The Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe have finally agreed to a new deal in the 11th hour of free agency, avoiding what was beginning to look like a no-win situation for both parties.
The Suns and Eric Bledsoe have agreed to a 5-year, $70 million deal, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) September 24, 2014
After nearly three months of free agency, with apparently little to no progress being made on negotiations in which the two sides were reportedly apart by over $30 million, a deal has finally been agreed upon that will make Eric Bledsoe a Phoenix Sun for the next five years, at a salary that will average $14 million per season.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the deal is fully guaranteed for all five years with no player options.
Although the Suns initial offer to Bledsoe which was reported to be 4 years and $48 million was thought to be fair market value by most NBA analysts, bloggers, and columnists, Bledsoe and his agent, Rich Paul, were pushing for the full max deal of 5 years and over $80 million.
The Suns GM Ryan McDonough had publicly stated that Phoenix would match any offer for Bledsoe, but those offers never came...not one.
In the only interview in which Bledsoe addressed his free agency situation this summer, he publicly stated that the Suns were "using free agency against (him)". The feeling from Bledsoe's perspective was that by McDonough stating publicly that the Suns would match any and all offers for Bledsoe prior to the start of free agency, that other potential suitors were scared away from making him an offer.
While there may be some truth to that, it certainly didn't stop other teams from offering max deals to Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward; and in Parsons' case, the Dallas Mavericks were able to get him.
Either way, the other offers never materialized, leaving the Suns' initial offer as the only one on the table. And while the Suns certainly didn't want to bid against themselves, especially up to the max contract demands of Bledsoe and his agent, they increased their offer by what it took to get a deal done.
But what about incentives or options? Surely Phoenix must have built in some stipulations into that amount? Well according to Adrian Wojnaroski and Paul Coro, it appears there are no options in the deal and that the full $70 million is guaranteed.
There are no options in the Bledsoe deal, league source tells Yahoo Sports. Straight five year deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) September 24, 2014
Eric Bledsoe's five-year, $70M #Suns contract starts at $13M with annual $500K raises. No options. No ETOs. No trade kickers.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) September 25, 2014
Regardless of whether or not you agree with the years or the amount, this truly is the best outcome for both sides. The Suns now have a three-headed monster of a back-court, consisting of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas. As Hornacek pointed out after signing Thomas in early July, the original plan all along was to employ a three-guard rotation in which two of them would be on the court at all times. Bledsoe will bring not only scoring and passing on offense, but the defense that the Suns so desperately need.
As for Bledsoe, signing this deal with the Suns avoids signing the qualifying offer of only $3.7 million for a one-year deal with Phoenix, before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer. For someone with a history of injuries, and who has started in only 78 games throughout his career, that's a huge gamble.
But now, that's all in that past. The Suns have a player who could become one of the best all-around point guards in the league signed to a long term deal, and Bledsoe finally has a long-term home in the Valley of the Sun. The Slash Brothers are now a set of triplets, who combined will undoubtedly make one of the most formidable back-courts in the NBA this season, and the Suns will again be one of the teams in the Western Conference to keep a close eye on.
Welcome back, Eric.