It's finally over!

The Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe have finally agreed to a new deal in the 11th hour of free agency, avoiding what was beginning to look like a no-win situation for both parties.

The Suns and Eric Bledsoe have agreed to a 5-year, $70 million deal, sources told ESPN

— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) September 24, 2014

After nearly three months of free agency, with apparently little to no progress being made on negotiations in which the two sides were reportedly apart by over $30 million, a deal has finally been agreed upon that will make Eric Bledsoe a Phoenix Sun for the next five years, at a salary that will average $14 million per season.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the deal is fully guaranteed for all five years with no player options.

Although the Suns initial offer to Bledsoe which was reported to be 4 years and $48 million was thought to be fair market value by most NBA analysts, bloggers, and columnists, Bledsoe and his agent, Rich Paul, were pushing for the full max deal of 5 years and over $80 million.

The Suns GM Ryan McDonough had publicly stated that Phoenix would match any offer for Bledsoe, but those offers never came...not one.

In the only interview in which Bledsoe addressed his free agency situation this summer, he publicly stated that the Suns were "using free agency against (him)".  The feeling from Bledsoe's perspective was that by McDonough stating publicly that the Suns would match any and all offers for Bledsoe prior to the start of free agency, that other potential suitors were scared away from making him an offer.

While there may be some truth to that, it certainly didn't stop other teams from offering max deals to Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward; and in Parsons' case, the Dallas Mavericks were able to get him.

Either way, the other offers never materialized, leaving the Suns' initial offer as the only one on the table.  And while the Suns certainly didn't want to bid against themselves, especially up to the max contract demands of Bledsoe and his agent, they increased their offer by what it took to get a deal done.

But what about incentives or options?  Surely Phoenix must have built in some stipulations into that amount?  Well according to Adrian Wojnaroski and Paul Coro, it appears there are no options in the deal and that the full $70 million is guaranteed.

There are no options in the Bledsoe deal, league source tells Yahoo Sports. Straight five year deal.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 24, 2014

Eric Bledsoe's five-year, $70M #Suns contract starts at $13M with annual $500K raises. No options. No ETOs. No trade kickers.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) September 25, 2014

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the years or the amount, this truly is the best outcome for both sides.  The Suns now have a three-headed monster of a back-court, consisting of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas.  As Hornacek pointed out after signing Thomas in early July, the original plan all along was to employ a three-guard rotation in which two of them would be on the court at all times.  Bledsoe will bring not only scoring and passing on offense, but the defense that the Suns so desperately need.

As for Bledsoe, signing this deal with the Suns avoids signing the qualifying offer of only $3.7 million for a one-year deal with Phoenix, before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.  For someone with a history of injuries, and who has started in only 78 games throughout his career, that's a huge gamble.

But now, that's all in that past.  The Suns have a player who could become one of the best all-around point guards in the league signed to a long term deal, and Bledsoe finally has a long-term home in the Valley of the Sun.  The Slash Brothers are now a set of triplets, who combined will undoubtedly make one of the most formidable back-courts in the NBA this season, and the Suns will again be one of the teams in the Western Conference to keep a close eye on.

Welcome back, Eric.

According to both Adrian Wojnarowski and Paul Coro, sides are pointing to Wednesday, September 24, as a chance to come to an agreement on a long-term contract between Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns brass and the Eric Bledsoe camp are negotiating again.

That, in itself, is major progress.

League sources confirmed that there have been renewed contract talks between Suns executives and Bledose's representatives since the weekend. Yahoo! also reported that the progress was significant enough that a deal could be in place by the start of training camp.

There could be resolution as early as the end of business Wednesday.

While rumors are floated with various agendas behind them, as we saw with several reports over the summer from insiders in the Bledsoe camp and Suns camp, this rumor appears to have more legs than the others.

Adrian Wojnarowski was clear that the Suns and Bledsoe have made significant progress, and now Paul Coro echoes the same sentiment with his own sources. Reportedly, both sides have migrated into the 50s on total contract value and just need to further meet in the middle. It's possible there will be options built in to appease one side or the other. We'll see how it shakes out as the day unfolds.

As long as Bledsoe agrees to terms, there should be no hard feelings from the fan base. This was all just negotiation tactics - the initial fair offer from the Suns, the pie-in-the-sky max demand from Bledsoe, and then the ultimate compromise. That it took three months instead of three days will be forgotten as quickly as how it takes a child to walk, talk, potty train or ride a bike. As long as you get there, that's all that matters.

Let's have a prediction poll on the final terms.

Poll
Guess the final contract result!

  1558 votes | Results

Eric Bledsoe and free agency might be done with one another soon — and for more than a year. A report from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski indicates that the Suns and their restricted...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Phoenix Suns have always maintained that they would rather keep Eric Bledsoe than trade him, or let him leave next summer.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, they are finally making progress toward a deal.Bledsoe-WojWoj's article adds more info:

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and Bledsoe's representatives with Klutch Sports have gathered momentum in discussions over the past two to three days, and Wednesday is expected to be crucial in the push for the sides to finalize a deal, league sources said.

The Suns are believed to have pushed an initial four-year, $48 million offer into the $50 million range, sources said.

Let's hope this come to fruition, and before Media Day on Monday.

Grantland's Zach Lowe published an interesting article today on Kemba Walker wanting an extension as well. Walker is a lesser player than Bledsoe and smaller, but is also wanting an 8-figure salary next summer.

Lowe also opined that the salary cap might jump a lot next summer, opening up a great deal of space for larger contracts than the NBA has ever seen.

At the same time, the Suns have always said they'd match any offer, including up to this summer's max ($14.7 million to start).

Let's see how this all plays out.

Last spring, during pre-draft workouts, Phoenix Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough described the ideal NBA roster from his point of view. He said you need a couple of stars and some developing youth, but the core of the team should be in their mid-20s just entering their primes and already contributing to a winning culture.

It's not rocket science, to be sure. Everyone wants that model. The trick is executing that plan. The Phoenix Suns roster in 2014-15 appears to mirror that makeup though one of the stars (Eric Bledsoe) is still in contract limbo and none have made an All-Star team yet. Another quality season should rectify that shortcoming.

Stars

The Phoenix Suns stars are guards Goran Dragic, third team All-NBA last season, and Eric Bledsoe. Both were highly productive in the 2013-14 season, putting up 38 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds and nearly three steals per game between them while keying the perimeter of a top-10 defense as the Suns produced a 23-11 when they started together in the back court.

When only one of the two played, the Suns were a lottery team not quite ready to make the playoffs. Maybe their new third best player, guard Isaiah Thomas, can help the team through injuries to remain at a playoff level. That's the ideal plan of the Suns front office - to mitigate that risk of injury by slotting in a player nearly their equal.

Veteran presence

Every team really needs that experienced, sage presence in the locker room that helps young players level off the emotions, not getting too high off a win or too low off a loss. Last year, that was P.J. Tucker and Channing Frye. Frye left for Orlando to be that voice in their locker room, hoping to propel the Magic's uber-athletic youth into a winning culture.

Filling that bill in 2014-15 will still be P.J. Tucker, who just signed a three-year contract this summer and will want to erase the bad juju he rubbed all over himself this summer by getting an extreme DUI. Last year, Tucker emerged as the team's locker room lightning rod. He helped instill a team wide belief in hard work and sacrifice by being a leader on the court as well as a rallying influence in the locker room and time out huddles. Coach Hornacek often described P.J. as the most outspoken leader among the players last year.

Tucker will miss the first three games of the season due to suspension, as league punishment from the DUI, but his locker room presence will still be felt by the young team.

Youth

Generally, the NBA is full of young players. The magic line between 'young' and 'mid-career' appears to be one's 25th birthday. You can quibble the cutoff there and find examples that don't match the profile (Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker), but generally if you're not a major rotation player by 25 you are unlikely to become one later in your career.

Players who are 24 or younger are often given the 'youth pass', meaning value is measured in progress rather than productivity.

Our own East Bay Ray will give an in-depth preview of the kids next month after they've had a chance in preseason games to show what they can bring to the team this season. It was last year that we saw 25 year old Miles Plumlee and 23 year old Eric Bledsoe show the NBA that they really are starting quality NBA players, while the Morris brothers (24) showed they are strong, productive NBA rotation players.

This year, the only under-25 players expected to be in the rotation are Eric Bledsoe (24), assuming he is not traded in the next week, and Alex Len (21).

ESPN's Amin Elhassan ranked the Suns' under-25 youth at 16th overall in the NBA for the 2014-15 season.suns-youth-amin

Given the context of the ESPN article (including only players under 25), I wholly agree with that ranking. A year from now, the Suns could shoot up that chart but the youngest players will have to develop for that to happen.

In their prime

Here is the Suns bread and butter. Your mid-career players have to be the backbone of your rotation to succeed in the NBA.

Three of the Suns nine major rotation players will be exactly 25 years old this season and none are older than 29. If the Suns add Zoran Dragic, there's another 25 year old in the mix, though he may not make the rotation. If you compiled an under-26 league, the Suns would be one of the top teams.

Beyond the aforementioned youths and stars, the other rotation players in their primes are Tucker (29), Gerald Green (28), Anthony Tolliver (27) and Miles Plumlee (26), Isaiah Thomas (25), Markieff Morris (25) and Marcus Morris (25). Goran Dragic is 28 and Eric Bledsoe is 24. Every player has several years of good play ahead of them in the NBA, as well as a chance to improve their games even more.

While not everyone will remain a Phoenix Sun in future years, the future looks bright in the Valley of the Sun.

Page 886 of 2362

886

Web Links

Sponsored Ads