The Suns and Eric Bledsoe are at an impasse in contract negotiations, but since Bledsoe is a restricted free agent, Phoenix holds all the leverage.
Bledsoe wants a five-year max contract, but the Suns were only willing to go as high as four years and $48 million — which, frankly, seems fair for someone with career averages of 8.7 points and 3.4 assists in four NBA seasons, and who has had injuries limit him in two of those four years, including last season in Phoenix.
When healthy, however, Bledsoe has shown the value that he seeks. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals in Phoenix last year, but again, durability is a concern, as he was able to make just 43 regular season appearances.
Bledsoe has one way to shift the negotiations in his favor, but it’s extremely risky. He can sign to play for one year under the qualifying offer of $3.7 million, and then pursue bigger money as an unrestricted free agent the following summer — an option that gets more likely with each passing day.
If it gets to that point, however, it’s virtually guaranteed that Bledsoe will bolt Phoenix in free agency, in part due to the bad blood created by the way this scenario is playing out. The Suns would be wise to look at their options in a trade for Bledsoe, so that they don’t lose a player of his caliber without getting something of worth to replace him — and the latest report says the team is doing exactly that.
“I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” Jude LaCava said on Tuesday. “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.”
“That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.”
It would be the smart thing to do on Phoenix’s side, if in fact things in the relationship have gone so far south. The problem for Bledsoe remains the same, though, which is that he wants a five-year max deal — and there don’t appear to be any suitors for him at that price.