As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
But in the case of the Phoenix Suns and restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe, that may not actually be the case.
Teams have been allowed to talk to free agents since July 1 and able to sign them since July 10, yet Bledsoe, one of the premier players on the market, has yet to agree to a deal with anybody.
The Suns, meanwhile, went out and added point guard Isaiah Thomas via a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. This came on the heels of them selecting a point guard, Tyler Ennis, in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.
By all appearances the Suns would seem to be preparing for life without Bledsoe, but according to general manager Ryan McDonough, the team is not really interested in moving on without the point guard, regardless of how things may look.
“Our strong preference would be to have Eric back in a Phoenix Suns uniform,” the GM told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday. “We’ve had productive dialogue with Eric’s representatives.
“It’s just a process. The free agency process goes different lengths of time for different players.”
That’s true, though many felt Bledsoe, 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in points (17.7), assists (5.5) and rebounds (4.7) per game, would have no shortage of offers. Phoenix would have been allowed to match any of them, but at least they would have been there.
But it has not happened, and as everyone waits reports have circulated saying the guard and team are pretty far apart in terms of what is being offered and what is desired.
Bledsoe is reportedly seeking a maximum-level contract that would be worth upwards of $80 million over five years, while the Suns are offering $48 million over four years.
It’s a pretty wide gap, though McDonough said he is “optimistic and hopeful” that this will all end with Bledsoe remaining in Phoenix.
Adding that a deal will get done when both sides are comfortable with the terms, the GM gave no indication that the lack of movement with a contract as well as the team’s addition of talent at the point guard position is a sign the team is ready to move forward without him.
“We’ve had our initial conversations and made offers and counter-offers, and we’ll continue to talk to them and try to work something out. I think at the end of the day we will,” he said. “As you guys know, Eric has been a big part of our team, he had a terrific year this past year and hopefully is a big part of our team going forward.”
That would seem to indicate a trade is not on the table, despite what some of the rumors may say.
“We’re certainly not exploring trades,” he said. “Do we get occasional trade calls? Yeah, we get occasional trade calls about all of the guys on our roster so we want him back, I think he will be back at the end of the day, and proactively looking to trade him is certainly not something we’re looking to do.”