It’s been a long summer for the Los Angeles Lakers and the rest of the league. Just when you thought the Lakers relinquished their interest in acquiring restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe for the upcoming season.
Nothing in the NBA is deferred, unless you’re talking about the stretch provision the Lakers elected not to use on aging point guard Steve Nash. Interest in players that can make a team better will never be on hold, even if the Lakers are claiming to be more interested in pursuing Goran Dragic and Bledsoe as unrestricted free agents in 2015.The Lakers organization has never been known for standing pat, and LakerNation equally yearns for forward movement. That makes the proposed idea of the Lakers waiting until next summer to acquire a player they’ve been enamored with since his rookie campaign a moot point. Better yet and more accurately, it’s a complete lie.
It’s not that Jim Buss and the Lakers organization are attempting to pull the wool over the league’s watchful eyes, they’re just hedging their bets. The deadline for Bledsoe to sign his qualifying offer with the Phoenix Suns isn’t until October first, and while Bledsoe may want a big pay day, he’ll most likely have to settle for a change of scenery. Settle down young fella, you don’t deserve the big bucks just yet.
Bledsoe and his agent Rich Paul asked the Phoenix Suns for a five year contract worth $85 million. You have to give credit to the Suns for not laughing. In return (and with a straight face), the Suns counter offered with four years and $48 million, only to push Bledsoe closer to the idea of playing next season on a $3.7 million qualifying offer that would grant him unrestricted free agency in July 2015.
If they press — and they will.. the Lakers are in great territory to land Bledsoe. The Suns had the cap space available to sign LeBron James this summer for crying out loud. They’ll have the space available to keep Bledsoe around in 2015, should he and his agent Paul become more entrenched in reality. There’s a sense of urgency that surrounds a deal with this amount of potential. For now the Lakers are just playing it cool.
Jim Buss and the Lakers are not interested in waiting until the Suns are in better position to keep both guards. Although the Lakers don’t need to pay Bledsoe $17 million a year for the next half a decade, they currently possess assets that are more than worthy of getting a deal done. A simple combination of Jordan Hill ($9 million) and Nick Young ($4.9 million) is enough to acquire Bledsoe while satisfying Rich Paul. In the long run, the Lakers won’t miss either player.
It’s fair to assume that Bledsoe will have a pretty good season with whomever he suits up for in October. Out of four years in the league, both of his best seasons were played before having major knee injuries. Bledsoe also put up his highest points total (763) while playing only 43 games last year, the second fewest of his career. He averaged 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. He’s due for a breakthrough season in 2014-15, and make no mistake — the Lakers want to be on the right end of it.
If you’ve paid attention to the Lakers over the last few decades, you’d know patience is not a virtue. It’s a win now or shut up culture for the purple and gold side of Los Angeles. Whenever you hear the Lakers and “waiting” in the same sentence, it’s best to listen to the legendary Chuck D from the group Public Enemy, “Don’t believe the hype.”