According to multiple reports, the relationship between Eric Bledsoe and the Suns is spiraling clockwise down the toilet.
Bledsoe says the Suns are “using restricted free agency against me” and he is considering playing for the qualifying offer for a year just to get out.
Of course, that’s not how Suns ownership/management is going to spin this, they think they are being completely reasonable, having offered four-years, $48 million (which may be about the going rate for Bledsoe). Now the owner is telling Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic that he wants to sit down and talk, it’s Bledsoe that was being unreasonable.
Six weeks into free agency, Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver expressed how he still wants to sign Bledsoe to a long-term contract with the Suns. He also just wants to be able to talk to Bledsoe.
“We value Eric as a player,” Sarver said. “I hope at some point we’ll be able to sit down and meet with those guys and make a deal….
“Maybe that’s just posturing and negotiating,” Sarver said of the reports (that the Suns relationship with Bledsoe soured). “We haven’t heard from the guy in four months, so I couldn’t tell you. I do know that when he played here, he felt good about the organization, his coaching staff and his teammates at the end of the season. We had the same feelings toward him.”
This is the risk teams take in restricted free agency — what they consider a fair offer and market value can lead to troubled relationships. Just ask Eric Gordon in New Orleans (that situation is complicated by injuries).
To suggest there has been no contact between the sides is not true — Bledsoe got the offer from the Suns. He tried to do what you do in restricted free agency, which is to get another team to make a big offer and force your current team to match or let you walk (as Gordon Hayward did). But Bledsoe couldn’t. The combination of him wanting a max not every team thought he deserved and most teams thinking the Suns would just match anyway, there was no offer. So he was stuck.
Now his options are to take what’s on the table or play for the qualifying offer ($3.7 million) and the risks that come with that.
The Suns have played this hard but well. Unless they lose the guy for nothing after next season.