UPDATE on Feb. 12 at 12 p.m. ET by Adam Fromal
"I think our answer to that is yes, that we know enough about Eric as a player," Lou Babby said on the Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, as relayed by ArizonaSports.com's Adam Green. "Even more importantly, we've lived with him now for almost a year as a person. We like everything about him. Like him as a teammate, like him as a representative of our franchise and everything that he stands for."
Babby, the team's President of Basketball Operations, wasn't done.
"Yes," the man in charge responded when asked about whether he'd match any offer for the talented young point guard. "If you ask me today, I would say absolutely we are going to match any offer, but I hope it doesn't come to that. I hope Eric has developed enough of a feeling, and my instincts are that he likes it here."
Well, there you have it.
Don't expect Bledsoe to put on a new uniform any time in the foreseeable future.
--End of update--
Ever had the privilege of your employers openly admitting they'll do whatever it takes to keep you?
Well, Eric Bledsoe has. The Phoenix Suns are apparently willing to pay whatever it takes to retain him this summer.
"Obviously we don't have a whole lot of money committed for the future, we don't have a lot of long-term contracts on our books," general manager Ryan McDonough told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "So we'll have no problem stepping up and paying Eric whatever it takes to keep him."
Seriously, whatever it takes?
"Correct," McDonough added. "Any reasonable offer."
That's code for, "Bledsoe isn't going anywhere." It's also GM-speak for, "We know he's going to get paid."
Question is: How much?
Bledsoe could receive the Eric Gordon treatment, and land a four-year, $58 million-type offer. Or maybe he'll command one of those nifty four-year, $44-48 million deals we've seen floating around, a la Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson.
Bet on the Gordon treatment, especially now that interested teams know Phoenix is willing to pay up.
The Suns can match any offer sheet Bledsoe signs, and backing incumbent franchises into a corner, forcing them to pay a player they cannot afford to lose, is a legitimate ploy. And if you think about, such a scenario will mark a drastic turn of events.
Halloween came and went, and Bledsoe, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, didn't sign an extension with the Suns. Speculation ensued soon after.
Did Phoenix not want him? Would Bledsoe price himself out of the Suns' range? Would he wind up leaving Phoenix after one year?
"Sometimes that works out and both parties think it's a good deal for them," McDonough explained to Shelburne. "Other times it doesn't."
This situation was shaping up to be one of those times. Then, the Suns happened.
Bledsoe remains a rising star, averaging 18 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game on 48.6 percent shooting, and Phoenix has the Western Conference's fifth-highest winning percentage.
This from a team supposedly tanking. After trading away Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and eventually, Caron Butler, the Suns were clearly "Riggin' for Wiggins." Playing "Sorry for Jabari."
But they're winning instead. So much so that the Suns, owners of potentially three 2014 first-round draft picks, are willing to trade said selections for a player who can help them win now, according to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper:
The Suns, obviously encouraged by a promising start and with several attractive assets at their disposal, are making it known around the league they are open to trading one or more picks in the loaded 2014 draft if they can get an established star capable of making an impact now, NBA.com has learned.
The aggressive front office of owner Robert Sarver, president of basketball operations Lon Babby and general manager Ryan McDonough, has not even put the Suns’ own pick, the only one with a chance to deliver a selection at the top of the lottery, off limits.
Talk about your unconventional turn of events.
Will Eric Bledsoe be worth a max contract this summer?
Their pick projected to be among those that could land a future superstar, and now they're willing to deal it, thanks to the surprising results Bledsoe himself has spearheaded.
"I'm not worried about [the contract]," Bledsoe told Shelburne.
Nor should he be. The Suns are going to pay him and build around him.
They're going to keep him at all costs.