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ESPN’s Broussard: Eric Bledsoe still wants the max from Phoenix Suns

LISTEN: Chris Broussard, ESPN NBA insider

The longer Eric Bledsoe remains on the free agent market, the more questions start to be raised.

What are the Phoenix Suns offering their point guard? How much does Bledsoe want?

And, finally, why has no one else extended an offer to the restricted free agent?

“Bledsoe, from everything I heard, is that he wants the max,” ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “And they’re standing firm on that right now. They have been talking with the Suns, but they’re far apart on a deal.”

Bledsoe’s free agency is interesting for a variety of reasons. Though he’s still just 24 years old, the guard has already had two knee surgeries in his young career, each of which caused him to miss significant time.

Last season, in his first with the Suns and first as a full-time starter, he averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game, all career highs, but played in just 43 games.

If another team does sign him, though, the Suns will have the option to match the contract, which is something they’ve maintained a willingness to do.

Bledsoe could be a budding star or a liability, which makes it difficult to determine just how much he’s worth. Hence the lack of a contract up to this point and, maybe, the Suns’ other offseason moves.

“I’m starting to wonder, I know the Suns have said they’re going to match, but when I look at what they’ve done, you already have Goran Dragic, now you do a sign-and-trade for Isaiah Thomas, you draft Tyler Ennis,” Broussard said. “It almost looks like they’re preparing not to have Bledsoe back.”

Broussard added the Suns claiming they’ll match any offer Bledsoe agrees to with another team has played a role in the lack of movement. The ESPN reporter mentioned the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings as possible destinations for the guard, but said teams are wary of the idea of having their cap space locked up for up to 72 hours while the Suns wait to make a decision.

“I don’t know how many teams out there can really go after Bledsoe now without it being a sign-and-trade, and that’s why I think if Phoenix does discuss that they might be able to get some good players in return for him,” Broussard said. “Because as it is right now, this is an interesting thing because Bledsoe could just come back on the qualified offer and then become unrestricted next summer.”

That could make sense, but then Bledsoe would run the risk that he has a down season and is worth less than he would be now, while the Suns would be in danger of losing one of their best players while getting nothing in return. As Broussard notes, it’s not exactly an ideal situation.

“But then you run the risk, and it’s more than a risk, you develop angst between the player and the team, and that’s always a tough game when you’re talking about restricted free agents,” he said. “It’s no fault of the team, but if you say ‘Hey, go get an offer and we’ll match,’ that can be smart from a team-standpoint but then it could backfire if the player feels unwanted or things like that.”