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Report: Eric Bledsoe-Suns ‘relationship is on the express lane to being ruined’

Jul 29, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT

Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek, Goran Dragic Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek, Goran Dragic

The Suns are using restricted free agency against Eric Bledsoe.

That’s no secret. It’s a reality of the situation.

Bledsoe knows this, which surely leaves him feeling a little helpless as July turns to August and he remains unsigned.

I feel for Bledsoe, who’s in a tough spot, but he’s not the first restricted free agent to get stuck, and he won’t be the last. The Collective Bargaining Agreement sometimes gives teams a lot of leverage over players, and this is one of those cases.

There’s nothing to do except whine.

Really. That can actually be a solution.

If the Suns think Bledsoe is unhappy enough, they might offer a bigger contract in order preserve harmony and keep Bledsoe devoted to winning. An employer paying to keep its employees happy is not unreasonable.

So, Bledsoe or his agent, Rich Paul, or someone else in Bledsoe’s camp is pushing this angry agenda.

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

According to league sources, an “ominous development” has arisen with sides still “very far apart” in contract negotiations. It has even escalated to the point where the “relationship is on the express lane to being ruined,” a source with knowledge of the situation informed CSNNW.com.

The Suns offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million deal with declining salaries each year, two sources said. That proposal was quickly turned down. Bledsoe’s camp is putting a max price tag on the player Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek called “a Top-10 player in the NBA in coming years”, another source said.

However, the effort by the Suns to undermine Bledsoe’s market is what has angered Bledsoe and his reps and led to a standoff in which the relationship is now on the verge of being irreparable, we’re told.

Other teams that are/were in the process of dealing with their own restricted free agents (Utah, Detroit, Houston) chose not to use the public scare tactics this summer, another factor that has Bledsoe feeling chilly at the thought of a return to the desert, sources say.

The difference between a four-year max contract and a $48 million contract is $14,965,420 – a hefty chunk of change.

Unfortunately for Bledsoe, he has little recourse here.

The Suns are well within their rights to dissuade teams from signing him to an offer sheet. The Jazz actually threatened to match any Gordon Hayward offer (which they did), and the Pistons have sent softer signals for Greg Monroe.

If Bledsoe doesn’t want to accept $48 million, he could always accept the $3,726,966 qualifying offer. That one-year contract would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer, though he’d be extremely underpaid this season.

It also screws the Suns, who couldn’t trade Bledsoe without his consent. If he’s forced to play so far below market value, you think he’s rushing to approve deals that help Phoenix?

So, there’s incentive for both sides to work toward a more-amicable solution.

Bledsoe could try to persuade the 76ers, the only team with enough cap space remaining to offer him a max offer sheet, to offer one. Or he and Phoenix could engage teams about sign-and-trades.

And of course, both Bledsoe and the Suns can continue negotiating with each other, trying to bridge that $14,965,420 gap.

Maybe they compromise with Bledsoe taking less than the max per year but signing for few than four years and/or receiving a player option. That would limit Bledsoe’s safety net, but set him up for a bigger payday later.

Of course, Bledsoe wants it all, and the best way to get that is to threaten the Suns with extreme unhappiness.

So, that’s what he – or someone on his behalf – is doing. The next step is seeing how seriously Phoenix takes these complaints.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Guess his feelings are as fragile as the rest of his body.

    • bruiserbrigade - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:29 AM

      Just his agent trying to drum up interest.

  2. handsomerob86 - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    The decreasing salaries is the bigger issue. Its a nice trick by the Suns, but it wounds like Bledsoes agent isn’t fooled. By decreasing his salaries every year, they can decrease what his max would be in 4 years because his max would be based off of raises which would be based on the final (and lowest if Suns get their way) year. Suns will end up flipping the approach, and he will sign, but its a good strategy, if you can get a player to do it.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      That only applies to an extension. Any new contract he would sign as a FA is based on the maximum $$ for his years of service according to the CBA, not his previous deal.

      • handsomerob86 - Jul 30, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        ORLY? http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/09/value-of-max-contracts-for-2014-nba-free-agents/

        This seems to state otherwise.

  3. cbrown386 - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Max level players play for more than half of the season. He hasn’t proven he can do that yet. Some desperate team will likely make him an offer eventually, but if he really wants a max deal he’ll ride out the qualifying offer and prove that he can stay healthy.

    • sonnysuave - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      I agree. $12mm/yr for 4yrs, is a decent offer… for an injury-prone player of his caliber.

    • kinggw - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      Actually he’s played in over half his team’s games every season. He only missed 6 games his first season. He missed 26 the next season (out of 66), 1 game last season and 39 out of 82 this season that just ended. He’s missed significant action in two of his four seasons, yet he’s managed to suit up in over half his team’s games every year.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:32 PM

        king

        facts have no place on this site

        either in the articles or in our comments

        it’s all about the homers on here getting what they WANT off their chests even though it’s moronic most of the time.

        People simply make crazy statements and it’s like they don’t realize that there is this thing called the internet where we may look up the stat or stats in question

        i’m not talking about bledsoe and games played but just in general

        if they like a player, he’s an all time great, if they don’t like him, he’s a bum

        oh, and the name calling. things folks say on here make my skin crawl and I shudder sometimes too. keeps me awake at night.

        folks that can’t deal with reality aren’t smart enough to deal with reality, so they don’t

      • smoothaswilkes - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM

        Then maybe he deserves a bit of half of the max, which is about $12 million per, just like Lowry.

      • atlbrave5 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        @Kinggw – I’m going to need you to please go back to the internet site you get your numbers from and look into the stats a little bit deeper. For starters, you do realize last season was the FIRST season that Eric actually started and play real significant minutes in the league. You can’t really base a lot off of someone coming off the bench and playing around 20min a night. Last time I checked, NBA quarters are 12min long, so if my numbers are correct, Eric never played longer than 2 halves his first 3 seasons in the league. So the only real gauge the Suns have is a) what did he do last season..32min per/gm and 17pts, 4reb, 5ast. b) what is his upside at 24 years old and injury prone and c) what are other teams offering to pay him..so for nobody has offered him anything other than the Suns. So in this case I feel the Suns offer is fair at $48mil..he is not a franchise player and I’m sorry but only franchise players should get offered Max deals. If other teams thought he was a max player then he would have offers on the table..plain and simple!

  4. angulocarlos1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Agent probably feeding these “reports” to the media for leverage

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:29 PM

      If you had read the article you’d know your comment is pointless. The author explicitly said it several times.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        pro

        it isn’t just his comment that is pointless, he’s got 4 thumbs up to 1 down right now.

        thumbs are NEVER wrong you know.

  5. mrlaloosh - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Poor fella. If he doesn’t sign offer he has to play for a measly $3 million plus this year. Oh, the humanity!

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      He should just STFU and sign the qualifying offer. He can then tell the Suns to FO next summer and sign with whomever he pleases as an unrestricted free agent.

  6. bhunter1995 - Jul 29, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    He isn’t worth a max contract, he thinks he is, that’s the problem. His agent has been boosting this guys ego trying to get him to hold out for money but a 48 million dollar deal is reasonable and Bledsoe can’t complain if he ends up signing for that much money.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      not that I’m disagreeing with you but many players who DO get max contracts are NOT worth max contracts so ya gotta start with something other than that for your reasoning.

      • bhunter1995 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:50 PM

        I do agree with you, but if he expects the Suns (who acquired Thomas, a 20-3-6 PG) to drop max money on him he is dreaming. The suns got a very good insurance plan if Bledsoe gets a max offer from some desperate lottery bound team, they don’t need him like they did last season. The teams that give max offers to players like Bledsoe are usually teams that are stuck in 30 win purgatory that are trying to claw their way into the playoffs. Even then, the GM of a team like that would have to be hesitant of making such a large investment in a player with Bledsoe’s injury history.

      • rrhoe - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:33 PM

        Most players that receive “max” contracts are their respective teams franchise/core players and while some teams will overpay to keep their own players Bledsoe was not drafted by PHX and his body of work with them is only 43 gms. Bledsoe is a very good player,had what I will call a “breakout” year,and before anybody says that Hayward or Parsons didn’t deserve what they got they had the one thing that Bledsoe has not gotten: Another team to make an offer.

        That being said,4yrs/48mil is too much but fair(in my opinion) but 5yrs/80 mil,he’s not worth that,sorry……..

  7. milkman1989 - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    Guys please help. I’m doing a dissertation on the NBA focusing on its lack of competitiveness. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could you answer my questionnaire, its only 4 short questions and i promise it will only take 1 minute max. Here is the link and I will be very grateful to the community on here. Thanks guys: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RBYGLL2

  8. aldavis4president - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    Hes been hurt, but he’s definitely got max pay skills. The suns wear red hot when be was playing last season because of him.

  9. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:26 PM

    You guys are a bunch of haters. Eric Bledsoe is a very good player. He deserves a payday. Personally I think he should take the qualifying offer and use his leverage next summer to get it, but I guess he’s trying to get paid now coming off his best season.

  10. campcouch - Jul 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Bledsoe should work a sign and trade. He’s not getting max money based off of one productive season and his playing time will be cut with all the guards already on the roster. He’s started 77 out of a possible 328 games and played in 240. That’s not max contract. Time to move on.

  11. censormynameandmycomments - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    The Suns aren’t “using restricted free agency against him.”

    The whole league knows what the Suns have offered Bledsoe. If there was a team out there that thought he was worth more than that offer, they’d make it and hope to call the Suns bluff about matching any offer. No team has done that, which means no team thinks Bledsoe is worth more than the Suns do. The fact that Bledsoe and his agent think he’s worth more is irrelevant.

    How exactly would the situation be different if he was unrestricted? Would some team suddenly make him a max offer if he was? The only thing that would change is that Bledsoe could accept the same money (or less) from another team simply because he wanted to play for that team (or didn’t want to play for the Suns), but there is no team that would offer him more money than the Suns already have, because if there was, they already would have done so.

    • sumkat - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:39 AM

      not really true. A team that made a signing earlier may not have made that signing if Bledsoe was on the market. If you offer a guy a contract, until the team matches, that money is tied up. So you would be losing time for Free Agents to sign with other teams while you are sitting around with your hands in your pockets seeing if the Suns will match.

      I don’t think he’s worth much more than 12 mil, but I would probably give him a deal starting at 12 and going up 1 per year (so 4 years 54 mil total). Wouldn’t give him the full max, giving guys like him the max is how you wind up stuck as a mediocre team. But at the same time, after signing Thomas (for way too much money IMO), how much money are they going to put into the PG spot? Even if they think 2 can play together consistently. They may secretly be hoping he takes the qualifying offer and walks so they can free up money for other positions

      As far as the “get the sixers to offer a max contract”, will never happen. Sixers have no reason to try to stick it to the Suns, and if the Suns decide not to match, Bledsoe play PG, which they don’t need, and if he can play with MCW, will make them win more games than they want to win

      • AZ Dem - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:32 AM

        If my understanding is correct, PHX would only have 3 days to match. 3 days is not going dissuade any team from offering him a contract if they really wanted to.

      • sumkat - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:14 AM

        They’d have 7 days to match (Just like Hayward with Utah and Parsons with Houston). Not as big a deal now, but not many teams that can fit him now. At the start of free agency, when everyone was waiting on LeBron to decide before the rest of the dominos fell, giving up a week is a big gamble.

        Basically you have to wiling to risk that if the other team does match, you are completely out of the FA market, because chance are, any other difference makers are gone

  12. CaJonMcChicken - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    So many average players these days think they’re a max player.

  13. censormynameandmycomments - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    Another point against the “the Suns are using RFA against him” argument:

    If teams really were convinced the Suns would match any offer, there would be no risk in offering him a max deal (or even a deal worth slightly more than the Suns are offering), even if they only offered it in order to force Phx to use up their future cap space by matching. Since no team has made that kind of “screw Phx” offer, it means no team is convinced that the Suns would actually match it and they don’t want to be stuck overpaying for him.

  14. 00maltliquor - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    Remember the Suns throwing a max contract at Eric Gordon?

    The Suns initial offer seems more then fair though. This kid should probably get over the fact he’s not proven a thing to be a max player and should either take the offer and try to do something special with this up and coming team or take a Lance Stephenson style contract where it’s a 3 year deal with a 3rd year player opt out in the neighborhood of 35-40 million.

    Just my opinion. But he shouldn’t be a baby about it. If he was really worth what he thinks he’s worth a team would have offered him max and dared the Suns to match. It’s at a point and time now where teams are signing 1-2 nobodys every 2-3 days now. Who cares if your cap room is on hold now for 3 days for a Bledsoe if they felt like he’s worth it. It’s obviously not happening so…there you go Eric.

  15. AZ Dem - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:40 AM

    Thing is, . . . we don’t know if this is coming from Bledsoe or from his agent.

    If he’s worried about a career ending injury, he should take the Suns’ 4 year deal.

    Otherwise, try to get a 2 year deal with a player option next summer.

    We all know the cap is going up in a big way next summer and the contracts signed next summer are going to be astronomical.

    • spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      The big cap jump will be in 2016, not next summer. That’s when the new TV deal gets signed.

  16. Lujah - Jul 30, 2014 at 4:12 AM

    I think he should take the qualifying offer if nothing changes and then bounce next year. Why is is that he can’t take a one year deal worth more? Why these restrictions by the NBA?

    I really don’t want to hear about the gross these players make anymore. Let me know the real number. Which is after taxes and then I think we can understand why they want to hold out for more money.

    And why is he being insulted and labeled as childish or angry? The NBA is a business. This is a business decision. I swear nba fans act like they’re fans of a player but when contracts come up you’ll always taking the corporate side an attack the players.

  17. spursareold - Jul 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Yup. If you’re really that unhappy with PHO, bounce. Stop talking about it and do something.

    If he signs the QO, they can’t even trade him without his permission, because it’s a one year contract.

  18. luz56 - Jul 30, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Funny how in a free market you are paid you’re worth and then some…..Eric Bledsoe isn’t worth the 48M in most eyes that the suns are offering or there WOULD BE an offer

  19. kamauthabiti - Jul 30, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    just play out the year and go where you want to next year.

  20. truprof - Jul 30, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Hey Bledsoe, are you and your agent reading all these comments? Get a clue!

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