Miles Plumlee makes a statement with smart play

PHOENIX — It’s not hard to link the Marcin Gortat trade with Washington to the premise that Miles Plumlee was more than a throw-in to the trade that involved the Suns shipping Luis Scola out to Indiana.

Forgive the comparisons, but here they are. On Wednesday, Gortat came off the bench in his Wizards’ debut to score nine points and tally nine boards in 19 minutes, while Scola netted six points and two rebounds in his second game with Indiana.

Meanwhile in Phoenix, Plumlee started alongside Channing Frye and put in 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. As expected, he was effective in sucking in the Portland defense, and though Phoenix went 0-for-8 from deep in the first half, it recovered to shoot 4-for-11 in the second.

As much Plumlee’s rolls helped Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe shoot a combined 19-for-33 (58 percent), the point guard duo also helped Plumlee.

“I feel like I’m going to find easy things from Goran and Eric,” Plumlee said. “So I didn’t focus on (searching for shots) but once I started to get a couple of buckets, and I saw I had a little advantage with my speed, it was nice to see the ball come to my hands a few times.”

Hornacek said Plumlee doesn’t need plays drawn up for him — a rim-rattling, one-handed dunk early on came off a pick-and-roll with Bledsoe. That said, Plumlee has improved so much the Suns did call some to get him touches on the low block, where he continued to show a soft hook shot with left and right hands.

“Miles, you know, he’s just an athletic guy, you don’t have to run a lot of things for him,” Hornacek said of Plumlee. “It’s basic basketball. You roll to the basket hard, you have guards who can pass it, you’re going to get some stuff.”

That said, the underlying story was the second-year center’s defense. He played 40 minutes — he played 55 all of his rookie year — and only picked up one foul despite seemingly appearing on help defense every time he was needed.

“Every game is different,” he said. “I wasn’t in a lot of ISO situations with a big. In terms of my straight-ups (blocking attempts), I’ve been working on those a long time. I think that’s key. If you do it properly, you shouldn’t get a lot of fouls.”

Plumlee said he’d been working with assistant coaches Mark West and Kenny Gattison. But nobody quite expected him to replace Gortat, Scola and thensome. Of course, he knows he’ll have to keep it up. It should stay steady if his work ethic — the thing that moved him up the depth chart — continues to take him where he wants to go.

“That’s all it is, working every day,” Plumlee said. “The game slows down when the ball is in your hands. You go to the same moves you’ve been working on before and after practice.”

  • http://none Keith

    Love it. I knew he’d be opportunistic and athletic and get some bunnies and I also knew he’d rebound. I did not expect the very solid D, and I didn’t expect the touch on some of those hooks and post-up shots. What a debut. Let’s hope it continues. I don’t know if he can play like that every game, but I do think he’ll be solid. Most impressive, though, was that D. He not only had 3 blocks but also played good position D, miles better than Gortat.

  • Ty-Sun

    I think Miles also had a little of a surprise advantage last night because no one in Portland took him seriously. But I doubt his numbers will drop a lot now that other teams will actually be preparing for him. As long as give the effort he did last night I’ll be very happy with him.

    Great game, Miles! Go Suns!

  • Scott

    It’s great that Miles did so well in his first game as a starter. Being older no doubt helped, just as maturity has also been key for Tucker.

    My take on Len and Goodwin is that they were both disappointed that they did so poorly in their debut, especially Goodwin. He did the right thing in biding his time and trying to get a feel for the game, but – judging by the look on his face as he headed to the bench – he wanted to accomplish a lot more than he did.

    I’m sure he’s going to look at MCW’s game and say, “Why didn’t I do that?”

    It will take a while for Len and Goodwin to get in gear, but they should make it. To me they look properly motivated … they just need to get over the jitters, make adjustments, and build confidence.

  • Al

    The game against Portland was a great boost of confidence for a young Suns team. Plumlee played great the first half then focused on rebounding the rest of the game. I think Plumlee still needs to work on his setting up screens and rolling to the paint. I thought he got in Bledsoe’s and Dragic’s way a couple times after he set a screen for both of them. I think Dragic is going to have a great scoring season. Dragon is amazing. He was able to dish 9 assists while still scoring 26 ppg.
    I wonder if Bledsoe’s game last night will have an efffect on his contract extension. He’s should not be paid for more than 9 million. 36mill/4 years sounds like a good deal for Bledsoe.
    Also, watching Aldridge dominate Marcus in the high post was just sad. Guy was able to shoot over Marcus with hardly any trouble. Hopefully Markieff will defend PF’s a lot better. Bring on the JAZZ…

  • HunterSThompson

    WOW! That was my takeaway from finally seeing this new-look team in real game action. Very exciting to see the energy and chemistry at a pretty high level so early in the process.

    The first quarter for Plumlee was jaw-dropping. One sequence in particular made me grin as I rewound it a couple of times to appreciate further:

    4:45 in the first quarter, Miles is on weak-side defense, outside the paint. Ball is on the wing, and the Portland player drives into the paint, looking to lay it in. Miles slides over, elevates, and successfully alters the shot while maintaining his body control to avoid the foul. Then, as the ball comes off the rim he bounces up again (a la Shaun Marion), snags the rebound, and immediately outlets to Bledsoe. Phoenix breaks down the floor and Miles catches up in time to set the pick for Bledsoe, then rolls to the rim for a one-handed lob-slam that was a thing of beauty!

    If that sequence did not make a Suns fan smile, nothing will.

    A long season ahead, but last night was all I could have hoped for on so many levels.

    Basketball is soooo much more enjoyable when your team has energy, effort, and youthful promise!

  • Azbballfan

    Maybe the Suns should try starting Plumlee and Len together when Len is ready to play consistent minutes?

    Although Plumlee plays center he has some semblance of an offensive game

    if Len figures out how to run the floor as good as Plumlee, getting in the offense will be alot easier

    apparently no deal for Bledsoe yet, not that i am surprised

    might as well ship him off at the deadline rather than plunking down a max deal to keep him this summer

    its always a good thing when players want to stay in Phoenix, and i have not heard anything from Bledsoe or his agent saying he wants to stay in a Suns uniform long term

    Hell even Eric Gordon who didnt even play for us expressed his love for the Suns when we attempted to sign him a few years ago

    McMiracle is going to have to work the phones if a deal with Bledsoe cant be ironed out before i think 9 pm tonight

  • Scott

    I’m still not sure Plumlee has the lateral quickness to defend at PF.

  • Zack B.

    I still think Len will be a bust. I was really all for drafting Ben McLemore. I may be wrong, but time will tell. I was definitely encouraged by Plumlee. Not much longer till the extension deadline passes. I’m telling you guys, we’re gonna wind up spending more on Bledsoe in the summer rather than now. A lot more. But hey, maybe McD has big plans, maybe he’s targeting bigger fish and will even trade Bledsoe. Who knows. But if we plan on keeping him, now is the time to extend him.

  • Azbballfan

    I think if the Suns and Bledsoe agreed on a contract they could just write one up right now

    but of course Bledsoe wants the max and the Suns dont want to give him that

    and so Bledsoe just has to wait a year when he will leave next summer because the Suns wont match

    why would they match it this summer when they can do a contract right now?

    i dont think they want to do a max sign-and-trade-deal

    that would require them to take on a big money contract in return

    just ship him off at the trade deadline or Best Deal Available

  • Ty-Sun

    AZ, the Suns wouldn’t have to take on any contract(s) for a sign-and-trade deal but I’m not certain teams can do sign-and-trade deals with RFAs once they’ve accepted an offer sheet from another team. I think they can only match the offer and keep the player or refuse to match it, let the player sign with the other team and get nothing back in return.

    As the clock ticks down, I’m beginning to believe that no contract extension will be agreed to. 1 hour and 20 mins to go by my clock…

  • foreveris2long

    According to Mark Stein at ESPN, McD is still hopeful a deal is reached with Bledsoe tonight, which leads me to believe Bledsoe is not insisting on a max deal.

  • Azbballfan

    Your guess is as good as mine in that situation Ty-Sun

    but i am pretty sure you cant just sign a guy to a 4 year 44 million dollar deal and trade him for nothing

    we did that with stoudemire and got a trade exception and a some conditional 2nd rounder

    that might be the way we have to do it, still i would rather move him at the deadline while showcasing him for half the season than just get a trade exception out of it

    Thats nice to hear McMiracle say he is hopeful a deal would get done, but obviously if the sides were close they would have gotten a deal done by now

    unless Bledsoe is playing hardball and stalling until the last possible second

  • Ty-Sun

    Oh yeah, AZ. If a sign-and-trade deal is done the trading team does get a trade exception back instead of taking back contracts. If no extension is done tonight, at least the Suns will get a chance gauge Bledsoes’ value before the trade deadline and decide whether to attempt a trade or keep him and match whatever offer he gets after the season is over.

  • foreveris2long

    These are big time negotiations so just because a deal has not been done does not mean anything. His agent knows time is running out and he will likely not make any significant concession until time is close to running out. If he made the concession too early he knows McD who is shrewd as well, would want another big concession to do the deal. Obviously I do not know if it will happen but I remain cautiously optimistic. However it might take a little more than the $10m/yr I thought would do the deal. Last night’s game with Bledsoe and Dragic playing well together gave the agent more talking points. I suspect he knows at a minimum his client could get $9m or $10m next summer from a team like the Lakers or Dallas, so those numbers probably won’t do it. Just a hunch.

  • EBJM

    Suns can trade Bledsoe without taking back salary if the team taking him can absorb his contract and stay under the cap. New York was way under salary cap as they dumped salary to make a run at Lebron James and others. Doing a sign and trade is beneficial to both teams. It allows the player to get more money and in return a team usually gets a trade exception that allows the team to go over the cap when using it. They sometimes also get draft picks.

    RFA CANNOT do sign and trades. The player cannot be traded to the team that signed them to an offer sheet for one year.

  • James

    Does anyone know if there’s any truth to the rumors about trading Goran? I keep reading things on ESPN that say there are “rumors” that the Suns are interested in trading him, but never anything substantial. Did someone just make an assumption and start that rumor based off of nothing or how did the rumor get started?

  • Scott

    @James -

    As I understand it, rumors get started for a variety of reasons. Most rumors that have any shred of validity come from the people who work under the GMs who are constantly probing to see if any deals can be done. The GMs themselves may have no knowledge of these low level discussions, at least until the two sides reach an agreement of sorts, at which point the trade package gets brought to the attention of the respective GMs for their input and approval.

    Sometimes, it seems, a rumor comes from a party that wants to get a player, not necessarily the team that has the player.

    I imagine it goes something like this.

    Flunky for team A: So … would you trade Cody Zeller at all? I mean, if someone were to offer LeBron and Wade for him, would you at least consider it?

    Flunky for Charlotte: Well … that doesn’t seem very realistic, but yeah, of course we’d consider that trade.

    Flunky for team A, to reporter: Psst! Charlotte told us they were open to trading Cody Zeller!

    Reporter: Breaking news! Cody Zeller is on the trading block!!! Is his team unhappy with him? Probably! Why else would they be shopping him around?!

    Followed the next day by: Cody Zeller reportedly unhappy with his team for putting him on the trading block. And why wouldn’t he be? How long will he be willing to stay in Charlotte when it’s clear management doesn’t want him? The rift between Zeller and the Bobcats is widening by the day!

  • http://none Keith

    lol, Scott. Perfect. I see it exactly the same way.

  • Azbballfan

    If the Suns didnt extend Bledsoe, trading Dragic and blowing up their backcourt they just put together wouldnt be a good move

    unless McMiracle has a grand scheme to acquire another lottery pick with Dragics contract, i dont know why he would get traded

    that was really funny scott i like your approximation