Tag Archives: Eric Bledsoe

BULLet Points: Butler’s 32 leads Bulls to victory in Phoenix

  • The Bulls got off to a fantastic start in this one,  at one point going up nearly 20 in the first half. Eric Bledsoe and the Suns made things interesting, but the Bulls led virtually the entire game en route to a 103-97 victory.
  • Jimmy Butler had a season-high 32 points and really took over late. He played the entire fourth quarter and a Thibs-ian 43 minutes. He finished with six rebounds, two assists and a steal on 11/23 shooting. He’s now averaging 20.4 points on the season with extremely similar shooting splits to last season’s breakout campaign.
  • With Derrick Rose out due to an ankle injury, Fred Hoiberg went with Kirk Hinrich as a starter. Captain Kirk (the #gritgod) came up big, scoring 14 points on absurd 6/7 shooting with six assists in 24 minutes. In classic Kirk fashion, though, this was his only missed shot:

  • Aaron Brooks had a solid 12 points and five dimes in 20 minutes off the bench, but he pulled his hamstring pretty badly and eventually had to leave the game. I don’t love that the Bulls brought Brooks back after he clearly suffered a fairly serious muscle pull; he had to leave the game again for good and is now out for tomorrow’s matchup with Golden State. The Bulls deserve credit for safely handling Rose’s ankle injury in game, but this was a mistake.
  • Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson both had good nights and once again closed the game together. Gasol scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes while Gibson had six points and seven boards in 27 minutes. If Gibson is going to continue seeing crunchtime minutes over Niko Mirotic, you have to wonder if we’ll see another shake-up to the starting lineup soon. Seemingly everyone outside the Bulls organization is clamoring for Niko and Joakim Noah to play together, which could be easily managed by moving Gibson into the starting group.
  • Speaking of Mirotic, he continues to badly struggle on the offensive end. He went 4/12 with 10 points in 21 minutes, though he did knock down 2/5 from long range. His presence is still providing the Bulls with acres of floor space–most noticeable in his +6.9 on floor net rating. Opponents are struggling to figure out his game, falling for pump fakes and committing too many fouls. Soon, though, teams will figure his shtick out if the shots aren’t falling consistently. Mirotic’s value is derived from his ability to stretch the floor from a frontcourt position; I’m starting to worry that his highly unconventional shot mechanics may never yield a consistent shooter.
  • Doug McDermott had a pretty solid game off the bench, adding eight points and a +5 in 25 minutes. He also provided the funniest highlight of the game:

  • While Tony Snell has struggled to make any impact on the offensive end this season, the Bulls have played far better with him on the court. He led the team with a +9 despite missing all three of his shots. Now in his third season, Snell has gotten better at using his length to disrupt opponents defensively. The Butler-Snell combination could yield Chicago its strongest defensive wing pairing since Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer were at their peaks.
  • Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe combined for 44 points and 11 assists. They’re an entertaining backcourt pairing, and the Suns look like a solid threat for the bottom of the West playoff bracket. PJ Tucker annoyingly had his best game of the season, scoring 20 points with seven boards. A lot of fun bench guys got run, including Mirza Teletovic, Alex Len, Devin Booker, and Archie Goodwin.
  • Coming up: the Bulls continue the circus road trip on Friday night as big underdogs in Golden State against the defending champions, who are 12-0. If you recall, the Bulls handed the Warriors one of their two home losses last season. Quick note: Golden State is insanely, mind-bogglingly good on both ends of the floor. Steph Curry is one of the most unique players in NBA history and a joy to watch. Do yourself a favor and watch this next game, even if the Warriors win big. They could win 73 games.

Making Sense of Trade Deadline MADNESS

This past Thursday was the most amazing trade deadline in years for us basketball junkies. So much occurred in the 11th hour before the clock hit 3:00 PM EST. Twitter was a tweeting as deals were being reported left and right and everything was coming at us at once. All of this was really hard to digest right away, and still a few days later it’s not entirely clear what every team was thinking. So here’s your guide through what actually went down, and why.

Before we get to the “nitty-gritty” and the game of “point guard roulette” that was played, lets quickly recap all the minor trades that transpired. I’m going to skip over the really inconsequential moves because nobody wants to hear my rambling thoughts on Pablo Prigioni going from New York to Houston, or why Ramon Sessions was traded for the 147th time. Here we go…

Celtics acquire Isaiah Thomas from Suns for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick from the Cavaliers

Why did it happen?

The Celtics have been pretty fond of Isaiah Thomas dating back to last off-season. Danny Ainge saw an opening to get him and in exchange gave away one of their many future 1st round picks. The Celtics are the most “un-tanky” of all the “tankiest” teams in the league (those are words now). Boston is really not helping themselves only being bad enough to secure the somewhere around 11th pick in lottery. Suns pick up a future asset and cut their losses with the ill-fated Thomas signing.

76ers trade K.J. McDaniels to Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and 2015 second-round pick

Why did it happen?

K.J. McDaniels is on a goofy one year deal and because of his play this year some team is likely to give him an offer sheet that the Sixers aren’t interested in paying. Further, many in Philadelphia are saying that Sam Hinkie doesn’t really want to deal with K.J.’s agent after botching the initial contract negotiations. Plus the Sixers really like Isaiah Canaan and have tracked him since last year’s draft, and now have an obvious void at PG. Houston grabs another wing player who can defend really well and could see minutes in the playoffs.

KG minny

Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young

Why did it happen?

Flip Saunders is a genius, and when I say genius, I mean he makes other GM’s look like geniuses. T’Wolves traded a first round pick for 50 games of Thad Young, and then traded Thad so they could have a family reunion with the corpse of KG. Now they may want to extend the contract of said corpse. Flip you continue to amaze us all.

Trail Blazers acquire Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee from Nuggets in exchange for Will Barton, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson and a lottery-protected 2016 first round draft pick

Why did it happen?

Blazers get a key pickup in Afflalo who can provide scoring off the bench, something Portland needs desperately. Only costs them a future first rounder, and likely a pick that will land between 22-30. Nuggets who are now in a rebuild, acquire an asset.

All of this brings us to one of the biggest trade deadline clusterf&*%s we’ve ever seen…let’s dive into it.

In three-team trade, the Thunder acquire Enes Kanter and Steve Novak from the Jazz for Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett and two draft picks (one from the Pistons); Oklahoma City also receives D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler from Detroit for Reggie Jackson.

Why did it happen?

Let’s start with the Jazz. Kanter publicly announced he wanted out, Utah obliged and picked up some future draft picks. The Jazz are eager to start the Rudy Gobert era, and losing Kanter probably won’t haunt them. Detroit upgraded the PG position in hopes to squeeze into one of the final playoff spots in the East this season and prepare for the future. Reggie is for sure an upgrade from Augustin, and they could choose to resign him this off-season as an insurance policy if Brandon Jennings recovery is stunted. But that is something Stan Van Gundy will have to attend to later. They desperately want to make the playoffs, that’s why the deal went down.

Which brings us to OKC, who is a clear winner in this trade. They discarded an unhappy Reggie Jackson for a low post threat in Kanter, as well as some solid bench pieces in Augustin, Singler, and Novak. This gives OKC a really deep roster which could spur them to a title run this year. Augustin can definitely hold his own as a backup PG; Kanter at times is a very gifted low post scorer and may command double teams on some nights. They also acquire two lights-out three point shooters that could hit some big shots during the playoffs with so much defensive attention constantly going towards Durant and Westbrook.

goran dragic fox sports

In three-team trade, Suns send Goran and Zoran Dragic to Heat in exchange for Danny Granger and two draft picks, while also acquiring John Salmons from Pelicans; New Orleans gets Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shawne Williams from Miami.

Why did it happen?

Dragic was emphatic over the displeasure he had with the Suns front office, and basically forced Phoenix’s hand to deal him before the deadline passed. Pat Riley savvily stole Dragic for essentially nothing: some fringe NBA players and future first round picks that Riley himself will probably never be in office to select. Miami’s league-worst stable of point guards was their one true weakness now that Hassan Whiteside has emerged as the reincarnation of Alonzo Mourning.

Acquiring Dragic, who was second team All-NBA last season, was such a huge acquisition for Miami that for a short 24 hours they perhaps were a dark horse title contender before Chris Bosh’s scary blood clot issue was discovered. But Miami will likely be able to resign Goran during the offseason and could potentially compete in 2016. More importantly, Bosh will be okay. So the Suns acquire more future picks and rid themselves of an unhappy Dragic. They also receive Danny Granger and John Salmons, who both could be waived or just wither away on the bench for the rest of the season. New Orleans get a warm-blooded backup PG in Norris Cole, which is something they need if they are to beat out OKC for the eight spot, though it is highly unlikely. Jrue Holiday’s injury is taking a turn for the worse, and you really can’t have Tyreke Evans playing 40 minutes a night at the point.

In three-team deal, Bucks send Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Suns in exchange for Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee; Additionally, Phoenix sends their protected 2015 first-round pick from the Lakers to 76ers, and Philadelphia sends Michael Carter-Willams to Milwaukee

Why did it happen?

This was clearly the most shocking trade of the whole deadline. The Bucks imploding their frontcourt and trading their leading scorer during a playoff run is not a strategy many teams subscribe to. The Bucks must have felt that impending restricted free agent Brandon Knight was worth more to the open market this summer than he was to their organization. Milwaukee is not interested in paying a dollar figure potentially between $12-15 million that Knight will command this summer. So instead they swap in Michael Carter-Williams who is at least under team control for two more years.

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The problem is they’re swapping Knight for possibly the worst shooter in the entire league. They do gain a 6’6″ point guard and now have a stable of players who are extremely long and can defend multiple positions. Jason Kidd likely sees a lot of himself in MCW and must feel that he can work with him to fix his woeful jump shot.

The Bucks definitely improve on defense, but will now really struggle to score the ball in the halfcourt and don’t really have someone to go to in crunch time. That will really hinder them this season, but going forward with Jabari Parker and the Greek Freak, they will surely be an interesting team to watch. They also acquire Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis to add more bodies to an already deep bench.

The Suns get a pretty good replacement for Goran Dragic in Brandon Knight. Dragic is much better than Knight, but Knight may fit better into the Suns guard dominated offense. Knight is much more a combo guard than Dragic was and can be a prolific scorer. The duo of Bledsoe and Knight seems like a more natural fit than the Bledsoe and Dragic duo, because Knight can easily transition into the 2 spot. They painted themselves in a corner when they alienated Dragic and were forced to deal him and try and get some value before he became a free agent this summer. Phoenix really screwed this up, but Brandon Knight could pay dividends for the Suns eventually.

What won’t pay dividends is the idiotic move to trade the Lakers top five protected pick to Philadelphia. It’s just insane to let that pick go. They must have proposed multiple deals not involving the Lakers pick before they eventually caved to Milwaukee and Philadelphia’s demands. Losing the pick is bad, but losing Dragic and getting nothing return is worse. So they downgraded from Dragic to Knight and let go of an asset that had the potential to land them a future star this summer. Wow. That’s some Flip Saunders-like ineptitude.

So here’s what the Sixers and Sam Hinkie were thinking when they dealt away the “current” face of the franchise. The Sixers are not in the business of trying to become average; they’re trying to reach greatness. To the Sixers, MCW was just an average prospect who may have hit his ceiling. They did not view him as a future cog going forward; he plays the deepest position in the entire league and is 100% replaceable in their eyes.

Another reason for ditching MCW is that his numbers are inflated because of the run ‘n’ gun style the Sixers play, they have more offensive possessions than most teams. He also constantly has the ball in his hands and only shoots 38% from the field, and 26% from three (I just threw up in my mouth reading those numbers). His numbers are just awful by any standards for a starting guard in this league.

The Sixers want to develop a team around stars and MCW is never going to be one. By acquiring the Lakers’ protected pick, they are just giving themselves another opportunity to hit the lottery and draft a potential building block. They don’t really feel like they are taking a huge step back by shedding MCW either. By draft, trade, or free agency, the Sixers are constantly seeking the right opportunity to nab a superstar. Hinkie himself is one of the guys who orchestrated the James Harden trade. That is a type of scenario that they will be looking for moving forward, besides just drafting talent. Remaining flexible by staying way under the salary cap and gathering tons of valuable assets is what will make the Sixers a desired trade partner when a star from another team becomes available.

It’s not often those types of draft picks like the Lakers’ become available. It has the potential to be great, and the Sixers were selling high on MCW. Especially considering he’s a PG who can’t shoot and whose only viable trait is his height. All of this trying to acquire and develop around stars is easier said than done, I realize. But what the Sixers want to do is build something that will last not just a few years, but possibly for a decade or longer. The Sixers management is dedicated to building something special and you can begin to see through the mist if you squint really hard. The Hinkie strategy may seem outrageous to many and logical to few, but on Thursday they made the easy decision.

2014-15 League Pass Legends: Phoenix Suns

(image via Bleacherreport)
(image via Bleacherreport)

Last season, my League Pass Legends squad shattered expectations and comfortably made the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference. While I wouldn’t be shocked if Phoenix had a similar breakout, expectations are generally much higher than they were for this team a season ago. Last season, projected by many to win 20-25 games, the Suns burst out of the gate and never truly slowed down, finishing 48-34. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to crack the top eight in the absurdly stacked Western Conference (The Bulls and Raptors each won 48 games as well, and received home-court advantage in addition to making the playoffs out East).

This year, the Suns would likely have to win 50 games to qualify. That’s gonna be tough, but certainly not impossible. Phoenix is bringing back star guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe (fresh on a new long-term deal!) in addition to most of last year’s team. Dragic emerged as a stud last year, averaging 20.3 PPG on insane 50.3% FG shooting and 40%+ from downtown. That is some next level stuff right there. If Bledsoe can play 75 games, watch out. The kid is an athletic freak and in his first starting gig last season, he proved it.

The one key departure Phoenix is faced with is that of Channing Frye. Frye has had an up and down career in the NBA, including missing the entire 2012-13 season for heart surgery. He came back strong last year and provided a dangerous weapon in the Suns’ offense by spacing the floor as a big man. Frye is in Orlando now, and the Suns will struggle to fully replace his contributions with the Morris twins.

(image via NBA)
(image via NBA)

Speaking of the Morris twins, Markief and Marcus, they’re another fantastic reason to watch Phoenix on League Pass this year. The Suns, knowing the brothers prefer playing together, knew they could only afford to pay a combined $52 million to them. Rather than trying to figure out how to distribute the money, the Suns were upfront with the twins and let them decide how to split it. The Morris twins were locked up, the Suns received good deals on both players, and everyone’s happy. The Morris bros. should see a lot of playing time this year and their development, especially from range, is key to Phoenix staying afloat out West.

The biggest offseason addition the Suns made comes in the form of the NBA-tiny Isaiah Thomas. The Suns stole Isaiah on a four year, $28 million deal. The last pick (!) of the 2011 draft, Thomas has emerged as an elite scoring guard who can pass the ball as well. Thomas averaged over 20 PPG in Sacramento last year, which makes it all the more insane that the Kings think they improved by replacing him with the ever-mediocre Darren Collison. Thomas will be a huge addition to the Suns bench, and it’s hard to imagine a more fun/potentially great backcourt then a rotation of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas. I’m giddy just thinking about it!

(image via fansided)
(image via fansided)

Oh, and possibly most importantly…ZORAN DRAGIC!!!! The Bros. ‘oran Dragic are an incredibly fun thing about the Suns. I mean two talented, chippy, LEFTY, Slovenian guards playing on one team? And they’re brothers? So down. (Note: I don’t think Zoran will be particularly good or important to this team on the court.)

Overall, it’s going to be extremely tough for Phoenix to displace Memphis, Houston, Dallas or another Western Conference playoff team. However, this extremely talented core of young players combined with year two of the potentially great Jeff Hornacek at head coach means the Suns are a team I will rarely miss on League Pass.

The last domino of 2014 Free Agency: Eric Bledsoe

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The 2014 version of free agency in the NBA started off slowly, with just a scrap of Jodie Meeks here and there to satiate us junkies who just couldn’t live off LeBron and Carmelo rumors. However, LeBron’s shocking (to some, inevitable to others) homecoming kicked off a frenzy of moves that delighted the hardcore fans. Chris Bosh surprised by sticking in Miami, leaving Houston holding its collective dick after shipping off useful players to carve out cap space. Carmelo followed the money, the Bulls brought in Pau Gasol and Lance Stephenson presciently jumped a sinking ship in Indiana to join MJ and the Bobcats Hornets. However, as things have died down, two talented young players are still left without contracts: Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe. We’re gonna focus on the latter, as Bledsoe and the Suns are much more fun to discuss than the Pistons.

You probably watched Eric Bledsoe play in college and don’t even remember. He was John Wall’s backup at point guard at Kentucky in 2009-10, a team that included DRaT legend DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins and Patrick Patterson. Bledsoe didn’t play a ton, but his potential was obvious as the Clippers drafted him 18th overall in the 2010 draft. After two years of backing up Chris Paul and showing off his freakish athleticism and jack-of-all-trades skill set, the Clippers recognized the value of the asset outweighed the minutes they had available to him. They traded Bledsoe to Phoenix in a three-way deal that brought J.J. Redick to LA before last season.

While keen observers understood that the Suns had a potential star on their hands, many fans had little prior exposure to Bledsoe’s exciting game. Bledsoe promptly welcomed himself to the spotlight with 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists in his first game, a victory over Portland. He followed that up by hitting a game winner the next game, and continued playing like an All-Star for the first half of the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately, Bledsoe sustained a meniscus injury that forced him to miss nearly three months of the season. While he was out, Goran Dragic continued to excel and the Suns maintained their spot in the playoffs hunt. Although Bledsoe returned and also returned to form, the Suns off-season acquisition of point guard Isaiah Thomas was a clear sign that they don’t have a 100% need for Eric Bledsoe. His final 2013-14 stat line was 17.7 PPG-4.7 RPG-5.5 APG on .457/.357/.772 shooting, excellent numbers.

Here is where things have gotten interesting. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns have the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs with another team within three days. However, no one signed Bledsoe to an offer sheet when that three day clock would’ve mattered, and it’s extremely unlikely another team does at this point because of the cap space necessary. This is not uncommon for a restricted free agent, but the impasse between Bledsoe and the Suns in contract talks is big enough that the two have been at a stalemate all summer. Bledsoe wants a five year, $84 million max deal, while the Suns have offered him four years for $48 million.

As neither side appears willing to budge, the Suns are now forced to consider trade options, which is exactly what they’re doing. While very few teams have the cap space available to give Bledsoe the deal he wants, a trade would open up a contender to the bidding. Perhaps Houston would like to make a buzzer beater on their summer report card? Phoenix would undoubtedly receive less than they want for an asset like Bledsoe, but at this point both sides are running out of options. Bledsoe could sign a one year qualifying offer for $3.7 million and hit fully unrestricted free agency next year. However, the risk of injury is far too high to justify a move that bold–even robustly healthy players like Paul George can fall victim to freak circumstances.

The wild card in all of this is, in my opinion, the role of Bledsoe’s agent, Rich Paul. Does that name sound familiar? It’s because Paul, not one of the “power agents” in the NBA, also represents LeBron James. While the entire league was waiting on James’ decision, other free agents were preparing all their own contingency plans for the different scenarios. However, because Paul was focused on the first domino, James, it seems entirely possible he neglected what turned out to be the last one: Bledsoe. If Bledsoe and Phoenix are this far off on negotiations, it should not be a surprise this late in the game. Bledsoe’s agent should’ve been focused on finding the biggest deal possible that would force Phoenix to make a decision and ensure Bledsoe’s payday. While I can’t blame Rich Paul for possibly focusing more on LeBron, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Bledsoe change agents in the upcoming season. Regardless of that, this is definitely a story to watch.

Managing the Volatility of the Stock Market and NBA as it Unfolds

Hey Guys,

Last time,  I discussed the symmetry existing between forming a diversified investment portfolio and drafting a fantasy basketball team. What happens once the foundation for success has been set? Should you just turn on cruise control? While that piece may have been appropriate four months ago, this one should certainly help both investors and fantasy basketball owners alike in the immediate future.

Whether an investor is confronted with a down market (like the one right now) or a struggling fantasy basketball team, it is important to react calmly and rationally in troubling times.


Let’s consider the case of crippling injuries to one’s fantasy squad.  There are two types of these candidates: those who are prone to significant injury and those who just suffer the luck of the draw.  While those who drafted the likes of Marc Gasol and Al Horford were extremely unlucky, I don’t have necessarily have much sympathy for individuals who spent high draft selections on Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook or Kobe Bryant.  In any market, there are negative outcomes.  Some outcomes just have a higher probability than others of actually occurring.

Nevertheless, these injuries occurred and in hindsight everything is 20/20.  Sort of similar to a particular stock dropping 15% on a bad earnings report.  Binary events such as injuries in sports and negative publicity in the market do occur and thus need to be dealt with. While it may be demoralizing to cut one of these struggling assets at its seemingly lowest point, there are times where doing anything other than this type of activity is flat-out irresponsible.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns

Let’s talk about Eric Bledsoe and Kobe Bryant specifically. Both individuals have suffered significant injuries, but neither has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.  For fantasy purposes, the absence of a rule out have put owners in a bit of an conundrum.  Instead of ridding themselves of the asset at inflection and  perhaps adding a substitute, many owners have held the asset and subsequently faced a number of negative consequences.

First, the asset being inactive puts you at a severe disadvantage when it comes to beating the rest of the market.  While the other 11 teams in your league have 13 horses collecting valuable statistics for them, you might only have 12 horses competing.  More times than not, the greater number of horses triumphs.  (Note: many leagues have an IR spot and its existence takes nearly all the risk out of collecting injury-prone assets on the cheap.  Unfortunately, I spent $7 on Rajon Rondo in my league only later to find out the spot didn’t exist.)

Second, the idea of opportunity cost comes into the picture. Having a guy like Bledsoe sitting on your bench for a large portion of the season forces owners to miss out on being able to pick up an asset to help fill the void for the missing production.  The notion of opportunity cost often is the reason why a “superior” fantasy basketball team falls to a “lesser” opponent.   The same notion holds true for individuals who have held onto to Russell Westbrook and many others throughout an NBA season.

What many fantasy owners and investors fail to understand is that star players and blue chip companies are not the end-alls to success in the market.  Rather, the number one asset and priority one should be concerned with is flexibility.  Whether it’s having enough cash or asset liquidity on hand to invest in a suddenly hot sector or possessing enough droppable players to pursue a hot waiver claim, these actions are the ones that can make or break a portfolio or fantasy team alike.


Similar to injuries, there are times that owners and investors are just flat-out guess wrong on a certain player or company.  For whatever reason, the detailed research and analysis didn’t come to fruition.  In these cases, it is important to focus and stick to a predetermined strategy.  When initially selecting a particular asset, it is important that one considers all of its risks and determine a specific point where you can longer stomach the downside.  This idea is so critically important and often violated by novice investors.  If desperate and worrisome owners and investors divert away from a strategy and sell too early, they often get burned and sell low only to see higher prices of the asset in the near future.   From a basketball assessment, players that fit this mold this season include Bradley Beal, Joakim Noah, and even DeMarcus Cousins.

On the other hand, it may be unwise to hold onto an asset even when the downside risk parameter has been taken out.  Such examples include holding on to the likes of O.J Mayo or perhaps Deron Williams too long. Similarly, stock folk call this notion of holding a loser “hope”. And when it comes to making rational decisions, hope is certainly not conducive to logical decision making.

Thanks for the read,