The relationship between the Phoenix Suns and restricted free agent point guard, Eric Bledsoe is on the rocks according to league sources who spoke with CSNNW.com’s Chris Haynes. They’re still “very far apart” on contract negotiations just days after Bledsoe publicly claimed the Suns “are using restricted free agency against me.”
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 have reportedly offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million offer, which will decline in value each year. His agent wants the max, but as a source tells Haynes, Suns coach Jeff Hornacek calls Bledsoe a “Top-10 player in the NBA in the coming years.”
Another source tells Haynes the example set by other teams with their restricted free agents — specifically, Utah (Gordon Hayward), Detroit (Greg Monroe), Houston (Chandler Parsons) — who chose not to issue public statements they’d match any offer has caught the attention of Bledsoe’s group. That discrepancy, which Bledsoe’s camp feels has unfairly tempered the offers coming his way, has rubbed the relationship between the team and the player raw, to the point where it might be fractured beyond repair.
Then again, Bledsoe could accept the little over $3.7 million qualifying offer Phoenix extended to make him a restricted free agent this month and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. In that case he runs the risk of injury or a drop in production over the ensuing year before that he’s freed to sign wherever regardless of Phoenix’s wishes.
Bledsoe averaged career highs of 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 32.9 minutes per game during the 2013-14 season. Except, Bledsoe only appeared in 43 games for the Suns after he underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee. The man, who basketball-reference nicknames “Mini-LeBron” is also one of the better defensive guards in the league, and his impact as a stalwart bulwark on the perimeter is trickier to quantify.
As pointed out to us on Twitter a few minutes ago by Sports on Earth’s Michael Pina, by this time next summer, the Suns could be without their two-headed point guard attack of Goran Dragic and Bledsoe.
Dragic has a player option of $7.5 million for the 2015-16 season, and he’ll most likely opt out once the summer of 2015 rolls around. If Dragic keeps up his current climb in efficiency and production in Arizona, he could even demand a max contract.
The desert is currently filled with star players battling it out in Vegas to join Team USA in Spain for the World Cup. Near that same desert is a Suns team battling it out to keep their backcourt intact for at least another year without irreparably harming their relationship with one, or both, of the point guards who surprisingly led them to the cusp of the playoffs in a difficult Western Conference this past season.
Will Bledsoe be in Phoenix this time next summer?
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