Reggie Bullock Holds No Grudges After Trade

Rowan Kavner

PHOENIX – Reggie Bullock had a feeling something might be up when Doc Rivers went with a particularly short bench in Portland, though he wasn’t sure what was about to occur.

There were no hard feelings on Bullock’s part when a day later, the Clippers, Suns and Celtics worked out a three-team deal that would send Bullock to the Suns and Austin Rivers to the Clippers. Less than two weeks later, he’d get his first minutes with his new team against his former team.

“I feel the way (the Suns) play is similar to the way I like playing, getting up and down and running and shooting a lot of 3s, and obviously it’s a young team and I feel like I can help them,” Bullock said. “I was kind of expecting something to happen. I didn’t know if it was me, because when he switched up the lineup in Portland obviously it was a little weird.”

At that point, Bullock had no heads up he was going to be dealt.

The former Clippers first-round pick initially found out about the trade from Twitter the morning after that game against Portland, then a few minutes later got the news verified by his agent. There was some surprise, but no anger or hurt feelings. He said he feels comfortable in Phoenix, but he does miss his teammates in Los Angeles.

Before stepping out on the court in a different uniform from the Clippers, where he’d get a couple late minutes, he knew it would be somewhat strange going against them.

“I had a relationship with that organization and the guys that worked me out daily and my teammates and stuff, so that was a little sad,” Bullock said. “But it was good for me to come and join another organization that has a lot of young guys and hopefully be able to start playing a little more.”

Doc Rivers said it can sometimes depend how long a coach has a player to gauge how strange it’ll be going against them. Some relationships are naturally stronger than others, but most times, he said a head coach gets to be more than just a coach in a player’s life.

“You get involved with their lives and they become part of your family,” said Doc Rivers, whose team received an actual family member in the trade. “So when a guy leaves like a Reggie or other guys I’ve coached, it’s different coaching them. Really, the way we looked at it was Reggie for Austin in a lot of ways for us.”

Doc Rivers said the Clippers felt they needed what Austin Rivers provided them, but he still expects Bullock to be a quality NBA player, and he told Bullock that in a conversation before the forward departed.

“He’s bigger than people think he is,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s a little more athletic. He’s had injury problems, so we never really got a chance to see the full Reggie…I’m almost guaranteeing he’s going to be a heck of a shooter in this league.”

Bullock appreciated the last conversation he had with Doc Rivers before heading to Phoenix.

“He told me I was going to be a great player in this league and it was all about me just going and getting it right now,” Bullock said. “He was like, coming here, I would pick up full-court D, told me all this type of stuff to motivate me to come here and try to get it. All the coaches texted me and told me it’s kind of tough being traded in the middle of a season.

“Obviously, they were trying to hold onto me and they didn’t want to let me go, but in order for other things to happen, I was one of those players that had to move.”

Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said it’s tough to find Bullock time because of the guard and forward depth the Suns currently have, but Hornacek sees a future for Bullock on the Suns as another piece who can help with his shooting ability, length and ability to defend.

“It’s a good young piece we can continue to take a look at and see how he fits with us,” Hornacek said.

So far, Bullock hasn’t played much. But he said he’s keeping his focus on the future while staying prepared for the present.

“I’m seeing the path it’s going down,” Bullock said. “Any day my number can be called. It’s all about me being ready. I feel like I would jell with these guys if I ever get out there and start playing with them. I’m definitely thinking long-term, but still daily doing the work that needs to be done.”

He hasn’t been keeping up much with the latest Clippers happenings, but he does stay in touch with some of his former teammates, particularly Chris Paul.

“He’s like a big brother to me and mentor to me, so we text often and he’s always checking up on me,” Bullock said. “Pretty much anything I need in L.A. or with my career, I know he’s got my back 100 percent.”