No Hard Feelings Between Bledsoe, Suns
Entering the offseason, point guard Eric Bledsoe was thought to be one of the most attractive options on the market. However, the guard didn’t sign a new contract until September, right before the start of training camp after a contract negotiation stalemate lasted months.
The Suns held firm on a four-year, $48 million offer throughout the summer. Bledsoe held firm with the belief he was worth a near-max deal. In the end, Bledsoe re-signed for five years and roughly $70 million.
Despite the tense negotiation period, which also saw the Suns sign point guard Isaiah Thomas as insurance, Bledsoe maintains that stuff is now in the rear-view mirror.
“I just pretty much worked out,” Bledsoe told NBA TV on how he handled the contract situation mentally. “I love the game of basketball, so I didn’t let that affect me. I worked out all summer and enjoyed it with my family. I let my agent [Rich Paul] handle what he’s good at and that’s handling the business part. That’s what I hired him for. I just stayed out of his way and just worked on what I could do to help the team get better this year.”
The Suns were the league’s surprise team last season, flirting with 50 wins and just missing out on a playoff berth in the competitive Western Conference.
In a superstar league, the Suns don’t possess a top-10 talent, but Bledsoe believes the team’s chemistry is a strong reason why bigger things may be in store in 2015.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bledsoe said of the Suns’ chemistry. “When I first got here, I didn’t know anybody. I had played against everybody, but I didn’t really know anybody. But when I got here, they welcomed me with open arms. The first game we played nobody complained about the ball, they let everybody do their job. Coach [Jeff Hornacek] did a great job helping everybody in practice with their roles. So it’s a good thing we don’t have that superstar.”
The Suns won’t be able to surprise anyone this season. The secret is out. How the young team will handle the surprising success remains to be seen, but with Bledsoe locked up long term, the future is brighter in Phoenix.
Ariza Admits It Was Tough to Leave Wizards
The Washington Wizards enter the 2014-15 campaign as a team on the rise after flirting with 50 wins, securing a playoff berth and reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. However, one of the primary drivers of the Wizards’ recent ascent in the standings, veteran forward Trevor Ariza, is no longer with the franchise.
The Wizards elected to re-sign veteran center Marcin Gortat to a five-year, $60 million deal this past summer but ultimately went in another direction away from Ariza, who served as the team’s best on-ball defender.
Ariza says he didn’t believe he would be playing for anyone else but the Wizards entering free agency, and was shocked both parties didn’t eventually come to terms.
“I did think I was going to be with the Wizards,” Ariza told the Washington Post. “I thought they valued the things that I did there. At the end of the day, it didn’t work out.”
The veteran forward ultimately signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Rockets to fill the void left by emerging forward Chandler Parsons who bolted in free agency.
“I thought I was going to be a Wizard for a long time, but when that didn’t happen [Houston] definitely pursued me the hardest,” Ariza said. “Everything happens for a reason. It’s a business. So sometimes, teams make business decisions and you’ve got to live with that. I grew up in this league, obviously, I was 19 [when I was drafted]. So I’ve matured. So in life, I more so understand the business of things and accept it.”
The Wizards eventually landed future Hall of Fame forward Paul Pierce to replace Ariza with a two-year deal worth $11 million.
Whether or not the Wizards made a good choice by letting Ariza walk this past summer is up for debate, but Rockets head coach Kevin McHale believes the forward will fit in immediately in Houston.
“Trevor knows how to play,” McHale said. “He makes shots, moves the ball, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He is just very comfortable with who he is and what he does. In our league, once you get comfortable with who you are, you become the best player you can be and not try to do things you don’t do well. He knows what he does well and knows what he doesn’t do well. He just does what he does well. It’s very solid.”
Ariza averaged 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 77 contests with the Wizards last season. The forward previously played one season with the Rockets back in 2009 before being dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans in August of 2010.
Former Lottery Pick Alex Len Injured
According to NBA.com, Phoenix Suns center Alex Len has re-fractured his right pinky finger. The center originally fractured the finger during Summer League play in Las Vegas. The initial word is Len will be re-evaluated on October 18.
Len was the No. 5 overall pick of the 2013 draft. The Suns selected Len ahead of players such as Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, Steven Adams and Giannis Antetokounmpo, all of whom have shown more promise early on.
Len averaged 2.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in an injury ravaged rookie campaign in which he appeared in just 42 games.
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