Phoenix Suns face many crucial decisions with rookie contracts


Rookie contracts are affordable enough that usually the decision to pick up a third- or fourth-year team option is merely a clerical matter. Yet this season the Suns face a number of decisions that must be made by Halloween that could end up being a trick or a treat.

By Oct. 31 the Suns must decide whether to pick up the fourth-year team options for Markieff and Marcus Morris as well as the third-year options for Miles Plumlee and Kendall Marshall. Perhaps most important of all, the Suns must choose whether to extend Eric Bledsoe by agreeing on a lucrative long-term deal or enter the offseason with Bledsoe as a looming restricted free agency.

The following breaks down the factors the Suns must consider when making these decisions:

Eric Bledsoe – $3,726,966 qualifying offer

The Suns face a different dilemma with Bledsoe than the other four players. They have until Halloween to sign him to a long-term contract extension to keep him in purple and orange for the next five seasons (or six if they make him their designated played, including the upcoming season he is already under contract for). If the two sides do not come to an agreement and the Suns don’t flip him for more assets, they will extend him a $3.7 million qualifying offer next offseason that will make him a restricted free agent.

That, of course, means the Suns could match any offer that comes Bledsoe’s way, and it’s a much better position than the one the Suns were in a few years ago when they watched New Orleans match a mini-max offer to Eric Gordon (although in hindsight, maybe that was a good thing for Phoenix). The bad news is another team could throw a crazy offer to Bledsoe to dissuade Phoenix from matching, and at that point the Suns would be stuck between between the unenviable positions of taking on a bad contract and losing Bledsoe for nothing. They would also still hold his rights in the event of a sign-and-trade, but such a scenario seems unlikely at this point.

If the Suns and Bledsoe don’t agree on an extension there will be plenty of time to sort out potential endgame scenarios for him. What’s difficult is figuring out what exactly Bledsoe is worth since he’s one of the most talented players in the league that has never really gotten a chance to start. We still don’t know whether he can run an offense, whether he will develop a jump shot and whether he is a future star or merely an ace defender.

There’s lots of risk on both sides since we’re likely going to find all that out this year. Bledsoe’s camp must weigh the guard’s ability to turn into a mini-max player as well as the possibility that his game is exposed as one of the Suns’ best players. The Suns carry the same risk, as they will be paying for Bledsoe’s potential without fully understanding what it is. It could be difficult for Bledsoe to pass up a large guaranteed payday, but it may depend on how much of that potential the Suns are willing to pay for. The Suns failed to lock up Joe Johnson at a reasonable rate before the 2004-05 season and paid for it by ultimately losing the player in a sign-and-trade when he broke out that year and commanded a much heftier salary.

Although they play different positions, this week’s Derrick Favors contract offers a reasonable comparison in terms of paying for potential. Favors averaged 9.4 points and 7.1 boards in 23.2 minutes per game last season, all career highs, as the former No. 3 overall pick has not yet  received major playing time in his first three NBA seasons. Yet the Jazz guaranteed him over $12 million a year on a four-year deal because of the player they think he will be these next five seasons.

That’s a scary number, because when the Suns first acquired Bledsoe I was thinking something like the four-year, $32 million deal Jeff Teague signed this offseason. Now I’d be surprised if it’s below $9 million a year, and perhaps that’s low.

Working in the Suns’ favor, Brandon Jennings signed a mere three-year, $24 million deal this offseason despite being a relatively heralded point guard, yet that may be more a function of the way the free agency market played out with few opportunities available for the restricted free agent once he failed to agree to a long-term deal with Milwaukee. In recent years, Ty Lawson has gotten 4/$48, Stephen Curry 4/$44, Tyreke Evans 4/$44 and Jrue Holiday 4/$41. However, all of those players were much more proven than Bledsoe when they hit the market.

Overpaying for Bledsoe is a risk the Suns must weigh because if they fail to do so they might have to overpay in a bigger way to keep him next offseason.

What they should do: Sign him for four years, $36 million if possible, but no more than $40 million

Markieff Morris – $2,989,239 team option

As things stand today, Markieff Morris is the Phoenix Suns’ starting power forward. That may not be the case heading into the 2014-15 season with a bumper crop of power forwards set to become available in the 2014 NBA Draft, especially since Keef has never flashed the consistency of an NBA power forward. It may not even be the case once Channing Frye gets his NBA sea legs back since that was a position the former Wildcat owned not long ago.

Yet it makes sense for the Suns to pick up Morris’ team option after his improvement shown in Summer League and with the player owning a skill set that should make him a valuable rotation player the next two years. This is especially the case for a Suns franchise planning on building around youth. It’s worth the nearly $3 million price to have Keef locked up for the next two years as the organization figures out whether he fits into their long-terms plans.

What they should do: Pick it up

Marcus Morris – $2,943,221 team option

Nor surprisingly, Marcus Morris is in nearly the exact same situation as his brother. With only a few months as a Phoenix Sun, the organization knows even less about Marcus and may as well spend the next two years figuring out whether he belongs in their future nucleus or not.

With such a cheap contract for a usable player, the twins could become useful trade ballast as the Suns seek out bigger deals this season and next summer. Retaining their rights as assets gives the team two more trade chips that would lose their luster if the Suns decline their 2014-15 options, and based on how close the twins are the Suns almost can’t pick up one player’s option and decline the other’s based on how it would impact his brother.

What they should do: Pick it up

Kendall Marshall – $2,091,840 team option

The question with Kendall Marshall is whether the Suns feel he can carve out a nice role as an eventual backup point guard. If they plan on re-signing Bledsoe and keeping Goran Dragic for the bulk of his contract, there might not be any room for Kendall to begin with. That’s especially the case with Archie Goodwin able to play the one in a pinch.

If the rest of Marshall’s game becomes passable enough for his playmaking skills to make him an asset, the option should be picked up. He would be valuable insurance in case of point guard injury, and if he proves himself as an adequate floor general, he could eventually become attractive to another team even if just as an addition to a bigger trade.

Unless you’re dealing with a total bust at the top of the draft set to make a large salary such as a Michael Beasley or Wes Johnson, it’s almost always worth it to pick up a young player’s contract so long as he shows even the slightest bit of potential and you aren’t in a salary cap crunch.

With the Suns unlikely to make a max contract splash that changes the fate of the organization next summer, it’s doubtful the opportunity cost of Marshall’s $2 million contract will prevent them from making any kind of big move. This one should come down to whether the Suns feel like Marshall can become a decent NBA player either for their organization or another through a trade.

What they should do: Pick it up, unless they feel he has no NBA potential

Miles Plumlee – $1,169,880 team option

This is the easiest decision of the bunch. The Suns didn’t insist on Plumlee’s inclusion into this summer’s Luis Scola trade for one year of service, especially when his 2014-15 team option is as cheap as it is at $1.17 million. At that price, it’s well worth the risk to see if Plumlee can build on his strong summer and training camp to become a productive role player. Heck, energy, rebounding and a few putbacks is probably worth that price for a backup big even if Plumlee becomes nothing more.

If Plumlee does develop into a rotational big man, they have him under team control for the next three years at very team-friendly prices, which will be useful once the Suns start dipping into free agency to add to their young core in the coming years.

What they should do: Pick it up

In sum, I recommend re-signing Bledsoe for no more than $10 million a year (and hopefully less) and picking up all the team options, with the potential exception of Kendall Marshall’s depending on how the team feels about the second-year guard coming out of the preseason. Aside from max contracts for top-10 players (and the Suns don’t have too many shots at those kind of guys), rookie contracts are the best deals in basketball, and with the Suns likely a couple seasons away from playoff contention it makes sense to keep their rookie deals on the books either for cheap labor or trade fodder even if none of the four option players become part of their long-term core.

And 1

As expected, the Suns are a long shot to win much of anything this season. According to the NBA Futures at Top Bet, they are +30,000 to win the championship (win $3,000 from a $10 bet), with only the Magic and Bobcats facing longer odds at +50,000. They are also +20,000 to win the West, with the Kings at +6,000 giving the next best odds in the West, and +50,000 to win the Pacific Division, with only the Magic and Bobcats laying those kind of odds within their division that includes the Miami Heat.

Tags: Eric Bledsoe Kendall Marshall Marcus Morris Markieff Morris Miles Plumlee

  • Foreveris2long

    Schwartz, I definitely agree with ya on Bledsoe with $10m/yr being the max offer. I like his game and his shooting concerns are moderate IMO and not fatal(see Marshall) as he has good form on his shots, excellent athleticism and quickness which makes it easier to get your shot off. He is a better passer than I thought. I also think Bledsoe would be crazy to reject an offer in that neighborhood.

    I would also extend Plumlee because he looks serviceable as a backup center while we wait on Len and he can play the 4 spot. Good athleticism and length with a decent hook shot.

    As for the Morris twins, I would not extend Markieff because I do not think he has any trade value. While I like Marcus, I do not think I like him that much where he can hold the team hostage unless we sign his brother. I admit though this is a tough call because of Marcus.

    Marshall, no, no and no. IMO there is simply no reasonable basis for believing he can establish any type of an NBA caliber offensive game where opponents respect him. Without an offensive game, he is actually a liability instead of an asset as opponents will consistently sag off of him shadowing other players making life more difficult for his teammates. One more time, NO!

    Good article Schwartz.

  • NOitall

    A couple of comments:

    1] Archie is not and will never be a point guard. While everyone keeps saying it, this guy is a 2 and will always be a 2. He can’t run a team, and shouldn’t. He should be groomed as a scorer and not pushed into trying to be a playmaker. That is what everyone did to Leandro, and that failed just as miserably as this will. Once everyone realized that Leandro was a scorer and let him be, he settled in nicely. As soon as he got traded to a team that used him as a playmaker, he regressed. Archie, while a decent passer, is a scorer. Let him be that guy.

    2] The trade for Bledsoe was made as a move to bring in a young talent to build around. Certainly waiting to see what he is truly capable of is a risk. Your assertions are pretty right on. I would only say, maybe the Suns push to sign him at a higher number for less years. Throw a 3 year $36M extension at him. Doing so gets Bledsoe to a market number and the flexibility to, if he plays well, command a max deal in a shorter time period. For the Suns, yes you over pay a bit, but by shortening the deal, you are far less exposed to overpaying in the long term and screwing your cap number. If Bledsoe doesn’t pan out to be that upper tier player, you can trade him in his 3rd year at the deadline for cap relief and move on. You might spend a total of $6-8 M extra on a 3 year deal, versus being stuck n a 4th or 5th year and owing him an extra $24-26M.

    3] Agree about both Morris twins. Even if we lost them, nobody would be crying. Keeping them as lower paid rotation guys is a good thing.

    4] The only reason you keep Marshall is if you don’t have better options. If the Suns waive Ish & Lee, then you have evidence that Marshall is the backup here. If they keep either, Marshall is a goner.

    Again, Goodwin really isn’t a real point guard option. They will figure that out quickly.

  • DBreezy

    Hawki,

    From the other article: I wish sports was just about the on court stuff as I would have no problem keeping Gortat. He should be at least what he is for his next contract and possibly more depending on how he takes care of himself. That’s part of why I didn’t have as much heartburn as Foreveris’ when it was becoming clear Blanks was not going to keep Fropez around.

    EBJM,

    While it is ironic where Houston is weakest now, I don’t think Morey minds much. Howard is at his offensive best with absolutely no other offensive player near him. Last season, Nash described this in detail by comparing how Shaq and Amar’e were able to coexist well offensively, but Pau and Howard could not. He clearly was better with guys like Ryan Anderson and Turkey-Glue at the 4 in Orlando than guys like Bass and Big Baby.

    So whenever McHale can get away with it, expect to see lineups that use Parsons as a stretch 4. Zach Harper from CBS did an article on stretch 4′s and Parsons rates out as one of the most effective http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24088180/stretch-4s-in-the-nba-the-balance-between-stretching-and-defense
    Beyond that they still have two youngsters in Do-Mo and Jones who project as faceup stretch 4′s and more of a bruiser type in Smith along with Asik. Asik looms as the big for big trade piece for them get a 4, so we’ll see if Morey makes a move.

    On the Suns history with drafting 5′s, it is what it is but Len doesn’t remind me of Bargnani. On one level, I don’t like player comps for young guys because there’s always someone out there who takes the comparison far too literally. Scouts have said that Wiggins is the best prospect since Lebron, which has already turned into people comparing their games which is not what the scouts said. A guy like Goodwin has a similar body type and movement to young Kobe imo, but I’m not saying I think he’ll be Kobe. It works the other way too with prospects who have failed for various reasons. You can’t say a guy reminds you of Oden or Bowie because of how their careers went, but in terms of potential those aren’t bad players to be compared to. In that vein I say Len reminds me of a more athletic version of Rasho Nesterovic was supposed to be but with greater upside on both ends. I don’t see that as a bad thing, but many will. I also think the guy he will be most compared to will be Noel, not B.Mac.

  • DBreezy

    I would say that the Joe Johnson deal is different than Bledsoe as Joe had clearly shown enough to the Suns to where there was no question going into the 2004-2005 season that he deserved an extension. The only question was for much. JJ had started 111 games for the Suns by that time with 77 the previous season where he averaged 16.7pts up from about 10 the previous two seasons. Bledsoe hasn’t proven anything yet and the Suns have another pg under a reasonable contract so it’s tough. Also with a projected deep lottery team it’s hard to completely ignore the upcoming draft. The Suns front office should be expecting a high pick, but it’s impossible to know which pick it will be and there’s a chance that Marcus Smart, Dante Exum, or Andrew Harrison are the best player available at their pick. So I float the 8-9M per offer to Bledsoe to see if he bites and to let him know the team likes him, but I wouldn’t be in an all out close the deal mode.

    As for the rest, I’d pick up Plumlee he’s shown enough to deserve that. I personally wouldn’t pick up the Morris twins or Marshall’s options if they can’t separate themselves in camp on this roster. Jordan Hill got less than 8 mill for 2 years with the Lakers and Earl Clark got 9M for two years with only 4.5 guaranteed and I don’t think any of the Suns guys will improve as much as those two did.

    There is also a question of roster space. If the Suns keep both Bledsoe and Goran and pickup Plumlee’s option that makes 7 players under contract next summer. 3 1st round draft picks makes it ten and if they keep the Morrii and Marshall that’s 13 players. That’s only two open roster spots, with only one being active. I know Christmas’ deal is partially guaranteed but I’m not sure of the details.

    The Suns may not have many open roster spots to play with coming off a season that’s expected to be bad so they may want some more flexibility roster wise. Obviously trades can and will and likely will affect these numbers, but the team has to take players back in those trades and they may be a greater number than those shipped out.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    I’m not ready to throw Len under the bus just yet…like Forever says, he deserves a few months before any definitive statement can be said about his NBA future….but, the few times I saw him in college didn’t really impress me…he seemed to disappear for long stretches although part of that could be because the college game is more guard oriented.
    The fact remains however that he couldn’t get Maryland into the NCAA Tourney.

    EBJM…can’t wait to see Kansas with Wiggins & Emblid but they also have another player…Wayne Selden…a powerfully built 6’5″ who can really get to the rack & finish plus has great shooting range out to the 3 pt line.
    Like DBreezy said…Len will be measured against Noel, who I would have drafted unless a group of the top doctors guaranteed me that his knees would not hold up over the long haul….maybe that’s what they told McDonough.

    Lastly….NBA TV has shown every team preview in the league…except the Suns…it’s driving me crazy….guess we won’t to get to see the boys play until the 1st regular season game.

  • Ty-Sun

    Plumlee is definitely a keeper. From what I’ve seen of him so far I’d say that at worst he will become Lou Amundsun 2.0 and that isn’t a bad thing for a second unit player.

    Bledsoe… I’d say that it really depends on what HE demands as to whether the Suns give him an extension or just make a qualifying offer next year. If Bledsoe refuses anything other than a max contract extension, then it should be obvious that he doesn’t want to be in Phoenix. The Suns should then pass on the extension and work on a trade for him before the deadline. But it all depends on him.

    The M&M twins… I have my doubts that either of them will ever be more than solid bench players in the NBA. Whatever the Suns decide to do about picking up their options – or not – is fine with me.

    Marshall. A knee-jerk reaction draft pick by Blanks. The Suns were letting Nash go and had no one but Telfair for sure to run the team so Blanks picked the best PG available in that year’s draft to cover his ass. But the Suns signed Dragic soon afterward and Marshall became a wasted draft pick. But even if Dragic had not signed with the Suns, Marshall would have been a wasted draft pick. Marshall looked good in collage because at least 90% of the guys he played against would never play in the NBA. I’d say that the Suns should not pick up his option. That would probably make him easier to trade or include in a trade this season. If the other team likes how he plays for them, they have the option of offering whatever they think he is worth. If they don’t, then they are under no obligation next season.

  • Luka

    The Morris brothers suck. Marshall sucks. McDonough isn’t going to keep them around. Markieff lied to the fans when he compared himself to Rasheed Wallace. Maybe 2012 Sheed, certainly not 1990s Sheed.

  • http://none Keith

    Nice article, Mike. I agree with all your points. The only one I would question is Marshall. I am not sure about him. But Plumlee is an easy call and I think the Morri either both need to be taken or both declined, and I think we should pick them up as they may be of some use. I’d offer Bledsoe the 4 years at 9 mil and see what he says. I would sign him up to the 10 mil. Other than that, it’s RFA and we’ll see what happens.

  • Foreveris2long

    Luka, good stuff.

    Hawki, a big problem that Len had in Maryland is the point guard play was terrible and there was not a lot of perimeter shooting there. They simply did not have a very good team night in and out.

    D’Breezy while I was a self appointed liaison for R. Lopez my primary contention in getting rid of Gortat two years ago was his age, Nash made him better than he actually was and the fact the Suns would not be relevant during his prime. I wanted to trade him when his value was likely the highest it would ever be. Those issues were independent of Lopez. As it turns out Lopez could have done as good if not better job than Gortat last season for a cheaper price. Lopez also netted the Suns a 1st round pick when it is questionable if Gortat will do likewise.

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    I remember your main point in wanting to trade Gortat back then, I was just agreeing with Hawki that his play will probably be fine for the next 5 years. As you noted most of those years likely will not coincide with the Suns’ return to contention.

  • Scott

    My take on this hasn’t changed. Of the five players, I’m only certain about extending one of them.

    Bledsoe: only extend him if he wants a wants a low cost deal (like 1 year at $4-5m). I see that as a low probability, but possible move. Otherwise, let the market determine his value as a RFA at the end of this season. Teams are loaded at PG and there may not be any significant bites on him this summer sheerly for this reason. (Which is why his agent might approve a low cost one year extension.)

    Markieff, Marcus, Marshall: do not extend. This gives the Suns flexibility to sign them against this summer or not. My guess is that the Morrises and Marshall have not had any takers in trade scenarios so far, so probably the best thing is to make them expiring contracts. Having expiring contracts should also light a fire under their tails to play well this season.

    Plumlee: extend him. He’s on a cheap contract and he didn’t play last year due to depth issues. If he plays this year he could easily set a higher market value for himself.

  • Ty-Sun

    Foreveris2long, I agree with you about Len and Maryland. Maryland had poor outside shooters which allowed defenses to collapse on Len and keep the ball out of his hands. Until the Suns get or develop some outside shooters, Len will have a difficult time in the Valley too. That is the problem for most 5s in the NBA and not just Len. Without the treat of outside shooters, traditional 5s don’t have a lot of room to operate.

  • Melon Man

    No way is Bledso worth 10 million. No way. If I were Dragic and the Suns offered Bledsoe any more than I was being paid I’d be pissed. Sure Bledsoe has the hype, he’s mini-Lebron after all, but I don’t believe the hype yet.

    As for the Morris twins, their options should be passed on. Bringing in the other twin for motivation was a mistake, now they’re seemingly a package deal. No thanks.

    Keep Plumlee!

    I really don’t care what they do with Marshall. I’d still rather have him than the twins.

  • Foreveris2long

    Scott, You are taking us back to the Joe Johnson era. You cannot offer Bledsoe $4,000,000- $5m/yr. We are trying to build credibility in Phoenix. Word gets out we are offering that type of salary to someone with a lot of potential would not help the organization. Didn’t we let the market determineJoe Johnson’s value and the Pelicans let the market determine Gordon’s value as well as Batum for Portland? If the owners were responsible perhaps that method of operation would have appeal but they seem to be pretty irresponsible in my opinion. I could be wrong but I think McD is pretty progressive in his thinking and will try and be ahead of the curve by showing he is serious about extending Bledsoe and initially offer approximately $7m/yr in line with Dragic, with an eye towards being flexible.

    D’Breezy I am with you. By the way your boy D. Jordan looks good in pre-season. Doc may be what he needs to take his game to another level.

  • Luka

    Gortat, Dragic, Markieff Morris, and two first rounders to Portland for Aldridge and Matthews.

  • Azbballfan

    ouch thats a bad trade

    our starting point guard, gortat, and one of the morris twins and two first rounders for aldrige and mathews?

    no way

    Aldridge may be a star but he isnt a superstar thats gonna take your team into the promised land

    Yeah i would pick up plumlees option

    i would decline all 3 of the twins and marshall, thus making them expiring contracts so we can trade them for something

    with 3 or more 1st rounders coming next year, we are gonna need long term answers

    at the 3 and 4, the exact positions the twins play

    marshall has little value right now, and it would be easier to keep a guy like ishmael smith then to develop someone like marshall

    marshall needs a team designed around him to be a good point guard, but when you cant shoot, and cant defend, being an incredible passer isnt going to save you

    i love marshalls size and passing, i really do value those qualities

    on a rebuilding team, with the right people, marshall could probably do really really well

    but the Suns already have Dragic, Bledsoe, plus future picks, and Goodwin could probably play the 1 in a pinch

    and really that might be all you need, because if we keep marshall he is really not gonna get more than 10 minutes a game unless there is some unforeseen improvement

    basically he would have to make Bledsoe, Dragic, and Goodwin all expendable to carve out a long term role on the team

    thats unlikely to happen

    decline his option and trade him with the morris twins

    i think if Bledsoe warms to a deal thats reasonable, you sing him to that

    you know that some team is gonna offer him a mega deal if you let him get out to restricted free agent territory

    see what he will accept, i would rather flip him for assets at the trade deadline, along with gortat, than let him get out to RFA and we lose him for nothing

    the best option for the Suns might be a sign and trade deal after this year

    thats another option they can do

    i think Greg Monroe is a more realistic and less expensive option than Aldridge was as well, but thats just me

    The Suns will probably acquire another pick in this summers draft, then end up trading some other picks around

    i doubt that we actually keep 3 rookies on the roster next year

    but that of course is dependent on who the rookies are

    long term, Len will be fine

    nearly every long term center in the NBA right now thats now considered elite, had a ok rookie season in backup minutes

    i dont think andrea bargnani is a good comparison to Len

    both might be 7’1 but bargnani game is totally different

    he plays on the perimeter, shoots alot of 3s and doesnt rebound well

    thats really not Lens game at all

    big men take longer to develop, its just a fact, unless you are shaq

    even dwight howard rookie year was a 10 and 10 season

    Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert and Tyson Chandler all had ok rookie years

    and all of them eventually became all stars

    we need to wait and be patient Len is only 20 years old

  • Azbballfan

    one other thing i forgot to mention about Bledsoe

    The Suns need to show they are serious about winning and making someone their next star

    low balling people probably isnt going to do that

    signing Bledsoe might have other effects we dont think about, such as attracting free agents to play for the Suns

    we never would have gotten Bledsoe for dudley and a 2nd rounder if Bledsoe was a proven star talent

    even if he does sign a max deal with the Suns its not like he doesnt have value

    the Suns gotta look down the road and see what they want to do

    who is roster filler for this year, and who is the future beyond 2014-2015?

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    Good info on Jordan, we’ll see what he does. I always did think culture was going to be an issue with him coming out school.

    Scott,

    If you’re going to make an offer that low in both $$$ and years, you might as well just let the RFA do what it was designed to do. That offer does nothing for Bledsoe or the Suns.

  • EBJM

    That was my point about Len and Bargnani, Len is supposed to be the low-post guy but so far looks about as good as Bargnani down low.

    No more comments about Monroe? Do the Suns make a run at him this summer?

  • Azbballfan

    Assuming the Suns have the cap space, and they dont pick up a PF in the draft? sure

    to EBJM

    Bargnani was a number 1 overall pick and is now a veteran player

    Len is a 20 year old rookie

    im not sure how you are comparing these two players?

    do you mean that Len looks how Bargnani did in his rookie year? or right now for the Knicks?

  • Luka

    The Pistons want to keep Monroe. Unless the Suns package Gortat and Dragic with picks I just don’t see how we can get anywhere.

  • DBreezy

    With the all too familiar notable exception of Joe Johnson, truly desirable RFA’s just don’t get obtained through that process. They pretty much either get moved before the Oct 31st extension deadline like Harden or they get retained at whatever value the market sets the following summer. The Pistons don’t appear to be entertaining trade offers for Greg, so I’m betting they’re looking for the latter.

    The real issue with Monroe is his agent, David Falk. You can find articles going back to March where he says that he’s not interested in doing an extension after Monroe’s 3rd season so I think a lot of what we’re hearing now is spin to make it look more like the Pistons are behind this. I don’t think Falk will settle for anything less than a max deal that includes Monroe being named the Pistons designated player adding a 5th year to the extension. That’s not happening but I don’t know that it means Monroe will be on the move ultimately.

  • Azbballfan

    Hey Luka

    i heard just the opposite

    that the pistons are looking to move monroe and decline his option

    i dont know why, because he was extremely productive last year and has been a very good player for them

    http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/4260/

    is where i got that info

  • Azbballfan

    if Monroe wants a max deal, and the pistons dont want to pay that, well then they should trade monroe for assets

    its the only thing that makes sense

  • Luka

    I don’t think Dumars wants to deal Monroe. They are going to play things out in restricted free agency. I’d be stunned if they trade him.

  • Scott

    I don’t see Bledsoe as being as accomplished as you guys do, evidently. All he’s been is a backup PG so far. He’s not ready to lead a team, and he isn’t a go-to guy. He doesn’t get to the line, and he has a hard time creating his own shot.

    I’m perfectly willing to let the free market dictate his value. If someone wants to overpay Bledsoe, then their team should suffer from it, and I’m okay with that.

    As for the comparison to JJ … if the Suns had drafted Iggy, it would have been great for them to have dealt JJ to Atlanta for Diaw and 2 first round picks. Heck … that’s the template for what I’d want with Bledsoe!

  • DBreezy

    If the Suns had drafted Iggy or Deng, they probably would have moved Marion no later than the 2005 offseason. There’s also little chance they would have signed Q, instead choosing to do nothing further or sweeten their offer for Okur. JJ probably gets his extension at 50M and a Nash, JJ, Amar’e, Iggy, core is probably together for a long time.

    As for Bledsoe, it’s fine that you see the business end of the downside which is that Bledsoe hasn’t accomplished enough yet. But there is a business end to the upside as well that must be considered. A deal around 8M per makes a lot of sense vs a free market deal that could eat up an additional 5.7M a year in cap space for a team that is hopefully looking at big future extensions for Len, Goodwin, and a top-5 pick in the 2014 draft if all goes well.

    If you start straying far from 8M per, I’m willing to let the market do it’s thing as well. But I say that knowing there’s little chance his numbers will really jump much other than what he gets from improved playing time. He hasn’t been the primary lead guard since high school and that isn’t really changing. That said just the increased minutes and being on the first page of the scouting report will be an adjustment. He has a more athletic team around him than Dragic did last season, but he’s missing two very reliable shot finishers in Scola and Dudley and even late season Johnson while still sharing most of the assists with Goran. The two players who will likely be the best finishers going forward are rookies playing limited minutes.

    He should walk into RFA with relatively pedestrian numbers on a team that was really bad record wise. I still make him a respectable offer though of at least 7M per. That JJ for Diaw template is kind of old in the sense that there is no longer a home team advantage to an extend and trade. Your best bet on a haul for a RFA is a move before the extension deadline these days.

  • Foreveris2long

    Scott at age 23, it is not about what a player has accomplished. It is really foresight by management into what they believe he can accomplish over the life of his contract. Is it a gamble? Absolutely. However the really good GMs have that ability to look ahead.

    While you might be right about offering him pedestrian numbers of $4m-$5m I think most good GMs would offer a more competitive number in hopes of realistically closing the deal. I still think it will take $8m-$10m to get it done, which I have no problem with because I like his upside. He reminds me a lot of a young Rondo but I think he could be better.The problem he has though is he does not have a lot of veteran leadership on the team to relieve him of the pressure of having to score. Rondo had the opportunity of being patient with his offensive game whereas Bledose will feel the pressure of scoring more.

    Hopefully the coaching staff will remind him this team is not going anywhere soon so be patient with your offense during the game and focus more on being an improved floor general and maintain his defensive intensity. Just my two cents worth.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    I would not offer Bledsoe $8m for an extension. I would, however, consider trading him to Houston – where I think he would fare well – for Lin, provided Houston also takes Green and Brown and sends the Suns two first round picks.

    The Suns would basically be absorbing the bad contract of Lin, turning it into a more palatable $4m / yr contract by sending away Green and Brown, and turning Bledsoe into two future picks.

    Why would Houston accept this trade? Since they have Howard in his prime, they’ll want to win now. Bledsoe would be a great fit, and a better fit alongside Harden than Lin … and better than Beverley as well, which would restore order to the Houston bench. And while Bledsoe is on the final year of his contract, Houston would have the RFA rights.

    For that matter, the Suns could also try to include a trade of Kravtsov for Motiejunas. Motie is going unused in Houston, and Kravtsov would at least be a defensive backup C, again, fitting Houston’s scheme.

    Anyway, while the traits Bledsoe has may provide high value on the right team, right now I’m thinking the Suns are not that team. Let someone else who is seeing the value pay the price.

  • BCrayZ

    Suns had their proven winning formula.

    Babby decided it wasn’t in his own interest to keep them.

    Morris twins & Kendall all fit his plan to make us lose. Nash & Hill wanted to stay. That did not fit his personal plan to make us lose. Louis & LB wanted to come back. That did not fit this selfish plan. When we played vs. the Clippers, Louis & Dud made us pay for sending them away. Why waste our time with guys that only know how to lose? Reunite “that killer bench unit” to get the most from Gogi & Channing Frye. That will spill over to the young guys & make Eric much more eager to stay here. Team chemistry matters most. This is something that Michael Schwartz will never know.

    MUST reunite “that killer bench unit.” Let’s go SUNS!!!!

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  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    The underlying theme in what you’re saying is that you don’t really think Bledsoe is or will be that good of a player. Not that he’s a bad player, but that you don’t feel he will be as good for the Suns as Goran is now or what will come in from two future picks likely to be in the 20-30 range. Hence the low dollar, short extension offer and offering him to Houston vs the more experienced, better shooting, ready to win now Dragic who already has experience with McHale and some of that roster.

    If that’s the case, I would be trying to move Bledsoe now as I don’t think you’ll see that kind of a haul for him once the season starts. I’d also have amiable talks with his agent about an extension, but drag it out so no viable offer is made by the 31st. No need to make it ugly going into the RFA process like New Orleans did with Gordon.

    I don’t like that Houston trade for the Suns as brings back a guy in Lin who at whatever effective $$$ amount isn’t likely to be better than Goran. It’s not like the Suns really want a 2pg attack, they’re just tolerating it because they need to get some more talent on their roster. Bledsoe happens to be a 1, but it’s not like the Suns need another 1 if they move him. Motie is a system guy without the right kind of system in place here.

    Also, while I think McD may prove to have that kind of skill to consistently find keepers in the late first round and beyond, I have a tough time betting that those picks would be better than Bledsoe has turned out. Houston likely will be no worse than 4th in the West in the years those picks come due which translates to somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 wins.

    For trade planning purposes that would mean that you’d be expecting to get picks between 25-30 when you pulled the trigger on the deal. Archie Goodwin may turn out to be a big time keeper at 29, but a big part of that is the overthinking evaluation hysteria common in weak drafts. Looking at the prospects on the DX and NBADraft.net list at 25 and below for what should be a good draft in 2014 and I can’t say I’m excited to get any of those guys for Bledsoe. The Suns wouldn’t be getting the Rox 2014 pick, but if the picks in a strong draft in that range aren’t exciting what will they be in later years also bearing in mind that you can’t trade your own picks consecutively? I also recognize that there will be much fluidity in draft lists going forward, but as an organization you have to have a rough idea of what you could get planning wise when you make a deal.

  • Foreveris2long

    Well said D’Breezy

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    Outside of upside and defense, Bledsoe doesn’t remind me of young Rondo. He reminds me of a poor man’s version your man Westbrook. Coming out of school, both were incredible athletes who spent their college time off the ball next to Wall or Collison. The scoring ability of both was somewhat masked in their collegiate roles and both were considered questionable passers with suspect jumpers albeit for different reasons than Rondo(hands).

    I’m sure Westbrook coming right into a starting gig vs having to backup Mo Williams, CP3 and CBills was a boon to Russell’s career and a factor in Bledsoe’s slower development. However when you go back and look at the point guard ‘just by the numbers’ sections on DX you can see other reasons why it’s not surprising Bledsoe’s development has been slower. It’s nice to compare these two because they are so similar in background. Both were also late blooming surprises to be playing at UCLA and Kentucky for example.

    Anyway while they line up pretty close in points per 40mins, you start to see difference in the pg stats. Westbrook had a far better assist to turnover ratio and pure point rating. Bledsoe PPR was negative. That’s not the end of the world as Dragic’s was a negative -1.84, but Bledsoe -3.69 was 2nd worse in his class and would have been worst by a wide margin (1.37) in Westbrook/Rose/Chalmers/Dragic class. It gets worse when you not only consider that Westbrook and Bledsoe were used similarly in college, but that Goran’s numbers were skewed. He played pg not off guard so his usage was different, he played overseas where assists are undercounted, and he played vs professionals vs college kids. The rest of their stats are pretty close with Westbrook slightly edging out Bledsoe in most categories but Bledsoe winning the true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage by a few points.

    In any case it’s interesting to look at and me looking up this kind of stuff lets me know that it’s almost hoops time!

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    While he may grow and show new things this year, Bledsoe at this moment is more like a role player to me and less like a star. I think a comparison to Telfair is appropriate.

    I’m aware that picks from Houston would be late picks. They’d probably be even later once Bledsoe joins the team, because I think he’s a significantly better fit for them than Lin.

    As for the Suns taking on Lin, I’m aware it still makes the Suns have two starting PGs. My guess is that of the two players (Dragic and Lin), Lin would gravitate toward the SG spot. Now, if the Rockets will give up Asik for Bledsoe, you could certainly try to go that route. But I suspect they’ll be most interested in giving up Lin, whom Bledsoe would replace.

    Lin would not be a keeper for the Suns. He’d be a solid character / effort guy who would do his two years on the team, and then in year three Goodwin would start at SG.

    As for who would be taken with the picks the Suns would get … at this point, who knows? They would be assets. The picks could be used in trade or taken in the draft. If McD chooses well, he should get at least 2 more talented role players.

    I wish the Suns had been able to take Ray McCallum in this last draft. A former All-American, he went #36. I also wanted Nemanja Nedovic, who traded places with Archie Goodwin. So there could be some talent late in the first round, probably in about any draft.

    As for Bledsoe, while it may turn out that the Suns keep him, my thinking right along has been that his destiny lies with another team and the Suns are just a stopping point on his journey.

  • DBreezy

    @Scott

    While I think you may get some blowback on the Telfair comparison, the more salient point remains that you consider Bledsoe a role player which does put your proposals in perspective. We shall see about that, although even if you are correctI still wouldn’t move him for Lin.

    While I too wondered if Bledsoe would be moved again because of his high popularity in trade talks, his name hasn’t surfaced once since the trade afaik. I doubt McD is convinced he’s a star at the moment, but I do think he believes he has the potential to be one or with a floor of a better defending Goran. With that floor and being younger,he probably sees him as being more in line with the age of the rebuilding project and as part of the defensive core he’s trying to build for Longabardi as an assistant or the coach of the Suns when things really get turned around.

  • Foreveris2long

    Wow Bledsoe being compared from Telfair to Westbrook. While I can certainly see the Westbrook comparison considering their college days and relatively late development as a point guard, I fail to see the Telfair analogy but U respect Scott’s opinion.

    I think Bledsoe is a better defender than either of those two but I think Westbrook has always been supremely confident offensively whereas I think Bledsoe has growing confidence which is understandable since he has not been a regular NBA starter. telfair is a decent defender but IMO is overly offensive minded.

    I likened him to Rondo because neither one was offensive minded when their NBA careers began and both played good defense. I think Hornachek and McD believe he can be something special which is why I doubt they trade him unless he gives a non-negotiable salary demand of $12m plus a year.

    Anyway good dialogue and everyone’s viewpoint is duly noted.

  • DBreezy

    I don’t think McD has any intention of trading Bledsoe before the season unless the offer is outrageously good, so Eric can demand anything he wants right now and we won’t hear about it unless his agent leaks it like we’re seeing with Monroe and Faried.

    I didn’t like the Rondo comparison because to me it made me immediately think of Marshall. Kendall and Rajon were both elite passers coming out of school who couldn’t shoot. Rajon was a much better defender/driver/finisher and obviously athletic enough for his game to translate to the NBA, although I believe Kendall actually would be an even better passer and leader if he were athletic enough. But I guess what stuck out to me was that Rondo’s plus skill coming into the league was his passing ability and pg skills something that were definitely not pluses for Westbrook and Bledsoe coming in.

    I don’t really see the Telfair comparison either.

  • Scott

    Well … I’ve made the comparison between the two players before on VotS, I’m pretty sure.

    Telfair: A small player known for his toughness who has no midrange game, who must get to the basket to score and does so with athleticism. A pesky defender at PG, he gets the occasional steal. His inability to shoot from midrange limits his value in the pick and roll, and he’s not a natural playmaker. Late in his career (while with the Suns), he picked up the ability to hit the dribble-3. Basically, he’s more of a shooting guard in a point guard’s body, except that he doesn’t get to the line and has a hard time scoring due to his lack of size and poor shooting.

    Bledsoe: ditto, but younger and with longer arms and a more consistent motor. Unable at this point to hit the dribble-3.

    I think people are assuming Bledsoe will pick up a lot of abilities he doesn’t currently have. Maybe he will. But all Telfair ever picked up was the dribble-3. If Bledsoe is smarter and better motivated, he could develop himself more in his career than Telfair did. However, Bledsoe already has three years in the tank, and what has he done?

    Fans are upset with the slow rate of Marshall’s advancement, and are wondering if what they see now is all they’ll ever get. Has Bledsoe developed his game any faster than Marshall?

    I’m not going to say it’s impossible for Bledsoe to become a star player. But right now he’s a role player who is probably in a make-or-break year to show whether he’s got it in him to be better, or if he’s basically already all he’s ever going to be.

  • EBJM

    I read a Clipper fan’s take on replacing Bledoe with Collison; he said it was an upgrade going from chaos to controlled chaos and that he was also very appreciative of getting Jared Dudley because of his shooting.

  • DBreezy

    There seems to be a high level of assumption from fans on the Bright Side site, but not as much here. There’s a wide lane between Telfair and a star though. I don’t really consider Telfair a plus defender, he just put in more effort than most of what we’ve seen around here. He’s not a guy like a Lindsey Hunter who can keep himself in the league solely as a min salary defender, which is even more damning in a world of excellent pg’s everywhere. Bledsoe is a plus individual defender without question imo, more than just pesky.

    Point taken on the shooting, but even by Telfair’s admission he didn’t really work hard on his shooting until later in his career when it became apparent he was headed to where he is now (China). Bledsoe has taken to working on his game a lot earlier in his career. Bledsoe’s is more inclined to be a pg than a sg even though he was put there at Kentucky out necessity. He hasn’t really been selfish so far, but he needs to read things better something that’s going to take experience that he really didn’t get at Kentucky or LA. In many respects, Goran was the same way although I think he has more of a natural desire to attack to score than Bledsoe does. That’s not to say that Bledsoe doesn’t have slashing ability he does, and definitely more than Bassy has.

    Short version, he may never become a star but he’s much better than Bassy imo.

  • Scott

    Dragic gets to the line more than any other Sun not named Archie Goodwin.

    If Telfair didn’t work on his shooting till his career was almost over, he’s an idiot.

    From what I understand, Bledsoe is not much different from Telfair on defense. He’ll provide some tenacious pressure on the ballhandler, and then he’ll often follow the ball and get off his man, causing disaster when his man is open and then gets the ball. So it’s not like he’s a defensive savant. He’s making some basic errors.

    Is Bledsoe really at a different place in his career than the Morris twins? His PER is five points higher, which is significant, and it makes him worthy of being a starter. But he seems to be pretty much the same guy he was coming into the league, just like the Morris twins. The only difference is he’s adapted to NBA strength and speed.

    Bledsoe has already played 3 seasons. He’s on his fourth. If he had been working on his midrange shot in his 2nd year, that would be a better indicator of his future success.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott I am not sure how you can reasonably question if Bledsoe is as good as he will get. The fact he has not been a starter in three years or has not accomplished a lot does not mean he will not be a substantially improved player in two years. Do you recall that Nash at age 24 only shot 36% from the field and later became a two time MVP and one of the best shooters in the history of the game?My point is the general consensus is a player does not reach his NBA prime at age 23 or 24. In most cases their prime is between 26 and 30. My bet is he will be much improved in two years and in no way is his game similar to Telfair. Just a hunch but I think McD feels he will be much much better than Telfair.

  • dave:f32

    Its humorous to see the Much Ado about Bledsoe, a player an up and coming team like L A Clippers of all teams didnt want. Yall are quite the Cedric.
    @BCrayZ well stated. I agree. Most of these writers, GMs and oowners never in their lives have played a pickup game, let alone an organized game. As a basketball junkie, Bledsoe is a band-aid fix compared to just how far from an elite NBA team this Suns team isnt. But im a lifelong Phx Suns fan, so i stay tuned…

  • Dominik

    I think, we shouldn’t overrate Favors deal regarding Bledsoe’s situation. As a matter of fact, Favors has been with Utah for 2 1/2 seasons now, so coaches as well as their FO should nknow what he’s capable of.
    IMO the deal is good for the Jazz and I bet Favors will play a really strong season.

    I’d love to see Bledsoe extend his contract before Oct 31st, though I don’t think it’s gonna happen that soon.

    As one of you noted above, there aren’t that many team in need for a new starting PG (possibly the Lakers and the Heat, but Bledsoe is no fit as long as his 3pt shot is inconsistent).
    While I do think, he wants to play more minutes and a larger role, so PHX is his best fit.
    Maybe he’s gonna have the kind of season, which gets him his pay day, maybe not. We’ll see.

    If he decides to leave, or better: if our FO doesn’t match his offersheets, there are a couple of promising PG-prospects in the draft. I know, that’s not a very favorable option, considering the gaping holes on both SF and PF. Otherwise we might see Goodwin getting his “promotion” to a starter a little earlier.

    As far as our current rookie deals go:
    - Plumlee: a keeper, for sure.
    - Markieff: I’m torn between. Being starting PF gave him a big boost last season, but as he was shifted back to the bench his motivation diminished and I’m afraid that might happen again next season if we draft Randle, Parker or any other top prospect at his position.
    - Marcus: right now – no. Can’t see him contributing to our team. He basically does everything his brother does (except: better shooting; worse rebounding) and does nothing better than Frye. IMO he can only make the roster if we don’t draf a SF or get a free agent SF.
    - Marshall: NO. NO. NO. Before paying him that kind of money, I’d suggest to get a solid PG from overseas like Dallas (Mekel) und New York (Prigioni) did. Might take some efforts due to scouting but it’s definitely a better option, which would shorten our pay roll once more. His joking about Goodwin’s passing seems to me as if he’s seriously afraid/concerned of his future with the Suns.

    I don’t know if that works out with the CBA, but why shouldn’t the Suns toss Markieff, Macrus and Marshall on the free agent market and simply wait. If they don’t get picked up, you can sign them to cheaper deals.
    It’s not the best or most gentle way, but IMO each of those guys would receive too much money for their contributions.

    Another interesing personality will be PJ Tucker as his contract is set to expire and the Suns can make him a RFA.

  • john

    I know I’m way late to the party, but here are my thoughts on these guys:

    Bledsoe – Agree with Michael. I have deep concerns about his shooting ability, but that can be developed. Something that can’t be developed is freakish athleticism. That’s a gift, and Bledsoe has it. I’d extend him for anything less than $10M per.

    Markieff – Agree with Michael

    Marcus – Agree with Michael

    Marshall – I don’t think he’s worth another penny, to be honest. I know a lot can change with time, but I don’t believe Marshall will ever develop into a quality NBA player. I don’t think he has the drive. I don’t think he has the mean streak. He has the ability, and he is certainly a gifted passer, but it takes more than one skill to land in the NBA. He is worth no more time or effort, even on a bad, rebuilding team.

    Miles – Agree with Michael.

    I think there’s a lot of reason to be excited as a Suns fan moving forward. Watching these guys develop will be fun for me. and it’s going to be even more fun when they’re all gone and we have real basketball players in town and start winning again. Until that happens though, I’m going to enjoy what I’m given.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    Well … I don’t think our positions are that far apart. We both agree that Bledsoe hasn’t developed all that much yet. You have fair certitude that he will blossom in time, while I’m less certain.

    Also, to clear another thing up … I wasn’t suggesting that the Suns should make an offer of $4m or whatever to Bledsoe. I was saying that the Suns should not make an offer, but should take the position that it’s probably best to wait for free agency to set the price. However, they should listen to Bledsoe’s agent, as it could be that the agent might want to negotiate an extension of one year at a lower price, as part of a strategy to maximize his client’s price the following year.

    Basically, if the agent is looking at this situation and is thinking that Bledsoe will be worth X next summer, but maybe 2x the following summer, then it is better to have a modest extension to get to the larger payday.

  • Scott

    @Dominik -

    Speaking of foreign PGs, Zoran Dragic plays as SG, but he’s really just a big PG. He’s got a year left on his contract in Spain, but he’s someone to keep an eye on.

    Also, as far as rookie PGs in the league go, I’d like for the Suns to acquire either Schroeder (Atlanta) or McCallum (Sacramento), with Schroeder being more of a backup PG and McCallum being a high quality 2nd backup.

  • moe

    I’d not pick up marshall’s option. He’s barley an NBA player. You could replace his contributions with an $600-800k guy out of the d-league in a pinch.

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