Goran Dragic: Phoenix Suns are the past, Miami Heat are the present
PHOENIX – Once upon a time, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas all shared the same locker room. That was just two years ago. Now, they all play for different teams.
The last of that trio of point guards, Bledsoe, was traded to Milwaukee on Tuesday, officially ending an experiment — which may have looked good on paper and flashed at times — that blew up in the Suns’ faces midway through the 2014-15 season.
And as luck would have it, the day after Bledsoe was dealt, Dragic returned, as a member of the Miami Heat for a game against the Suns on Wednesday.
Asked at shootaround whether he had been paying attention to the recent goings on with his former team, Dragic smiled.
“Not anymore. I’m out. I’m completely out,” he said. “I’m out because I don’t want to be involved anymore. For me, this is the past and I’m happy with this present here with Miami.”
Dragic, who had two different stints with the Suns, did admit it was odd that none of the three point guards were on the roster.
“I don’t know what happened with Bled, basically, but when I was here with Bled, we had great chemistry,” he said. “That year we won 49, 48 wins. It is what its. Like I said, I’m not paying attention so much anymore. I’m [trying] to be focused in my team with my players. This is part of the business.”
Like Bledsoe, Dragic went public with his trade demand, telling reporters on Feb. 18, 2015, “I don’t trust them anymore.” The next day, just minutes before the NBA trade deadline, Dragic was dealt to Miami for two first-round picks in a multi-player, three-team trade that also involved New Orleans.
The first of those two first-round selections may convey to the Suns in next year’s draft. It’s protected 1-7.
Alex Len on the rebound
Five years into his NBA career, center Alex Len is enjoying his best season as a pro. He’s nearly averaging a double-double, but it’s his effort on the boards that has the Suns excited.
Three times in the last seven games, Len has reached double-figures in rebounding, including 14 against Brooklyn on Monday. And his 8.6 season averages ranks among the top-25.
“He’s more focused at the defensive end now. In his stance more times. Stunts. Help. He goes and gets rebounds,” head coach Jay Triano said. “He’s been a little bit more patient with the ball at the offensive end, instead of just getting it and predetermining what he’s going to do. He’s letting the play happen now. He’s really grown in all those areas.”
Len is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Back, and then perhaps gone again
One day after the Suns assigned him to the Northern Arizona Suns, their NBA G League affiliate, forward Derrick Jones Jr. was back in Phoenix and available to play against the Heat.
Jones Jr. was in Prescott Valley just long enough to practice with the NAZ Suns, though it’s likely he heads back up the I-17 sooner rather than later. The Suns want Jones to see minutes, which he hasn’t gotten a lot of with the Suns yet this season. He’s appeared in four games and totaled seven points in 25 minutes.
The NAZ Suns next play on Thursday, hosting the Iowa Wolves.
— In observance of Veterans Day, Suns players Marquese Chriss, Mike James and Alan Williams will spend time with patients at Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix on Thursday. The visit is part of the NBA’s league-wide Hoops for Troops initiative to honor active, former, and retired service men and women and their families.
— On Friday against the Orlando Magic, the Suns will honor the franchise’s early years with a “Decade Night” celebration. The 1960s & ‘70s-themed evening will revisit the best moments of that era and feature appearances from Ring of Honor members Paul Westphal, Alvan Adams and Dick Van Arsdale. In addition, the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive bobblehead featuring Connie Hawkins.
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