NBA insider: Eric Bledsoe’s absence may not derail Phoenix Suns’ season
The Phoenix Suns will be without guard Eric Bledsoe for the foreseeable future, but it’s hard to tell what that means for the team’s playoff chances.
While the length of Blesdoe’s absence with a torn right meniscus has yet to be determined, ESPN NBA analyst Tom Penn told Arizona Sports’ Burns and Gambo that the guard has two options when it comes to getting back on the court.
“In the old days, they’d just snip it up and you’d be back in two weeks,” Penn said. “Blake Griffin had that done in college — a lot of people did — and still can fly out of the gym. But then you’ve got the new wave with (Russell) Westbrook and (Derrick) Rose where they choose to repair the meniscus. That’s much better for the long-term health and recovery of the player. But that scratches the short term season.”
But even if the Suns and Bledsoe opt for the long-term recovery, Penn said the Suns might be built to withstand the blow of losing one of their most dynamic players.
“In a way, they’re built with their depth and style of play — that collegiate enthusiasm of sharing the ball — they may be built to not take too big a fall without a player like Bledsoe,” Penn said.
The fourth-year pro will be a restricted free agent after this season, but Penn said it’s hard to make a prediction on what type of offers he’ll garner without knowing the extent of rehab that Bledsoe’s knee will require. Still, Penn cautioned against assuming that Bledsoe’s injury will help the Suns extend him for a cheaper price than if he’d remained healthy.
“It takes just one team to make a huge, risky offer, if you will,” Penn said. “Then you’re put in a situation where you’ve got to decide whether to match or not. As a team without a player like that, you’re more willing to take a risk to get him.”
The Suns engaged with Bledsoe on extension talks but couldn’t reach an agreement before the NBA’s Nov. 1 deadline, though that seemed like the right move for Phoenix at the time because it could see Bledsoe’s production as the team’s centerpiece before committing to a major contract.
But now the team may be burdened with the decision to match a maximum contract offer to Bledsoe despite the fact that he’s coming off a major injury.
“I think the Suns probably wish they would have extended him early if they could have,” Penn said. “But they didn’t know him well enough probably and wanted to keep all the flexibility they could.”