All indications are that even though an extension didn’t get done at the October deadline, Eric Bledsoe wants to stay in Phoenix.
Bledsoe has a great opportunity to be a franchise-type player in Phoenix, has the trust of the organization and for the first time since high school is out of the shadows of star players (John Wall at Kentucky, Chris Paul with the Clippers).
Not giving Bledsoe the four-year extension at this time was wise. He had started only 38 games in three years with the Clippers, was unproven and the jury was out on how good he could be.
Now that he is off to a great start in Phoenix, averaging 21 points, 7.2 assists and 5 rebounds through the first five games, it’s a win-win for both him and the Suns, especially if he can keep it up.
I would much rather pay Bledsoe $10 to 12 million a year knowing after this season that he is a $ 10 to 12 million dollar player than pay him $10 million per season not knowing what he is.
The only real reason the Suns should have done an extension at this time is if they had got a smoking deal. Phoenix will now have a full season to gauge his worth and Bledsoe will have a full season to set the market for his services.
When Bledsoe hits restricted free agency, if another team makes him an offer the Suns can match it. If another team elects to make an offer to Bledsoe, they are technically tying up their money and cap space for three days. A lot of teams don’t want to go that route, especially knowing that Suns president Lon Babby is highly likely to match any deal.
The only risk for Phoenix is that they may have to pay him more after the season than they could have paid him now. But again, if he is worth the money that won’t be an issue.
In some ways matching an offer sheet is a better option for Phoenix because the team making the offer can only offer 4.5 percent increases on a four-year deal. If the Suns negotiate on their own, and they technically can’t begin negotiations until July 1 and sign him on July 10, then they can go to five years with an increase of 7.5 percent. Babby and company may have done the smart thing because an offer sheet may actually save them some money.
Most teams won’t have the cap space to sign Bledsoe and many don’t need a point guard. One team to be leery of is the Lakers, who have only Steve Nash under contract for next season and need a point guard.
And while Bledsoe is off to a great start it’s only five games. A better indication of his worth will come after 20 games. He’ll put up numbers, but how efficient will those numbers be. That will ultimately determine his worth. The chances the Suns lose him for nothing are extremely slim.