Bledsoe, stranded in restricted free agency, awaits next move
It isn’t often you see a potential future All-Star player under 25 years old wallowing in the loneliness of free agency as we approach September, but Eric Bledsoe is seemingly in a never-ending holding pattern as he awaits his new deal.
There are numerous barriers that led Bledsoe to this position. For starters, the talented guard missed almost half of last season recovering from a knee injury. Bledsoe is also a restricted free agent and the Phoenix Suns can match any offer received for his services. Lastly, there just aren’t teams around the league swimming in the cap space needed to offer Bledsoe what he wants (reportedly a maximum-level deal). Of course a sign-and-trade can be leveraged, with a potential suitor, if there was interest but the market surrounding Bledsoe has been dry.
The Suns have firmly stood by their four-year, $48 million offer to Bledsoe presented very early in free agency. Phoenix has also been reluctant to entertain trade offers for the guard but according to recent reports, the franchise may be changing its tune and might be more receptive to a deal providing solid assets in return.
“I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” local sportscaster Jude LaCava said on Fox Sports 910. “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.”
“That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.”
“I think it’s safe to say ‘open for business’,” LaCava said. “The decision makers, [managing partner Robert] Sarver and [president of basketball operations [Lon] Babby and hopefully [general manager] Ryan McDonough, they are open to that possibility. It’s got to be right. It’s got to be the right return in what they are looking for. It’s to the point that if they can accommodate Bledsoe and get something they want in return, trade possibilities are very, very real and they have been discussed.”
Despite the previously mentioned barriers, Bledsoe does have some leverage in the process. The guard can opt to take the qualifying offer, worth $3.7 million, which would allow him to re-enter the free agency market next summer. But this is risky given Bledsoe’s injury history and the amount of money he would be leaving on the table next season in pursuit of his max deal.
Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 43 games last season. The guard shot a career best 48 percent from the field during the 2013-14 campaign.
Commissioner addresses risk of NBA players playing internationally
By now, everyone has seen or is at the very least aware of the gruesome leg injury suffered by All-Star forward Paul George as he prepared for the upcoming FIBA World Cup with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Naturally, you’ve probably also heard strong arguments made against using international athletes, or elite NBA players, in international competitions.
The topic has sparked numerous debates this summer on whether changes are necessary to limit NBA players from competing in international play. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has continued to publicly maintain the decision is a personal one for the players to make during their offseason.
“I’ll only reiterate that ultimately it is a personal decision for these players,” Silver said according to ESPN New York. “I should point out that it is not just U.S. players we are referring to. Collectively we have close to 50 NBA players participating in this World Cup on behalf of their national teams.”
Despite the loss of the talented George, Team USA is still an overwhelming favorite heading into FIBA World Cup competition, which begins on August 30. The team has also lost the commitments of All-Star forwards Kevin Durant and Kevin Love this summer, who both primarily left the squad driven by off the court financial matters.
Silver doesn’t believe additional incentives are needed to persuade top level guys to represent their respective countries during summer competition.
“No concern,” Silver said. “It is an individual player decision and for these young men we recognize that playing in the NBA is a job and they have responsibilities to their team and their teammates as well. Ultimately they have to make that very personal decision as to whether they want to play in the summer, whether it makes sense for their bodies, whether it makes sense for their families. Ultimately, there is risk as I commented on Paul George earlier. I am enormously sympathetic to him and his family because of his injury. But as he said himself, he had no second thoughts about having participated.
“[Pacers president] Larry Bird said it well: Injuries happen. In sports, it could have happened outside the context of our national team as well. To the extent that players are participating, it is the very best coaching in the world, the very best trainers and very best facilities. On balance, there are various factors to be weighed, they come out better young men as a result of having participating in these events.”
Spain is expected to be the biggest challenge for the Americans during the World Cup. Their roster includes proven NBA-caliber talent headlined by Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol. Lithuania also figures to be in the mix with promising Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas in the fold. Lithuania and Span have both dominated exhibition play leading up to World Cup and have played more games than Team USA in preparation.
Thursday Ten Pack
These are the dog days of the NBA offseason, but there are still plenty of stories worth reading. Here are some consolidated for easy convenience.
Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.