Per Paul Coro with azcentral.com and the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Suns still want to sign Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker before they have to sign offer sheets from other teams. But it's all about the timing.

Just like GM Ryan McDonough and President Lon Babby said at the end of the season media conference, McDonough repeated again to azcentral.com/sports reporter Paul Coro in recent days.

The Phoenix Suns want to sign restricted free agents P.J. Tucker and Eric Bledsoe to new deals before they are forced to sign offers from other teams.

"We'll try to do that as soon as possible and not let it get to the point where you'd have to get an offer and we'd match it," Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said.

The big issues are money and timing.

Money

After making a grand total of $3.5 million between them in 2013-14, restricted free agents P.J. Tucker and Eric Bledsoe could command as much as $20.8 million between them in 2014-15 ($15.5 million for Bledsoe, $5.3 million for Tucker). That's just under 1/3 of the salary cap. Ouch.

Together, the two accounted for just over 25% of the team's scoring, rebounding and assists per game while playing 25% of the team's total minutes per game.

That's roughly 33% of the cap for 25% of the major stats each game. Where they become more valuable than simple stats is that they are also two of the team's best defenders and can play very effectively in the same lineup.

Of course, the Suns would prefer to agree to contracts that total less than 30% of next year's cap, and will likely open the bidding to the two restricted free agents at much lower numbers, like $10 million per year to Bledsoe and $3 million per year to Tucker.

The problem is the 29 other teams.

Timing, Part 1

Once July 1 hits, every team in the league can offer contracts to P.J. Tucker and Eric Bledsoe. But will they?

Tucker's likely max is the midlevel exception, since he's viewed as a playoff contributor rather than a building block for a young team. I don't see a team with cap space like Philadelphia spending more than the midlevel just to secure Tucker's services.

A full midlevel deal from another team is 4 years at $22.6 million, starting at $5.3 million with 4.5% raises each year (based on the year one salary).

For Bledsoe, the maximum salary he can command as a 4 year veteran is 25% of the salary cap, which is projected at $62 million this year. That's a starting salary of $15.5 million, with a 4-year total of $66 million. That "mini max" might seem high to you, but that's how the CBA is defined.

While I can see Tucker getting a full MLE offer because his game profiles to other players in the same income bracket, I have a hard time seeing another team offering Bledsoe the full mini-max.

But as the old saying goes, all it takes is one.

So it's no surprise that the Suns would like to head off a bidding war before it starts. The Suns will begin negotiations with each player on July 1 just like every suitor. Throughout negotiations, the Suns will be likely presented with counter-offers from each player's agent and will have to decide how serious those offers are.

Would another team really write up an RFA offer that high, or is the agent just trying to make the Suns bid against themselves?

That's the big question.

Four years ago, Channing Frye was a free agent the Suns wanted to retain. Per Amin Elhassan on a recent podcast, the Suns thought they had Frye ready to re-sign for a reasonable amount until another team offered him a great deal more. The Suns had a up their offer, and Frye stayed for a whopping 5 years, $30 million with a player option.

Frye was an unrestricted free agent, while Tucker and Bledsoe are restricted free agents.

The Suns can conceivably wait until another team makes the formal offer, writes it up, gets the player to sign and forces the Suns to yay/nay within three days. The Trailblazers did it with Nicolas Batum in 2012. The Pacers with Roy Hibbert. And the Hornets/Pelicans with Eric Gordon. All that same summer.

The problem with that path is the potential for ill will with the player, making them force the Suns to match something they don't want to match. Things worked out fine for Batum and Hibbert, but Gordon and the Pelicans were never the same. But in each case, the player was forced to make a decision and choose another team before staying with their incumbent.

More likely, if the Suns and the players' agents trust each other enough, the Suns will get a chance to make the same offer to Bledsoe/Tucker that's been suggested by another team before the dreaded offer sheet. Per Amin in a podcast with Bright Side this spring, team's generally get that chance to usurp the RFA offer with their own. This practice is common, and an example why other teams don't always like to "do all the work".

The only way this doesn't happen is if (a) the Suns simply don't believe the "other team" really wants to pay that much or (b) the Suns believe the offer but just don't want to pay it unless they absolutely have to.

With Tucker, whose been adamant that he wants to stay, I can see the ideal scenario playing out where the Suns end up making the deal directly with Tucker after he hears interest from other teams.

With Bledsoe, the situation might get trickier. He's going to want to make the most money possible, especially with the lingering concerns over his knee. His agent will see this year as the prime opportunity to get "overpaid" and won't take an early offer he doesn't like.

Timing, Part 2

The other aspect of these negotiations, which could go on for weeks despite the Suns best intentions, is the rest of free agency and trade season.

It's in the Suns best interest to drag out negotiations with Bledsoe and Tucker because their 2014-15 salaries will far exceed their cap holds while negotiations are underway. Their aggregate cap hold is only $9.4 million total, or about half what their salaries will add up to.

That cap hold will leave the Suns with nearly $20 million to spend in free agency UNTIL those two players sign new contracts. It's not about when the contracts are verbally agreed to. It's when they (or the RFA offer sheet) are signed. Until then, the cap hold is the cap hold.

The Suns could conceivably use up all that cap space ($20 million) in trades and free agency and then exceed the cap for Bledsoe and Tucker, as long as neither signs an RFA offer before all the heavy lifting is done.

It's all about the timing.

It's Alex Len, it's Archie Goodwin, it's the Summer League slate!

The Suns are interested in Kyle Anderson as 'a player.' Just in case you thought it was as a ball boy.  Or they were thinking of a front office position.

In Donald Sterling's world discrimination based on race is fine.  But don't you dare deny women the right to handle t-shirt cannons or do trampoline dunks at Phoenix games.

And if that doesn't get you sufficiently fired up, remember this P.J. Tucker/Blake Griffin scuffle from last March!

Tired of draft time cliches and intangible talk?  Shabazz Napier has the 'now' factor.

Are you a free agent?  Check out these Phoenix Suns job opportunities.

The failure of air conditioning units and a LeBron James cramp was the top story for Game 1 of the NBA FinalsYour Suns have played in similar conditions. "The only cramp was one of the brain variety suffered by referee Richie Powers."

Hungry? STAT's got you covered.

Former Sun Shannon Brown is following in the footsteps of former Sun Shaquille O'Neal and going back to school. Well, sort of.

How the team dentist of your Phoenix Suns moonlights.

And the Gorilla has expanded his resume as well.  To funerals.  Well maybe one day perhaps.

Multiple Suns, past and present, were in Philadelphia last week for "The Basketball Tournament." It's one of the top basketball competitions you've never heard of, and it features varying skill sets.

And my sincerest of apologies for getting this far and not including a Kevin Love reference.

Ricky Rubio has come up with a fantastic pitch to keep Kevin Love in Minnesota.  It's to tell him a bunch of things he already knows.  "We've been improving every year and he's a great player."

FanSided and Valley of the Suns have teamed up with RetailMeNot.com to give away $500 bucks in honor of the 2014 World Cup To enter, simply like us on Facebook and sign up for our daily email...

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Editor’s note: Eric Saar kicks off our offseason series to examine how expendable individual Suns are and the likelihood those players will be on the roster by the end of the 2014-15 season....

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Rodney Hood is one of the best shooters in this year's draft, with a great stroke and an efficient shooting percentage. Is he the right fit for the Suns?

Rodney Hood

School: Duke

Position: Small Forward

Mock Draft Projections: NBADraft.net - 8, Draft Express - 13, ESPN - 19, NBA Draft Insider - 21

Stats

Measurables

  • Height: 6' 7.25" without shoes, 6' 8.5" with shoes
  • Weight: 208 pounds
  • Age: 22
  • Wingspan: 6' 8.5"
  • Standing Reach: 8' 7"

Combine Numbers

  • Maximum Vertical Leap: 36"
  • Lane Agility: 11.21 sec (5th among SF)
  • 3/4 Court Sprint: 3.18 sec (Tied 3rd among SF)
  • Shuttle Drill: 3.14 sec (5th among SF)

Expert Analysis

Mike Schmitz - DraftExpress

Hood looks the part of a NBA wing, standing 6-8 in shoes with a lanky build and smooth and fluid (but not incredibly explosive) athleticism. He made 42% of his 3-pointers on the year and is one of the better shooters in this draft class, showing excellent mechanics and a high release point, to go along with deep range, and being capable of knocking down jumpers with his feet set or off the dribble. He hit 37 of the 85 pull-up jump-shot attempts he took on the season (43%), which ranks #1 among college prospects in our Top-100 Rankings.

Hood's biggest weakness as a NBA prospect likely revolves around his defense, as he shows questionable intensity on this end of the floor, rarely getting into an actual stance and frequently being knocked off balance and taken advantage of off the dribble due to his lack of strength. His relatively short arms don't do him any favors here, as he measured just a 6-8 wingspan on a few occasions, which is accurately reflected in his inability to generate steals (.9 per-40), blocks (.3) or rebounds (4.9), all of which rank among the worst rates in the draft at his position.

Michael Visenberg - NBADraft.net

Strengths: Solid athlete and left handed wing scorer that can score from all three levels … Really strong shooter from both the outside and midrange, stretches the floor … First step is strong and can take defenders off of the dribble … Capable passer who has some play making ability, unselfish … Solid conditioning, able to stay on the court for long periods of time … Has definitely put in a lot of work on his body and gained significant amount of weight during time in college without losing speed in the process … Range looks to be out to NBA 3-pt range, while shooting over 80% FT as well … His length is not tremendous, though has good size for a SF regardless … Has versatility to maybe play wing guard as well as showing some perimeter defensive ability … Will finish with either hand and is a threat near the basket … Lets the game come to him, rarely forces the issue and plays under control … Will take advantage of height advantage to post smaller wings … Gets shots in a variety of ways, through cuts, spot-up and even can be a threat off the step back … When he is focused, can be a disruptive wing defender due to his size

Weaknesses: Though he has worked on his body, he still has a slight frame and needs to add upper body strength, which would allow him to play tougher … Vast majority of offense comes as a shooter, definitely affected by lack of girth in his hesitation to drive … Not a great rebounder, which again points to strength … Length is not exceptional and also may contribute to issues on the boards and possibly defensively at the NBA level … At times he's not assertive enough, settling for jump shots rather than trying to use his size, speed and handle to his advantage … Averaged very few offensive rebounds, especially on a team that was missing size and could have used them … Defensive effort is questionable at times and must work on awareness at that end … Relatively low rate of getting to the FT stripe for how much he had the ball … Though he is a sophomore, his age is actually in accordance with being an older junior … Consistency as a go-to scorer still largely inconclusive, does he have the confidence and muscle to take on a sizable scoring load at the next level?

My Take

Rodney Hood is one of the best shooters in this year's draft.  As a sophomore, Hood was second in scoring in scoring at Duke (16.1 pts/game), behind likely top 5 pick Jabari Parker (19.1 pts/game).  Hood has good size at the wing position, and the versatility to play either the two or the three.  Not only is he an excellent shooter with a beautiful stroke, he is very capable of hitting shots in catch-and-shoot situations, or pulling up off the dribble.  He already possesses NBA range, and has a very fluid shooting motion and great form that lends itself to consistency from inside the arc or out.  Another underrated aspect of his game is his turn-around jumper/baby-hook shot in the paint, which he seems very comfortable shooting, at least when moving to the left.  He also has nice elevation on his jump shot inside and out, which helps him get his shot off against the defense.

Hood's biggest negative is his defense.  Despite good size and pretty good athleticism, he struggles to guard his man and stay in front of him.  I'm not sure if it's just bad fundamentals or a lack of effort, or possibly both...but he often seems out of position and doesn't get low enough, or look ready to defend.  Another thing I noticed about Hood is that he seldom drives right.  He is left handed, and when he does try to attack the basket, he almost always drives and finishes left.  As a shooter, this isn't an issue, but he will have to be more versatile when driving to the rim at the next level.

All in all, Rodney Hood has a lot of ability as a shooter, and can definitely help out an NBA team with his ability to score at an efficient rate.  As you can see by his mock draft status, his value is all over the place, being mocked as high as eighth, or as low as 21st overall.  I personally wouldn't take him with the 14th pick, but at 18, he suddenly starts looking much more attractive, depending on who is still on the board.  Hood is an NBA ready shooter/scorer who can fill an immediate need off the bench.  The question is, can he ever be more than that?

Poll
Should the Suns Draft Rodney Hood?

  211 votes | Results

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