Bledsphemy – trading Eric Bledsoe? Poll included!

Christian Petersen

Hello, welcome to my second (fan)post. Thanks for stopping by and for your time. I look forward to your comments and hopefully to a great debate. For any errors I apologize and welcome any factual, argumentative or indeed grammar corrections:)

In my previous fanpost regarding Suns' options this offseason - , I stated that it was written under the working assumption that the front office would sign Bledsoe to a (mini) max contract worth 13.7m$ in the first season.

In this post, I discuss the possibility of not giving him a max contract and analysing two potential paths if Bledsoe were to be traded. Some potential reasons (and combination thereof) as to why Bledsoe would potentially either be signed/match only for a contract lower than the 13.7m$ or traded (for a high quality pick, picks or a high-quality (frontline) player) would be:

  1. Potential injury concerns

  2. Potential questions of Bledsoe's level of committment to the Suns and his reaction to a potentially longer rebuilding process than currently planned

  3. Front office's potential assesement that Bledsoe did not/has not yet shown enough to warrant a max contract

  4. FO's ...*author pauses to expand his vocabulary and find a word to replace "potential" with*... conceivable decision to retain cap-flexibility for 2015/2016, trade Bledsoe for a top pick in the 2014 draft and keep the decision of long-term rebuilding or fast-tracking to contending open, even at the risk of missing the playoffs in 2014/2015

  5. FO's potential decision that the focus should be on becoming a strong playoff contender this season, that trading to improve the forward/center position(s) is paramount and that trading one of the two potential all-star guards (Bledsoe over Dragic) for an established frontline player is neccessary for such an improvement.

1. INJURY CONCERNS (*potential)

Bledsoe's injury to his right knee meniscus (torn meniscus) was the second time it has been injured during his NBA career. The first time it happened in October 2011, it was surgically repaired and he returned to action after missing almost four months of rehab. This time, he had a part of that meniscus surgically removed (—nba.html), instead of repaired.

It is a very prevalent basketball injury and one that has plagued many players, including Rose, Wade, Griffin, Westbrook and Chris Paul ( , , ).

(Partial) Removal of meniscus (also known as (partial) meniscectomy) enables the players to return to action much faster, however, it is usually the less benefical (health-wise) option in the long run, as even a partial removal increases the strain on the knee and thereby increases the risk of injury, and increases odds of a chronic condition developing later in the career ( ).

Sometimes, the player has a removal done instead of repair because they wish to return to action sooner, but sometimes, unfortunately, it is done because the doctors deem that part of the meniscus to be beyond surgical repair and that therefore repair is no longer an option ( ).

With Bledsoe, very little detail is publicly known about his health condition. Official statements using the phrase "part of meniscus" removed can mean anything from 1% of meniscus to 99% of the meniscus removed. The larger part that is removed, the greater the increased strain ( ) and therefore greater chances of short-term and long-term health issues.

So from what I understand (and I am by no means a medical expert), it is most likely that the partial removal of meniscus was chosen not because it would be a better option than the surgical repair, but because that part of the meniscus was beyond repair. And it is possible that that was so in part of the previous damage done to it as a result of his first injury.

This leads me to worry what a potential third injury to the (remaining part of the) meniscus would mean. Perhaps an event/injury that might be relatively benign or repairable in a healthy knee would cause Bledsoe's knee to have a further part or the whole of it removed, and perhaps deteriorate to Wade's level or even worse.

And it might happen on an unfortunate collision with another player, a weird step, or it might almost inevitably (i.e.: that it has been weakened too much by these two injuries and partial removal) happen simply as a result of long-term exposure to increased strain, without any outside impact, months or a couple of years from now. Of course, he might turn out to be ok during the course of his career, or at least the majority of it, or at the very least during his time as a Sun. But the big risk is here. And alas it seems there are some miracles not even the Suns' medical staff can yet perform.

Of course, we don't have enough information about his health condition and we can only speculate. Naturally, the statements from the Suns and Bledsoe's representatives are few and only positive, as they would both act in their own detriment if they said otherwise. So his condition is not neccessarily as good as we wish it were, and the increased risk is there, it's just a question of how big is that risk. As the future of Bledsoe is discussed, sadly, his health concerns play a part.


A great article has been written on BSOTS on this subject, which can be found at , and thoroughly commented, so I shan't add much.

As with the above mentioned health condition, we do not have enough information from those involved or the inside insight, so we can only speculate and trust the FO to make the right call.

However, if I were to speculate, I would question giving a max contract to a player regarding whose commitment I'd have doubts, especially his reaction to a potentially longer rebuilding process than currently planned or envisioned upon signing the extension. This year's success of the team might very well have been a premature and abberant success and the Suns will next year return to a 36, 40 or 42 win-team and missing the playoffs. And it might happen the year after that as well, perhaps finishing with a 44 win record. Perhaps other things will happen and the Suns will be worse than that. I wonder how long Bledsoe, lacking of any previous ties with Arizona and who has spent his previous NBA years with the more successful Griffin/Paul era Clippers, will be happy to stay with the Suns, missing the playoffs in his prime, and when will he start asking for a trade to one of the playoff teams/contenders?

My lack of optimism regarding him differs from my thoughts on Dragic. Again, I must point out that as a Slovenian I might be biased, so take that into account when reading this. The Dragon was NBA-born-and-raised in Phoenix, he has decided to return here as a free agent, he has established a home here and I doubt he'd want to uproot his young family in search of greener pastures. Some of his fondest memories of moments, both from a personal (getting married, becoming a father,...) as well as a professional (first seasons, that Spurs playoff game, this season,...) standpoint, are tied to Phoenix and the Suns. Also, he has experienced and is accustomed to the struggles of the Suns, and he knows the rain is always followed by the Suns, and that even when it's raining, it's good to be in the Sun(s uniform), because the rainbow is never far away.

Lack of any such factor worries me when it comes to Bledsoe, and would also be a potential factor in my decision if the FO decided to trade one of them. Giving Bledsoe the max would perhaps down the road, when Dragic's contract will be up for renewal, be a factor in the team having to decide between them.


As they say, a player's worth is largely determined by the market, so whatever his stats have been, it is important to note that the market will play a crucial role in determining what he's "worth". Also, I believe the "report card" on Eric Bledsoe, when written&published on BSOTS, and future articles on this matter from people much more knowleadgable (and perhaps with access to synergysports or other advanced stats) and experienced than myself, will do an amazing job of analysing his season&play.

Therefore, I shan't write too much on this issue, and I look forward to reading great debates on BSOTS in the months to come. Nevertheless, I would like to note some things. The biggest issue for me is that what he has shown was good, but due to the small sample size of games and the circumstances in which he achieved the stats, it is unclear just how reliable/representative of his game those stats were. And I really really wish we could have seen a whole season or one more season before deciding on Bledsoe, because he is to me as well such an exciting player and talent.

Ok, firstly, his stats (

















































































His stats might also be somewhat influenced by the fact that he played most of his games in the first half of the season, when both he and the team were still fresh and when the Suns were still the big surprise package and the relative unknown, for which the teams were less-prepared than later in the season. I wonder how he would play in the second season or how we will/would play in the next seasons, with teams better prepared for him/us. Also, he has played most of his games with Dragic and it is unknown how he would handle being the main/sole playmaker on the floor and the focal point of the offense throughout the whole of a season.

Not only was he not burdened with being the only/primary playmaker and playing a full season, he was also not as burdened with the imperative of winning. This was still a "fun" season with relatively little pressure, with him being on a rookie contract and with expectations still low, when no one would have been too bitterly disappointed if the Suns missed the playoffs or if he didn't play at an all-star level. It is unknown how well he would play under pressure as the main man on a team expected and demanded to achieve the playoffs and beyond.

Also, it is interesting to note the stats of various Phoenix lineups, available here - . Again, the above mentioned context is important, including the fact that Dragic-led lineups, given injuries to Bledsoe and Barbosa, played half a season without a quality secondary playmaker/ballhandler/Bledsoe on the team. But also, it's important to note that due to injury, Bledsoe had less time to train with the rest of the team and that his stats and lineups' performances might have been better with more training/game time.

It would also be interested to not advanced stats, to compare how other teams' lineup performed against the Suns' in comparison to non-Suns' lineups, how Suns' various lineups competed against (at the time and/or end-of-RS) playoff and non-playoff teams, but alas I either don't have access to such data (such as synergysports) or I just can't find it using sites such as, and so on. So I hope some else will do those, or I will perhaps do it if I pay for such access.

However, some basic advanced stats:) -



Points differential

Rebound diff.

Assist diff.

Turnover diff.

Dragic, Green, Tucker, Frye, Plumlee






Bledsoe, Dragic, Tucker, Frye, Plumlee






Dragic, Green, Tucker, Markieff Morris, Frye






Bledsoe, Green, Tucker, Markieff Morris, Frye






Dragic, Green, Morrii brothers, Frye






For a list of players' salaries, click here - .

For a full chart-list of NBA players, their stats and where Bledsoe is in various stats, click here - .

I'd like to finish this section by pointing out that there are various mechanisms to both the player's and the team's benefit to somewhat protect themselves against overpaying/being underpaid, and it would be interesting to discuss whether and how to employ that, for example, whether to include a player or a team option in the last year of Bledsoe's next contract.


A trade might be the result of the FO reaching a decision to retain cap-flexibility for the 2015/2016 season, trade Bledsoe for one of the top picks in the 2014 draft and keep the decision of long-term rebuilding vs. fast-tracking to contending open, even at the risk of missing the playoffs in 2014/2015.


In the summer of 2015 (, these are the probable big(er) name free agents (unrestricted, unless otherwise denoted): Marc Gasol, Aldrige, Kawhi, Millsap, Rondo, Tony Parker, Robin Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Varejao, Jordan, Asik, Lin, Boozer, Al Jefferson (Player option), David West (P), Afflalo (P), Jeff Green (P), Ellis (P), Hibbert (P), Love (P), Brook Lopez (P), Thad Young (ETO), Jimmy Butler (Restricted FA), Vucevic (R), Irving (R), Klay Thompson (R), Faried (R), Kemba Walker (R), Rubio (R), Shumpert (R), Alec Burks (R).



I could see the following thinking behind the idea:

First of all (1.): Maybe what they're thinking: "The time is on our side, unlike most of the playoff-chasing/contending West teams. The team is young, let's see one more year how the young players develop and how this year surprises decline/improve/hold steady, and make the selection/big decisions next year. This was never suppose to go this fast or this easy. Let's consider this the year 2 of the McAwesome rebuilding plan. So it's premature to jump the gun and try to construct a contender team this year. Let's not become victims of our success. Plus, the 2015 FA/trade market will be better,even though contested for by more teams."

Secondly (2.), trade Bledsoe for a top 1-6 pick in 2014 draft. If you think it's not enough, we ask for more/future picks/young assets. Much has been written on this and other sites about the top draft prospects in this year's draft, so I won't add to that. I look forward, though, to the debate of whether to trade for one of them in exchange for Bledsoe. More on how the trade would like like in the section below.

Thirdly (3.), try trading for Bulls' Mirotic rights, if they absolutely to need to clear space for Melo, or scavange other teams looking hard to shed salary for Melo.

Number four (4.), do not extend Frye this year (he'll turn 32 in May '15) or at least at do so at a considerably lower value.

Fifth (5.) on the list: Sign cheap/risky/high-upside/veteran players: Zoran Dragic (1m, 0.5m$ buyout from Malaga – check my first fanpost for his presentation, videos included), Jan Vesely (6th pick in the 20122 draft, UFA, let's see what we can do with him in one year), Nando de Colo (European pg, Toronto RFA, was part of the SAS experience, see if he could be a Mills type of player), Kenyon Martin (UFA) or Jermaine O'Neal (UFA), our draft pick(s) (if we remain with any besides those we acquire).

Number six (6.): Make trades mid season if good opportunities show (we'd have Frye's 6.8m$ expiring contract and picks (if we don't trade them) and potentially other assets)

Seventh on the list (7.): Ride out the 14/15 season and try to get to the playoffs ->

The team this year was slightly above .500 without Bledsoe, and that's including Dragic injured some games games, injuries to Barbosa&Len, including not having a replacement for Bledsoe we would now have and resulting fatigue to Dragic, including fatigue of Frye and Plumlee due to previous health issues (Frye) and lack of PT the previous season (Plumlee). Without those detrimental factors and with adding quality draft picks and role players, we could very well be in as strong position in the hunt for a playoff spot.

With Dallas potentially declining next year as Dirk, Carter&the Matrix decline (further), Minny potentially in turmoil/Love pehaps departing this year, Lakers not quite there yet, Denver still not as good as us, ... Even if we don't do well and finish 10th in the West, chances are, we might get Minny's pick as well (if Love stays and their pick doesn't fall under the top 13 protection) in addition to ours and the Lakers' (I doubt their pick will fall under the top 5 protection).


Come summer of 2015, we would have (

1.Dragic 7.5m (even if he opts out and resigns, he does it after we get FAs and reach the cap),

2. Green (worst case scenario, we can't come to an immediate agreement, so cap hold - 6.65m (190% of 3.5m - )),

3.Len 3.8m team option,

4.Markieff Morris (worst case scenario, we can't come to an immediate agreement, so cap hold(RFA) – 7.8m (250% of 3.153m)),

5.Marcus Morris – immediately either resign for around 4.0m or renounce his Bird rights ( , otherwise cap hold of 7.8m)

6.PJ Tucker – let's say around 4.5m

7.Plumlee – 2.1m team option

8.Goodwin – 1.1m team option

9.Frye – sign for up to 3m or renounce Bird rights

11.Our top 5 pick from 2014 – around 4m (

12.Our #14 pick from 2014 – around 1.6m

13.Zoran Dragic – 1m

14.Cap holds for probably two 1st round picks in 2015 (either Minny or Lakers) – let's say around 2.5m.

All-together comes to around: 49.5m$, which is a really conservative estimate, but would still leave us with around 17m cap space (cap level in 2015/2016 estimated to be 66.5m). After that, we would still have the 5m$ midlevel exception to sign a quality player, and 2m (vet) minimum exceptions. After that, we could sign our Bird rights' FAs.

If we take more decisive/hard approach – we cut Frye immediately, saving 3m. We renounce Marcus Morris immediately, saving 4m. We immediately negotiate Markieff for around 4.5m, saving 3.3m. All in all, we save additional 10.3m in cap space to sign FAs, and have 39,2m$ committed (if you don't think we'll get or should get Zoran Dragic, take off 1m). That would leave us with 27,3 m$ in cap space, plus the 5m$ midlevel exception and 2m$ minimum exceptions.

After we've used up that cap space, we could resign our remaining free agents (if we've renounced Frye and Marcus Morris, it leaves basically Dragic. We can use either the midlevel exception for one of them, and take either Frye or Morris on the vet minimum).


Since the trade could not be completed before the draft day, it would mean we would have to come to an agreement between all involved parties (Suns, Bledsoe, other team) in order to be able to tell the other team which player to draft, and afterwards hope that the deal goes through without a hitch (for example no issues with the medical check-up of any of the players). Otherwise, we would not be able to have an impact on which player the other team drafts, and we wouldn't be trading for a draft pick, but rather for a newly-drafted player.

The good news about the trade not being able to be completed before the draft is that the draft "pick's" (drafted player's) salary would count for salary-matching purposes.

You may also wonder how we could do a S&T without taking on up to 13,7m$ in long-term salary and how much does it limit potential trade options.

First of all, if the other team would not reach/be over the cap with/after the trade (after sending out salary and taking in Bledsoe's (probably near 13.7m$) salary), then it would not be forced to send out any salary in return. So if we would be trading with such a team, we would be able to take back the drafted player's salary (the top draftees' salaries are shown here ) and we wouldn't have to take on any more.

Secondly, if we were to trade with a team that would be over the cap, but under the luxury tax line, with the trade, the other team would have to send out a lot more salary. How much depends on how much salary would Bledsoe be getting. Or to put it another way - as shown here – if such a team (this team being the other team, not the Suns) were to send out up to 9.8m$ in salaries, it could take in 150% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000. So a team that would want to take in 13.7m$ worth of salary (Bledsoe's mini-max contract), would have to send us back 9.07m$ in salaries, because 9.07 * 1.5 + 0.1 = 13.7.

So it depends on the cap situation of the team we would be trading with. It's also important to note that if we did this deal very soon after the draft, it would be easier to find a team that would be under the cap even with the trade, as it wouldn't have as many FAs signed or other trades completed.

Of course, it is important to note that Bledsoe would have to be on board with being traded to any of those teams in order for the S&T to be completed, so that might limit the trade options and it should be taken into account when reading this. Also, teams might quite likely decide to just offer a max sheet and see what happens. It is important to note as well that according to - "Sign-and-trade contracts must be for at least three seasons (not including any option year) and no longer than four seasons.". So it gives Bledsoe and other teams less incentive to engage in S&T. However, other teams might want to fill their cap-space with other players first and then do a S&T, with dumping some salary in return to make everything work.

Let's look at this year's bottom 6 teams who will most likely have the top 6 picks and what their salary cap situation would be ( or ):

  1. Milwaukee – with renouncing or cheaply resigning RFA Ekpe Udoh and sending their first round pick to us, they would be under the cap after the Bledsoe S&T, so we could take back the pick/drafted player and wouldn't (to make this deal legal under the CBA) have to take back any more contracts. Perhaps interesting for Bledsoe, to pair up with the Greek Freak, Sanders, new ownership, be the man, but also have an interesting partner in Mayo, easier conference&better exposure&all-star game invite chances, plus some nice trading chips to trade with.

  2. Philadelphia – has very little salary committed, so the same situation as with the Bucks. Philly has two high quality picks (one from NOLA, so we could perhaps swing a deal for both of them). Probably not as interesting for Bledsoe.

  3. Orlando – has a bit more salary on the books, but could easily shed some by not picking up several team options, for example on Jason Maxiell. They have also another 1st round pick from the Denver trade. They also have a team option for 8m$ for Jameer Nelson, who might be interesting/useful either as a PG off the bench, trade chip mid-season and if neither, would come off the books in 2015.

  4. Utah – has very little salary on the books. Might be interesting from a basketball point of view (Haywood, Favors, Kanter, Burks,...), though perhaps not much off-the court.

  5. Boston – could do a S&T with Bledsoe while remaining under the cap. It has some nice expiring assets to come back along with the pick, such as Bass. It would probably be intersting to Bledsoe, with Boston's franchise history, double PG backcourt with Rondo, cap space, East conference,...

  6. Lakers – basically have only Bryant and Nash on the books this summer, so they could go for Bledsoe in a S&T, and Bledsoe might be very interested. Also, Lakers have openly said they're open to trading their 1st round pick (Eric Pincus: Mitch Kupchak acknoweldged the Lakers might trade their first-round pick "I think there's a possibility" Twitter @EricPincus).

7th, 8th, ..., currently ranked teams all have a small chance of getting a top 3 pick, and would then be interesting to explore. However, at this point not yet.


So the Suns would enter the summer of 2015 competing with other teams for a better pool of FA agents and trade targets with:

- potentially between 17m and 27m$ in cap space, with 5m$ MLE,

- an improved team (2 high quality picks from 2014 draft, one extra year to our young, developing players and a better time to asses how good they'll be going forward and what do to with them, 1 more year of Dragic improvment&getting more reputation, eventually from therefs as well),

- the higher cap&luxury tax level helping us (wouldn't help all that much to sign FAs in 2015 year if we go over the cap this year and if we keep Bled).

- by that time, Duncan and Manu perhaps finally retire, but definately decline, maybe Parker&Pop leave as well, hopefully Miami big 3 disbands or Wade/Allen decline (further), Brooklyn's PP&KG decline even further, LA will hopefully get Kobe for one more Kobe-ridden year of mediocrity, Dallas will decline even further, Memphis' Randolph will hopefully decline and maybe Gasol leaves, Sacramento will still be far from P/O, N/O still logjamed at guards and not a Davis-led contender yet, GSW's Iggy/Bogut/O'Neal/... with one more year on their mileage. LAC(if they keep Jordan), Rockets(Parsons extension, pehaps Melo) and Chicago probably won't have cap-space to do all that much to compete for the FAs and improve. So the West (and the league as a whole) will hopefully be less top-loaded and a lot of the best teams without lots of cap space, thus easier for the Suns to convince the top FAs to come, and then easier to get to the (conference) Finals in the next years.

- without Bledsoe (and hopefully the top picks from 2014 combining to replace most of his production), you have enough cap space to give one or two max contracts to FAs plus give Dragic a significant pay raise, without going over the luxury tax line of 81.0 m$).


Another option would be to try to trade Bledsoe this summer not for a top pick, but for an established, big name player, with probably a view to try to contend in the playoffs in 2014/15 already (basically the same option as going all-in cap-wise this year, just with another big player and not Bledsoe). The idea is to sign a star player, preferably frontline player (since even without Bledsoe, the backcourt with Dragic, Green, Goodwin, one more pg/sg, Smith, perhaps Barbosa is a good one). We would ideally sign him after we're done with our FA, so we could use up all the free cap space we have.

So before trading for a big man, let's see which FA available. A lot of them I've covered in my first fanpost, so please check that out. It has shot-charts and rainbows and action heroes. Well, shot-charts, anyway... Some that I didn't mention in my aforementioned post, because I was focused on PF/Cs, were Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay and Avery Bradley. Kyle Lowry looks to be set to resign as UFA in Toronto, but he might still be tempted with a large enough offer. Rudy Guy is an interesting option if he were willing to lower his demand low enough. Avery Bradley is something of a back-up option here, but I wanted to throw his name out here since I have him on my 2k team :D I don't watch enough Boston games to know how good he is.

But potentially we could sign Bosh (if he opts out), or if he doesn't, go for a combo of two of the following four: Gibson/Rudy Gay/Luol Deng/Kyle Lowry (together mustn't be more than around 20, 21m$ that we will have in cap space).

If we have any cap space remaining, sign some quality&cheap players (like the ones I mentioned above) or save it for the big trade.

After that, we trade Bledsoe in S&T, perhaps including a third team (if the the team with the big man wants a top pick this year, they take the pick, third team takes Bledsoe, we take big man). Perhaps we take Orlando's Vucevic (RFA in 2015, unless extension this year) plus their pick, or perhaps Bledsoe + our assets for Vuc&Afflalo (who can leave in 2015). Or we go to Memphis for Gasol (if he tells them he's leaving in 2015). Or to Miami for Bosh. Or even to Sacramento for DMC, if we want to take that risk and if they're willing by some mcmiracle.

After that, we use our MLE (5m$+) and our minimum exceptions to sign some more quality players.

This option is a lot more dependant on others, and on which big man you can get for him. If you can get a good one and if Bledsoe agrees to a S&T with the destination team, then it's a feasible option.


Of course, there's one more trade-ish option to mention, and this one does involve re-signing Bledsoe, even for the max contract. The Suns re-sign Bledsoe, even for a max, and if both of them with Dragic work out, maybe get a midseason trade for a big man (if Bledsoe's offer sheet from another team is matched by the Suns, they can't trade him for a year without his consent, and not to the team who's offer they matched -, or trade one of them during summer of 2015 (Bledsoe as such, and Dragic in a S&T) for a big man (perhaps expiring/expired in a S&T)). I personally don't like this option, but it's one that must be mentioned.


So, what do you all think about the Eric Bledsoe situation? How much do you think he "should" get/is worthy? How much do you think he will get? How high should we match? Do you want the Suns to trade him, and if so, what would you be looking for?

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, thank you for your time and hopefully your comments!

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