You know that Slovenia lost to Team USA today in convincing fashion.

No surprise there. A country with 400 million people to choose from can beat a country with 2 million people to choose from. Slovenia is a country full of heart, trust and effort but they are not blessed with the same level of athleticism as the very best the country of 'Murca can offer. That's just the way it is.

I loved that Marc Stein got some time with Goran Dragic after the game:

"Their energy is unbelievable," Dragic told ESPN.com just outside Slovenia's locker room, having managed a mere six points in 21 minutes Tuesday night against the swarms of NBA peers that never left him alone in Team USA's 101-71 exhibition rout.

"It's hard. Especially on the pick-and-roll tonight, I didn't see any solutions."

---

"It was crazy. It felt like three or four guys on me the whole time. I can beat one or two guys, but then they're so athletic, it's really tough to [get] open. Or even if you find [another] open guy, their rotations are so fast. It's tough."

---

"The NBA can offer so many good players, even if those other guys didn't come, USA still has a good chance to win a gold medal," Dragic said.

"It's them and Spain. But the way they play so aggressively, they can pressure the whole court. They can beat anyone."

--Dragic to Stein of ESPN

Dragic was understandably frustrated after the game. He was still on limited minutes, thanks to an agreement with the Suns, but that minutes-limit will end once the World Cup starts this weekend. At that point, Dragic will play all of their games and as many minutes as his coach needs. And then its back to training camp.

Stephen Curry didn't feel bad for his Pacific Division foe, but did throw out this nugget to Stein:

"The scary thing is it might make him a little better going into next season, having demanded all that attention."

The Los Angeles Clippers traded Jared Dudley to the Milwaukee Bucks today for the second round pick they gave up, along with Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, to get him and J.J. Redick last July.

Let me see if I can get this straight. First, the Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers engaged in a four-player trade. Then the Suns and Bucks engaged in another trade involving one of those four players. And now Clippers and Bucks have made a trade involving another of those four players.

Three teams, three trades, all involving the original four players.

To recap, the Phoenix Suns last summer traded away fan favorite Jared Dudley for the rights to at least one year of a potential All-Star player in Eric Bledsoe, as well as a year of Ish Smith and Slava Kravtsov, who to varying degrees helped the Suns fight all season for a playoff spot.

The Clippers swapped Bledsoe, who would have played real well next to Chris Paul in retrospect, and a one-year rental in Caron Butler for oft-injured J.J. Redick and what turned out to be a more expensive one-year rental in Jared Dudley.

The Bucks, well, are just acquiring usable players for money. I mean, they've basically swapped one-year rentals on Ish Smith and Slava Kravtsov for one-year rentals on the more playable Caron Butler and Jared Dudley. Not bad on a talent swap, but pretty much a "shrugger".

With a twelve month time delay, here's the result of that Dudley trade last summer.

Los Angeles Clippers

  • In: J.J. Redick
  • Out: Eric Bledsoe

Milwaukee Bucks

  • In: Jared Dudley, 2017 first round pick
  • Out: rights to J.J. Redick

Phoenix Suns

  • In: Eric Bledsoe
  • Out: Jared Dudley

So, the Bucks ended up with Jared Dudley and a future #1 for simply being available for the sign-and-trade last year of a free agent who was leaving anyway. Why not? Good move for the Bucks, though neither Butler last year nor Dudley this year is a franchise changer.

The Clippers gave up a potential All-Star for the steady J.J. Redick in a solid, four-year contract and shouldabeen starting small forward in Jared Dudley. But if the Clippers had known that Bledsoe could play full-time next to Paul, they might have just decided to stay with Bledsoe. Except that with huge commitments to Paul, Griffin and Jordan they most likely would have had to let Bledsoe walk this summer for nothing. (interesting thought here - if Clippers had let Bledsoe play 32 minutes a game for 43 games - with him missing half-season again - and then it be known they wouldn't match an offer, would Bledsoe have gotten that max contract this summer? Not as easy to answer as you might think)

The Suns, for their part, swapped a role player who was losing minutes for a potential franchise-changing player who certainly contributed to a one-year turnaround from a 25-win team to a 48-win team. In the process, they also got a season of Ish Smith, who filled in admirably for the injured Bledsoe to help keep the Suns alive. But make no mistake, the Suns were the Slash Brothers last year, courtesy of the Dudley trade.

Of course, the Suns coming out the winner in this series of trades depends on their ability to keep Eric Bledsoe. Otherwise, it amounts to a bunch of guys who only stayed with their new team for one year... and J.J. Redick, who was basically a free agent signing.

Still, at minimum, it appears the Suns will get two years of Bledsoe. And that's a darn good haul for Jared Dudley.

The Phoenix Suns championship odds are not as high as you may think. According to Bovada, the Suns currently have 100/1 odds to win the championship. The long odds probably have something to do with...

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Goran Dragic didn’t force anything he didn’t need to, and he didn’t have the opportunity to do much more than that. Team USA closed its World Cup exhibition schedule with a 101-71...

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It's a league of competition. But Isaiah Thomas still wants Eric Bledsoe back, even though Bledsoe will take his starting job. And Goran Dragic wants Bledsoe back, even though Bledsoe could be making twice what Dragic makes.

In any professional sport, your teammates are your competition as much as any opponent. You have to be competitive to win a starting position or even big minutes. On the Phoenix Suns, who project to have three staring-caliber point guards on the roster next season, competition will be at hand all season long.

Competition over camaraderie

I recently became more aware of this bit of natural selection when my daughter's boyfriend was drafted into the Braves organization this summer. After a month in rookie ball, he told her what adjustments he's had to make in the pros. There's the six meals a day to gain weight and the constant workouts in between games, as well as the nomadic lifestyle of living in a hotel.

But what struck him the most was the new level of competition among his teammates. In high school and club ball, it's all about building up your teammates and supporting them at every turn. Even the ones who play your position. "TEAM" is central in amateur sport. The pros are different. When you pitch well, your pitching mates don't talk to you as much. When you pitch poorly, they're suddenly around again. That's because your performance has so much to do with whether they are moving up the organization or bagging groceries next year.

Such is the case at every level of pro sport. So it's unusual when you hear of genuine love and support for each other, even at the highest levels.

Yet in true valley fashion, at least two of the point guards welcome the company of a third. Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas both want Eric Bledsoe back, even though it will cost them minutes and maybe even a starting position.

Prior Years

Last year in Phoenix was quite cleansing to the soul. No one was fighting each other, or fighting for more minutes over a teammate. It helps when you're already at the top, and your contract is secure.

Here's a taste of the competition, and how one player handles it.

A lot has been said about you and Eric Bledsoe. How did you perceive the whole story of his arrival and thus also of his status in the team? Did you feel threatened?

GD: I did not feel threatened. Of course, you are looking a bit differently about the whole thing if you get into the competition. But I was even more self-confident, and I even more "chew" on training. Many people say that competition is healthy, and I agree with that. I'm not afraid of anybody, I'll always give my best, and if I don't succeed, I can't do anything more.

--Dragic interview with Slovenian media, December 2013

In contrast, here's what Kendall Marshall had to say about having competition at the point guard position last year.

"First of all winning, but my second goal is to kind of prove that I can be a contributor on this team," Marshall said. "I've been in prove-it mode since I got here, I think. With them bringing in [Goran Dragic] last year, bringing [Eric Bledsoe] in this year - they're two great guys, I'm very excited to play with them. But at the same time, I want to prove that I can play with them and be on the court with them."

--Marshall, before Summer League last year

And then there's Sebastian Telfair from 2012, when Marshall was drafted and they had to fight for the back up role."It's going to be war.

"It's going to be war," Telfair repeated about their training camp battle during Monday's Media Day festivities. "I don't know if you guys are going to be down there [at training camp], but you might want to get down there. It's going to be a sight to see.

"You've got to be competitive. When we step into that building to play against another team that competitive nature will go down versus each other, but training camp is the best part to go out there and show what you've been working on this summer and show how dedicated you are to the game. I'm a lot better as a player when I'm competing."

2014 no different, but two are holding out the olive branch

Next year won't be as easy, with the Suns facing so many expiring contracts at key positions. Dragic himself could be a free agent next summer, and most likely will be. He's even hinted at it already.

But does that mean he doesn't want Bledsoe mucking up the works by coming back?

No.

Just in the last few days, incumbent star Goran Dragic - he of the expiring $7.5 million contract - and new free agent Isaiah Thomas - he of the long-term $7-million-per-year contract - both told reporters that they still want Eric Bledsoe back in Phoenix this season.

RealGM: Do you stay in touch with Eric Bledsoe? Do you receive information about his situation and do you pay attention to it?

Dragic: I follow him on Twitter. I talked with Jeff couple of weeks ago and they still didn't know if they are going to offer him a contract. We are waiting for his decision. But I think he is a big part of this team. He was great last year and we played together well. I hope he will sign for the next year.

--Dragic to RealGM in the past few days

And then Isaiah Thomas weighed in as well.

"People always ask me, ‘What's going to happen with you, Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic?' At the end of the day I'm going to play, we're going to play together, we're going to have fun with it and we're going to figure it out," Thomas said.

"I mean whatever happens, it's for the best, and that's how I'm going about it. We're going to compete each and every day, we're going to make each other better and we're going to do what's best for the team. ... The coaching staff and the organization said, ‘You're going to be a big part of what we do. We want Eric Bledsoe back - we hope he comes back because we feel like with the three of you guys it would be a combination that no other NBA team has.' One thing that's good about it is that we're three different basketball players, three different guards; we're not all the same, we go about our ways differently, we play the game of basketball differently and we can complement each other in different ways. I'm just excited about it."

--Thomas to Alex Kennedy of basketballinsiders.com

In a game that's all about competition and beating out that competition, the two signed point guards want the third, unsigned one back. Even knowing the unsigned one will potentially make almost double what each of them make in a season. They don't care about that.

They want to be that three-headed monster. They want run it down opponents' throats. And they don't worry about anything else. Thomas is okay coming off the bench. He signed with that understanding.

Dragic and Thomas realize the Suns are better with the Slash Triplets intact. We can even still call them the Slash Brothers. I am sure that, if and when Bledsoe signs up, the Suns and national media will tout the Suns with those three players on the billboards.

Come on, Eric. Get this over with and join up for good.

Re-form the Slash Brothers!

Odds and Ends

USA vs. Slovenia, on ESPN2 today at 11:00am AZ Time.

It's an early start, so make sure you set your DVR if you have to work. Hopefully, we'll get lucky and have Jogi, Kat, or someone overseas to recap the game for us.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I did it, and I challenged the rest of the BSotS staff.

So did Jacob.

But so far, everyone else on the Bright Side staff has been missing in action.

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