The Phoenix Suns are going to have to pay big money to keep Eric Bledsoe this summer. They know it. They’d just like to keep the price down a little.
The Suns are committed to Bledsoe, having traded Jared Dudley for him. They thought Bledsoe could be a cornerstone piece. However, that’s different than the Suns and Bledsoe seeing eye-to-eye on a price — before the season the two sides couldn’t reach a deal on a contract extension. Which means this summer Bledsoe is a restricted free agent (other teams can make offers but the Suns have the right to match it).
Since then Bledsoe has gone out and played at an All-Star level — 18 points and 5.8 assists per game, with a true shooting percentage of 58.7 and a PER of 20 (although he is currently out injured). Those kinds of numbers mean there is going to be a lot of interest from other teams this summer trying to poach the young guard.
As their GM has before, Suns president Lon Babby said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM the team will match any offer for Bledsoe this summer.
“I think our answer to (would we match any offer) is yes, that we know enough about Eric as a player,” Babby said. “Even more importantly, we’ve lived with him now for almost a year as a person. We like everything about him. Like him as a teammate, like him as a representative of our franchise and everything that he stands for.
“He’s got a tremendous future.”
With these public statements the Suns are trying to save a few dollars.
Bledsoe is going to be an eight figure a year player after this season, what the Suns don’t want is another team to come in and make a max or near max offer they have to match. Worse yet, they don’t want to see an offer with a poison pill that makes it more painful for the Suns. Less competition for Bledsoe’s services means a better price for the Suns, so they are trying to scare off suitors now.
It’s all a negotiation. It’s part of the game. They just need to be careful not to spoil their relationship with their young star in the effort to save a few dollars.
Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.
There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.
Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.
Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.
The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.
Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.
More than fine.
Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.
Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):
The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.
Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.
Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.
The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?
Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:
If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.
The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.
It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.