Early in the season, the first couple of times through the league or so, it was more or less standard proedure to conduct Q&A sessions with rival bloggers before games. But as the season has worn on, we've stopped doing them, mostly because I'm a lazy bastard.
I am convinced however that Dave King is NOT a lazy bastard, no matter what all the other SB Nation NBA bloggers keep saying about him. Dave reached out in advance of this crucial game to ask me some questions about the Clippers, so what could I do? I couldn't say, "Go away, I'm a lazy bastard." So I asked him some questions as well, the answers to which are below.
Be sure to check out Bright Side of the Sun for my answers to his questions.
Steve Perrin: Eric Bledsoe is going to be a restricted free agent this summer, and he reminds me a little of another former Clipper named Eric with Phoenix ties, one named Gordon. He's shown flashes of superstar potential, but has a relatively brief track record, not to mention some injury history. These are the most difficult RFAs to deal with -- if you take Gordon, New Orleans felt compelled to match the Phoenix offer sheet or risk losing a future star for nothing, but now they're on the hook for max money for two more seasons for a non-star. If another team makes Bledsoe a huge offer, will Phoenix match it? Should they?
Dave King: The Suns are 19-6 with Bledsoe and Dragic starting (and finishing) together, despite being surrounded by less than All-Star talent. The Suns coach said last summer they reminded him of himself (Dragic) and Kevin Johnson (Bledsoe) and they certainly know how to play well together already with Hornacek coaching them and scheming for them. It's a small sample size, and Bledsoe was out a long time for injury, but he's already proven he's a winner on this team. He has proven he can score and defend, though he's prone to playing bad off-ball defense. He is the most complete player on the team and his ceiling is higher than he's already shown. Yes, the Suns should match any offer.
SP: It's been a tremendous season for the Suns regardless of how this playoff race pans out. Is there a part of you that feels satisfied, that says "Let Dallas and Memphis go on, we'll take our lottery pick and see you guys next season"?
DK: Uh no. There is no part of me that wants the #14 pick versus a #20 or #21 and a few very important playoff games. A #14 pick is not much different than a #21 when you're GM knows how to find talent. The playoffs are a great opportunity to show the everyone that the Suns are legit, and not there just to get swept. The team really knows how to play the game of basketball and use every matchup they can to win a game. 44 wins so far from a team - a lineup - that wasn't picked to win 20 is mindboggling even for Suns fans. And this is the SAME lineup. They didn't make any deadline trades. This team believes in itself and should win their way to the playoffs.
SP: The Suns will have three first round picks in June, and could even have a fourth, though it would involve some crazy lottery luck. (I just realized, the crazy lottery luck could even involve the Suns themselves -- if they miss the playoffs, jump from 14th to top three and push Minny to 14 in the process, essentially getting a top three pick AND another lottery pick.) Is that too many rookies on a deep team that is already a playoff contender? Do you think they'll try to package those assets to either move up in the draft or make a trade for a veteran?
DK: Haha I hadn't considered the forced Minny pick by jumping into top 3! That's awesome. Of course, that's too many rookies. But that doesn't mean the Suns won't draft them anyway. Two years ago, Morey in Houston had three mid-round picks and tried to use them to acquire a star. When he couldn't move way up or make a big trade, he drafted them anyway and waited until a star was available for the right price. He got Harden in October. That's what McDonough wants to do. He will try to trade up, trade for a star or wait for a star and work the roster around having the best assets to acquire him.
SP: If you couldn't see their jersey numbers, could you tell the difference between the Morrii?
DK: The Morrii have the same everything - facial hair, tattoos, body shape and style. Everything. Marcus has a bigger, wider smile and is an inch shorter, but you can't really tell unless he is standing next to Markieff. I've told this story a few times but it never gets old. Once this preseason, I spent a good five minutes interviewing Markieff about his last season and how he wants to improve this season. When I asked about how he feels playing the 5 position, he stopped, smiled and asked "You know I'm Marcus right?"
SP: I'm convinced that Goran Dragic is a bad ass. He's got an edge, he doesn't just want to beat people, he wants to embarrass them. He's like Chris Paul in that way in fact. I don't watch him as much as you do, and he doesn't necessarily have that reputation, but am I onto something here?
DK: Dragic has an edge but the nasty only comes out when someone tries to embarrass him. He never acts first. He acts last. As a rookie, I still remember Jamal Tinsley bouncing the ball between Dragic's legs on a drive to the rim. Less than two minutes later, Dragic did it right back to him. Same move. Same finish. And then he brushed right into Tinsley coming back out from under the basket, not making eye contact but not backing off either. I've loved the kid ever since. He's got a warm personality that breathes fire when provoked.