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FIBA World Cup Report Day 1

Nate Duncan examines some of the more interesting games from day one of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Nate Duncan

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With day one of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in the books, here’s a look at some of the notable games of the day.

USA 114-55 Finland

The story in this game was the stifling US defense.  Finland certainly was overmatched, but the Americans’ execution defensively was excellent.  It was not just pressuring for steals with superior athletes—USA consistently executed to deny the screen to pick and roll ballhandlers (known as icing, downing or bluing the pick and roll in various systems) and prevent Finland’s guards from getting into the middle of the court.  The most encouraging aspect for Team USA was how well they defended with DeMarcus Cousins on the court as the backup center behind Anthony Davis.  He did well executing the scheme and taking up space inside.

The result of that defense was absolute carnage in the first half for the Finns. At the half they had managed 18 points on 50 possessions, a mere 36 points per 100 possessions.  They had only one less turnover than points, good for a 34 percent turnover rate.  The shooting was no better, at 6/36.  The capper was an 0/17 second quarter in which they managed a mere two points.  It was never expected that Finland would challenge the Americans, but it was still a disappointing result for a team that pulled some big upsets in EuroBasket 2013 with wins against Turkey, Greece, Slovenia and Russia. As many Finns noted, the squad appeared a little starstruck against the US.  They badly bricked many of the few open shots they got, missed layups and fumbled passes out of bounds.

Nevertheless, it was stifling defense from the Americans.  It looks like Tom Thibodeau might be the most important addition the US team has made.  If only he had been an assistant eight years ago against Greece.

  • Cousins played extremely hard and provided solid defense (including getting out on shooters at times), but he is not right physically after the knee injury he sustained a couple of weeks ago in practice.  In addition to his issues finishing passes inside, he was limping around the court and barely able to dunk on one breakaway he had.  Nonetheless, the influence this team could have on him, particularly his defense, means it is probably worth it to the Kings that he keep playing.  This may be damning with faint praise, but he has looked by far the best defensively of the three backup centers on the roster.
  • Team USA’s biggest issue appears to be the offense, particularly the shooting.  They had a healthy 114 points on 90 possessions (127 point/100) for the game, but relied extensively on the Finns’ massive turnover rate to score.  Of particular concern was the three-point shooting, as they were a mere 6-18 from downtown.  That is not enough attempts to really run an efficient halfcourt offense, but playing relative non-shooters Kenneth Faried and Rudy Gay at the four has limited the bombing from outside that made the 2012 team so effective.  It does not help that Stephen Curry continues to pick up bad fouls on the perimeter, limiting his court time.  He also needs to get the ball more often as the handler in pick and roll.
  • Overall the squad has to make quicker decisions, with James Harden, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan and Gay all guilty of holding the ball too long.  Gay in particular needs to just trust his shot and fire away when open or move the ball when he gets it with an advantage on the perimeter.  At one point Derrick Rose drew the defense with a beautiful crossover and hit an open Gay in the corner for a three which he passed up, earning a talking to from the Bulls’ point guard.
  • Rose looked just fine, throwing a number of bullet passes around the floor and flashing explosion to the hoop on a couple of occasions.  He did lose his dribble a few times and also struggled to finish at the rim.  The hope is those are vestiges of rust rather than a new baseline for him.  Nonetheless, it was a bounce back game for Rose after a desultory effort in Tuesday’s friendly against Slovenia, and he finished a team-high plus 45.
  • Davis showed off his burgeoning face-up game, using quick rip-throughs to get to the basket or splashing jumpers when the defense laid off.
  • Davis and Cousins both made concerted efforts to knock the ball off the rim or tip home balls that were already in the cylinder, an encouraging sign under FIBA rules.
  • I still don’t think I’ve seen Erik Murphy make a three-pointer since college.

Brazil 65-63 France

As most would expect, this 71 possession game was a defensive struggle, as neither team eclipsed a point per possession.  French coach Vincent Collet had a rough go at game management down the stretch. His tactics started auspiciously enough, as he properly called for France to foul with 40 seconds left down four.  He got the result he wanted as Brazil made one of two, after which France got a quick two to get within three points with 33 seconds remaining.  The French were then in perfect position to just play defense.  With a stop they could obtain possession with a chance to tie the game, which is the goal of any late-game strategy when trailing.

Instead, Collet ordered an immediate foul of Marcelinho Huertas, who drained both free throws to put Brazil up five.  He then compounded the error by using his last timeout—to call a play for a not very quick two in which point guard Thomas Heurtel (who was awful all game) threw up a very low percentage floater which missed.  Down five, that shot needed to be a three. Game over.

  • Boris Diaw was excellent for the French as their only effective playmaker and best scorer in this game.  But one hilarious moment came when his Spurs teammate Tiago Splitter guarded him in the post.  Splitter knows Diaw goes to his left shoulder every time and just wouldn’t let him get there, resulting in a very rarely seen right shoulder fadeaway from Diaw that clanked.
  • France really missed injured Nando De Colo in this one, not to mention Tony Parker.  Point guards Heurtel and Antoine Diot managed one assist between the two of them all game and Brazil shut down seemingly every pick and roll.  Before a late flurry when the ball was in their hands to just chuck up shots during the comeback, they scored little as well.  Meanwhile, Nicolas Batum, with a great size advantage over the Brazilian wings, took only 10 shots.  Even more unaccountably, Evan Fournier only played eight minutes and took one shot.  He has not played well during the exhibitions, but with the French so clearly hurting for playmaking and shooting he could have gotten more of a look.
  • The French defense was solid though, as Rudy Gobert showed off his ability to move his feet against the pick and roll and protect the rim.  The problem with Gobert though is he still kills the offense due to the lack of spacing, which is why he ultimately sat down the stretch.
  • Brazil coach Ruben Magnano also had a few odd strategic decisions.  Brazil was absolutely shutting down the French pick and roll game with normal coverage, so Magnano decided to change up to a switching defense in the fourth quarter.  It wasn’t totally ineffective, but it at least gave the French a chance to get something going with Diaw postups on guards after the switch.  It did not make much sense.

Slovenia 90-80 Australia

Don’t let the generally slower pace of international ball fool you; this was a high-scoring game.  Slovenia managed 90 points on 74 possessions* (122 points/100), while Australia managed 80 on 73 (110 points/100).  Goran Dragic led the Slovenians with 21 points on only 13 shooting possessions and added four assists.  He and the other Slovenian guards drove to the basket with near impunity, as the Australian help defense was ineffectual.  Slovenia is really a tough guard, as seven players hit three-pointers.**  Aron Baynes led the Australians with 21 points on 15 shooting possessions.

* The US usually plays its games with about 85 possessions, which is usually 10 or so faster than games between other international squads.

**This is why holding Slovenia to only 83.5 points/100 was such an accomplishment for the US.

Australia gave most of the minutes at the four to David Andersen, but he may not be the best fit for what this team needs. He was never an athlete at the best of times, and now at age 34 his help defense is nonexistent.  The Australian scheme also called for quite a few switches on pick and rolls if the ball defender is beaten, after which Andersen proved rather helpless matched up against guards.  Andersen’s main advantage is his shooting, but the Boomers’ system does not seem set up to take advantage of that ability. He spent little time spotting up on the perimeter or running pick and pops from the top.  The majority of his work was performed via side pick and rolls and handoffs which had him rolling to the baseline or posting up afterward.  Neither helped much with floor spacing.  Andersen is a capable if plodding post player, but that is likely not the most efficient option. Andersen had 14 points, but was only 4-11 from the field and took only one three.  He was a team-worst -13, a performance he earned with his defense as Slovenia paraded to the basket with little resistance.

Instead of giving Andersen so many minutes, the Boomers would be better suited to go with more mobility at the four.  Brock Motum played well in his 18 minutes, providing greater activity defensively.  But the Australians should give more of a look to playing Brad Newley and Joe Ingles together at the forward spots.  This was not tried at all, as the Boomers had two traditional big men on the floor at all times.

Going small would facilitate more switching defensively and faster help defense.  Ingles can space the floor with his shooting at the four, while he won’t be any worse defending the rim or defensive rebounding than Andersen.  Unless the opponent features a solid postup four who could punish Ingles on the block (and few do on this side of the bracket) a small lineup should provide better defense and more versatility than playing Andersen at the four.  This alignment would also clear more playing time for ace shooter and former Valparaiso star Ryan Broekhoff.  He is really the only truly dangerous long-range threat on the squad.  This lineup would also give Aron Baynes (a postup monster in this game) more room to work on the block or in pick and roll.

  • Dante Exum did little today, going 0-2 with a turnover and tallying a -9 in only 11 minutes. However, he did not play poorly.  He did not have any huge defensive lapses, had a couple of nice passes and generally did not mess up.  It seems that the edict from the coaches is to take it easy and move the ball, as he eschewed several chances to attack.  But it was not at all a bad performance from him.  The only thing he could stand to work on from this game is throwing passes a little more crisply; that ability should come as he adds core strength.
  • Australians should not necessarily fret about this loss, as winning Group D may always have been a tall order. Instead, they should angle for third place.  First and third place in the group would keep them from the US (the likely winner of Group C) until the semifinal.  If the Boomers can win the rest of their games aside from against Lithuania, that result is likely.  With the Americans’ presence looming, we may see quite a bit of gamesmanship as the group stage winds down. Similar jockeying is likely to occur in Group B to avoid playing Spain, the likely winner of Group A.  First and third place are the prized positions to avoid the top seed in the other group until the semifinals.  Meanwhile, the race will be on for 2nd and 4th places in Groups A and C, which would similarly allow teams in those groups to avoid Spain and the US until the semis.

Nate Duncan is an NBA analyst and attorney. He writes regular features for Basketball Insiders and chats weekly at 11 Eastern on Tuesdays.

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NBA PM: Greek Freak Off to an MVP-Caliber Start

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ MVP and looks primed to be in the actual MVP race this season.

James Blancarte

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The NBA season is officially underway. Although each team has only played a few games so far, it has helped illuminate where many teams and players are in their development. For example, last night’s game in Oklahoma City gave a glimpse into how the Thunder will handle a late-game situation now that the team has three previous number one options. In the final minute, Russell Westbrook scored two of the Thunder’s last three baskets and assisted Carmelo Anthony on the final basket just before Andrew Wiggins hit a game-winning buzzer beater from well beyond the arc.

After three games, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s individual development has been one of the most exciting storylines to follow. A number of positive and far-reaching questions can be asked of Giannis. What is the ceiling for him? Can a player of his considerable talents continue to improve after winning Most Improved Player last season? Remember, Giannis was drafted in 2013 and is still only 22 years old.

When told in August that although he could win most valuable player, he could not also win most improved player as well, he responded with a simple, yet telling response.

“Why not?” Antetokounmpo responded.

While he continued to be lighthearted and moved on to the next topic, it’s fair to ask, “why not?” when it comes to Giannis. Through three regular season games, he is averaging 38.3 points, five assists, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. These averages will likely regress to more sustainable numbers as the season continues. For now, however, his averages are in elite territory. In addition, his ability to impact the game is already getting to the point where LeBron James may be the only other player who can similarly fill up the stat lines while physically terrorizing opponents on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.

When asked who the “biggest freak in the NBA” is, Giannis elaborated that it was James due to his ability to impose himself on the game.

“The things [James] does, the veteran leadership he brings to the team, how big he is, how quick, how strong,” Giannis stated. “And at the end of the day, how smart he is. He can put his team in the right spots, make the right decision.”

In Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Giannis willed his team to victory. It was Giannis demonstrating how big, strong and smart he was, putting his team on his shoulders and carrying them to an impressive win.
With less than a minute left in a close game, Giannis closed in with a well-timed double team on Damian Lillard and came away with a clean steal. The steal got the Bucks the ball back and Giannis was fouled, which put him on the free throw line. Unfortunately, he came up short on both attempts and the Bucks remained a point behind.

Despite missing the free throws, Giannis came up huge on the very next play. Giannis took on C.J McCollum one-on-one at the top of the key and created yet another steal. He then leaked out to receive the pass for a breakaway dunk that quickly gave the Bucks the lead with 11.4 seconds remaining.

On the next play, when Jusuf Nurkic set a high screen and roll, he received the pass on the roll and headed to the basket. Giannis’ primary responsibility was the shooter in the corner and yet he read the action correctly and was ready and waiting at the rim for Nurkic. Giannis times Nurkic’s shot perfectly and rejected him at the rim, which effectively ended the game in favor of the Bucks.

Giannis’ ability as defensive Swiss Army Knife was instrumental in the Bucks’ close win over Portland. In addition, Giannis has also made further improvements in an area of his that has received a lot of attention over the years. He continues to shoot a below average three-point percentage for his career (27.6) and has had a rocky start to this season as well (16.7). It’s likely that Giannis’ three-point shooting will be a significant limitation in his game for the foreseeable future. However, over his career, Giannis has shown an ability to improve his shooting percentage on two-point shots consistently, especially shots from 0-3 feet and 3-10 feet, per basketball-reference. As Giannis has gotten stronger and more explosive, he has developed a strong desire to attack opponents off the dribble and absorb contact at the rim. Whether he blows by his opponent outright or scores through opponents at the rim, Giannis has developed into an offensive force that few players in the league could hope to slow down.

In addition to his scoring, Giannis continues to display his unique ability to handle the ball in transitions and run the Bucks’ offense in the half court as a point forward. This sort of ability separates Giannis from the other elite wings in the league who don’t have the skill or vision to act as a primary playmaker. Giannis is doing much of what he did last year, but seems more aggressive and physically dominant through the first three games of this season. That sort of improvement of course puts Giannis in the MVP discussion (though it is incredibly early in the season to even start this sort of discussion).

Giannis was recently asked about his ability to win the MVP and wasn’t shy about his desire to win the prestigious award.

“I’m going to be one of the players that hopefully dominates the game. But I’ve got to still make sure that my team wins, that my teammates get better,” Giannis stated. “I’ve set the goal since the last game against Toronto last year, at the playoffs. I want to be the MVP this year.”

What helps solidify Giannis’ ability to be such a strong MVP candidate is also what makes his team less dangerous. The Bucks are woefully dependent on their star and, at least for now, lack the necessary depth to be a true contender in the East.

Through three regular season games, it’s clear that the Bucks will only go as far as Giannis can take them. And that is the key to Giannis’ budding MVP campaign. Let’s take a look at last year’s top five MVP candidates. Last year’s winner, Westbrook, has two new star-caliber players (Paul George and Carmelo Anthony) to share the spotlight, and the ball, with. James Harden is sharing the ball with Chris Paul, who is currently struggling with a knee injury. LeBron James and the Cavaliers are almost exclusively concerned with the postseason. Kawhi Leonard is similarly crucial to the San Antonio Spurs on offense and defense but has lingering health concerns and has yet to play this season. Finally, Isaiah Thomas is coming off a major hip injury and is not projected to play until January.

With so much uncertainty, Giannis has the opportunity to continue to draw attention as not only the most important player on the Bucks but perhaps the most valuable player in the league. Giannis’ early play this season indicates that this is possible. Despite his early-season outburst, Giannis is giving deference to LeBron James — though he admits he hopes to reach James’ level at some point in the future.

“Definitely [James is] the best player in the NBA. For a few years to come,” Giannis stated. “But I think a lot of players are getting better. Even myself. And hopefully one day we can get to that spot from him.”

Perhaps Giannis will take the spot as the best player in the NBA as early as this season. Considering how dominant he has been so far this season, it’s fair to ask “why not?”

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Wright Primed To Take Next Step With Raptors

Third year Utah alum Delon Wright is showing flashes of what he can do in an expanded role for Toronto.

Spencer Davies

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Backup point guards are essential to a team’s success.

They’re the floor generals of the second unit. They create for themselves to score. They collapse defenses in order for the others to get opportunities.

In some cases, these players perform so well that they outgrow the role they provide and force their way into the starting five—on that same team or elsewhere. Just look at past examples: Darren Collison, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Schroder, etc. The list goes on.

Kyle Lowry was 20 years old when he was drafted late in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. He studied the position behind veteran guards Chucky Atkins and Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudamire.

But even after showing promise in his rookie season, management decided to take Mike Conley Jr. the very next year. Though the two were about even in playing time, it was clear the Grizzlies favored youth over anything else, so in 2009, Lowry was dealt with the Houston Rockets in a three-way trade at the deadline.

At this point, Lowry had started in only 30 games over two-and-a-half seasons, so the keys to the car weren’t ready for him just yet. Aaron Brooks was a unique talent that Rick Adelman loved to throw out there along with Tracy McGrady and Kevin Martin.

Brooks started all 82 games in the 2009-10 campaign and blossomed into a scoring machine. He was shooting the lights out that year, and because of that, it was tough to sit him. Lowry still took advantage of his playing time, though, with plenty of floor run. He averaged nearly 14 points and seven assists per 36 minutes.

To the misfortune of his teammate and the advantage to Lowry the next season, Brooks struggled mightily with the jump shot that made him so deadly. After 34 games, the Rockets moved him in a deal to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. Dragic was on his way to carving his niche in the league, but it opened up a door for Lowry to really take hold as “quarterback” of the team.

Circumstances arose once again, however. Houston had let go of Adelman and hired Kevin McHale in June 2011. Lowry and his new head coach did not have the same rapport. He unfortunately suffered from a bacterial infection and missed out on the beginning of the season, and towards the end, the emergence of Dragic led to his demise.

That summer, the Rockets sent Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Forbes and a future first-rounder. Once again, it was a fresh start for him, but also a brand new team with a different head coach.

It didn’t take long for the man to realize his true potential there. Aside from shuffling a bit with Jose Calderon as the starter in Toronto, Lowry found a home. The jump he made between that season and the next one was impressive.

Lowry got paid after that 2013-14 season and re-signed with the Raptors for four years. He earned three All-Star appearances and—aside from the postseason disappointments—led the team to new heights with his fellow All-Star backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan.

Toronto and its star point guard agreed to a three-year, $100 million deal over the summer to keep him running the show and to honor that contract well as he has always had. But now there’s somebody behind Lowry waiting to break out, and could very well be the one who gets the torch passed to him.

Delon Wright is ready to make his mark. When he entered the league, he was a reserve behind Cory Joseph and had to observe and soak in the experience of NBA life. For some rookies, they get the chance immediately, and for the others, they have to wait their turn. In this case, it was the latter.

Playing the waiting game ended up working out well for him. In the offseason, the Raptors went out and traded Joseph for C.J. Miles due to the loss of DeMarre Carroll. It was a move that not only addressed a need for depth at the wing but also opened a door for Wright.

So here we are, two games in. The Raptors are 2-0 and have outscored their opponents by 51 points. In those combined, Wright has received 55 minutes of playing time.

Despite the competition being the rebuilding Chicago Bulls and a Philadelphia 76ers team trying to find an identity, he looks extremely comfortable. You don’t want to take too much out a sample size as small as that, but neither the numbers nor the eye test lies.

Wright has played the third-most minutes on the team thus far. He’s done a great job on both sides of the floor but has truly made a difference on the defensive end. As of now, the Raptors are only allowing 83 points per 100 possessions with him on the hardwood. When he’s not, that number blows up to 98.9 using the same scale.

Offensively he’s almost been just as good. Wright has been aggressive as a facilitator and as a shooter, putting up 13- and 14-point games early on. He dished out five assists in the season opener and nabbed five rebounds in the second game. He has a higher offensive rating than both Lowry and DeRozan.

According to NBA.com, Toronto’s net rating with him off the court (12.9) is the second lowest to his lifelong teammate Jakob Poeltl (12.8). Take it with a grain of salt because it’s one week into the season, but Wright has the best net rating in the league (37.6) among those playing at least 25 minutes per game.

Call it garbage time play or whatever you want: He has the tools to succeed. The stature is there. The intangibles are evident. It’s all about putting it together over the course of an entire season.

If the trend continues, there’s no way Casey can keep him off the floor for long. We don’t know where Wright’s career could go. It’s way too early to tell. The Raptors are likely hoping for him to be the successor after this era of basketball has come and gone.

Lowry is the man in Toronto, as is DeRozan. Nothing is changing that anytime soon. But rest assured, Wright’s primed to take a big step this year and it’s going to be fun to watch.

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NBA AM: Was Watson Setup To Fail or Just Ill Equipped?

Was Phoenix’s Earl Watson setup to fail or did he just not have the tools and experience to overcome the tenuous job of a rebuild?

Steve Kyler

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Set Up To Fail? Maybe

The Phoenix Suns have parted ways with head coach Earl Watson just three games into the 2017-18 season. Associate head coach Jay Triano is expected to be his replacement as interim head coach.

Some have suggested that Watson was set up to fail, but let’s be honest for a minute. Was Watson really the best option the Suns had after parting ways with Jeff Hornacek during the 2015-16 season? Watson was well liked and that an easy and intoxicating concept, but even as an interim coach Watson won just nine games in 33 tries.

It’s not as if Watson took the team in a totally new direction; the Suns were a bad team when they took the gamble on Watson. Moving the needle wasn’t exactly likely when the massive inexperienced Watson took over the team. Is anyone really surprised he couldn’t make it work?

Sure, the roster and the priorities of the franchise were an uphill climb, but let’s be real for a minute: The Suns couldn’t have expected Watson to have the tools to bring it all together. Rebuilding is hard all by itself, and doing so with a head coach that has never coached isn’t exactly smart. In fact, it rarely works out.

It’s easy to say Watson was set up to fail, but equally easy to say he never had the experience to believe he’d be successful. It was a gamble on the Suns’ part, a gamble that ran its course.

So What Next?

The Suns are not very good, as three straight blow out losses have proven. It’s possible that Triano can make enough changes to at least get the Suns to compete, but the word in NBA circles was the Suns locker room had basically quit after three games, so Triano’s task may be tough for even a coach that been around the block a few times.

Like Watson, Triano is incredibly likable and approachable, but unlike Watson, Triano has experience. Triano has experience not only as a head coach, having coached the Toronto Raptors for three years, but he is the head coach of the Canadian National Team and has been on the Team USA and Portland Trail Blazers staff as an assistant. While Triano’s stint in Toronto looked a lot like Watson’s stint in Phoenix, the big difference is Triano has been around a lot more situations and may be better equipped to put a system and structure in place that could yield improvement, or at least that’s the newest bet the Suns are making.

With Triano at the helm, it’s also likely that the front office will have a better relationship than what’s emerged in Watson’s time in Phoenix. General Manager Ryan McDonough and Watson haven’t exactly been on the same page, and Watson had grown emboldened enough to make it clear in the media somethings were not in his control, often taken subtle shots at decisions made by the front office.

It is rare for inexperience and dysfunction to yield success. The hope is Triano will smooth some of that over.

“I Dont wanna be here.”

As news of Watson’s firing began to leak Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, who had a very good relationship with Watson, took to Twitter to announce “I Dont wanna be here.”

Bledsoe has been a constant name in NBA trade circles for the last few years, and with Watson out of the picture, Bledsoe seems to be looking for the door too.

The 27-year-old Bledsoe has two more seasons remaining on his deal, $14.5 million this season and $15 million owed for next season. The Suns have listened to offers on Bledsoe off and on for some time, with many in NBA circles believing this would be the season the Suns would finally trade him.

With Watson, a long-time champion of Bledsoe, out of the picture, there is a belief that Bledsoe’s role is going to decrease, which is likely why Bledsoe took to Twitter.

Pulling off a trade three games into the season seems highly unlikely, especially given that Bledsoe has likely killed his own trade value. There have been several teams over the last two seasons with interest in Bledsoe; the question is, will the Suns close this chapter or try and see if Bledsoe can help them right the ship under Triano and rebuild some trade value when the trade market opens up in December?

$41.11 Million

Of the Phoenix Suns’ $85.448 million in guaranteed contracts, $41.11 million belongs to Bledsoe, injured guard Brandon Knight and center Tyson Chandler. You can toss $10 million more for injured forward Jared Dudley. While Bledsoe and Chandler have played in all three regular-season games, both are not part of the long-term future of the team.

The question becomes, what role will they play under Triano?

The Suns are truly a tale of two teams. There is the old veteran squad that is clogging up the top of the Suns salary cap chart, and there are rookie scale players that are the future, and not coincidentally the players performing at their worst so far this season.

Will the Suns just let the $41.11 million owed at the top just sit, or will the Suns try and fire-sale some of those veterans? The belief is they would like to do the latter.

As much as people may want to say Watson was set up to fail, the evidence in the situation is he was never proven enough to succeed.

The Suns are in a dreadful no-man’s land of bad contracts and underperforming players. Maybe a more proven established coach could have set this situation in a better direction, but the reality is Watson was never experienced enough to handle a rebuild like this because getting the most out of players while losing is a very tough job even for the most experienced of coaches.

Watson, like many before him, will find another job in the NBA. Maybe like Triano who is replacing him, he can take the lessons learned in Phoenix and become a better coach somewhere down the road and get a shot with a team that wouldn’t require as much as the Suns desperately need.

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