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Eric Bledsoe: Suns ‘are using restricted free agency against me’

Jul 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

Eric Bledsoe is the top free agent still available on the market at this time, but it’s not necessarily his skill set or extremely high asking price that’s keeping teams from coming at him with a realistic offer for his services.

Bledsoe is a restricted free agent, which means the Suns have the right to match any offer he receives — and that complicates things, somewhat substantially.

In the early days of free agency, teams are leery of signing players with Bledsoe’s status to offer sheets because those cap dollars can’t be spent elsewhere while the Suns take up to 72 hours to decide whether or not to match. Other available players get gobbled up during that time, and at the end of it all, the team that went out and extended the offer sheet may have nothing to show for it if the player’s current club ends up matching.

Bledsoe remains unsigned, and Phoenix seem to be in no hurry to do so. He knows it’s all part of the process, but still feels like the Suns are using restricted free agency to their advantage.

From Kyle Burger of (via Valley of the Suns):

“First off I’m going to let my agent Rich Paul handle it,” Bledsoe said, while attending a “Ball Up” street ball tournament in Birmingham. “I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using restricted free agency against me. But I understand that.”

Bledsoe can be seen making these remarks on video, and he doesn’t come across as angry or bitter about the way things have unfolded. But he is absolutely right.

It’s unclear just how close Bledsoe may have gotten with other teams on an offer sheet, but honestly, the Suns would like nothing more for him to sign a four-year max offer from another team. That would get them out of having to discuss a five-year deal near the max, which is what Bledsoe and his agent have been pushing for at this stage of the negotiations.

Bledsoe does have a sort of nuclear option with all of this if he’s truly bothered by his situation. He could play next season on a one-year qualifying offer, and then pursue life as an unrestricted free agent the following summer, when he could sign with anyone of his choosing, and without the Suns being able to interfere in the slightest.

But Bledsoe has had injury issues that have limited him in two of his four NBA seasons, and can’t really afford another one in a contract year without any future financial security in place. The Suns are offering four years, $48 million, but Bledsoe’s team is looking for the full five-year, $80 million max. Someone has to give in at some point, but because Bledsoe is accurate in his assessment that Phoenix has the rules of restricted free agency on its side, it probably won’t be the Suns.

  1. motobus - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Sign the one year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent.

    • saint1997 - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      It is just such a risk, but I feel that could be a solid move from Bledsoe if he has a team in mind. Let’s say he dreams of playing with Melo for the Knicks, or he sees another team he just badly wants to play for, that contract freedom will mean a lot for him. Even with an injury, I can’t see his value diminishing so much

      • unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:58 PM

        Derrick Rose on line two for you.

      • saint1997 - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:13 PM

        You saying most teams in the NBA wouldn’t give Rose a max contract right now?

      • unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:25 PM

        Correct- he’s barely played any basketball in almost three years. You take the guaranteed cash when you can- tomorrow is promised to no one.

      • money2long - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:42 PM

        yes i agree bledsoe should take the qualifying offer. especially if he isn’t getting offered somewhere close to the dollars he wants.

        secondly, every team, every single team would give derrick rose a max deal.

      • bdachan12 - Jul 27, 2014 at 12:43 AM

        No way in hell any team would give Rose a max deal. The only way he would get big money right now is a non-guaranteed two year deal similar to what Bynum got from Cleveland.

        Anyone who would suggest a half competent GM would give a guy that busted both knees on non-contact plays a max deal is nuts.

      • duhwighthoward - Jul 27, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        unfrozemancavemanlawyer in the house!

      • eugenesaxe1 - Jul 27, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        I wouldn’t give Rose a contract to wash my car, he’d end up drowning.

    • jetnotjets - Jul 26, 2014 at 11:15 PM

      That’s a pretty big gamble to take with his injury history. It sucks for Bledsoe, but the Suns made a very smart offer here. They are offering him 12 million a year. He wants 16 million a year. If he signs the tender and plays this year, he will only make 3.7 million. So he will make 8.3 million more this year if he accepts the Suns offer.

      That’s where they’ve got him. He wants 16 million over the next 4 years more than they are offering. If he accepts their offer, he only misses out on 7.3 million over 4 years.

      Is playing through the season without a contract in place and risking injury worth 7.3 million over 4 years? Maybe, but I wouldn’t take those odds. I’d take the guaranteed 48 million. Remember, Bledsoe is only 24 years old. He can max out on his next contract. I bet more teams would be willing to offer a max deal to a 28 year old PG than to a 29 year old PG too. Still, if I were Bledsoe’s agent, I’d hold out for 4 years / 52 million. That’s 13 million a year and he’d only be missing out on 3.3 million over the next 4 years.

      The 5th year he’s seeking is irrelevant. He’d likely opt out of it anyway to seek another max deal when the higher TV revenues kick in anyway.

      • borderline1988 - Jul 27, 2014 at 12:20 AM

        Bledsoe’s agent should pay the Lakers $1 million under the table to offer Bledsoe $14m/year.

  2. rrhoe - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    This is why the Clippers got rid of him…….

    • money2long - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

      who thumbed up this wrong comment?
      if im not mistaken, the didn’t “get rid” of bledsoe until they inked cp3. bledsoe’s behind would still be in LA if chris paul didn’t commit to the clippers. they’re just lucky the sterling scandal happened when it did.

  3. lazegowizfan95 - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    He wants to come to the Bucks it’s official.

  4. campcouch - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    He’ll get plenty of rest in Phoenix’s crowded backcourt. Kick it for a year,then go somewhere else.

  5. imthedudedude - Jul 26, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    I highly doubt he takes a qualifying offer. First, he will only be making $3.7 million this year compared to the $12 mil per year he would make if he accepts the suns offer. That’s a lot of money to make up in any future contract. Second, the injury risk is too great. Third, he knows he has a great coach and great system in place for him here in phoenix. He should eventually realize all this and accept the offer from the suns.

  6. vols84 - Jul 27, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    Wasn’t Bledsoe injured half the season?

  7. kamauthabiti - Jul 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    so just play out this year and become an unrestricted free agent.

  8. eugenesaxe1 - Jul 27, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    No, they’re using the fact that nobody else wants him against him.

  9. jameskatt - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:18 AM

    Eric Bledsoe is one dumb basketball player to state that the Suns “are using restricted free agency against me”. Blame restricted free agency on the Collective Bargaining Agreement dummy. It is also called a CONTRACT, Eric.

    The Suns are already more than generous in offering him $12 MILLION A YEAR. Bledsoe is definitely not a Max Player. He is NOWHERE near as valuable or as good as Lebron James or even Carmelo Anthony. With all of his injuries, the Suns are taking a huge risk by being so generous with their offer for Bledsoe. The fact that Bledsoe has no takers simply means he is being TOO GREEDY. And other teams realize how much of a risk it is to make a max offer to Bledsoe – the often injured player. That would be like making a max offer for Andrew Bynum. Of course, you don’t see Bledsoe talking about a 1 year contract so he can be an unrestricted free agent. He also realizes how often he has been injured and how little he is worth in free agency if he is injured again.

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