Eric Bledsoe’s knee injury requires surgery

Posted by on January 9th, 2:33 pm

Bledsoe1The Phoenix Suns’ optimism for improvements coming as an eastern road swing continues is all but shot. In fact, a major reinforcement won’t be coming for a while.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that guard Eric Bledsoe’s knee injury will require surgery to repair cartilage damage, and the team expects to find meniscus damage. Stein adds that the severity of the issue, which was originally called a knee sprain, won’t be known until Bledsoe sees a surgeon.

The 24-year-old guard is out indefinitely.

What transpired following Bledsoe’s injury suffered on Dec. 30 in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers alluded to the worst-case scenario.

Bledsoe was pulled just prior to the tip-off of a Jan. 2 home game against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Suns didn’t update his status until two days later, when they said it would be at least another week before he was reexamined. In the interim, Phoenix signed former backup combo guard Leandro Barbosa to a 10-day contract. While the signing could have been viewed as a move to make a playoff push — Barbosa debuted on Wednesday and took Archie Goodwin’s rotation spot — it also marked the possibility the Suns prepared for being without Bledsoe for longer than they initially anticipated.

Bledsoe is averaging 18 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. Since his absence, the Suns’ lack of offensive options have become quite obvious in splitting four games.

Goran Dragic will, like last year, have the pressure upon him to produce 25 points a night. As the 104-103 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves showed, Phoenix will have trouble hitting the 100-point mark even if Channing Frye is scoring in the 20s, and Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee are contributing offensively.

With Bledsoe out for the foreseeable future, the win against the Timberwolves was all the more important. The Suns sit 4.5 games ahead of Minnesota in the playoff race and currently cling to the seventh spot. The playoff race might become irrelevant if Bledsoe is out for even a month.

As good as Dragic has been, he needed Bledsoe. And it likely would’ve been the same story if the script was flipped on the two talented point guards. The success of them as a duo is the major reason why the Suns are overachieving, after all.

The worst-case scenario — a torn meniscus — puts the Suns in a bind beyond 2013-14. General manager Ryan McDonough has gone on the record in saying Phoenix would do everything in its power to match offers for Bledsoe, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Though it could hurt the market for Bledsoe, a serious knee injury will put the Suns in the same bind as other teams.

Do they trust Bledsoe will be able to handle the rigors of a whole season? Will his future be full of ups and downs similar to two of the NBA’s other ultra-athletic guards, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, who have suffered through similar knee issues?

No matter if Bledsoe is out another few weeks or the rest of the year, the Suns future just got a lot more complicated.

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Eric Bledsoe · Leandro Barbosa

33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Al // Jan 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    EFF THIS!!! The only silver-lining now is that Bledose’s price just came down in the off season. $10-11 million per year MAX. LB just went from a 10 day contract to fully guaranteed for the rest of year. He’s going to fill in for the offense, but will not make up for the better defense. What to do now? Can’t tank…not fair to Gogi and the other guys. Trade for disgruntled PF star and stay the course…Guess what, there is a disgruntled PF that the Suns played LAST NIGHT!!! McD get up on IT!!!

  • 2 Solarion // Jan 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    How are we just hearing about this now? I’m sure that their medical staff has known this for quite a while. I thought that it was odd that he was missing so many games due to a “sore knee”. This sucks.

  • 3 NOitall // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Let’s say we are in the 8th spot with one game left and 1/2 game ahead of MIN, and play MIN. Do we purposefully lose to get their pick?

  • 4 Foreveris2long // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Solarion he only hurt it ten days ago. I suspect the doctor wanted to see if the swelling would reduce with rest and treatment. It did not so I suspect they did an MRI to confirm their worst fears. Having had a meniscus tear a few years ago while being an over the hill hack, I suspect he will be out 6 to 8 weeks. This is really too bad for the team.

    Yeah Zim this will make things more difficult fro the Suns in so many ways because I think they were posturing for a significant move to solidify the playoff run. Now they are going to have an significant knee injury to think about when deciding on Bledsoe’s future with the Suns. Wow what a mess.

    Great opportunity for Green but man my day just took a turn for the worst.

  • 5 john // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Good news for those who didn’t want the Suns to pay him the max in the offseason.

  • 6 EBJM // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    @NOitall, it depends, did the Suns lose to the Wolves on Feb. 25, 2014?

    Suns play 12 more games after they meet the Wolves for the 3rd time on March 23.

    Without Bledsoe the Suns will go with a traditional backcourt with Green as a 6′-8″ SG. who has played his best ball of his career while starting for Phoenix.

    Barbosa takes Green’s place off the bench where his game had dropped off. Suns might still surprise people. The combination of Green and Barbosa might be enough to offset the loss of Bledsoe.

    Barbosa once averaged 18 points off the Phoenix bench for a whole season. Of course he was the “Brazilizn Blur” back then.

    But bottom line is if Phoenix does drop out of the playoffs and the Wolves make it, two solid picks aren’t a bad thing. Toss in the Wizards current #18 pick and McD could still salvage a good player out of it.

    It could have been worse, what if it was Plumlee? Dragic is well-suited to play PG full time. There is still hope. I guess Barbosa has a lot riding on his shoulders. Good thing he is thirty-something now.

  • 7 Bandwagon Fan // Jan 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Not good news. Suns need Hedo Turkeyglue, now!

  • 8 john // Jan 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    BRING BACK CHILDRESS!!!!!

  • 9 the real al // Jan 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    All can say is….OUUUUUCH!!!!!!

  • 10 Animan // Jan 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Two months is a manageable amount of time at the worst case

  • 11 Voqar // Jan 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Bummer.

  • 12 Zack B. // Jan 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Now we really need that “young star” McD wants to trade for

  • 13 Rengaw // Jan 9, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Dragic gets beat up on regular basis…..that’s his game. No Sun goes to the hoop harder than he does. It’s my fear he can’t hold up playing big minutes.

    No position takes more out of a player than point guard. He is handling the ball the majority of the time, and on defense he is required to pressure the ball the majority of the time.

    It is unfortunate the Suns don’t have a young point guard to give Bledsoe’s minutes to. Ish ain’t the answer, but he does do a good job at defending those small quick guys in the league.

  • 14 Al // Jan 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    @Rengaw Chris Paul is one year older than Dragic and he’s consider one of the best PG defenders in the league. You’re making it sound as if Dragic is in his early to mid 30′s. Dragic and Bledose’s style of play is slashing to the basket. It’s is this style of play in heavy minutes that is the cause of Bledsoe’s injury. Dragic at least is a better shooter than Bledsoe, but not as good on defense. Lb and Green will help Dragic carry the offensive load for the rest of the season.

  • 15 ShanMan // Jan 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    It’s tough being a Suns fan. This is probably a .500 ballclub without that nasty backcourt of Dragic and Bledsoe. Hopefully they can keep their heads above water until he returns. I’m still holding out hope for the Suns to trade some picks for a young star.

  • 16 Russell's Suns // Jan 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I don’t see anybody offering Bledsoe more than 35mil -40 mil guaranteed in free agency this pretty much means the Suns will lock up both Bledsoe and Dragic long term plus sign Deng in the Summer and hopefully land either Monroe or Faried during the trade deadline.

  • 17 hawki // Jan 10, 2014 at 3:02 am

    You got it ShanMan….it’s tough being a Suns fan.

    Forever….nice comeback by UCLA…1st time I’ve ever seen Jordan Adams that cold from the field.
    Aaron Gordon has lots of ability but can’t shoot near good enough to be effective in the NBA…yet.

  • 18 Chad // Jan 10, 2014 at 3:03 am

    That’s my plan on 2k Russell !

  • 19 Rengaw // Jan 10, 2014 at 8:42 am

    With Bledsoe healthy and the team getting better and better, the Sun’s were probably thinking of adding another player this year for a real shot of advancing in the playoffs.

    Now with Bledsoe finished for the year, the Sun’s thinking will completely change and I have no idea what direction the Suns will go.

    With so many young players getting a chance to play this year for the Suns, I’m sure the Sun’s brass have a good idea of who they want to keep and who might be expendable. For sure, Plumlee and Len are locked into the center position and Dragic I believe is safe as is Tucker. The rest of the Suns may available to be moved.

  • 20 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Chalk it up to SUNS LUCK..cuz it is.

    Didn’t think (and still dont) that Bledsoe wants to share the backcourt with Dragic..dont think that is far fetched at all people. But this injury news doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Sure wish we still had a shot at college basketball’s Big 3..but that is all but gone now. Mediocre season followed by a mediocre draft order.

    go suns

  • 21 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Oh and Barbosa taking Goodwin’s minutes? Like Barbosa a lot but hope Hornacek isnt getting carried away by early season success. Goodwin should definitely have a roster spot as he is part of the Suns future..and that future doesnt look as bright as it appeared.

  • 22 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Correction: rotation spot, not “roster” spot

  • 23 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Just a recurring thought but man, did Azcentral ever drop the ball by attempting to force regulars to use or start up a Facebook account? Its been an online ghost town over there ever since..glad I backfired on them.

  • 24 Dave:f32 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

    What are y’all doing? Giving up… Let me remind you guys that the Suns are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. Are they Championship caliber, not yet by any stretch of the imagination. They werent before Bled’s injury. The Suns are a couple roster moves from making that happen. The Draft should not be the basket with all the eggs. Cheer up , Suns fans!!! There is still plenty of season left. I thought it awkward that they would sign LB right after Bled went down, but they knew it would be extended time so they looked at the alternative. Barbosa is not what he used to be, but he’s still very quick, speedy, skilled and knowledgeable. Barbosa is capable player. Other guys just need to step up. Lou Amundson we need signed!

  • 25 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

    *it

  • 26 phxfaninla // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Got this from bleacher report :Thunder guard Russell Westbrook missed six months after surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the 2013 playoffs. In 2012, Former Sun Grant Hill needed only 13 days to recover from meniscus surgery at age 39.Last season, Lakers forward MettaWorld Peace returned from meniscus surgery after 12 days.

  • 27 DBreezy // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Happy New Year All,

    Tough break for the Suns after a great W. Seems like déjà vu all over again unfortunately.

  • 28 phxfaninla // Jan 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Wishing bledsoe a speedy recovery

  • 29 DBreezy // Jan 10, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I see Coro is saying a possible return to action in the 2nd half of the season, but is it really worth it for either party? No matter what the Suns have upgraded their roster and management while creating a stronger culture. This isn’t a situation where they’re on the cusp like when they brought Amare back early in 2005-2006 or what OKC is facing with Westbrook. Is this Suns season worth the 3 procedures Westbrook has had in about 8 mos?

  • 30 sunsn7 // Jan 10, 2014 at 10:46 am

    “The draft should not be the basket with all the eggs”

    Absolutely Dave32..but neither should seeking to trade stockpiled picks for a player already in his prime or worse, a retread. All in pursuit of advancing past the playoffs 1st round, kind of “success?”

    I said from the day they hired McDonough that he’s the man to restore the Suns to prominent status and he is. But damn, the task is even taller now. Big, reverberating decisions are to be made.

  • 31 Eric Bledsoe returns to the practice court // Feb 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    […] PHOENIX — Eric Bledsoe has been making strides toward returning to the court in recent weeks and on Monday it became a reality. The 6-foot-1 guard played a 3-on-3 game at practice in his first real action since undergoing knee surgery to fix meniscus damage. […]

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