Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe have been linked since the beginning of free agency in July, and not for reasons either of them are pleased with.
Both players are restricted free agents, meaning their respective teams have the right to match any offer they may receive from someone else. But the mere threat of that prevented other teams from tying up their free agent spending power with offer sheets that ultimately may not have resulted in getting the player they desired.
Now, both Bledsoe and Monroe are considering playing with their current teams next season on a one-year qualifying offer, in order to pursue more lucrative deals as unrestricted free agents next summer — a decision which would come with it a fair amount of risk. An injury or sub-par season could lower the amount they would receive on their next long-term deal, and should something horrific happen, there wouldn’t be that huge chunk of guaranteed dollars to fall back on that would provide for a completely secure future.
The last option before playing out next season on a one-year deal would be to try to land somewhere in a sign-and-trade scenario, where theoretically a four-year max contract that their current teams aren’t willing to offer could be secured. But increasingly, that seems like more and more of a long shot.
“I think any one of us would be wary of getting involved in a trade for either player,” the GM said. “Their teams overvalue them in terms of making trades, they don’t want to give them away for nothing. There’s no reason to give up significant assets for players who probably will be available next summer. That doesn’t mean a deal can’t get done, but it is complicated.” …
Both Monroe and Bledsoe are said to want deals in the range of five years and the maximum, but Bledsoe is being offered four years and $48 million. Monroe denied a report he was offered five years, $60 million by Detroit. Teams are, naturally, not eager to shell out that kind of money while also giving up players.
Teams have all the leverage in the restricted free agency process, but playing for the qualifying offer turns things around to where the players have the advantage. The problem is the amount of risk associated with that decision, but for guys like Bledsoe and Monroe who feel like they deserve contracts at or near the max, they may see it as the only realistic option.