The Phoenix Suns will have some important decisions to make this offseason, with the most high-profile being that of what to do with Eric Bledsoe.
A restricted free agent, the guard has averaged 18 points, 5.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game during an injury-truncated season.
He’s been excellent when on the court, and at 24 still has room to improve. The Suns know this, and they’d like for that improvement to come with him wearing their jersey.
“That’s what we’re planning on doing,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday when asked if the Bledsoe will be retained, be it via a contract he signs with the Suns or one that is signed with someone else but matched by the team. “I think Eric did a terrific job after he was frustrated with the injury.
“He came back and played extremely well for us down the stretch.”
Bledsoe has missed 39 games this season due to injury, but since coming back from having knee surgery has pretty much picked off right where he left off with regards to his play.
In 18 games, he has averaged 18.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range.
“I think it was good for him to come back and show that he was healthy, for us and everybody else to see it,” McDonough added.
Overall, Bledsoe has been every bit the player the Suns hoped they were getting when they pulled the trigger on the trade that brought him and Caron Butler to the Valley in exchange for Jared Dudley and a second-round pick.
“We view him as a core part of our team going forward,” the GM said. “I think there were some questions externally about how it would work with him and Goran going into the season, and we don’t have any doubts that those guys answered the questions and that they’re one of the premier backcourts in the NBA.”
But just because the Suns plan on keeping Bledsoe no matter the cost does not mean other clubs may not try to pry him away from Planet Orange.
As a restricted free agent, Bledsoe has the right to sign with any team he chooses. After that, though, the Suns have the right to match any offer sheet he signs in order to keep him.
Saying they’ll do that, though, will not necessarily dissuade another team from trying to woo him.
“He’s played well enough and is deserving enough of an extension where I think it would 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,” McDonough said. “But you never know; it only takes one.
“We’ll see what happens. There’s also the chance that we try to work it out in advance and just not let it get to that point, where he has to get an offer and we match. Our preference would be just to to do an offer with Eric and his representatives.”