The Phoenix Suns are currently in talks with newly acquired guard Eric Bledsoe on a long-term contract extension. If the two sides can’t reach a deal by the end of the month, the 23-year-old combo guard would become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
The Suns are in an interesting spot because they’ve only seen the Kentucky product in training camp and a few preseason games, and it’s still uncertain that he will become the star many project him to be.
Nonetheless, general manager Ryan McDonough, while on Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo show Wednesday, agreed that Bledsoe does figure into the team’s long-term plans. McDonough said contract talks with the fourth-year player have gone “pretty well” to this point.
“If we’re not able to work out a deal (by Oct. 31), we would start next summer with Eric as a restricted free agent, but obviously we’re hoping to get something done before that,” the general manager said.
Despite getting limited playing time for the Los Angeles Clippers behind star point guard Chris Paul, Bledsoe produced when he was given a chance to start and play extended minutes, McDonough said, and those factors will figure into what type of deal the Suns want to offer him.
“With Eric, there’s more projection. Some would say there’s more risk, but I’d also counter that there’s more upside,” McDonough, 33, said. “He does some unique things athletically. I think he’s the best shot-blocking guard in the league. If he plays extended minutes, which he will for us, I think he might lead the league in steals. He has a unique potential.”
Many experts expect Bledsoe to be paired in the backcourt with Goran Dragic this season, both of whom are used to running the point. McDonough said the two haven’t spent much time playing together in the preseason, but that he likes what he’s seen so far. When talking about the pair, the Suns general manager still has to talk more about potential than proven results.
“I think in transition, when those two guys are on the floor, it’ll be be really hard to stop. They’re two of the faster guys in the league with the ball. They’re both aggressive attacking the basket,” the general manager said. “In half court, we’ll see how it works; I think they’ll have to alternate some. I won’t always be Goran at the point or Bledsoe at the point; we’ll probably do that depending on the matchups.
“So far they’ve bought into what we’ve asked them to do.”
Charles Barkley recently said the Bledsoe-Dragic backcourt may not work out well for the Suns, but McDonough said he believes both players will make the “necessary sacrifices” for the betterment of the team.
“I think it will be an adjustment for both of them, because they’ve been used to having the ball. Goran’s had it most of his life; Eric’s played off the ball some — going back to when he was at Kentucky with John Wall,” McDonough said. “It’ll be an adjustment for both guys, but they’re both hard working. They’re both great guys. They’re both team-first guys.”