Eric Bledsoe played in just 24 games for the Phoenix Suns.
He's almost a lock to play plenty more, even if they don't come this season.
As a guest of the Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday as part of Newsmakers Week, Phoenix Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby was asked if the team had seen enough of the guard to know if they are going to match any offer the restricted free agent might receive from another team over the summer.
"I think our answer to that is yes, that we know enough about Eric as a player," Babby said. "Even more importantly, we've lived with him now for almost a year as a person. We like everything about him. Like him as a teammate, like him as a representative of our franchise and everything that he stands for.
"He's got a tremendous future."
Prior to going on the shelf, Bledsoe averaged 18.0 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, while adding a 1.5 steals and shooting .486 from the field. In his first year as a full-time starter, the 24-year-old appeared to be emerging as an NBA star, the type who could carry a team..
His first three seasons in the NBA after just one campaign at Kentucky showed flashes of brilliance, but no one was quite sure if he could put it all together. Those questions have since been answered, and a player like Bledsoe will command a hefty salary as a free agent. So, the Suns will have to pay if they want to keep him around.
And though his talent is undeniable, his injury history is spotty, at best. This season alone he missed time due to a shin injury, and that was before needing surgery to repair his right meniscus in early January.
It's the second time Bledsoe has needed the meniscus in that knee operated on since 2011.
"I always feel in these medical situations that we have an extraordinary advantage because of not only the quality of our training staff, led by Aaron Nelson, but also the quality of our medical staff led by Dr. Carter," Babby said. "And if they tell us, as I believe they will, that he's going to have a long and healthy career, then I'm willing to take my chances and I think the whole organization will be willing to take our chances on that. And we know his circumstance better than anyone else would know it.
"I think he will be a Phoenix Sun for a long time; that would be my expectation and my hope."
Even if he signs an offer sheet with another team, as would be his right as a restricted free agent.
"Yes," Babby said when asked if the team would match any other offer. "If you ask me today, I would say absolutely we are going to match any offer, but I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope Eric has developed enough of a feeling, and my instincts are that he likes it here."
Babby said a team can learn a lot about a player by how he handles being injured. Sometimes, a guy may secretly root against his team with hopes it will increase his own value, while also looking to take care of himself first and foremost. Bledsoe, though, has responded by being someone who roots hard for his teammates and is anxious to get back on the floor.
"His return, when it happens, will be more important probably than any trade we could make on February 20," Babby said. "I think there's no question that we will not lose that asset."
Schedule for the week
Dave Tippett and Lon Babby are in-studio on Tuesday for Newsmakers Week.
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Friday and the full week
- Greg Byrne: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part two
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part one
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Thursday
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Wednesday
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Tuesday
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Monday
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Bryan Sperber, PIR President - Friday February 14PIR president Bryan Sperber closes out Newsmakers Week with Doug and Wolf.
- Greg Byrne, UA Athletic Director - Friday February 14Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne sits in on Newsmakers Week.
- Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals GM - Friday February 14Cardinals GM Steve Keim joins Newsmakers Week.
- Kevin Guy, Arizona Rattlers Head Coach - Thursday February 13What should the NFL implement from arena football?
- Herb Sendek, Head Coach ASU Basketball - Thursday February 13Can ASU make the tournament in March?
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President and CEO - Thursday February 13When does Derrick Hall think things will heat up with the Dodgers?
- Brian Mueller, GCU President - Thursday February 13Brian Mueller explains what attracts athletes to GCU.
- Jim Pitman, Mercury General Manager - Thursday February 13How do things look on the business side of the Mercury organization?
- Ray Anderson, ASU Athletic Director - Wednesday February 12Ray Anderson explains why he took the job at ASU.
- Jason Rowley, Suns President - Wednesday February 12Where are the Suns trending financially?
- Jerry Colangelo, Godfather of Phoenix Sports - Wednesday February 12Jerry Colangelo comes in studio for an entire hour!
- Dan Majerle, Head Coach GCU Basketball - Wednesday February 12Dan Majerle explains the recruiting process.
- David Rousseau, AZ Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman - Tuesday February 11Find out how Glendale is preparing right now to host next year's Super Bowl.
- Lon Babby, Suns President of Operations - Tuesday February 11Eric Bledsoe's future with the team and the relationship between the Suns and Dan Majerle.
- Dave Tippett, Coyotes head coach - Tuesday February 11Dave spends his Olympic break with us in studio to discuss the playoff race his team is in.
- Tim Esmay, ASU baseball coach - Tuesday February 11Tim describes the competitive nature in recruiting high school athletes.
- Tom King, 2014 Waste Managment Phoenix Open Chairman - Tuesday February 11Tom explains how the Phoenix Open continues to be a huge success year after year.
- Charli Turner Thorne, ASU Women's basketball head coach - Monday February 10How is the women's basketball program at ASU doing?
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Monday February 10The D-backs made moves on the mound
- Jeff Hornacek, Suns Head Coach - Monday February 10Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek joins Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week.
- Keith Baker, GCU Athletic Director - Monday February 10How long until GCU can make the NCAA tournament?
- George Gosbee Phoenix Coyotes Co-Owner - Monday February 10Live update from the Sochi Winter Olympics.