Free agency hasn’t been as fun as many expected it to be for star point guard Eric Bledsoe.
Fresh off of a breakout season, Bledsoe was projected by many to be in line for a max contract. The 24-year-old averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals—all career-best marks—and shot 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Rather than returning to the incumbent Phoenix Suns with a healthy sum of money in his bank account, Chris Broussard of ESPN reports that Bledsoe and the Suns are far apart in contract negotiations.
Sources: Suns offered Eric Bledsoe 4-year, $48 million contract. Bledsoe wants max of 5 years, $80 million. Sides far apart
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 17, 2014
There’s a very strong chance that Bledsoe is on his way out of Phoenix.
There are a number of reasons for Bledsoe’s current unemployment. For starters, he’s a restricted free agent.
Under those guidelines, the Suns have the right to match any offer that Bledsoe receives. This has led to teams shying away from him under fear that they’d be forced to overpay to get past Phoenix.
Another factor is that Bledsoe only played 43 games in 2013-14—his first season as a full-time starter. He suffered a shin injury in late December, but that later proved to be a meniscus-related ailment which forced him to miss nearly three months of action.
A knee injury is a very big red flag for a player who relies heavily on athleticism.
It doesn’t help that the Suns acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas from the Sacramento Kings via a sign-and-trade. Thomas averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists—for what it’s worth, those were higher marks than Bledsoe—on a slash line of .453/.349/.850 in 2013-14.
With Most Improved Player of the Year award winner Goran Dragic also in tow, Phoenix has a crowded backcourt.
Either Phoenix is going with a trio of relatively high-profile point guards or it’s letting someone go. If that is the case, it’s likely to be Bledsoe, who would depart via a sign-and-trade in said scenario.
The question is, where should Bledsoe end up?