The Lakers appear set to make a play for one or both of the Slash Brothers next summer...Could they actually pull it off?
In the midst of the fog surrounding Eric Bledsoe's future with the Suns, a new threat is apparently lying in wait just hoping to take advantage of the Phoenix Suns contract uncertainty. However, they aren't just looking to steal away Bledsoe, they also may have their hearts set on Goran Dragic as well.
In a report released on ESPN, Marc Stein identifies the Los Angeles Lakers as potential threats to pounce on both Bledsoe and Dragic after this coming season.
In order for the Lakers to snatch one or both of the Slash Bros., they are considering three different scenarios.
- Bledsoe signs his qualifying offer with Phoenix which would all but guarantee that he would be gone next season and available to be signed outright by L.A.
- Bledsoe will agree to the $48 million or more extension which would then make it more difficult for the Suns to sign Dragic to a max contract next summer. L.A. takes advantage and offers Dragic more than the Suns can, or are willing.
- If Bledsoe signs the qualifying offer he would likely join Dragic as an unrestricted free agent next year, once Goran all but certainly opts out of his final year of his contract to secure a more lucrative, long term deal. The Lakers would then make the pitch to Bledsoe and Dragic to become the new and improved backcourt for L.A. together, and repeat the success they enjoyed together during their time in Phoenix.
But are their plans sound?
The most likely scenario that could work in L.A.'s favor is the first one. With Bledsoe still refusing to sign the Suns latest offer, whatever that may be, the possibility that he signs the qualifying offer becomes greater with every new day. If Bledsoe goes this route, I think the Lakers will definitely be players in attempting to sign him, as they try desperately to return to relevancy in the (soon to be) post Kobe era.
What about the second option? I see this as extremely unlikely. One of the most probable reasons that the Suns have remained adamant about not giving into Bledsoe's request to offer a max deal, is that Phoenix is trying to retain the cap space and flexibility to ink Dragic to a new deal next year. Between the two, it is much more likely that Phoenix gives Dragic a max, or near-max contract rather than Bledsoe, even at a higher overall overall cost.
Dragic has become the face of the Suns franchise. Unlike Bledsoe who has appeared at best aloof when it comes to showing any personal connection to the Suns organization or the Phoenix fanbase, Dragic has worn his appreciation for, and loyalty to the organization and city on his sleeve throughout being drafted, traded, and choosing Phoenix over Houston in order to return once more.
The chance that L.A. would be able to sway Dragic away from the Suns who will likely retain enough cap flexibility to re-sign him at any cost is extremely unlikely.
That brings us to the third scenario. This one is the most unlikely pipe dream of all. In order for the Lakers to acquire both Dragic and Bledsoe, Eric would need to sign the qualifying offer and then successfully pitch Dragic and Bledsoe to team up in L.A., while Phoenix loses out on re-signing both of their best players.
The problem is, if Bledsoe leaves, Phoenix would have no reason at all not to offer Dragic the full max next season to insure he stays with the Suns. They have plenty of cap space to do so, and losing Bledsoe would only give them more. The Lakers would be hoping that Dragic's desire to play with Bledsoe would somehow trump his desire to stay in Phoenix, and his loyalty to the Suns organization and fans.
The bottom line is, the possibility that the Suns could end trading or eventually losing Bledsoe to another team are very real. And yes, the Lakers could easily get in on that action. Eric spent the first few years of his career in L.A. with the Clippers, and likely develped some kind of affinity and ties to the city over that time. I see no reason why he wouldn't entertain playing for the Lakers.
But Dragic? No...It's just not going to happen.
Goran Dragic is a Phoenix Sun at heart, and the team, organization, and fans absolutely adore him. I don't foresee any sequence of events that could logically explain losing Dragic to the Lakers in the near future.
Hands off our Dragon, L.A...he's staying.