When restricted free agent Gordon Hayward signed an offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets this summer, the Jazz were more than happy to match, because it saved them having to commit an extra contract year to retain his services.
The Suns would have similarly been thrilled to do the same where Eric Bledsoe was concerned, but due to a combination of his wanting to be paid on potential rather than results, along with Phoenix’s public promise to match any offer he received, no teams stepped up with a formal offer sheet during the free agent process.
With the opening of training camp less than a month away, Bledsoe remains unsigned. And his agent hasn’t moved an inch from his demand of a max contract extension for his client, with the threat of his taking the one-year qualifying offer becoming more and more likely to become a reality as each day passes.
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Suns’ Bledsoe remains final RFA on market. Agent has held firm on max contract or no deal. He couldn’t get Bledsoe an offer sheet elsewhere.
Suns made 4-year, $48M offer — comparable to Ty Lawson and Kyle Lowry — but Bledsoe camp has been unwilling to negotiate off that number.
Bledsoe has been great when healthy, but durability with him is a real concern. He’s been sidelined by substantial injuries in two of his four NBA seasons, and has only really gotten a chance to show what he can do in part of one season, which was playing alongside Goran Dragic last year in 43 games for Phoenix.
Greg Monroe decided to bet on himself by taking the one-year qualifying offer with the Pistons, and we may see Bledsoe choose to take the very same path. But the risk is much greater with Bledsoe than it was for Monroe, who appeared in all but three games during his first four NBA seasons.
The reward, however — becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2015 — is evidently enough of a motivator for Bledsoe and his camp to hold firm on the desire for a max contract now, or else play next season on a one-year deal without the safety net of future guaranteed dollars in place.