Not much has changed in the contract negotiations between Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns this offseason. Phoenix still has a four-year, $48 million offer on the table and Bledsoe still thinks that offer is too low. The stalemate between the sides has gone on for weeks and the relationship between Bledsoe and the team may be souring as a result.
If the Suns opt against increasing their offer, it leaves Bledsoe with the option of taking it or signing his qualifying offer. Greg Monroe opted to do the latter following his contract statemate with the Detroit Pistons and Bledsoe could follow suit, according to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Doing so would allow Bledsoe to become a restricted free agent next offseason, but not without significant risk. Let's take a closer look at the qualifying offer option.
Eric Bledsoe isn't talking to the Suns, owner says
The Suns would like to have further contract negotiations with Bledsoe, but the two sides haven't spoken in months.
Greg Monroe to sign offer to stay in Detroit
The Pistons' big man surprised many by taking a one-year qualifying offer with the team instead of a long-term deal. This will make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Eric Bledsoe isn't talking to the Suns, owner says Greg Monroe to sign offer to stay in Detroit
Why it makes sense:
Unless one of the sides caves in, a long-term agreement doesn't seem like a likely outcome. The Suns don't appear interested in upping their offer while Bledsoe continues to hold out for a max contract worth $84 million over five years. That is a wide gap to narrow.
Bledsoe has little leverage in the situation. He's a restricted free agent and Kyle Lowry -- a similar player -- inked a four-year, $48 million offer this offseason. By taking the qualifying offer, Bledsoe could cash in long-term when he hits unrestricted free agency next year. If the relationship between the sides is permanently damaged, a one-year deal might be a better option anyway.
Why it doesn't make sense:
Players don't leave money on the table very often. If Monroe does indeed follow through with his plan to sign the qualifying offer, he'll be just the 14th first-round pick to sign a qualifying offer since 2003. If Bledsoe follows, he would be the 15th. If Bledsoe opted for the qualifying offer, he'd make just $3.7 million next season. That would mean he leaves more than $44 million guaranteed on the table.
Bledsoe could recoup some of that with a big payday next offseason, but for a player with a long list of injury history, that's a sizable risk. There's also no saying he will do better than $12 million per season next offseason, even as an unrestricted free agent. He'd have to make $15 million during the first three seasons to come away with the $48 million over four he could land right now.
Likelihood it happens: 6/10
For a player with Bledsoe's injury history, taking the guaranteed money seems like a no-brainer. The contract will still pay like a high-end point guard, even if it isn't the max. He would cash in on his first big deal and hit the market again at age 28, in the midst of his prime. While productive, Bledsoe was limited to just 43 games last season and it wasn't his first knee injury. Another serious knee injury next season and he might be lucky to even approach an offer worth $12 million a season.
Bledsoe doesn't seem to be inclined to negotiate, however, continuing to insist on a max contract. The team hasn't spoken to Bledsoe in months, according to Suns owner Robert Sarver. If the relationship can't be mended, signing the qualifying offer and making a run at a max offer next offseason just might be Bledsoe's best option.
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