NBA free agency: Eric Bledsoe’s lips are sealed

PHOENIX — As the Suns trickled out of the U.S. Airways Center on Thursday with bags full of whatever was left in their lockers, the same themes popped up.

Jeff Hornacek should be coach of the year.

The season was a success in one way and disappointing in another.

Individually, nearly every player on Phoenix’s roster could see 2013-14 as a season of improvement.

The future is bright.

The biggest question about the future is of course Eric Bledsoe, a restricted free agent who could certainly earn a max contract. On Phoenix airwaves earlier in the day, general manager Ryan McDonough told Burns and Gambo that “it’d be a waste of time for another team to throw an offer at him and tie up their cap space while other free agents are going off the board. But you never know; it only takes one.”

Following his exit interview with the team, Bledsoe steered clear of commenting on his future or whether he wanted to remain in Phoenix.

“Like I said, I’m going into this summer just working hard, getting better for next year, enjoying my family,” he said, about six times.

“I’m just going into the summer getting 100 percent healthy and just doing my thing,” he added. “It was great. The guys, the coaching staff, the organization, it was great.”

The 24-year-old point guard did say it meant something that McDonough and the front office have been strong supporters of his. His relationship with fellow point guard Goran Dragic doesn’t seem to be something to keep him from re-signing with the Suns. And no matter what the case is, Bledsoe’s future is less in his hands and more in those of the Suns front office.

Phoenix can match an offer from any other team, plus they can even negotiate a five-year deal since they hold his Bird Rights.

McDonough of course will be publicly adamant that other teams shouldn’t bother thinking about signing Bledsoe. Signing Bledsoe to an offer sheet would tie up a sizable chunk of any team’s cap space until the Suns make their decision, and the good news is that squads with the cash to make a free agent splash with Bledsoe — the Lakers, for example — might first send their recruiting messages to other free agents like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, assuming they opt out of their respective deals.

Bledsoe proved he fit with the Suns, and it’s hard to imagine he’s seriously unhappy. And worst case, Phoenix has control of the situation. If the front office truly doesn’t want to pay a certain amount, it can at least work out a sign-and-trade to get something in return.

Within the Suns locker room, the recruiting process has been there all year long.

“We always are joking around and always talking, ‘Are you going to stay here? You better stay here or we’re going to hunt you down and try to bring you back,’” Dragic said of his backcourt mate. “In the end, it’s his decision.”

Or really, it’s on the Suns to decide Bledsoe’s value and act accordingly.

  • ellensburgbballfan

    With the stretch provision, Suns can sign him to whatever he wants, then if he later ends up injury prone, they can save money by using that provision to stretch out the cap hit, for years if they have to.

    Give him what he wants, unless he is part of a package for a young super star

  • EBJM

    Bledsoe’s refusal to publicly commit to Phoenix is really odd. It is like he is trying to avoid being painted as the bad guy by admitting he would like a max contract.

  • Scott

    Maybe LeBron has decided to create another team of super friends and Bledsoe has been invited.

  • foreveris2long

    I guarantee you what you hear from Bled during this period is his attorney/agent talking. He has been well coached about expressing any desire to remain a Sun or any loyalty toward the team. He has undergone practice sessions about these interviews. Any favorable comments about the Suns by Bled would likely be construed by other teams to mean he is not serious about going elsewhere hurting his negotiations. His team of attorneys, agents, etc are trying to get him a max deal. He can show Suns love after negotiations are over.

    This will be an interesting period but Bled’s silence or expression of a desire to play for Indiana or Lakers, should only be considered as negotiations.

  • EBJM

    Yeah, your right Forever, it isn’t odd at all. I guess I’m just disappointed when players demand a max contract. They just seem to take a disproportionate amount of a teams total salary making it difficult to have three or four stars.

  • Scott

    Oh, foreveris, you take all the fun out of it.

  • bill_thomas

    Frye is an Extreme Sissy and should be dropped at the earliest opportunity.

    Bledsoe is a side issue. Dropping Frye will free some shit up.

  • bill_thomas

    Let’s see what that Extreme Sissy does with his Lousy Contract.

  • bill_thomas

    DROP HIM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    I don’t even want to talk about what Frye needs to straighten himself out.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    Frye has value as a floor spacing big man, but his value is limited because he does little else other than shoot 3 pointers

    if he wants to decline his player option and sign for less money but more years to keep being a sun, thats fine, but if we want this team to make a deep playoff run, i dont think its going to be with him starting

    You get an elite power forward, then whoever plays center next year is going to have it alot easier

    just look at Robin Lopez, when he played along side stoudemire and Aldridge he had by far the best stats of his career

    having a post player that commands a double team makes everything 100 percent easier, and thats one of things we need to develop, draft, or trade for if this team is going to do anything beyond “marginal playoff team”

  • Al

    I bet this is could get some LAL fans excited. “He’s not saying anything…That means he wants to sign with the Lakers…”

  • awfulorv

    Anyone happen to notice young Mr. Goodwin’s work the other night? Now why would you want to sit that guy in order to make, and pay megabucks, to Bled. Then there’s Ish for backup, and Green in a pinch. The Suns are in the cat bird seat.

  • Sjose

    Goodwin had one good game against an apathetic Kings team. He’s definitely promising but lets keep things in perspective.

    As to Bledsoe and his agent, his job is to max out as much as possible. Why not?

  • http://none Go Phx

    He’s either negotiating or part of a secret plan to get the Lakers to tie their up money

  • DZ

    I think Bledsoe is the only real question mark as to whether he really wants to be on this team or not. I think every other player on the team is happy to be in Phoenix but I’m just not sure about Bledsoe.

    I doubt that he dislikes playing in Phoenix but I wonder if he would rather go back to LA (even if it was with the Lakers instead of the Clips). The Suns certainly have the last word as to where he plays unless Bledsoe decides to opt in for the last year of his contract in Phoenix at $3.73 mil which would make him an unrestricted FA at the end of next season. I can’t see him doing that although it is an option.

    I think that if he stays that the Suns can turn into something special with he and Dragic in the front court. I hope he thinks that too.

  • DZ

    @Kevin Zimmerman

    Since we’re talking about Bledsoe and a potential “max” contract offer, just WTF would the maximum offer be? There has been some debate about whether he is worth a “max” contract offer but I only have a vague idea as to what that would be in $s.

  • DZ

    Never mind. I finally found out that a max contract for Bledsoe would start out at about $13.7 mil. I still think that’s a steep price to pay for him but I’m willing to trust McD on whether he’s worth it or not.

  • Luka

    Bledsoe isn’t worth 13.7 million. I guarantee Sarver will step in and be unwilling to pay Bledsoe nearly double what Dragic makes. I’d say 11 million a year tops over 4 seasons. Otherwise, McDonough needs to explore a sign and trade to help upgrade the rest of the roster.

  • EBJM

    The intriguing part of paying Bledsoe the max would come in ’15-’16 when he is making around $14.7 million and Dragic’s player option of $7.5 comes up.

    In fact currently Bledsoe would be the only player under contract in ’15-’16. For a team that exceeded expectations and has many believing the Suns are a stud PF away from contending, it sure will be interesting to see if Hornacek can retain that team chemistry and camaraderie.

  • The real al

    Look, basketball is a business – if Bledsoe came out saying he loves PHX and wants to lay roots in PHX he’d suppress his value big time!! With every negotiation you never want to show your hand and emotions early in the process.. Plain and simple.

    Bledsoes guarded comments is all smoke and mirrors, represented by what his agent(s) told him to say. Heck, even Lon babby after the presser mentioned Eric’s well represented and well trained by his agent. Babby who was a player agent back in the day did mention that he’d tell his player to do the exact same thing Bledsoe did.

    Again, it’s expected Bledsoe would be gaurded by his comments. Not to worry ….he’ll be back a sun!

  • Sjose

    Hopefully he’s back a Sun. And hopefully we can find a way to pay Dragic more down the line. It’s a great K for us and Dragic’s a pros pro, but still could cause tensions.

  • DBreezy

    I too echo the comments about not worrying too much about what Bledsoe is saying. It’s early for him and the front office after a positive, feel good season. You can see it in a lot of the comments where they want to keep everybody yet still add pieces to improve. Practically speaking, some of these guys won’t be back next year.

    McD sounds more and more like Morey every day with his comments about packaging the Suns picks for a star or veteran. There’s really not much out there in terms of available stars. With previous front offices, I’d be nervous about things, but I don’t see McD making a trade just to make a trade. IMO if he finds a good deal, he’ll take it. If not he will in fact make all of those draft picks and figure it out later just like Morey did when he had Marcus Morris, Terence Jones, Donatas, Patrick Patterson, Lamb and Royce White on a roster that had just missed the postseason as well.

    On the one hand, Morey had better targets on the market at that time with guys like Harden and Howard among others all being available during that time vs now where only Melo is clearly available. However on the other hand, McD probably already has better young talent to potentially use in trade than Morey did with three more possible additions to come. If the Suns can develop these players well like the Thunder do, they’ll come out ahead one way or another.

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