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Does Eric Bledsoe deserve more than four years, $48 million?

Aug 5, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

Eric Bledsoe’s camp wants a max deal, or at least close to it. Max would be five years, $80 million. Bledsoe wants that fifth year.

The Phoenix Suns have offered four years, $48 million. Owner Robert Sarver thinks that’s fair.

This is the kind of negotiation that leads to bad blood between a player and team (and fans), drawn out negotiations in a public setting where both sides have very different views of a player’s value and the risk involved. It leads to fans thinking “he doesn’t care about the team” when to the other sides this is a cold, business negotiation. See Erik Gordon in New Orleans for example 1A.

Bledsoe hasn’t been able to get more in part because he has no leverage — no team was going to offer more if they felt the Suns would just match it, and the Suns said they would match any offer (and the feeling around the league is that wasn’t a bluff).

But how much more could Bledsoe really have gotten? The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro talked to some league executives and agents who said “not much.”

“I’m surprised that they would offer him that much,” he said. “They don’t need to. It is really fair and, in fact, generous. He is talented, but he has never put it together very long, and he hasn’t been healthy. It’s hard to turn your team over to him.

The question isn’t production — the athletic, dynamic Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and had a true shooting percentage of .578 and he can knock down threes. Those are borderline All-Star numbers if extended over the course of a season. The concern on a big contract is durability after two knee surgeries that have shortened two of his last three seasons.

For fun, here’s a list of guards making in the $12 million a year ballpark:

Rajon Rondo ($12.9 million), Tony Parker ($12.5), Kyle Lowry ($12), Ty Lawson ($11.6), Tyreke Evans ($11.3), Stephen Curry ($10.6).

Now to be fair there are outliers there. The Curry deal was signed before he had shown he could come back from multiple ankle surgeries like he did, that looks like a steal now but was a gamble at the time. Parker has played for under market value for years. We could go on.

But it’s also fair to say that’s some good company for Bledsoe.

If he really wants the max, or just really wants out of Phoenix, Bledsoe’s option is to play next season for the $3.7 million qualifying offer — take that pay hit for a year, play well and stay healthy, and he’s going to get a nice payday at the other end of it. Hard to say it will be max, but he’d have suitors and options.

But that’s a risk for Bledsoe, who has a long injury history. He could try to get the Suns to give him a player option on the last year of this four-year deal (or get a two-year deal), so that he can opt-out after that if he proves he’s worth more.

The problem is, as we have seen in cases like this around the league, this just all builds up bad blood that doesn’t necessarily go away easily (see Love, Kevin, for an example). Bledsoe’s not making a lot of friends in Phoenix right now.

  1. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Wow, Steph Curry has to be the best deal in the NBA outside of guys on rookie deals.

    • innovativethinking87 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      yea until his ankles snap again

    • spursareold - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Hello? Tony Parker was an All Star AND 2nd team All NBA this past year.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        spurs

        don’t use facts, stats or truth with him…

        if he thinks it, it’s real to him…

        life doesn’t work that way. there are many things I don’t like and agree with but they are still true and my not liking that doesn’t make it the way I want it to be. i just have to deal with it.

        others? well it’s always the way they see things, even when it’s wrong they still think they’re right.

        and he calls himself an expert on pro basketball too…

    • zoomy123 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:07 PM

      @spursareold

      Yes, but Curry is 6 years younger AND he’ll still be making less than Parker for the next 3 years.

  2. bhunter1995 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    Bledsoe isn’t worth max, he should be happy with 12 million a year, and that would be fair even if he weren’t such an injury risk. Sure a below average team would drop more then 12 a year to acquire him but for a good team twelve million per year for Bledsoe is perfect.

  3. edavidberg - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    Bledsoe hasn’t proven himself to be a max guy mainly because he has struggled to stay healthy. If he plays 80 or so games next year he will be positioned to be a near max player in free agency. But he has to do that first.

    If Bledsoe wants more money he needs to play the season on his $3 million plus deal. But a guaranteed $48 million is a pretty good payday for someone with his injury history.

  4. spursareold - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    If he truly feels he’s a MAX guy, he needs to put HIS money where his mouth is and take the qualifying offer. Not doing so is weak sauce. He needs to sh t or get off the pot. Sign the tender or sign the 4 year contract.

    • sportsfan18 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      with HIS injury history?

      say no to 960 yrs at $50K a year? which is roughly the average U.S. household income.

      he’d be beyond stupid to say no to $48 million dollars… GUARANTEED

      weak sauce you say?

      I say that would be stupid sauce. but if he’s that dumb…

      • spursareold - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:11 PM

        Then he needs to sign the 4/48, and stop being such a child.

        The Suns are not going to up their offer, and no one is coming in with a new one. He needs to decide and execute a plan, not sit at home and pout.

  5. titansbro - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    Literally cannot understand why other teams won’t bother to offer if they think the current team might match. It’s lazy. Call their bluff. If you like the player, offer him what you think he’s worth. If they match, no skin off your back. It’s lazy & dumb.

  6. eugenesaxe1 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    He better jump on it before he becomes Sprewell 2.0.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:53 PM

      You don’t understand his situation. Eric has to feed his family….

  7. sonnysuave - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Blah blah blah. How many different ways can PBT write the same exact article??? And same exact comments from everyone! Geez… this is almost getting worse than Donald Sterling articles!

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      You ain’t lying! I was thinking the same exact thing.

  8. 2016olympics - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    I can also understand his frustration…when he sees Gordon Hayward getting max money.

  9. sportsfan18 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:04 PM

    valid point

    but then life isn’t fair

    we see things that are unfair everyday in our lives

    many max guys are not max guys.

    the Utah’s and Minnesota’s need to overpay to get guys to stay or go there.

    more than a guys talent goes into determining whether they get the max or not

  10. 2016olympics - Aug 5, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    The market (rest of the NBA) seems to be sending a very clear signal…take the deal. Charlotte was willing to pay Gordon Hayward…so which team is going to offer Bledsoe big money? Apparently no one…he should probably take the deal and end the consternation.

  11. campcouch - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Hayward has started and played in more games in the same span, plus Hayward’s numbers are equal to or slightly better than Bledsoe’s. Couple that with Utah saying right off that they’d match any offer for him. Phoenix knew that no one would look at Bledsoe’s career and say that’s 80 mil right there…and they were right.

  12. pglive21 - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Not sure where you got the idea that Hayward’s number are equal or slightly better than Bledsoe’s, unless you’re looking at raw totals. Hayward is an inefficient player with poor shooting percentages and mediocre defensive ability. The difference is that he isn’t playing a position that’s loaded with talent league-wide like Bledsoe is.

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