Eric Bledsoe, Suns see NBA extension deadline pass

The Suns and Eric Bledsoe failed to agree on a contract extension by midnight Eastern Time on Halloween, meaning the Phoenix guard will become a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Suns and Bledsoe were far apart in their negotiations in the final hours leading into the deadline.

That’s understandable on Bledsoe’s end considering, as the season opener showed, he’s likely to help his value this season by playing in Hornacek’s uptempo offense. As we’ve discussed on this blog, a four-year, $40 million extension would seem like a fine deal for Phoenix — considering he’s still unproven as a lead guard — and it could even have handed out up to $50 million without truly overpaying, question marks included.

Bledsoe could enter restricted free agency next summer with quite a high asking price. Phoenix would of course be able to match any deal, but it likely won’t be as ideal value-wise compared to an agreement being reached by the end of Oct. 31. The only advantage for the Suns now is that they’ll get more time to see if Bledsoe is truly worth shelling out for.

Six players from Bledsoe’s 2010 class of first-rounders who were up for extensions received them. Washington guard John Wall (five years, $80 million), Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins (four years, $62 million), Indiana swingman Paul George (five years, $80 million), Milwaukee center Larry Sanders (four years, $44 million), Utah center Derrick Favors (four years, $50 million) and Memphis swingman Quincy Pondexter (four years, $14 million).

Update: Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes on how Bledsoe very well could be holding out for max money — and rightfully so.

On the other hand, ESPN’s Marc Stein writes that Bledsoe was asking for upward of $10 million per year, which is quite obvious. Yet, it seems the Suns and the guard were at an “undeniable gulf,” which is also quite broad of a spectrum and unclear (is $1 million per year a gulf, or $5 million?). Stein ties the unproven point guard skills of Bledsoe to the now less-likely Goran Dragic trade rumors.

  • Scott

    I saw this coming!

    When the Suns got him in trade!

    Just wanted to let you know! :)

  • http://none Keith

    Should have locked him up for 10-11 now. But he might not have taken it. But come end of the season, he’s going to get at least 12, just like Gordon Hayward will. Going to be expensive if we want to keep him.

  • noitallman

    hate to say it but Bledsoe will get a 4 year $62 offer or more in RFA. Suns are now going to have to pay him max money over 5 years or sign-trade him. Should have locked this down before preseason started.

    I would rather pay Bledsoe $80 over 5 than Wall. At least Bledsoe plays D.

  • Al

    It seems like Bledsoe will use this season with the Suns to prove his potential. McD may either keep him and match the offers at next off season or trade him by the trade deadline and acquire maybe even 2 draft picks. It seems like Bledsoe and Gordon Hayward think they deserve max/franchise player salaries based on all the ‘analyst’ compliments they both get. This can go two ways. Bledsoe has a great season, gets most improved and receives max salary like Paul George. He demands a high salary, doesn’t get it, signs qualifying offer and ends up a journeyman like Nick Young.

  • dave:f32

    Bledsoe: 80 million dollars to stay in Phx.” Suns: thats way less than wht we were planning to pay you, cuz were used to overpaying for hyped up mediocre players…you deserve $100 million dollars (for playing basketball)!” Scott kept warning you. I even predicted it. And yet you kept saying, yeah but if he plays, blah blah blah.

  • Luka

    Joe Johnson all over again.

  • Luka

    The carriage has just turned into a pumpkin…

  • dave:f32

    Nothing to be discouraged about cuz Suns can trade his @ss and couple Morri, Little Fry and that Len guy and receive another Draft pick and gain a saavy veteran who wants to come to Phx, cuz they are lining up from here to Miami, knowing just how cheaply Sarver directs deals, OR
    they can move up in the Draft: Wiggins and Randle AND Smart!!!

  • Mel.

    I’d regret this more if I had any inclination that Bledsoe wanted to stay here. He’s been a good sport, but nothing in his carry since arriving in the Valley has suggested that he’s buying into waiting around for a rebuild.

    Should be fun to watch him burn it at both ends as an audition year, though.

  • Luka

    Who wants to egg Sarver’s house?

  • dave:f32

    ….Bledsoe this, Bledsoe that blah blah haha…Bledsoe that, Bledsoe Dragic this, that. You guys are sure entertaining! But, my fave… 1st win of the season against a short-staffed and undermanned Portland team and lifetime Suns fans being called out as Bandwagoners!!! Son, i will have you know you were in Pampers and i still had 10 yrs fandome b4 ya. Yeah, bandwagon a team that finished with wht kinda record last yr. Be sensible, pls ninjas.)

  • Chad

    I’ll give you that one Scott. Still not overly concerned, ball is still in our court, he is very tradable and if we really want him we’ll just have to overpay. And the only way that happens is if he plays well, so pressure is on Mr Bledsoe.

  • Luka

    I tempered my excitement because I knew when it was time to spend Sarver wouldn’t do it. We’ve been here all too often. I was hoping maybe the guy would change after all the great moves McDonough has made.

    You’ve got a chance to have one of the fastest backcourts in the league, the fans are excited again, and in the 11th hour it’s over before it’s even begun.

  • foreveris2long

    Scott you have to clarify what you saw coming. I think we are totally in the dark as to what Bledsoe was demanding and what the Suns offered. The only thing I remember you saying was Bledsoe was only worth $4m or $5m and that the Suns got him to trade him. So are you saying he isn’t worth more than $5m? Are you saying the Suns will trade him? Help us out.

    While we are awaiting the details of the negotiations, which we may some day learn but Luka I hope this isn’t another Joe Johnson situation. While initially I would not have paid over $10m to sign him but after his last pre-season game and first regular season $12m/yr would not have been unreasonable. My money says he gets $11m plus a year next summer. Luka I agree with ya, this feels bad because sooner or later the franchise has to establish a reputation for wanting to pay top caliber players and not tell everyone to prove it first.

    We need foresight to get ahead of the curve. You need a winning reputation or an owner willing to spend to get good quality to attract allstar caliber players. Accumulation of draft picks alone probably is not going to get you much. Again while we do not know the details I fail to see how this reflects positively on the Suns.

  • RudeCerveza

    Well, if Bledsoe wanted max or near max, it’s OK the Suns decided to wait. It wouldn’t be the smartest thing to pay Eric twice what Goran is getting before Eric showed half of what Goran has shown. That’s not how you make chemistry among players and if I remember correctly, building chemistry has been declared as no. 1 priority this season.

    If Bledsoe proves himself to be a max player this season, than paying him max money won’t hurt anyone. It sure won’t hurt him, his teammates will be happy for him and our cap can handle it… and it will still be up to the Suns to make that decision

  • Luka

    I hope your right.

  • vtsunrise

    This is kind of interesting and a bit gross. Buying shares of a professional athlete’s economic future through an initial public offering…

    (I hope the link works – not sure who has access to what on without a subscription.)

  • Azbballfan

    Ball is still in our court

    this is a win win for the Suns, as either Bledsoe proves he is worth a max deal and we have the starting back court for the foreseeable future, or we trade him and just stick archie goodwin in there as the starting SG starting next season

    Bledsoe is going to have alot of trade value

    the fact that we only gave up Jared Dudley and a 2nd rounder for someone we can flip for even more assets is great

    The pressure is all on Bledsoe now to prove he is worth that kind of money

    Yeah we didnt get a deal done tonight

    thats ok

    its not the end of the world

  • Ty-Sun

    Here’s a crazy idea. We already know that Orlando had some interest in Bledsoe so what about seeing if they would be interested in a Bledsoe/Oladipo trade if the Suns throw in either the Minn or Wash 1st round pick? The two have pretty much the same skills, both are young with potential upside and both – IMO – would be better fits on the other teams.

    Very unlikely but it could work out well for both teams.

  • Oppermann

    if we trade Bledsoe during the season, will he still be a restricted free agent for the team that gets him ?

    if so, than he has a real high value for a trade, right ?

    forgive my english

  • foreveris2long

    If Bledsoe was demanding max or near max $, the Suns should wait because there is really no down side. I agree Rude. However if this could have been done between $10m-$12m, the downside could be significant in dollars and reputation as the Suns still being a team not willing to pay for good talent.

    If the facts prove the Suns were offering $7m or $8m but last summer offered max dollars to injury prone Eric Gordon, it makes no sense unless we subscribe to the theory we knew Gordon’s deal would be matched and the offer was only for show.

    I have no idea how this is a win win for the Suns if a deal could have been done for $10m -$12m/yr and Bledsoe is offered a max contract in the summer which means the Suns would have to overpay to keep him. How is that a win win Az Bball? You cannot have a history of trading really good players or letting them walk as free agents.

    Time will tell.

  • foreveris2long

    Yes Oppermann he would remain a restricted free agent.

  • john

    My goodness, you idiots blaming Sarver need to get a life (and a brain).

  • vtsunrise

    What’s wrong with paying a good, young player the market rate? Let him establish it this season and pay up.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    If you read Coro’s story, the list of players who are signed to extensions before playing for their teams can be counted on a hand. It would be quite surprising if they had reached an agreement before the trade deadline, and it doesn’t say anything about the Suns front office unless they were truly lowballing Bledsoe. And the Joe Johnson deal (I think the initial offer was 5 years, $50 million) was a big screwup in hindsight … but I don’t think we should compare the two. Or think Bledsoe was willing to take $10 or even $12 million a year all that easily.

  • Mel.

    After watching the corpse of STAT stagger out onto the court and barely be able to get three and a half inches off of the ground last night, I’m officially done with the “SARVER NEEDS TO TREAT THESE CASES WITH A BLANK CHECK!!!!!!” BS.

    Fact stands that the roster’s in the state it is because the FO was OVERPAYING every available roleplayer and swapmeet-blanket deal they could get their hands on for the last three years: desperation moves based out of our existing star players looking for too much money and too many franchise concessions for their talents. In this Candyland flipside reality where $arver pays out max contracts without questioning any long-term issues with doing so, this team has thirty-one million dollars tied up in Steve Nash and Amar’e: I don’t know how many of you’ve got League Pass, but–if you do–then you’re not considering this to be an “ideal scenario.”

    Let Bledsoe prove out, and–if the two sides can see eye-to-eye on the franchise’s future and his role in that, as well as what it’s worth–sign the guy up. Putting max-bracket money on the table for a dude who’s started ONE game for your team is a 2010 move, not a 2013 one.

  • Foreveris2long

    Kev, absolutely without details there should be no blame. The only perceived crime is if the Suns only offered $6m or $7m/yr and there was an indication Bledsoe would have taken $10m-$12m/yr. Only Babby knows as he conducted the negotiations. If that is the case and Babby offered Gordon, fresh off surgery and often injured, a max deal last summer, that would be very troubling and inconsistent to say the least.

  • DBreezy

    Why are so many people running for the exits? I fail to see how this is a big deal at this point in time. From a Suns pov it only made sense if a deal was to be had and clearly there wasn’t. If he was asking for 11-12m is the difference in waiting all that big? I believe a max extension starts at 13.7M per for a player in Bledsoe’s status. Assuming he gets the standard 7.5% raises for the length of the deal no matter the starting figure, we’re talking a risk of paying 1-2M more than asking by waiting. Again that’s asking price not what the Suns were interested in paying.

    So we see how he plays this season and go from there whether its a signing or a trade. Who knows, the way the NCAA season and ping pong balls lineup may dramatically decrease the Suns interest by next June. I certainly wouldn’t pay him big money now because of what he’s shown so far. When you look at the team, it’s likely that he won’t be able to do so well that he raises his value substantially from what it is now, though the Suns could handle it if he did.

    As far as paying him, I take nothing from the POR game. Their defense was atrocious and more concerned with Dragic than Bled for whatever reason. He scored all of those points and only made 1 J. No good defense will let that happen. POR inexplicably went under the screens but let him do what he wanted. Their bigs laid under the hoop, they gave him clear passing lanes and didn’t force him to his weak hand. Eric did what he should have given that, but it doesn’t mean overpay him now.

  • melon man

    While I have only seen eric gordon referenced a couple times on this site I’ve seen his deal referenced over at bsots. What gets me is that its a pointless comparison due to it being something that happened under blanks. Don’t we all mock that guy? Sure sarver holds the purse strings but I’m guessing that had a lot of blanks written all over it too.

    I’m happy they didn’t throw a stupid amount of money at bledsoe, though I’ll say I think anything over goran’s salary would be stupid. Looking at the last game (yeah I know that’s just 1 game) the two guards had roughly the same numbers. If that trend were to continue could we really justify giving bledsoe more money than goran? Did we get goran on a sweet deal? I like the idea of letting him prove his value by playing out the season.

  • Foreveris2long

    Kev, The Joe Johnson situation was Johnson wanted $50m for 5 years and I believe the Suns offered $45m for the same years and told him to go out and prove he was worth more.

    DBreezy, I respectfully disagree that there was nothing to be learned from the Portland game. It is easy to determine why Portland went under screens which is what defenses do when they want to protect against penetration. Despite their defense he was still able to penetrate. Did he continue to show potential from the preseason? Absolutely. What that is worth is the big mystery but if they could have secured him for something in the area of $10m or $12m/yr and end of paying $2m-$4m more a year next summer, this will be a bad deal no matter how it is colored. Should fans panic now? No way because they do not know enough.

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Right, Forever. If that’s really the offer then that’s what I’d call lowballing. I suppose I’m under the assumption that the Suns know Bledsoe is worth more than that and of course Bledsoe knows too. So many intricacies … players can squabble over $1 million, which seems like little relatively. I am surprised by all your the grave concerns, is all.

  • john

    Letting him prove his worth is the most sensible way to go, assuming there was a gap in desired pay for Bledsoe next season (the alternative would be that negotiations never happened at all, and we know that they did, so we must assume there was a gap).

    If he doesn’t live up to his expectations of himself, the Suns either get him for far less than they would have had to pay him this year or let some other desperate team overpay him next offseason. If he does live up to his expectations, the Suns will be HAPPY to finally have a player that’s worth it, and they will be quick to match.

    There is no losing from the Suns’ perspective by NOT overpaying now. He doesn’t live up to it, oh well. He does live up to it, hooray.

  • Foreveris2long

    Melon Man, Babby I believe did the Gordon deal as well as the Bledsoe attempted deal.

  • Scott

    @forever -

    Eh, I’m just having some fun. I guessed right, that’s all.

    IMO, Bledsoe was acquired as an asset. McD was combing the NBA looking for situations he could insert himself into, and in this case he was able to facilitate a trade to turn Dudley into Bledsoe (more or less). The next step is to find out what he can do with Bledsoe, and while one possibility is to play him, since the Suns already have Dragic under a favorable contract and Bledsoe seems to have a high profile in the league, the Suns stand to get a better all-around bang for the buck by keeping Dragic and dealing Bledsoe.

    I do expect Bledsoe to play as well as he can this season, BTW. He’s auditioning for what will likely be the most significant contract of his entire career. Hopefully he fixes some of the holes in his game, like where on defense he wanders away from his man, leaving him open (very much like Shannon Brown). I have to assume that a correction of that tendency of his has been a point of emphasis in defensive coaching, but it was driving me crazy as I saw him do it again and again in the Portland game. Why in the world would he leave Lillard when Lillard is his assignment and one of the two offensive aces for their team?

    On the positive side, I did like Bledsoe’s massive increase in FT production. I don’t think he can keep that up – looking at his history, it’s more likely an aberration – but if he does keep going to the line it will greatly increase his value.

    If Bledsoe does fix his problems and becomes an undeniable star, the Suns will have the right to match offers and sign him to a huge contract. That would not be a bad thing, as the Suns could use a young star. So if they have to pay a lot for someone who really IS a star, I’m fine with that.

    My suspicion is that Bledsoe wind up more of a quality role player than a star, and Dragic will outplay him and remain the captain of the team. I would not be surprised if the Suns use Bledsoe in a sign and trade this summer.

    I tend to doubt Bledsoe will go before the summer, but I can see where it might make sense, as if a team really wants to make him part of their future, acquiring him before summer will give them the edge on keeping him in free agency.

    @Ty-Sun -

    Bledsoe is a much more talented player than Oladipo (PER 9.5), so a Bledsoe / Oladipo trade would seem unequal and based on future potential. It would seem appropriate to ask for another one of the Magic’s young talents to be included in the trade as well, or a draft pick.

    BTW … Bledsoe has a PER of 25 right now, which is awesome.

    Dragic has a PER of 28.57. :)

    MCW, after his astonishing game, has a PER of 44.8!

  • HunterSThompson

    Well said, Mel. & DBreezy.

    I for one am happy the Suns did not sign Bledsoe to some huge deal, and think it is shrewd management from McD. I would have been glad to offer Bledsoe the same as Dragic (7.5 mill per) but absolutely nothing more. Why risk creating animosity between the two guys you are essentially evaluating both together and individually?

    I honestly believe that Goran could be a starting PG on a serious playoff team if he had a solid team around him. Now maybe Bledsoe proves that he can be that as well, but with the PG/SG talent in the upcoming draft and a great deal of uncertainty where the Suns might end up in the lottery (or not?), why potentially overpay for a guy that a)might not prove able to be a starting PG, b)risk alienating Dragic, whom you might end up building around if “a” happens, and c) you might be able to replace with possibly Archie Goodwin or a draft pick?

    Let Bledsoe prove his worth talent-wise and fit-wise for the Suns. Too many variables to commit to one path so early in the rebuilding process.

  • Foreveris2long

    Marc Stein at ESPN is reporting Bledsoe was looking for at least $10m/yr for four years. I do not know his sources and if they are credible.

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  • Luka

    The Suns probably wanted him for around 7-8 million a year. Bledsoe will have a breakout season and some team will swoop in and offer 12-14 million. We’ve been here before, and I really hope I’m wrong.

  • Mel.

    I read that article too, F2L: I think it’s a reasonable figure by Bledsoe, but I still feel that the Suns were right for holding off on it for a few reasons. The primary one is that their backcourt experiment is very much predicated on Bledsoe and Dragic learning to trust one another, and developing their chemistry: if your first move in nurturing that is to give the new guy three million more a year than the player who’s basically now THE face of your franchise (Based on what you think he’ll eventually do, rather than what he’s consistently demonstrated), then I’d argue that it’s a nudge in the wrong direction, both now and for the future.

    If in a year, Dragic and Bledsoe have fulfilled their potential as one of the most exciting “two-headed threats” in the league and prove that it’s an approach which can support the development of our draft picks, then I see no reason why the Suns wouldn’t look to match reasonable offers on keeping it together. The problem with this, of course, is that there’s plenty of DAL/MIL/LAL suitors who will be willing to double that figure on nothing more than principle, fueled by the same kind of desperation that resulted in us giving Josh Childress six million a year.

    Against that, there’s little remedy, especially in today’s “If I can’t beat the Heat, I might as well start saving for retirement and get my twenty million a year”-type player mentality.

  • Foreveris2long

    Mel, that is exactly one of my concerns for the summer as I previously alluded to with the Lakers and Mavs having a lot of cash to throw around next summer. I talked about this yesterday on another article.

    Scott, I gotcha, your thoughts are duly noted.

    Good dialogue by all. Go Suns

  • Ty-Sun

    @Scott – Don’t you think it’s a little early in the season to start comparing PERs? Besides, my trade idea with Orlando was just an idea based a lot on the fact that Bledsoe has so far said nothing about wanting to be in Phoenix or playing here in the future. We have no idea as to what he’s actually told the FO behind closed doors but I’m pretty sure they have some knowledge or at least hints as to whether Bledsoe is considering staying with the Suns longer than necessary or would rather move on.

    If he’s determined to move on, a mid-season trade would probably be the best move for the Suns and Oladpio wouldn’t be a bad player to bring back for him. Of course if Bledsoe does have a breakout season here then that trade wouldn’t make much sense. In their own ways, both are unproven players although Bledsoe’s questions are more about him as a starter than a player. And this season is really about the future for the Suns so, yes, the trade idea was based on future potential as well.

    And I wasn’t saying that was what the Suns should do, just throwing out as an option if it becomes clear that Bledsoe simply doesn’t want to play for the Suns. After all, as an RFA Bledsoe doesn’t actually have to accept any offer sheet if he doesn’t like any of them. Then he could just play out the last year of his contract with the Suns and become an unrestricted FA after that.

    I believe that Bledsoe is just making the best of the situation right now. I don’t think he wants to be in Phoenix and is keeping all his options open. That may change as the season goes on but who knows.

  • DBreezy


    I didn’t say there was nothing to be learned in general from the POR game, just that I feel that there was nothing that would make me up my offer by several million dollars per season.

    I understand why POR went under screens, I’m saying that they did a poor job of executing it. It was the antithesis of what the Spurs did to Lebron and Wade in the finals. The Spurs didn’t just back off them, their defenders overplayed their preferred driving paths, put their bigs in good clogging positions, denied them the ability to get a running start, and closed certain passing lanes down. They literally had no choice but to shoot mid range J’s if they couldn’t get their running game going.

    Contrast that with what POR did. They went under screens and backed off Bledsoe, but they didn’t try to direct him anywhere, allowed him to get explosive running starts, and most of the time R.Lo was literally under the basket vs further up where he could disrupt Bledsoe. Worse yet, their defense didn’t even stop the roll man half the time or protect against O boards. The play with the side S/R that ended in a Plumlee alley exemplified it to me. They ran it back in slo mo and it was comical. Eric could basically go wherever he wanted because two guys were backed off him in no particularly useful defensive formation, yet they somehow lost track of Paul Bunyan there on the baseline for the oop. Their announcers were crying about their S/R defense all game long.

    Eric took what they gave him and shredded it. He didn’t try to do too much. I’ve got no problem with that or him, but I wouldn’t give him 10-12M per in an extension right now because of it.

  • ward

    @Scott, if you have ever played basketball, you would know what Bledsoe is doing (maybe even S. Brown) but when he plays off like that he is seeing a blind-side steal off the ball, that time he didn’t get it, but, 6 out of 10 he will get it.
    Example: Chris or Cliff Paul (they both look alike) does the same thing, he (they) got 6 steals that way the other night.
    So my point is he will get beat some, but, he will have quite a lot of those type of steals. Paul got beat a few times for doing the same thing.
    They both got it from a player by the name of Gary Payton who was pretty good at it…

  • DBreezy

    Ward, I think you were a little hard on the beaver….

  • ward

    I wasn’t trying to. But the first time I saw him do it was in a high school game, and took it twice or more, the person he took it from was DeMarcus Cousins, and he beat Cousins and a team of trees by himself…

  • Smovas

    I wish I could give that a thumbs up, DBreezy.

  • vtsunrise


  • Scott

    @Mel. -

    I agree with you on the Suns having a history of mostly overpaying. IIRC, it goes back to the Colangelos, or at least Bryan.

    @Ty-Sun -

    Heh … PERs are obviously full of stuff at this time of year, one game in … just having some fun again.

    But – based on my tiny sample of Bledsoe (1 game) – I do think he’s a lot more talented than Oladipo. It’s also difficult for me to know right now which of the two players works hardest on developing his game. That right there is probably the key to who gets the better end of the trade.

    @ward -

    I appreciate your insight. However, seeing as Lillard carries such a scoring load for POR, as a strategy I’d rather have had Bledsoe closing him down rather than angling for a steal. Lillard scored 32 points, so I can’t tell that Bledsoe’s defense had ANY effect at all.

    Now, if Bledsoe’s going up against a PG like Calderon or Rondo, where most of the team offense is probably coming from other players, looking for the steal is probably the more appropriate play.

  • Scott

    Let me add that Bledsoe only got 1 steal in the game.

  • Foreveris2long

    We will table the Bledsoe discussion until the summer. If he gets a big payday of $11m plus then some of us have seen enough to have the foresight to predict same. Others have respectfully not been convinced and want to see more. We’ll see. The really good businesses seem to have better vision into tomorrow. Certainly the more conservative approach is to adopt the wait and see approach. Time will tell us a lot.

    D’Breezy as for the Portland game, you indicated “…I take nothing from the Portland game.” I was just responding to your assertion that Portland inexplicably went under the screens. They may not have executed very well but why they did it made a lot of sense when you are guarding a player who has a history of not being a good perimeter shooter.