Report: Suns looking to trade Eric Bledsoe

TweetThe free agency stand off between restricted free agent guard Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns may be nearing an end soon. According to a report from Fox Sports 910 host Jude LaCava, the Suns are very much open to the idea of trading Bledsoe: “I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” Jude LaCava said on Tuesday. “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.” “That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.” Phoenix offered Bledsoe a fair market contract earlier this summer valued at $48 million over 4 years, which Bledsoe rejected. The athletic yet injury-prone guard has been seeking close to a max contract, but hasn’t been able to secure an offer mostly due to his injury history as well as the Suns ability to match any offer he received. The Suns landed Bledsoe in a three-team trade with the Clippers

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What Is Carmelo Anthony Really Looking For?

When NBA players talk about free agency, it’s typically in laudatory terms: freedom of movement, the thrill of fielding offers and—perhaps most of all—having one’s talents validated.

For the first time in his career, Carmelo Anthony is about to experience all of it.

But like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Anthony must come to grips with that other, uglier side of the coming summer frenzy: No matter what his decision, he’s doomed to be hated and doubted.

So what, exactly, is Anthony looking for?

That depends on whom you ask.

It began with comments he made during an All-Star weekend press conference, wherein the high-scoring small forward stated in no uncertain terms he’d be more than willing to take a pay cut if it meant helping New York take the next step:

Without a doubt. Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, ‘If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying take my money and let’s build something strong over here.

Ever since, newly-minted team president Phil Jackson has made it a point to hold those words—fairly or unfairly—over Anthony’s head, something he did most recently during a pre-draft press conference (from ESPN’s Marc Stein):

The perception is we want Carmelo to be as interested in winning. When saying he’s competitive and wants to be on a competitive team to also being able to demonstrate that, if push comes to shove, in a situation where he may have to take a little bit less and we’re more competitive to bring in another player to help us bring this concept along.

The problem for Jackson is that while Anthony may indeed be willing to scale back on his financial windfall, doing so stands to take a back seat to another, equally crucial concern: winning his first NBA championship.

Herein lies the precarious push-and-pull: If Anthony wants to put himself in the best possible position to win, even if it means a smaller paycheck, the Knicks most certainly won’t cut it.

On June 12, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst first broke word that the Miami Heat were considering recalibrating the contracts of James, Wade and Bosh in an attempt to lure Anthony to South Beach—the logic being that the four might be willing to sign new deals beginning somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million each.

Given that the Knicks are in a position to offer him a maximum five-year deal worth close to $129 million, Anthony signing with Miami could mean leaving tens of millions on the table.

With a core four of James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony, Miami would undoubtedly enter the 2014-15 season as the clear-cut favorites to notch the franchise’s fourth banner in 10 years.

There’s just one small catch: Anthony—having chosen glory over loyalty—would forever be the bane of Knicks fans everywhere.

Re-up with New York for more than Miami might offer, on the other hand, and he’ll be labeled as money-grubbing, the perfect poster child for all that’s wrong with modern athletes.

At this point, it seems the only decisions at Anthony’s disposal that don’t guarantee a public persecution are to take an enormous pay cut to stay in New York—multiples less than his worth, no doubt—or retiring outright, either for religious reasons of fabricated health concerns.

Remind us again why free agency is fun?

Indeed, even Anthony, expressed in an interview with Vice Sports, is beginning to bristle at the notion that this offseason foray comes down to a simple calculus of costs and benefits:

The average person sees the opportunity to say, ‘Melo should go here; Melo should go there; he should do this; I think he should do that. They don’t take in consideration the family aspect of it. Where are you going to be living at? Do you want your kids to grow up in that place or that city? Do I want to stay the rest of my career in that situation and city? All that stuff comes into play.

Jackson understands all this, of course. Which is why, for the sake of both his and the franchise’s future, the smartest thing would be to take the money option off the table entirely, something Bleacher Report’s own Howard Beck hammered home in a recent column:

And really, Anthony might not be sacrificing much if he leaves. Jackson has said he wants Anthony to take a pay cut to stay, so he won’t be making the max in New York either. For the Knicks to gain any significant flexibility, that pay cut has to be at least a few million per year.

This is, by the way, the only sane position for Jackson to take. If the Knicks are ever going to contend, they cannot afford to devote 35 percent of the salary cap to a single-minded scorer who doesn’t play defense, doesn’t elevate his teammates and will soon be moving out of his prime years.

If Jackson has any chance of both bringing Anthony back and keeping the Knicks on the strategic straight and narrow, he has to take the money factor off the table entirely. Instead, any negotiation—either face-to-face or through the press—ought to be couched within one thing and one thing only: legacy.

Winning a title in Miami would certainly elevate Anthony’s place in the NBA pantheon. Jackson’s job, then, is to convince Anthony that the costs of rolling the dice on another Knicks rebuild pale in comparison to the beatific benefits of bringing a banner back to New York—to show that he won is less important than where he did it.

As such, maybe Jackson—who didn’t earn the nickname Zen Master for nothing—has a better chance than we think. Because the art of negotiation is less about figuring out what someone wants and more about convincing them you both want the same thing.

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Toronto Raptors Looking to Acquire the No. 22 Pick in Upcoming NBA Draft

The Toronto Raptors are in talks to acquire another first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft on Thursday.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Toronto is engaging in trade dialogue with the Memphis Grizzlies that would see the Raptors acquire the Grizzlies’ 22nd overall pick.

Going back the other way would be Raptors swingman John Salmons and the 37th pick. Stein reports that Toronto would also have to take back Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince in the trade.

Trading the 34-year-old Prince—who has one year left on a contract that will pay him $7.7 million next season—would be a salary dump for Memphis. He averaged 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 76 games for the Grizzlies last season.

Salmons, also 34, averaged 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 60 games with the Raptors last season. He was acquired by Toronto last December as part of the Rudy Gay trade.

Memphis would be interested in Salmons because the contract that would pay him $7 million next season can be bought out for $1 million if he is waived before July 30, 2014. This gives the Grizzlies a chance to create significant salary space on their roster in order to make other moves.

If this trade goes through, it would give the Raptors the No. 20 and No. 22 picks in the draft.

Toronto has been linked to Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis in the past, and Ennis has already gone on record saying that he “would love to play in Toronto,” per Doug Smith of thestar.com.

Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez were the two main point guards for the Raptors last season, but both are currently free agents. This means that drafting Ennis would give Toronto some insurance if one of Lowry or Vasquez leave town.

Aside from Ennis, the Raptors also have interest in Swiss big man Clint Capela, according to Holly MacKenzie of Raptors.com. Toronto was impressed with Capela during his predraft workout with the team and likes his length and agility.

According to SLAM Magazine’s Jake Fischer (via Twitter), Capela’s camp already believes that the Raptors will be selecting him with the No. 20 pick.

Having two first-round draft picks would give Toronto the flexibility to make some other moves as well. It’s even possible that Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri could try to move up in the draft by using those two picks in another trade.

 

*All stats are from basketball-reference.com

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Rumor: Knicks Already Looking to Trade Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin

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The New York Knicks just acquired Shane Larkin and Samuel Dalembert in a deal that also included Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler heading to the Mavericks.  Shane Larkin was easily the most valuable piece in this deal.
Dalembert also could draw interest from some teams as a rim protector, and while he’s not a veteran minimum guy, he also isn’t making a ton of money, currently making only 3,877,282 dollars.
@SportsSpotNet, formerly @NYSportsSpot, and insider for New York sports was one who reported this rumor via Twitter:
Report: Knicks are attempting to trade Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. Already.
— Sports Spot (@SportsSpotNet) June 25, 2014

Their are some rumors that Phil is already looking to deal them elsewhere.   What the Knicks would get in return is entirely unknown, but with a team who’s best player is Amare Stoudemire or J.R. Smith, pretty much any talent or value in a pick would make sense in a deal.
This team looks like they’re ready for an overhaul,

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Bulls looking like favorite to land Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is exploring the possibility of joining the Chicago Bulls as the deadline approaches for the New York Knicks star to opt out of his contract, league sources told ESPN.com on Sunday. According to the report, Anthony has spoken with a high-profile person living in Chicago about what the city is like. The Bulls have inquired about Anthony as well, as head coach Tom Thibodeau has reportedly contacted some of Anthony’s past coaches to speak with them about the 12-year veteran, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I even told Tom that there may be days that he will want to blow his own head off when it comes to Melo’s defense, but he keeps saying he knows he can make it work,” one of former the coaches said. “It’s not that Carmelo can’t play defense, it’s just how often. And he knows every trick in the book on getting around that.” The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Bulls center Joakim Noah has called Anthony numerous times, though the 2013 NBA scoring champion…

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Report: Bulls looking to trade for Arron Afflalo

TweetAccording to reports, the Chicago Bulls are in talks with the Orlando Magic to acquire shooting guard Arron Afflalo. The potential trade was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Chicago has long been searching for a scorer to complement franchise player Derrick Rose (when Rose is healthy, of course). Afflalo had a career year as the Magic’s top scoring option last season, averaging 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. The 6’5″ swingman has increased his scoring average in each of his seven pro seasons and shot .427 from three-point range in 2013-2014. Afflalo is also a plus perimeter defender, a skill that fits perfectly into the Bulls style. The Bulls have a couple of first round picks in this year’s draft that they can use as incentive to land Afflalo from the rebuilding Magic. Orlando drafted combo guard Victor Oladipo second overall last season and are almost certain to draft a point guard this year — only $2 million of veteran starting PG Jameer Nelson’s

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Ex-Marquette star James looking to make new name for himself

ACWORTH, Ga. — Dominic James was a star point guard at Marquette, an All-American and a former Big East Rookie of the Year; Dominic Wright is an entrepreneur, selling balloons in a box.
The two men are one in the same.
James, who plans to legally change his surname to Wright — the last name of his once estranged father, Greg — has launched a company called Pulloons, which, per the Web site “are celebratory gift boxes that contain candy and a balloon that automatically inflates when the decorative Pulloon Ribbon is lifted up.”
“Inflate a smile,” James says, grinning as he recites the start-up’s tag line, while sitting outside a coffee shop in metro Atlanta, where he currently resides.
James, 27, and his business partner, his wife Angela Phillips, a former Kentucky/Indiana State point guard-turned-model (they married last year, but she is waiting to change her name until James completes the task of doing the same) are waiting for a call back to shoot an episode of ABC’s ‘Shark

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Chris Paul looking to take Clippers to the next level

The horn sounded Wednesday night, and fans headed toward the exits. But Clippers guard Chris Paul remained on the Staples Center court.
Paul wasn’t particularly interested in soaking up his team’s 111-98 victory over the Golden State Warriors. He just wanted to shoot jumpers.
And he did, for 25 minutes after the game had ended.
Paul had a simple reason. “To practice,” he said. “During the game — and I say it all the time, sometimes you struggle with confidence — I just didn’t feel like I could throw it in the ocean. So I wanted to go shoot.”
It says something about Paul, a reliable shooter and arguably the best point guard in the game, that he wasn’t satisfied with his 5-for-15 night from the floor. He came close to a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, but he didn’t feel he’d done enough in the Clippers’ ninth consecutive win.
So working on his shot became his focus, not celebrating a win against a Warriors team that could

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Bracket Briefing: Looking for Cinderella? Try the A-10

USA TODAY Sports gets you ready for March Madness.

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Bracket Briefing: Looking for Cinderella? Try the Atlantic 10

USA TODAY Sports gets you ready for March Madness.

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