Several hours ago the Toronto Raptors signed point guard Kyle Lowry to a four year 48 million dollar contract extension. That is not good news for the Phoenix Suns who are in contract negotiations with their own restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe. What the Toronto Raptors have done is set the basic price tag for Eric Bledsoe at 12 million dollars a year.
The reason that I say that is because the two players play the same position., and both start. Not only do they play the same position but their statistics are very similar as well. Kyle Lowry averaged 17.9 points and 7.4 assists, and 4.7 rebounds during the past season. Eric Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. So Eric Bledsoe and his agent logically should be asking for around 12 million dollars a year for his services, and they probably are.
The problems that this presents for the Phoenix Suns is tied to their using a two point guard system. The Phoenix Suns have their other point guard Goran Dragic under contract for 7.5 Million dollars this coming season, the same amount that he has earned the past 2 seasons.
The following season Goran has an opt out clause in his contract. That means that he can elect to stay with the Suns one more year and earn 7.5 million for one more year. Cretainly he will not do that. So when, not if he opts out, he will become an unrestricted free agent. When that occurs the Suns will likely lose him to whatever team is willing to pay him the most money.
It's only human nature. If the Suns are paying Eric Bledsoe 12 million, and Goran Dragic 7.5 million, Goran will be displeased eventually. We in Phoenix know how wonderful a guy he is, but no one is going to accept that much of a pay discrepancy happily long term.
The fact is that the Phoenix Suns already see this problem coming. This is probably why they drafted the point guard, Tyler Ennis, last week. The word is that they are also asking around the league about veteran point guards. They do realize that they cannot pay max money, or near max money to their two point guards. Twelve million each paid to the two starting point guards will start to affect the teams salary cap, and it's ability to acquire and keep other important pieces on the team.
The salary cap numbers went up this season for every team. The teams that are actively signing free agents so far are paying them very well. Jodie Meeks just received a contract from the Detroit Pistons for 19-20 million for 3 years. Last year with the Los Angeles Lakers he had a decent season, and averaged 15.7 points. If Phoenix really wants to resign it's own restricted free agents, they can't be thrifty, but be ready to pay big bucks. The Clippers did get a real bargain in signing Luol Deng to a three year 18 million dollar contract.
So since the Suns management seems to be all over this even before it develops, they may have a viable solution. If they do not, Bledsoe and Dragic may have already seen the last of one another as teammates. There has already been some talk of the Suns signing Eric Bledsoe, and then trading him. I don't see how that solves the problem though. Goran can still opt out of his contract next season and be lost. I do believe that the Suns should tear up his current contract , and pay him the market rate, before he can opt out, and we lose him for nothing.
Darryl G Green