Everyone expected the post-Steve Nash Suns to struggle. Last year, most people safely assumed the Suns would tank to get a top pick and land Wiggins or Parker. Little did anyone know Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe would form one of the league’s best backcourts, and that Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee would be real contributors. The Suns raked in 48 wins though, finishing just a game out of the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns have become one of the more attractive teams in the league, with a good, young nucleus and tons of cap space. But for some reason, they haven’t been able to lure top-tier free agents Phoenix. Aside from the Isaiah Thomas signing, the Suns have remained relatively quiet this offseason.
Their top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Eric Bledsoe, the 24-year old point guard, who in his first year as a starter, displayed borderline All-Star ability. Playing behind Chris Paul for the past few years in LA, Bledsoe was unable to show the wide range of his ability. But last year in Phoenix, Bledsoe had a very successful year. The only minor concern regarding Bledsoe was that he needed knee surgery last season. When healthy though, he was very productive, averaging a line of 18-6-5 on a nightly basis. Those are good, but not great numbers, even for a 24 year old.
The Suns offered Bledsoe a 4 year/$48 million deal, a very fair deal, identical to what Kyle Lowry got a few weeks ago. Lowry is definitely a better player at this stage, but Bledsoe is a few years younger. The Suns’ offer for Bledsoe is a bigger deal than what Steph Curry got a few years ago. Of course, it must be noted that Curry had some ankle problems at the time, and that is why the offer wasn’t a max. But still. Bledsoe is not the player Curry is.
The problem is that Bledsoe is asking for a max contract. He wants a 5 year/$80 million deal, a huge increase of the Suns’ 4 year/$48 million offer. Bledsoe is not worth that kind of money. The Suns won’t be a successful team in the West if they are paying him like a superstar. Even if you’re paying Bledsoe for he might be in the future, and not what he currently is, that’s still a giant risk for Phoenix. You only pay that kind of money if you really think Bledsoe will be an All Star the next few years.
The Suns made the deal for Isaiah Thomas, with the thinking that he’d be their sixth man. But he is more than capable of being the starter if the Suns decide not to keep Bledsoe. The Suns would most likely take a step back if they lost Bledsoe, but if he really expects a max deal, then maybe he’s not worth keeping.