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Sarver says he has "good relationship" with Bledsoe's agent, ready to continue negotiating

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver wants to get a deal done, and is ready to negotiate that middle ground. There is still no talk of trading Bledsoe. The Suns want Bledsoe for a long time to come.


Phoenix Suns managing partner Robert Sarver made an impromptu appearance on the Burns and Gambo radio show yesterday evening and shared some insights into the process with Eric Bledsoe.

While he rejected John Gambadoro's notion that Bledsoe needs to find new representation, he did confirm that the Suns still feel their offer of 4 years, $48 million is fair. Yet, Sarver also expects negotiations to continue toward a number that both parties believe to be fair.

"We think we gave him a fair offer, and (we would) be more than happy to sit down with him and continue to negotiate it. We're happy to do that," he said.

--Sarver on Arizona Sports 98.7, Burns and Gambo

The Suns are ready to negotiate, which means they are not currently actively negotiating at the moment. It appears that the Suns are waiting for Bledsoe's next move.

It's good to hear, for sure, that the Suns will move off the $48 million as needed, to make both sides happy. While the Suns feel that $12 million per year is fair, not too high and not too low, the Suns owner understands that fairness is a two-way street.

"We think it's a fair offer. I think you could argue, you know, I mean some would say it's maybe a little high; some would say it's low," the owner said. "What's fair is important to us, and also important to him -- him and his agent. It's not necessarily us to determine what he thinks is fair; it's him to determine that."


"One thing fans have got to remember is: Players, their careers are very short," he said. "And at any given moment, they could be a lot shorter. You don't know. And so, they're trying to maximize what they can make. They're not like movie stars where they can go cut a box office hit when they're 45 or 55 years old like John (Gambadoro) is. They want to maximize what they can make. And that's OK."

--Sarver on Arizona Sports 98.7, Burns and Gambo

That's good that the Suns owner is ready to deal, and is in full understanding that "perception is reality". He knows that both sides have to feel good about the terms, not just the Suns. This is an important realization.

With respect to the latest leaks that Bledsoe and his agent are unhappy with the process, the Suns for their part understand that this is all posturing and once a contract is signed all that unhappiness can disappear in a flash.

"I think Eric's a great guy. And he'll be happy here when he gets here, whether that's for one year or for four years or five years," he said. "I think his agent's trying to do the best job he can, too. And I have a pretty good relationship with his agent. It's just part of the process. I wish it would have been resolved earlier, but it is what it is."

--Sarver on Arizona Sports 98.7, Burns and Gambo

Of course he will be happy when he finally signs. All this "unrest" will be forgotten. Do you remember the summer of 2012 when Nicolas Batum wanted out of Portland? Well, he did. He wasn't crying it from the rooftops like Eric Gordon, but he was ready to find somewhere he could be happier. His agent got Minnesota to make an offer he liked, one that Portland didn't want to make on their own. But when Portland matched, he was all about Portland again and no one remembers the few weeks of unrest.

The same will happen here. Some fans will harp on it, but most will forget this period ever existed. Especially if Bledsoe goes on to play as well as last year, if not even better.

The other interesting point there is the years. Sarver mentioned three possibilities:

One Year (The Qualifying Offer)

Of course, the Suns don't want Bledsoe to take the one year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. But Bledsoe shouldn't either. While this is a swaggy move, it's also a silly one. Especially in light of Paul George's freak injury last night (fracture of both tibia and fibula, requiring likely the full season to recover) and Bledsoe's own half season lost to a knee injury last year.

To make out ahead, in terms of more career earnings, Bledsoe would have to make up that $8 million he's tossing away in 2014-15. To make that up and more, even considering a 7.5% increase in the salary cap next year, he would have to get a full max offer AND max raises next summer to top it over these next four years.

When you can't get a max this year, then you have to know the only way to get the max next year is to perform even better - make an All-Star team in a league flush with PGs and play all season as well. That's a tall task. And even then, you're still at the mercy of other teams actually making the offer (which did not happen this summer, from anyone).

Four Years (The Suns Offer)

From the Suns standpoint, you've got to be happier with four years vs. five years, just in case Bledsoe experiences a career-threatening injury. But still, five years isn't terrible for the best overall guard on the team in terms of offense AND defense. Dragic is ahead of Bledsoe offensively right now, but Dragic is also 4 years older and doesn't play the elite defense that Bledsoe can play.

Five Years (The Bledsoe Request)

For a guy who's an injury risk, this is Bledsoe's best case scenario. If you get 5 guaranteed years, you don't have to worry about anything. As Amare Stoudemire once said - "I want an NBA contract, not an NFL contract." Stoudemire is thanking his lucky stars right now for that max, guaranteed offer.

Other Options

Sarver was limiting himself to the options currently on the table from the parties, but there are myriad other options if they are so inclined.

Both teams seems to want guaranteed years and are only haggling over dollars, but if Bledsoe really wants to bet on himself he can suggest something shorter.

Lance Stephenson signed for three years when he couldn't get the bucks he wanted. Paul Pierce and LeBron James both signed two year deals with player options after one year. This way, Pierce and James can re-asses the market (conceivably) every summer and either keep what they have or go for something better. Now these are starting to look like NFL contracts, except at the player's bidding rather than the owners'.

If Bledsoe really wants to bet on himself, his agent can possibly find a team to offer him something as short as a two-year contract with a player option after year one. That way, he can make more than $3.7 million this year AND still become a UFA next summer if he wants to.

I say they would have to find another team to do this because I don't see the Suns wanting to give up that much control. If Bledsoe really wants to be a UFA next summer, I imagine the Suns won't negotiate over the qualifying offer. Why would they? So, Bledsoe needs another team. But only one other team can offer anything higher than about $11 million this year without negotiating a trade with the Suns or dumping several contracts. Would Philly help Bledsoe like that? They'd simply be a pawn, because the Suns would match immediately.

Meet in the middle

I could imagine the Suns would settle on a four year contract at their price with Bledsoe getting a player option after year three. That way, Bledsoe can take advantage of the new TV contract and get a higher salary to make up for any money he "lost" in these next three years.

This would not be ideal from the Suns standpoint or Bledsoe's standpoint, but could be a good middle ground to bridge the gap between now and two or three years from now when Bledsoe is more established and could deserve the "max" offer he wants.

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