The negotiations between the Phoenix Suns and free agent guard Eric Bledsoe remain “far apart,” according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Phoenix and Bledsoe’s representatives have been in talks, however, and Broussard reports that the team hasn’t considered talking to other teams about potential sign-and-trade options.
Sources: Suns offered Eric Bledsoe 4-year, $48 million contract. Bledsoe wants max of 5 years, $80 million. Sides far apart
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 17, 2014
That would lead us to believe the Suns aren’t willing to part with their point guard, which is what general manager Ryan McDonough has maintained for the last several months.
And though playing hardball could have it’s benefits for the Suns, there are also negatives that could come of this. If the Suns are truly offering Bledsoe millions from the expected max deal for a player his age, then it might sour the guard on a return to Phoenix. Channing Frye left town wondering if the front office was doing everything to keep the current roster together, and Bledsoe could be thinking the same thing if this goes on any longer.
Phoenix has been successful in bringing down Bledsoe’s price range, as teams have reportedly been slow to offer him a max deal with the Suns expected to match. Their openness about teams wasting their time by offering Bledsoe — this prior to the free agency period — has worked, but where is the line drawn in the timeline and market price? At which point do the Suns compromise by edging their offer closer to what Bledsoe’s camp is going after?
Are the Suns just hoping somebody will offer Bledsoe so the negotiation process becomes moot?
It’s hard to guess what’s going on behind the scenes of these talks.
Take Lance Stephenson‘s signing with Charlotte, for example. He came with his own questions marks and was offered a five-year, $44 million deal by the Pacers a few weeks back. Instead, he took a three-year, $27 million deal to join the Charlotte Hornets that pays him an average of $200,000 more annually but obviously comes with $17 less in guaranteed money. His camp is banking on him becoming a max-level player sooner rather than later. Bledsoe’s situation is sort of similar — they’re both young stars with more question marks around them than a guy like Gordon Hayward — but the Suns’ free agent is already near or at that max price range.
There are a number of factors that could be beyond the money in the Bledsoe-Suns negotiations. The longer they go on with the market drying up, the more leverage the Suns have. But it comes with the risk that Bledsoe begins to feel the lack of appreciation that led to Frye’s departure from Phoenix.