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NBA PM: When Will Bledsoe Get Signed?

Training camp starts in under two weeks, but Eric Bledsoe remains a free agent. When will he sign? … Coach K refutes the infamous Adrian Wojnarowski article condemning his participation with Team USA.



Eric Bledsoe Still Unsigned

In just under two weeks, training camps will get under way for NBA teams, yet Phoenix Suns restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe still does not have a contract.

The stalemate between Bledsoe and the Suns has been well-documented over the last several months, mostly because there’s plenty of coverage for a story that runs from start of the July through the end of September. It still essentially boils down to the fact that Bledsoe feels as though he’s worth a max contract, which in this case would be worth $84 million over five years. Phoenix, unfortunately for Bledsoe, has never offered more than $48 million over four years, leaving quite an impressive gap between what the player thinks he’s owed and what the team thinks he’s worth.

There’s also the matter of what the market is dictating for a player of his skill set. In real estate, for example, a seller may inject a heap of sentimental value into the listed price of a home, which ends up entirely too pricy for any potentially interested buyers to cut a check. Even if there were a buyer that would theoretically buy the house at the price listed, more often than not they’d make their initial offer under the list price because similar homes were selling in the neighborhood for quite a bit less.

And if there are just a ton of homes on the market from which to choose, all sellers face difficulties in closing deals. In the NBA, the market is absolutely flooded with talented point guards right now, and more and more enter the league every year. Bledsoe’s a great player with room to improve, but paying him a premium doesn’t make much sense when there’s so much depth at the position league-wide.

Basically, it’s supply and demand, and when it comes to Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, teams just weren’t interested this summer in tying up their cap space for half a week while other elite free agents were snatched up in the interim. By the time teams would have been open to waiting out an offer sheet, most of the league’s cap space had dried up, leaving Bledsoe without a home and few options other than to just except the $3.7 million qualifying offer from Phoenix and play out one more year there.

Next summer, he’d be unrestricted and would have a much better opportunity to get the money he feels he deserves.

As far as anyone knows, the Suns and Bledsoe’s agent, Rich Paul, haven’t had any real conversations about a new contract since earlier in the summer. Bledsoe has waited and waited, hoping a better offer would pop up, but so far he just hasn’t been given the opportunity to make the bank he wants to make.

So where will he ultimately end up? Darren Wolfson of KSTP in the Twin Cities tweeted earlier this week that the Minnesota Timberwolves were still very much interested in Bledsoe, but don’t really have the pieces to make a deal work. Grantland’s Andrew Sharp, meanwhile, really wants to see Bledsoe on the Milwaukee Bucks. Teams are interested, in other words, but no one is offering enough to get Phoenix surrender a pretty talented asset. So, for now, he remains in Phoenix, even though with both Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas on the roster, Bledsoe and his checkered injury past isn’t someone they necessarily need anymore. They certainly have no need to pay him a max contract.

Will someone ultimately give him that money? It depends on what he shows this year. At least he’s on the right team to keep himself healthy, as Phoenix has the best training staff in the league, but with all those point guards on the roster he might not have quite the same opportunity to showcase his skill that he would’ve had last year had he not missed all that time after his meniscus surgery.

A dominant year out of him earns him big money, but still probably not max unless he ratchets up his game and makes an All-Star game and/or an All-NBA team. In the meantime, Bledsoe is just waiting, even as camp closes in and the rest of the league’s stars gear up for another season.

This summer didn’t work out the way Bledsoe would have liked, obviously, but his fate (and his future salary) lies in his own hands. One more year of “prove it,” and he gets paid. One more of missed time and missed opportunities, and he’ll be regretting he turned down $48 million in the summer of 2014.

UPDATE: Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports that the Timberwolves want to acquire Bledsoe from the Suns in a sign-and-trade, and ultimately pay him the four-year, $63 million maximum-level contract he wants. These teams talked prior to Minnesota’s Kevin Love trade, and have reopened discussions now.

Coach K Denies That Team USA Affiliation Helps Recruiting

On Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports published a rather scathing article claiming that the only reason Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski takes on the USA Basketball responsibilities every other year is because it gives him a competitive advantage in recruiting the nation’s best high school players to his college program. The article even goes so far as to suggest that Jabari Parker would not have ended up there otherwise.

There has to be some measure of truth to the idea that players head for Duke at least in some part because of prior experience with Coach K, who is afforded the opportunity to meet and work with several high school players very closely in some of USA Basketball’s lower levels.

At a press conference on Thursday, however, Krzyzweski denied that such an advantage exists, pointing out that he isn’t the only college head coach with access to those players.

“No one is saying about him [Florida head coach Billy Donovan] that he has an advantage, and he’s with those kids for 3½ weeks each summer,” Krzyzewski said, adding that Virginia head coach Tony Bennett also helped coach the under-19 team this past year.

He added, according to C.L. Brown of, that he’s only spoken to the under-19 team twice in his last nine years skippering the senior national team. One of those was last year, however, and that was enough to land Duke three of the top 12 recruits in the country, including No. 1 overall recruit Jahlil Okafor, as well as Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow. Grayson Allen, another top-30 recruit, also will attend Duke next year, completing a monster recruiting class that makes Duke the early favorite to win 2015’s NCAA National Championship.

Still, Krzyzewski believes he brings the best players to his team because his program has long been one of the best in the country—long before he took on the Team USA gig.

“That that (access) gives you an advantage, it’s utterly ridiculous. And anyone who comments on it without doing the research is really wanting to take that point of view,” he said. “I don’t get it. We’ve won four national championships.”

Perhaps he’s right, that great players would end up at Duke no matter what he did with Team USA, but what Coach K didn’t mention was that it certainly didn’t hurt anything.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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