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NBA PM: Phoenix’s Point Guards Living in Harmony

A lot was made about Phoenix adding yet another point guard to the rotation this past summer, but so far the returns have been just fine… Carmelo Anthony reveals just how close he really was to signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason…

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Suns Point Guards Don’t Care About Positions

From the moment the Phoenix Suns decided to sign former Sacramento Kings standout Isaiah Thomas, people have unreasonably worried about the number of high-quality point guards on the Suns’ roster.

After all, the team saw a lot of success a year ago running Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic together, even though both players are technically point guards, but adding a third one, also accustomed to and deserving of big minutes and usage, was sure to stuff a wrench into the spokes, right?

Well, the Suns are 10-6 and currently the eighth-best team in the Western Conference. As far as the team is concerned, they’re more or less right where they were a year ago, which suggests that, at the very least, they certainly aren’t worse off for the acquisition of Thomas.

All three players’ individual numbers have decreased, but that isn’t due to individual or team struggles. These three guys are just having to share a little more often, and that’s fine, as Thomas himself admits, as long as the Suns put as much talent on the floor as they can, regardless of position.

“You can’t really label a guy, ‘Oh he’s a point guard or a shooting guard,’” Thomas said. “In the NBA you see a lot of teams playing two point guards at one time. You see a lot of teams playing small forwards at the power forward position… Guys are just going out there and playing.”

For Dragic, last year’s Most Improved Player, the adjustment has been a lot tougher as he’s really been the guy playing the fewest “point guard” minutes of the three. Offensively, that’s fine, as Dragic, like Thomas and Bledsoe, is more of a scoring point guard than a distributing one and can certainly handle primary perimeter scoring duties. But on the other end of the floor, playing out of position can be challenging at times.

“It’s a learning experience this year because I’m playing mostly two-guards, so I’m defending bigger guys who are usually posting me up,” Dragic said. “I’m not as involved as much in pick and roll and I’m more of a shooter now, but that’s what it is and I’m embracing what is best for the team.”

In other words, the individual challenges for this trio of guards adjusting to playing together are relatively minimal. The players themselves feel like any combination of the three of them can be successful.

“[Playing with either guy] is the same because they’re both real aggressive guards that like to attack, like to get to the rim, get out in the open floor and make things happen,” Thomas said. “They’re two different guards, but for the most part their strengths are kind of the same.”

“Some nights we play all three together,” Dragic added. “But you know with Eric, he’s more athletic, more of a driver, and with Isaiah, he can drive but he can shoot too. He’s a better shooter than Eric, but Eric is so explosive that he can get to the lane anytime.”

Every point guard in the rotation has strengths and weaknesses, and the addition of Thomas has really only served as a way to keep all three of them fresh and all opposing defenses confounded. They have all played fewer minutes this year, and as a result all three are scoring fewer points than they were last season. So far, though, the new guard rotation for the Suns has resulted in quite a few more wins than losses and has them looking like a borderline playoff team again.

“We tried getting some big names in the free agent market but unfortunately we didn’t get anybody,” Dragic said. “But in the end [the Phoenix front office] told me that me and Eric are going to start again and Isaiah will come off the bench. That’s how we’re going to have a deeper bench, more players that can play.

“In the end you have to sacrifice some minutes and some shots so the team can get better.”

No one is Phoenix is worried about what position anyone plays. All they care about is putting talented players on the floor and hoping they’ve got what it takes to get some more wins and return the Suns to the playoffs. They came close a year ago, and adding someone as talented as Isaiah Thomas, they hope, is enough to push them back into the postseason.

Carmelo Anthony Really Was Almost A Chicago Bull

When Carmelo Anthony ended up choosing the New York Knicks over the Chicago Bulls this past summer, it really wasn’t hard to read between the lines; not only could New York offer a whole lot more money, but Anthony also felt loyal to his hometown and didn’t want to uproot his family.

While Anthony said a lot about those things immediately following the signing with the Knicks, we didn’t really hear much about his feelings on Chicago. A new documentary produced by Anthony’s Melo Enterprises and airing on the Knicks’ MSG Network remedies that, however, giving in-depth insight as to how close Anthony really was to joining Chicago.

“It came down to Chicago and New York,’’ Anthony said in the documentary, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Chicago was the one from Day 1 [and] was something I was very impressed with. They were looking for someone like me to come in and take them to the next level. So it was perfect.

“It was a perfect setup and perfect fit for me in Chicago. But also I had to think about just living in Chicago. Do I want to live in Chicago? Do I want to take everything I created in New York and move all of that? It came down to that. But there was one point in time I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going.’’’

All those back-and-forth Twitter media updates from July really weren’t wrong, then. It seemed as if Anthony’s camp would flip-flop constantly, and apparently the reason for that is because Anthony himself would change his mind often about where he wanted to play this year.

“He goes to bed one night saying he wants to go to Chicago. He wakes up the next day and says New York,” said Bay Frazier, Anthony’s agent, toward the end of the decision process. “He’s loyal to New York and he wants to say and become a champion here, which would blow everything away. … You’ve also got to factor in money—even though it ain’t about money. You want to win and got to understand what New York is trying to do and he gets that. He gets Phil Jackson being a winner. They don’t do a sign and trade with Chicago, that’s $74 million as opposed to close to $129 million. That’s a no-brainer.”

Except that it apparently wasn’t, and while a lot of time has passed since the currently-injured Anthony made his big decision, it is interesting to read through his thought process on free agency and being given the opportunity to see why he ultimately made the decision that he did.

And to settle one more little bit of drama from the summer, Anthony said in the interviews for the documentary that Derrick Rose did, in fact, reach out to him, for whatever that’s worth.

None of this matters now, of course, but as big a story as it was over the summer, a lot of questions were left unanswered. It looks like this documentary is going to answer most of those questions, and everybody can go back to wondering how much longer the Knicks will struggle.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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