Slovenia takes the win in their first World Cup game behind the fire breathing Dragon. Final score 90:80.

First game of the World Cup proved to be a real thrill for Slovenian fans. And for Goran Dragic fans especially. He came out strong and though limited to only 26 minutes (due to foul trouble) still managed to get team highs in most categories. His full stat line read 21 points on 8/12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 4 fouls with 5 turnovers. That's very impressive considering defenses are preparing especially for him. Can't stop the Dragon.

The full game stats can be found here. You can find some game highlights on this page. Not much of Goran for some reason, but you can see a nice Zoran Dragi? move at the end of the second video, which features the last 5 minutes of the 3rd. Hopefully more Dragon highlights will come.

After game statements

Goran Dragi?:

This was a very important game for us. I think we did a good job. We showed our true character and proved we're a team, not just individual players. I'm not completely satisfied with my game yet. I can feel I'm missing (more) games. I'm out of breath quickly and that's also probably why I made some stupid mistakes.

We won the rebound game, but I think it was decided by the pick and roll. We knew they have Baynes, Jawai and especially Anderson, are very bad on defense in pick, so we mostly played pick and roll, penetrated, got baskets from it and deservingly won. They are a very physical team. Like you could see they were pressuring the play during the whole game. They tried to tire us out, and it worked a bit. But in the end we kept a fairly cool head to bring the game to a finish. Now we have to take care of business through the rest of the games against (Lithuania) Korea, Angola and Mexico.

Jure Zdovc:

I want to congratulate the players. This was entirely their win. They played at a high level. Even when we fell and had problems, we picked ourselves up. In fact everyone who stepped on court gave their part. They were fearless and firm. It wasn't easy, it was a hard game for everyone. We got rid of the pressure. There was the right spark. We felt it in the morning that it was right. They came together like they're suppose to.

Team Slovenia is playing Mexico tomorrow at the same time as today 5.30pm Slovenian time (8.30am Phoenix). If all goes according to plan this should be an easy win for Slovenia (I should knock on wood), especially if the Dragon continues with this type of efficiency.

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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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...)

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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)

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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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

Roster

- 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?

Roster

- 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.

Summary

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...

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