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Phoenix Suns free agent Eric Bledsoe has options, but he's still likely a Sun for a long time

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It's been a while since you've seen any Suns basketball, and some of us may have forgotten just how good Eric Bledsoe is. Above is the scouting report on him done by the great Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress.com. Take some time to refresh your memory (and see some great 2013-14 Suns highlights).

As we've found out this summer, Bledsoe appears to be a mercenary. He wants the money due to him, and his and his agent's opinion is that he deserves a max deal. At this point, no one can offer as much as the Suns can offer*, and the Suns know this as well as anyone else.

The Suns are offering more than anyone else can/will offer this summer at 4 years, $48 million. Bledsoe wants $84 million over 5 years.

Primary Options

It's a standoff that could last for more than two more months, through October 1. Bledsoe has two realistic options: (a) take the Suns offer, and guarantee the next four years of income or (b) take the $3.7 million qualifying offer and hit unrestricted free agency next summer.

Taking the second option is quite risky for a number of reasons. For one thing, Bledsoe would be sacrificing more than $8 million this year - a number that would be difficult to recoup in a contract next summer. For another thing, Bledsoe would be banking on his own health and ability to play the entire season.

Other Options

Theoretically, Bledsoe has two other options options: (a) sign another team's offer sheet and (b) create a sign-and-trade to another team. In both cases, the Suns have to be willing to let Bledsoe go, yet every indication is that they want to keep Bledsoe.

*Only one team - Philadelphia, with ROY Carter-Williams at PG - has more to offer than the Phoenix Suns have already laid on the table, but Philly has shown no indication that they want to tie up $63 million to duplicate their PG position.

All indications to this point are that the Suns have no interest in trading Bledsoe to another team either. Certainly, the Suns are in win-now mode, so any trade would be for a better player not a worse one. The Suns are no longer in the business of sending out the best player in the deal.

The money

Bledsoe-options

*the per-year breakdown of the Suns current offer is unknown, so I just divided by 4

As you can see, only in a perfect world could Bledsoe make more than $48 million over the next four years. The cap has to rise the 7.5% that's been predicted. Someone has to offer Bledsoe the max starting salary and max raises. And it has to be a team he wants to join.

Of course, being a free agent next summer would likely turn into a four-year deal, not a three-year one as depicted above. So maybe Bledsoe really, really wants that fifth year to guarantee against his knee. Maybe Bledsoe is so interested in that 2018-19 season that he's willing to take a short-term hit for that much gain.

Let's assume Bledsoe plays great next year and he's on the unrestricted free agent market. If he did play great, the suns likely make the playoffs. And if 2015 Bledsoe is anything like 2014 Bledsoe, the Suns are still in the driver's seat. If the Suns want Bledsoe back, they can STILL offer the biggest deal next year.

They have one of the best players in the league and every intention to keep him. Sure he might take a bullet this year ($3.7 million qualifying) to cash out next summer with any team he wants, but that is not likely. It's risky business to bank on 2014-15 going perfectly, resulting in a max contract next summer.