NBA AM: Is Eric Bledsoe On The Move?

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Bledsoe On The Move?:  It seems that the Phoenix Suns and guard Eric Bledsoe are worlds apart on a new deal, at least according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard who tweeted that the Suns offered a four-year $48 million contract, while Bledsoe is said to be seeking a maximum deal worth five-years and $80 million; putting a $4 million per year gap between the two sides on reaching a deal.

The problem for Bledsoe is there isn’t another team out there sitting on more than $11 million in space that is actively interested.

The Philadelphia 76ers are sitting on roughly $23 million in space but are not at all interested in Bledsoe. The Milwaukee Bucks are said to be more than interested however they have just over $11 million available to them and that’s not going to get it done straight up without a sign and trade deal, which sources close to the Bucks say is absolutely on the table on their side.

There have been reports linking the Rockets and Kings to Bledsoe, however both teams lack the salary cap space to make a deal straight up, meaning a sign and trade deal is needed there too.

Bledsoe isn’t without options, he could sign the Suns Qualifying Offer of $6.5 million and hit unrestricted free agency next summer, or at least use that as the hammer to try and force a deal.

Ultimately the Suns are in the driver’s seat with Bledsoe on a trade, they really do not have to do anything that’s not in their best interest, especially as the free agent dollars dry up.

Lakers Land Boozer:  The Chicago Bulls exercised their one-time Amnesty cut on Carlos Boozer on the 15th, and yesterday the LA Lakers won the bid process to obtain a part of his final contract year.

The NBA allows all teams with cap space to blindly bid on an Amnestied contract, the Lakers bid of $3.5 million won the process. As part of the award the Lakers cannot trade Boozer until next July, which is somewhat moot given that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

The Bulls get a little cash savings as they were on the hook for the entire remaining $16.5 million on Boozers’ contract, they can now subtract $3.5 million to the cash they must pay Boozer. The Bulls via the Amnesty provision were allowed to completely remove Boozer’s payout from their salary cap and luxury tax figures, but still write him a check this season.

For the Lakers they get a highly serviceable veteran for a minor amount of cash.

For Laker fans there was immediate concern that Boozer would eat into the valuable playing time of rookie Julius Randle, which may be true in a small way. However Boozer’s impact in the locker room was real for the Bulls which is why they waited so long to remove him. Both Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose and Bulls forward Taj Gibson credit Boozer for helping them find their way in the NBA as a “big brother” of sorts.

Given whats on the Lakers roster, especially in the front court having a proven operator like Boozer to help ease Randle into the NBA was a wise investment.

Few rookies are able to endure the 82 game grind of the NBA regular season without injuries or huge peaks and valleys, having Boozer on the roster should ease the transition for Randle and gives him a quality shoulder to lean on throughout the season.

Can Players Recruit?:  Much is being made of reports that Cavaliers star LeBron James may have reached out to Wolves forward Kevin Love in order to convince him to opt-in to the final contract year on his deal, in order to facilitate a trade to Cleveland. The question becomes is this tampering and the answer is maybe.

The NBA does not allow teams, coaches or executives to comment publically about players under contract to another team. In fact teams have been fined several times over the last couple of years for misplaced comments about someone else’s players. Teams are also prohibited from having official contact with players or agents of players under contract to another team, without that team’s permission.

The gray area in all of this is other players talking to other players.

Much like teams, players are not allowed to publically comment on other team’s players, but what players do privately has become softer over the years.

In 2010 when the Miami HEAT were able to assemble the Big Three, it was directly related to James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh working together to construct similar contracts and working through details for months leading up to their coming together in South Beach.

After the Big Three signed, much was made about how it happened and then commissioner David Stern said he had no issues with players talking to each other, and that the NBA wouldn’t be interested in policing communication among players, even players under contract.

Equally, while it’s often made public in the press, teams usually do not release when they have granted permission for other teams to contact their players or their agents.

So has LeBron tampered with Kevin Love? Unlikely. The NBA allows players to talk to each other, especially when it comes to making major decisions.

The Cavaliers are one of several teams at the table with the Wolves regarding Kevin Love. The Golden State Warriors are still very much engaged with the Wolves on a Love trade as are the Boston Celtics.

LeBron reaching out to Love is always interesting copy, and it could sway the deal a little especially if Love says Cleveland is the only team he’d consider a long-term deal with, however the ultimate decision to make a trade or not still rests with the Timberwolves and they are still weighing their options on what’s best for them.

Lowry Talks New Deal:  Raptors guard Kyle Lowry talks about his mindset in re-signing in Toronto and want is motivating him after getting his new deal.

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