Oh, look!  It's a new Madhouse!  On the wrong day!  I'm sorry if you've been dying for a new place to talk about how selfish Eric Bledsoe is or what a bad man P.J. Tucker is or even how hilarious Guardians of the Galaxy was (Careful with those spoilers, though!)!  But I have my hands full this week.  Is anyone even reading this part?

Oh yeah, one other thing.  Don't create puppet accounts to agree with yourself!  It's bad and makes you look bad and you should feel bad!

Anyway, run wild, Madhouse dwellers.  See you next week.

Ever wondered what happened to your favorite Phoenix Suns bench warmer or marginal miracle player? This series of articles will revisit some of Suns fans' beloved bench warmers from over the years and track their careers.

Sports teams always feature bench-warmers - guys who never see much playing time unless there is an injury or a blowout.  These guys are almost always fan favorites, because the perception is they're the closest thing to Joe Blows on a team.

The Suns are no different.  Over the years, many marginal NBA players have graced the Suns' roster, wowing fans with their towel waving, their vociferous vocal support, or their absolutely dominating stoicism on the bench.

Oftentimes, once these players have finished up their contract, their time in the NBA is up.  Marginal and borderline players don't usually have long careers - maybe 4-5 years - unless they have a difficult to replicate skill-set or body characteristic (you can't teach 7'4).

Once these players are out of the local eye, we tend to lose track of them.  They aren't like old soldiers - they don't just fade away.  They often have long careers after their time with the Suns, and even after their time in the NBA.

In this article, we'll revisit some of these marginal players from the 2012-13 and 2011-12 campaigns.

Luke Zeller - Center

Beth Hall, USAToday

Who could forget the loveable Luke Zeller, the 6'11 Center out of Notre Dame who was emblematic of the Suns' organizational infatuation with the 'lesser brother' (in this case, Luke is the lesser of three brothers)?

Luke Zeller had been something of a journeyman before signing with the Suns in the summer of 2012.  A bench player at Notre Dame, Zeller averaged only 15 minutes per game and just under 5 points.  Going undrafted in 2009, Zeller played first in Japan in 2009, then in Lithuania, before spending a few seasons in the D-League.

In 58 cumulative minutes for the Suns over 16 games, Zeller produced 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists.  He was waived by the Suns in February, 2013 in order to make room for Marcus Morris on the roster.

After being waived by the Suns, Zeller laid low until the off-season.  Zeller was among 24 marginal players invited to a Jazz mini-camp in the summer of 2013, but failed to stand out.  He remained a free agent until late December of last year, when he was picked up by the Austin Toros.

Zeller had a season to forget in Austin, playing in 36 games for the Toros and averaging just 5 points and 4 boards on under 40% shooting in just under 20 minutes per game.

Outside of the NBA, Zeller has taken on the role of President of DistinXion, a Zeller Family Program, which provides basketball centered community activities featuring the three Zeller brothers as well as the Zeller parents.

Sebastian Telfair - Point Guard

Brad Penner, USAToday

Sebastian Telfair had a long, if not distinguished career before joining the Suns in 2011.  Drafted out of high school in 2004 by the Trail Blazers, Telfair played for 6 different teams between 2004 and 2011.

Telfair had a career year for the Suns in 2011-12, putting up arguably his most efficient offensive season.  His play declined only slightly in 2012-13, but he wasn't considered part of the long term plans for the franchise, and was traded to the Toronto Raptors for a 2nd round pick and future Suns great Hamed Haddadi.

Telfair did not do much during his time in Toronto.  He played only 13 games for the team, and saw his efficiency and touch disappear.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was not retained by Toronto.

Telfair was connected with a number of teams during the 2013 offseason, including the Celtics, Spurs and Lakers. In the end, however, Telfair and his agent decided that the best opportunity lay in playing overseas.  His agent, Andy Miller, told Yahoo Sports "We wanted to make a move from a position of control, and allow Sebastian a chance to run a team this season before coming back [to the NBA]."

Telfair ended up signing with Tianjin in the CBA for a year and had a confidence building season.  Telfair averaged 26 points, 6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2 steals per game.  In the CBA playoffs, Telfair put up a 58 point game (in a losing effort), which is a record for the CBA playoffs.

Following the CBA season, Telfair made the decision to come back to the NBA, and signed on with the Oklahoma City Thunder to be the Derek Fisher replacement, ostensibly.  Interestingly, Telfair reportedly turned down a 2 year, $7 million dollar deal with a team in the CBA, in order to return to the states and pursue an NBA championship.

Hamed Haddadi - Center

Rick Scuteri, USAToday

Hamed Haddadi was a bear of a man for the Suns in his brief, glorious run with the team  He was acquired in the trade that sent Sebastian Telfair to Toronto, mainly as cap ballast, in 2013 and played 17 games for the Suns.

Haddadi had a pretty long run for an undrafted, relatively unskilled player (at least by popular perception) out of Iran. He was active in the NBA from 2008 to 2013, the vast majority of that time as the 3rd center for the Memphis Grizzlies.  This was perhaps his greatest achievement in that time period.

With the Suns, Haddadi was his usual likeable self, but like Telfair he wasn't part of the team's long term plans.  He was cut, despite still being owed over $300,000, after his lone season with the team.

After being waived by the Suns, Haddadi focused his efforts on the Iranian national team.  In the 2013 Asia Basket tournament, Haddadi was dominant, averaging almost 19 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and almost 2 blocks per game, in the process leading the team to a 9-0 finish and a gold medal.  He was named the tournament MVP.

During the summer of 2013, Haddadi signed with Foolad Mahan Isfahan, of the Iranian Basketball Super League. He helped lead the team to its first ever Asian Champions Cup victory that year with his commanding presence on the glass.

Following the completion of the Iranian Basketball Super League season, Haddadi signed with the Sichuan Blue Whales for the 2013-14 season.  For the season (he played 26 games), Haddadi averaged 14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks per game.

Haddadi signed on to play this spring/summer with Mahram Tehran, one of the better teams in the Iranian Super League and Asia more generally.  He will also be representing Iran at the FIBA World Championships in Spain at the end of this month.

Michael Redd - Wing

Jesse Johnson, USAToday

Redd proved to be one of the best stories in the NBA, as well as one of the most sad.  A mid-2nd round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks out of Ohio State, Redd quickly became one of the best scorers in the NBA.  For 6 straight seasons (2003-04 to 2008-09) Redd averaged over 20 points per game with a highly efficient TS% of nearly 56% and an average WS/48 of .135.   He was also a member of the 2008 Olympic gold medal winning Redeem Team.

The tragedy for Redd was that he could never stay healthy.  After the 05-06 season (arguably his best: 25 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal per game) Redd played 70 games or more only once due to lingering, long term knee damage.  This decline in his health is what led to Redd leaving the Bucks for the hallowed halls of the Phoenix Suns' training room.

Redd's time with the Suns was uneventful, though he did manage to play in almost as many games as the previous 3 seasons combined.  He put up respectable numbers for a bench player, but it was apparent his knees were shot, and his 3 point shot never got back to the highly efficient point it had always been at before.

Redd left the Suns after one season, though the team apparently considered bringing him back for the 2012-13 campaign.  In the 2012 off-season, and well into the season, Redd was tied to rumors from a number of teams, especially after he said his time with the Suns had left him better than at any point in recent memory.  In 2012, he was tied to the Bulls, the Cavs, the Thunder and a handful of others.  In 2013, after a full year removed from the game, Redd decided to retire, turning down a camp invite from the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs.

Early in the season, Redd returned to Milwaukee to formalize his retirement and thank the fans of Milwaukee.

Hakim Warrick - Power ForwardHakim Warrick

Michael Hickey, USAToday

Hakim Warrick was a divisive figure among Suns fans (though, probably not as much so as Josh Childress). Warrick was a mid-first round pick of the Grizzlies, coming out of Syracuse.  After finishing his rookie contract with the Grizzlies, Warrick floated around for a bit, playing with the Bucks and Bulls in 2009-10 before landing on the Suns in 2010-11 as part of Robert Sarver's self-indulgent spending binge post-Amar'e.

Warrick spent two seasons with the Suns, and was actually pretty respectable in his first, putting up a 16.5 PER and averaging 8 points and 4 boards in 17 minutes a game.  The wheels fell off the next season, however, and Warrick only appeared in 35 games.  The Suns would ship Warrick and Robin Lopez out after the season in exchange for Wesley Johnson and a 1st round pick.

Warrick's career continued to go downhill after being traded by the Suns.  He appeared in just one game with the Hornets in 2012-13, before being traded to the Bobcats for Matt Carroll (eek...), and then being traded again, this time to Orlando in exchange for Josh McRoberts, and being promptly waived by the Magic.

In the 2013 offseason, Warrick wasn't firmly connected to any teams in the rumor mills, somewhat surprising considering he was one year removed from a solid season and was still only 30 years old.  After not being invited to any camps, Warrick took an early season tryout in China.  He ended up playing for the Liaoning Dinosaurs, where he averaged 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 assist, steal and block per game over 22 games.

While he expressed interest in returning to the NBA this season, he has as of yet been unconnected to any teams.

This pocast cannot be used as a flotation device...

In this weeks podcast Jim Coughenhour rejoins the conversation to talk all things Phoenix Suns for this episode. So much podcast this week folks. Not to toot a horn or anything, but this one covered a lot and had some things.

With Robert Sarver playing the public negotiations tactic with Eric Bledsoe on the radio we had to dive into that as well as P.J. Tucker being sentenced, Team U.S.A. cuts, potential Suns trades, and of course we gave Bledsoe a theme song for this summer. Go get this podcast, folks!


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The latest news (I use that word in the most liberal sense) in the negotiations between the Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe suggests that he might be considering taking the qualifying offer.

Here's a quick recap of the timeline to date:

Our buddy Chris Broussard (through sources, what else) kicked off the pyrotechnics on July 17th by suggesting that the Suns were offering Bledsoe a four year, $48 million contract while his agent, Rich Paul, was thinking more along the lines of five years, $80 million. At this point everyone was sure that the $32 million gap would be easily bridged over a picnic lunch.

Surprisingly, that didn't happen.

On July 26th Eric made his first public statement regarding the negotiations. It really wasn't a statement, but more of a terse response to a direct question asked by a reporter during a street ball tournament in Birmingham, AL (Eric's hometown).

First off, I'm going to let my agent handle it. I can understand the Phoenix Suns are using a restricted free agent against me, but I understand that.

How that is to be interpreted is open to speculation. It was a brief answer and Eric isn't the most verbose or eloquent speaker.

Three days later (July 29th) a story by Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet depicted a much more grisly situation. Apparently a source with knowledge of the negotiations (one of those guys) provided his take on the state of affairs.

According to league sources, an "ominous development" has arisen with sides still "very far apart" in contract negotiations. It has even escalated to the point where the "relationship is on the express lane to being ruined."

The express lane part was pure gold.

Now the rhetoric was pumping up, with suspicions that this was intentionally leaked to the media (stuff like that has been known to happen) to put the screws on the Suns.

The Phoenix Suns rejoinder came in the form of a Robert Sarver impromptu radio appearance on the Burns and Gambo radio show on Friday, August 1st.

At this point contract negotiations were basically happening under the eye of public scrutiny rather than in private between the parties. Sarver himself confirmed the previous reports of the contract offered to Bledsoe (four years, $48 million) and deemed it a fair offer (which it probably is). Sarver described the relationship as being much more cordial than the previous Chris Haynes report.

He also said the Suns would be "more than happy to sit down with him and continue to negotiate it."

Unfortunately, that tells me that there were no ongoing negotiations except for those being done in plain sight...

Which brings us to Chris Broussard's tweet today (Tuesday, August 5th).

Looking like qualifying offer. Relationship w/Phx going n wrong direction"@kevininzunza31: @Chris_Broussard Any news on Eric Bledsoe Chris?"

— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) August 5, 2014

Leaked information?  More posturing?

Certainly, this situation seems unsettling. With both sides apparently lobbying to win the court of public opinion and more frustration and enmity (supposedly) emanating from team Bledsoe the two parties seem to be at an impasse (for now).

These situations can be fickle.

The threat of Bledsoe taking the qualifying offer (not that he's actually made that threat) has serious implications for both sides. It would be a blight on the Suns image around the league and put them in a position to potentially lose a very valuable piece for nothing next summer. If Eric takes the QO the Suns can't trade him without his approval.

However, Bledsoe's gambit has the potential to blow up in his face. The QO would only guarantee him $3.7 million for the upcoming season. That's a serious risk given the inherent nature of injury being a part of the game, especially with Bledsoe's own history.

Not only that, but long term Bledsoe can't really earn much more than the offer the Suns currently have on the table.

If Bledsoe does take the qualifying offer he will have to a) stay healthy and b) play like an All-Star to earn a contract that will meet or exceed what he can get guaranteed from the Suns right now. That's a huge gamble. One might call it an insanely idiotic gamble. Not that I'm calling it that, just that one might.

For it to get to that point there would have to be serious animosity from Bledsoe towards the Suns. Neither side benefits from this type of situation at all. It's lose, lose.

Here's what I think we know.

Eric is not going to accept the Suns four year, $48 million deal.

The Suns are not going to offer Bledsoe the five year, $80 million contract he is apparently seeking.

Eric can't possibly be audacious and reckless enough to take the qualifying offer (can he?).

Which means there are two likely scenarios.

The Suns and camp Bledsoe will find a middle ground. If the Suns upped their offer to four years, $56 million that would already surpass Bledsoe's maximum earning ability if he takes the QO. The sides could also agree to a deal with less years.

Eric Bledsoe's agent finds a team that will offer more than the QO, potentially on a two year deal with a player option* that would at least give Eric a little more security than the $3.7 million he could be facing. A sign-and-trade could also enter the discussion if things do get to (or are at) the irreparable state they are (supposedly) headed to.

Now we can wait for the next salvo to be fired in this saga. It seems like each haymaker has around a three day shelf life, so expect more news Friday. Most likely it will be more of that liberal sense type of news I referenced earlier.

*The only way for Bledsoe to become an unrestricted free agent next summer is to take the qualifying offer. Any deal that he signs would have to include at least a two year commitment.

Another day, another wrinkle in the Eric Bledsoe free agency story. Today, the report is that Bledsoe is leaning towards accepting the qualifying offer of one year for $3.7 million. The rumor was...

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