As the Phoenix Suns prepare for their biggest presentation in years - an offer to PF LaMarcus Aldridge later today in Los Angeles - we should spend a few moments talking about the rest of the team.
Eric Bledsoe happy in Phoenix
Many fans have decided that Bledsoe has a less than desirable personality, and that he has not engaged with the community like he should.
They rail on his reticence to espouse the wonders of 110 degree heat during the summer. Well this year, Bledsoe is doing what he can to change that.
"I love it here. Phoenix is a great place."
As Craig Grialou reports, Bledsoe has been in the hot sun for a month now and just held his first basketball camp in Phoenix last week.
"I just thought it was a perfect time for me to get something going and start building off of it," he said to Grialou. "I'm always the type of person that loves to give back. No matter if I'm home here or somewhere else, I'm always willing to give back.
"I'm excited about this camp here."
Bledsoe, as has been mentioned several times recently, has spent the past month in Phoenix working with assistant coaches on his ball handling, and with Alex Len on their pick-and-roll game.
Bledsoe has been seen at many of the pre-draft workouts, taking over the court with Len after the prospects finish. Some of that timing is optics - showing the media he's here without having to do interviews - while some of it is further proof that Bledsoe is a gym rat.
He failed to improve last season, partially because he spent the entire summer in a "cave" rather than working on his game with the Suns coaching staff while waiting for his new contract. Now, he's going to spend the whole summer working his weaknesses to prepare to show improvement next year.
"I'm just hungry," he said. "I'm just willing to get better, and I think I've been doing a great job of getting better every season. This season I think I should take the next step, and I'm looking forward to doing that; and that's why I'm here early, showing that I can be a leader."
Devin Booker gives back as well
While Bledsoe and most of the Suns might not love the camera, their new rookie seems like a natural. During his two-day visit last week after the draft, shooting guard Devin Booker made his presence known in the community.
The @Suns rookie @DevinBook is already getting started in the @SunsCommunity visiting an @JrSunsJrMercury affiliate. pic.twitter.com/6uDP3fz6zY— Chris Mallory (@NBAMal) June 27, 2015
A couple more pics of @DevinBook at our @JrSunsJrMercury affiliate today. pic.twitter.com/rIxZLM5G1N— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 27, 2015
If his NBA game can progress like this personality, this could be a real good pick for the Suns.
Suns forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris also made a public appearance this week, but not under such good circumstances. They appeared for a quickie hearing at the courthouse, which was simply an exercise in setting the next court date.
Unlike the last few years, the Morrii have NOT been at US Airways Arena in public site every day. They are keeping to themselves as they fight these charges of aggravated assault. If it goes all the way to trial, and then conviction, these guys could face jail time. But the most likely outcome is a plea deal that involves money and probation.
They might be suspended for opening night this year, but they are very likely to be playing for the Suns next season. I can't see other teams getting excited about acquiring potential felons who need permission to leave the state of Arizona for any reason.
Brandon Knight gets
While Bledsoe and Booker are giving their time to the community over the past week, Brandon Knight has been waiting for the green light to sign a new contract with the Suns.
Knight's camp reportedly has verbally agreed to a 5 year, $70 million contract, just like Bledsoe signed last year. That contract appears to be the new baseline for good NBA starters who have not yet made an All-Star game.
Reportedly, Khris Middleton agreed to the same deal last night, while Goran Dragic agreed to $90 million over 5 years this morning.
Other guards just under the All-Star level will be getting salaries in the $14+ million range as well.
Brandan Wright still on Suns radar
While they won't keep his cap hold warm if a bigger free agent wants to come to the valley, the Suns at least registered interest in Brandan Wright last night at the first moment they could.
According to Paul Coro, the Suns are looking closely at Carroll if they strike out on the big fish - Aldridge and Kevin Love. There have been no reports of any DeMarre Carroll interest across the nation, so this one's a wait-and-see.
Judging by the new contracts mentioned above, Chandler Parsons' $14 million last year and by Al-Farouq Aminu's $7.5 million per year in Portland, it appears that Carroll and fellow 3-and-D guy Danny Green might command something in the $12-14 million per year range this offseason.
Draymond Green, DeMarre Carroll and Danny Green's reaction to Al-Farouq Aminu agreeing to 4/$30 million this early pic.twitter.com/9pHpoPG7vA— Lang Greene (@LangGreene) July 1, 2015
That's basically all the cap room the Suns have.
I'm not sure why Carroll is a target, since the Suns have umpteen small forwards. Sure, Carroll would be the best of them this year as a successful three-and-D guy with a great team-oriented personality and ties to Jeff Hornacek from their Utah days, but the Suns would then have to move one or more of P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris so that T.J. Warren gets the playing time he deserves.
I'll keep repeating this folks: it's a NEW NBA, and the newer salaries are taking hold already. Next year, the cap (and corresponding player salaries on new contracts) will rise nearly 40% and another 10% the year after that.
That means today's $8 million contract is tomorrow's $12 million per year.
Get used to it.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love
You might want to bash the Suns if they aren't a "finalist" for either player, but at least 27 NBA teams won't be finalists either.
At least the Suns have gotten a meeting with Aldridge (and not just his reps). Expect the Suns to pull out all the stops, and maybe even bring along a player or two for the meeting. P.J. Tucker was Aldridge's teammate at Texas for two years, while Eric Bledsoe would be his primary running mate. Don't be surprised to hear those guys have tagged along to the dance later today.
Kevin Love's free agency has been a lot more mum than Aldridge's. There is no published itinerary of visitors, just a rumor from one source that Love will visit the Lakers this week. The Lakers, by the way, might just be this year's maid of honor on a lot of free agents. And I would love that.