me.

No, he's upset because, although things have played out exactly as they should have under the current rules, he simply doesn't like the rules. It's a rage against the machine, if you will, and I somewhat understand. Bledsoe's a free agent, but he really isn't. He can go negotiate with other teams, yet they know the Suns still hold the trump card. If he were truly a free agent, and his salary and the salary total of teams weren't arbitrarily capped, how much would Bledsoe make?

I support the concept of a salary cap for the objective of competitive balance but, if I'm a player, I'm asking, "Where is the cap on owners' profits? Why can a horrible person and owner like Donald Sterling make boatloads of money even though he's managed his team incompetently by all accounts? Where's the cap on that?"

In the 2011 NBA lockout, owners squeezed the players hard for concessions. Although the players were able to stave off some of the owner's demands, the owners still routed the players in the deal. Owners complained that teams were losing money, and now we see franchises valued higher than ever before, so what gives?

I'm confident that Bledsoe and the Suns will settle before training camp, and the other half of the Suns explosive backcourt combo will be back in purple and orange, but this situation is revealing labor relations problems down the road for the NBA. Say what you will about Bledsoe's agent Rich Paul, but he also represents basketball's best, most marketable and most powerful player in LeBron James.

If LeBron wants to use his muscle, through his representative, to effectively protest the conditions of the CBA, there is more labor discord on the horizon.

No news is bad news when it comes to Eric Bledsoe‘s ongoing free agency negotiations. On Saturday, some news was bad news as well. Bledsoe’s first comments to the media about his free...

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

The Bright Side did a Q-and-A with Nick Denning of who closely follows his home town team, the Charlotte Bobcats. Nick provides an insider point of view on Anthony Tolliver last season.

In the wake of "he who people are tired of hearing mentioned", the Phoenix Suns spent $3 million of their boatload of cash this off season on Anthony Tolliver to be a stretch four in the Suns offense next season.

A year ago, Tolliver scored 6.1 points and grabbed 2.6 rebounds playing 20 minutes per game at small forward for the Charlotte Hornets (nee the Bobcats, nee the Hornets). He was a small part of the offense, focused strictly on being a shooter.

A startling 63.8 percent of Tolliver's possessions last year (222 total) came on spot-ups, where he shot 40 percent from 3-point range and scored 1.16 points per possession (ranked 33rd in Synergy). But wait, there's more! Much smaller sample size (only 35 possessions), but as the pick-and-roll/pop man, Tolliver shot 12-25 from 3-point range and scored 1.16 points per possession again (ranked 22nd). I'm not done yet, though. In transition, Tolliver shot 11-25 from 3 and 17-33 overal for 1.4 points per possession (ranked 19th).

--data courtesy of MySynergySports, via Jacob Padilla

Let's hear what Nick Denning, a big-time Hornets fans and writer for, has to say about what Tolliver brought to the Bobcats last year. I did an email Q and A with Nick this week:


Dave King: Tell me about Tolliver last season. I heard he played a lot of 3 because of McBob playing the 4. He made a good percentage on the 3s but didn't do much else.

Nick Denning: He did play a lot of 3, primarily because McRoberts was asked to play with the second unit as the stretch 4. His job was almost inclusively to catch and shoot from behind the arc -- Charlotte was desperate for three point shooting, and that was how he got his chance in the first place. When he started connecting at a high percentage, Clifford opted to play him over Ben Gordon (who played a different position, but was asked to do the same thing).

Tolliver's shot chart for the Bobcats:

Three point shooting was his job, but he did often make smart plays, and at times was asked to guard some of the tougher players at the 3 (Lebron, Melo, etc), particularly when MKG was in foul trouble. He's not someone I'd rely heavily on for defensive duties, but for short periods of time is serviceable. He also almost always made the right play on both sides of the floor. Three point shooting is his game, but don't overlook his high basketball IQ.

What impression did he leave you with, in his one season there?

Loved him. He was a late addition to the team so I didn't expect much, but he became a favorite in my household. My friends and I came up with the term, "Tolliver Daggers," because he often hit shots exactly when the team needed him to. We would also mimic his hand motions after he hit a three (he would often blow on each balled fist before blowing on both hands simultaneously), so look for that. For stretches during the year he was a difference maker, hitting the big shots needed for Charlotte to pull away or keep things close.

His three point shooting percentage was off the charts from December through February, shooting a season high 48.6 percent in December, while in February shooting 46.9 percent while attempting nearly five 3-pointers a game. Unfortunately his three point shooting dipped in March to 27.1 percent, and he was benched because he wasn't offering much else. And there in laid the problem, and why Charlotte didn't bring him back. He's a specialist, but the team needed more than that from him.

What should Suns fans look forward to? A bit-player who may or may not play? Or someone who was underutilized in Charlotte?

He wasn't underutilized, in fact I'd say his role was perfect in Charlotte. I wouldn't call him a bit role player either though, if he continues to knock down 3-pointers he will earn minutes in the rotation, although it may be hard with P.J. Tucker and T.J. Warren playing the 3. If the Suns want him to fill the void left by Channing Frye he will certainly contribute from behind the arc, just don't expect much more. He is by all accounts a great locker room guy, and will accept any role. I'll root for him wherever he goes, and Phoenix seems like a good fit for him to excel.


Suns fans may hope Tolliver was underutilized in Charlotte and that he's been underutilized his whole career. But I think the reality is that Tolliver will be a great spot-up shooter on the second unit, as a kick-out option for the Slash Brothers (Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic) to go alongside Gerald Green and/or Marcus Morris. The Suns really need that threat along the three-point line, and Tolliver can provide that with aplomb.

As you can see by the shot chart above, Tolliver is great at making the corner three. Only Tucker and Dragic were great at corner threes last year, so adding Tolliver allows Green and Mook and Kieff to focus on the angles and straight-aways they prefer.

The Suns, moving to replace the floor-stretching capabilities of Channing Frye, agreed to terms with free agent power forward Anthony Tolliver, most recently of the Charlotte Hornets.

According to RealGM's Shams Charania, the Suns and free agent Anthony Tolliver have agreed on a 2 year, $6 million dollar contract.

RealGM Story: Hornets free agent Anthony Tolliver has agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Phoenix Suns.

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2014

The 29 year old Tolliver is something of an NBA journeyman.  He has played for 6 teams over his 6 year career, including stints with Minnesota, Golden State and most recently Charlotte.

At 6'8 and 240 pounds, Tolliver is a small stretch forward, but thick.  Tolliver is a career 35% shooter from 3 point land. For his career, he has averaged 6.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and an assist in 20 minutes per game.

Last season with Charlotte, Tolliver had something of a career year from beyond the arc, though his rebounding numbers and 2pt shooting percentages were down.

For more information, you can reference this story our own Jacob Padilla wrote about Tolliver earlier this year for the Creightonian.

Tolliver confirmed the signing on his Twitter account shortly after Charania broke the news.

I AM A....^^^^^^^^^^^^ ! lol #blessed #thedecision #partpuzzle #notthathard #hinthinthint #thatismySON

— Anthony Tolliver (@ATolliver44) July 16, 2014

Page 1003 of 2370


Web Links

Sponsored Ads