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Suns GM says team will pay Eric Bledsoe ‘whatever it takes’ to keep him in free agency

Dec 31, 2013, 9:30 PM EDT

Eric Bledsoe AP

The Suns have been one of the most positive surprises of the first two months of the season, getting out to a 19-11 start after trading away players for reasons that initially appeared to be geared more towards salary cap relief and rebuilding for the future than they were meant to help the team win this season.

But a new head coach and consistent contributions from guys like Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green that no one saw coming has Phoenix legitimately in place to make the playoffs in a year that was supposed to be a lost cause.

Eric Bledsoe, who the Suns acquired in the offseason, wasn’t exactly as unheralded as those other guys. Many believed Bledsoe would produce the way he has, but he had yet to do it consistently since he was stuck in a backup role behind Chris Paul in Los Angeles.

Now that Bledsoe is showing he can be productive as a starter with averages of 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 33.5 minutes per contest, Suns GM Ryan McDonough isn’t planning on letting him get away next summer when he enters free agency.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

“Obviously we don’t have a whole lot of money committed for the future, we don’t have a lot of long-term contracts on our books. So we’ll have no problem stepping up and paying Eric whatever it takes to keep him.”

Whatever it takes?

“Correct,” McDonough said. “Any reasonable offer.

“We have some advantages. We’re able to give him another year, five instead of four if we choose. We’re able to give him higher-percentage increases than other teams too. And then if another team does make an offer, we can always match that. So we feel like we’re holding the cards with Eric, and more importantly, I think Eric’s had a good experience here so far. He’s played well and the team has played fairly well. I think he kind of likes what we’re doing.”

Phoenix had nothing whatsoever to lose at the time they traded for Bledsoe; many teams coveted him in a deal, but it was the Suns who were the aggressors, and sought out the Bucks and the asset they possessed in J.J. Redick to put the three-team trade into place.

Giving up only Jared Dudley, who is a great teammate and glue guy that would be better suited playing for a contender than a team starting over, along with a second round pick for Bledsoe was a no-brainer, and about as low-risk of a trade as possible. Bledsoe came cheaply for this season while playing out the final year of his rookie contract, and if he didn’t work out for whatever reason, the Suns could simply have let him walk in free agency once the year was finished.

Since Bledsoe has met the Suns’ expectations, however, Phoenix will make him a qualifying offer to retain his rights as a restricted free agent. And by the looks of things, they’ll lock up Bledsoe on a long-term deal, likely near the max, when the time comes.

  1. rickyspanish - Dec 31, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    I’m happy for Bledsoe. It’s nice that he got to go somewhere that needed him and is making the most of his opportunity.

  2. beast2727 - Dec 31, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Bledsoe to the knicks for JR seems like a good trade for both teams. Maybe a little in favor of the suns but the knicks need a spark

    • zerole00 - Dec 31, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      Are you trolling or were you dropped on your head as a child?

    • jamesinva - Dec 31, 2013 at 11:26 PM

      Congratulations Beast2727, on the last day of 2013, you’ve just won the dumbest proposal for a trade. We’ve tried scanning for sarcasm however there was none to be found as it seems you are being 100% serious. Due to the most ridiculous comment of 2013, you have been disqualified from watching NBA for the next 3 years. It is unfair to take you away from the game you love and seem to know so well, therefore you will be eligible to continue to watch the sport you love but in the form of the WNBA.

      • therealhtj - Jan 1, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        C’mon, even the most myopic of Knicks fans couldn’t believe this is the least bit of a feasible trade. Lighten up jamesinva, it’s a New Year!

    • 00maltliquor - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:47 PM

      Come again?? I think I broke my sarcasm radar, I couldn’t detect it. Your just being funny, right?

  3. vols84 - Dec 31, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    “One Million Dollars” – Dr. Evil

  4. shanelsweet - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    How can “averages of 18 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 33.5 minutes per contest” be worth near the max? If your GM starts throwing money around like that, then your not going to have enough left to build a good team

    • therealhtj - Jan 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Any team with cap space would absolutely offer this kid a 4-year max Restricted Free Agent deal in the 65mil ballpark. Guys far less deserving have gotten at least that much. Heck Phoenix even offered that deal to Eric Gordon who’s arguably nowhere near as valuable as Bledsoe and far more injury prone.

      You’d think Phoenix would have to match, although with their well-documented penny pinching ownership, there’s a small chance they’d let him walk. They’re even talking about giving him 5 years and more money than he can get elsewhere, but you can rest assured Phoenix will NEVER be a luxury tax payer.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 2, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      well maybe you should consider that bledsoe is one of the best defenders in the league. You might be right that he’s not worth near the max, but there is more to the game than stats.

  5. dabceb - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    What’s wrong with this title?

    “Suns GM says team will pay Eric Bledsoe ‘whatever it takes’ to keep him in free agency”

    I take it that Phoenix wants Bledsoe out of town and will pay him whatever it takes to be a free agent….

  6. 00maltliquor - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    Someones getting a max contract next season…..

  7. 00maltliquor - Jan 1, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    Wow, 3 max players that came out of Kentucky the same year. That’s crazy. And they got nowhere near the Final Four too.

  8. sportsfan18 - Jan 1, 2014 at 11:13 PM

    It isn’t new, but there are way too many max players that aren’t worth it.

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