Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 24
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports the Suns have reached an agreement with Bledsoe:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe has reached agreement with the Suns on a 5-year, $70M extension, league source tells Yahoo.9/24/2014, 9:46:02 PM
Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 23
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Eric Bledsoe and the Suns may not be heading for a divorce after all:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe have made progress on a new contract in past 48-72 hours, sources tell Yahoo. No deal yet, but significant momentum.9/24/2014, 2:04:22 AM
Wojnarowski offers more details on the financial end of things:
The Suns are believed to have pushed an initial four-year, $48 million offer into the $50 million range, sources said.
Bledsoe's agent Rich Paul has been threatening to have his client sign a $3.7 million qualifying offer that would allow Bledsoe to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Updates from Friday, Sept. 19
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports on Minnesota's interest in Bledsoe:
With just days before the start of training camp, the Minnesota Timberwolves are making a final push to acquire restricted free-agent guard Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns, sources told ESPN.com.
The Wolves are offering Bledsoe the four-year, $63 million maximum-level contract that he has been seeking, sources said. Bledsoe and the Suns have been in a stalemate all summer after the team offered him a four-year, $48 million deal in July.
Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski has more from the Suns perspective:
The Suns would want an All-Star – or potential All-Star – in return for Bledsoe and had only considered Kevin Love in a possible sign-and-trade scenario with the Timberwolves, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Minnesota eventually traded Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Updates from Friday, Sept. 5
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski has an update on Bledsoe:
Updates from Friday, Aug. 22
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne have the latest on the Suns and Bledsoe:
With just hours to go before a planned megadeal the would send Kevin Love to Cleveland, the Phoenix Suns reached out to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday to ask once more about the possibility of acquiring Love in a sign-and-trade for guard Eric Bledsoe, sources told ESPN.com.
Paul Coro of AZCentral.com has an update on Bledsoe's negotiations with the Suns:
The only movement in the situation appears to be the Suns' openness to explore a sign-and-trade for Bledsoe.
The Suns have contacted at least one team and taken inquiries from others regarding the possibility of executing a Bledsoe sign-and-trade. That would include the Suns signing Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, to a contract on behalf of another team in exchange for player(s) and/or draft pick(s). Other league executives who have not been contacted by the Suns said that they have heard Phoenix is looking into the possibility. The Suns declined comment.
Updates from Tuesday, July 29
The relationship between Eric Bledsoe and the Suns is not in a good place, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:
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," a source with knowledge of the situation informed CSNNW.com.
Updates from Saturday, July 26
Jude LaCava of Fox 10 provides comments from Eric Bledsoe:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Suns' Bledsoe remains final RFA on market. Agent has held firm on max contract or no deal. He couldn't get Bledsoe an offer sheet elsewhere.9/5/2014, 11:01:36 PM
Updates from Tuesday, July 22
Paul Coro of AZCentral.com reports on the Phoenix Suns' hopes for Eric Bledsoe:
Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, is considered to be the best remaining player available in free agency but he has not signed an offer sheet from any NBA team. It is due to a combination of circumstances, including how most teams have used their salary cap space, his desired price tag that is at or near a maximum-level contract and the Suns' desire and right to retain him.
"We'll continue to work as hard as we can within that restricted free agency system established by the collective bargaining agreement," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said Monday. "We continue to hope and expect that he will remain in a Suns uniform."
Updates from Thursday, July 17
ESPN's Chris Broussard reports Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns remain miles apart in their ongoing contract negotiation:
Broussard added more on the discussions:
The future of one of the most talented free agents left on the market remains cloudy as Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns remain far apart in contract talks, according to sources close to the situation.
Bledsoe's representatives have been engaged in discussions with Phoenix, but the Suns' offer is far below what Bledsoe is looking for.
Updates from Saturday, July 5
Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears has an update on Bledsoe's status with the Suns:
One year ago, Eric Bledsoe was the lynchpin to the Phoenix Suns' rebuilding effort. Eleven months later, the talented point guard's future is once again the topic of discussion.
Bledsoe, 24, is a restricted free agent come July 1 and is expected to garner offers around the league at an eight-figure annual salary. Publicly, Suns management has been open with its desire to keep Bledsoe and fellow free agent P.J. Tucker in the fold.
"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 told Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic.
Privately, it seems the situation is more fluid.
Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers and The Boston Globe reported the Kings have floated a trade that would send the No. 8 pick in this year's draft and guard Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix for Bledsoe:
The offer comes from Sacramento's side—and it is difficult by its very nature due to both players being free agents—so it's possible the Suns have zero interest in such a swap. Phoenix already has three first-round picks in this year's draft, and McDonough has continually floated the idea of swapping at least one of those selections. Adding another pick to the mix only compounds the problem—even if it's a juicy mid-lottery pick.
There is also the issue of further compensation. It's curious that Sacramento would dangle both its first-round pick and Thomas in a Bledsoe deal. Thomas, also a restricted free agent this summer, averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game this season while shooting at a solid clip from three-point range. His status as a defensive liability makes his projection as a long-term starting guard questionable, but Bledsoe is not exactly proven as a lead guard.
The former Kentucky standout averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in his first season in the desert. While he showed promise as a primary ball-handler and is a good man-to-man defender, Bledsoe missed 39 games due to injury. He's missed at least 20 games in two of his four NBA seasons, and a half-season sampling doesn't seem enough from Sacramento's perspective.
Phoenix's side is a little more interesting, and it largely depends on how management sees Bledsoe. The Suns acquired him amid what seemed like a wide-scale tanking effort. Goran Dragic was considered the likeliest next man out as McDonough gutted the roster, with Bledsoe taking the point guard reins full time.
Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk broke down Bledsoe and why teams would be interested in the guard:
He's just 24 and played at a near All-Star level in Phoenix last season — 17.7 points with a .578 true shooting percentage, plus 5.3 assists a game with a 19.6 PER — in the 43 games he played. He is a difference maker and can be a big part of the future… if he can stay healthy.
There are a number of teams willing to take that risk, to offer him a healthy contract and see if he can stay on the court.
The result was far different. Dragic emerged as an All-NBA selection, Phoenix narrowly missed out on the playoffs and McDonough comes into this offseason tasked with keeping the good vibes going.
Keeping Bledsoe would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. The Suns were playing like a playoff lock before Bledsoe went down with a knee injury. While they kept their solid play up in his absence, the team has still not seen what the Bledsoe-Dragic pairing can do over a full season. Phoenix has one of the league's cleanest cap sheets and can sign Bledsoe and another veteran piece this offseason.
Price might be the deciding factor.
In reporting Phoenix's interest in Kevin Love, Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears said it would take a maximum contract to "control" Bledsoe's rights. A maximum contract with someone at Bledsoe's experience level averages $15 million per season. That's a lot of faith for someone with a total of 78 starts in his four professional campaigns.
The Suns are able to match any offer sheet Bledsoe receives, so they may be more willing to let him test the market rather than throw a preventative max his way. If they find the offer sheet too onerous, then a sign-and-trade deal could be worked out. The Kings and Pelicans worked out a similar quid pro quo trade last summer for Tyreke Evans.
Either way, the Kings-Suns rumor seems far-fetched. It's a ton to give up from Sacramento's perspective, and the possible return for Phoenix is something it already has an abundance of. Barring something unforeseen, Bledsoe won't be a King.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.