This is another topic that has been bounced around quite a bit in recent days. Eric Bledsoe is a rising star in this league and he's also a restricted free agent. It sounds like he's having trouble getting a new contract with the Suns.
According to league sources, an "ominous development" has arisen with sides still "very far apart" in contract negotiations. It has even escalated to the point where the "relationship is on the express lane to being ruined," a source with knowledge of the situation informed CSNNW.com. The Suns offered Bledsoe a four-year, $48 million deal with declining salaries each year, two sources said. That proposal was quickly turned down. Bledsoe’s camp is putting a max price tag on the player Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek called "a Top-10 player in the NBA in coming years", another source said.
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.
The article goes on to mention 2 additional options. To sign another team's offer sheet (no teams have been eager to step up to the plate with one knowing that the Suns would match) or to try to work out a sign and trade.
So could the Celtics get involved and offer the Suns a package deal for Bledsoe? Perhaps including Marcus Smart and other pieces? Or maybe with Avery Bradley and another asset? Hint: Probably not. See below.
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.
We've heard reports in the past that the Suns were interested in Rajon Rondo. Not sure how I feel about this, but for discussion's sake, I'll throw it out there. Is there any interest in trading Rondo for a sign-and-trade of Bledsoe? If so, would the Celtics be able to pry away additional assets? Or would the Suns balk at having to give up too much for a guy that very well could walk at the end of the year?
I happen to think Rondo (when back to full speed) is still a superior player. But Bledsoe is a dynamic, improving player that might make more sense for a longer rebuilding plan. If you are worried about losing Rondo "for nothing" (a concept I still disagree with) then Bledsoe isn't a bad return.
Regardless of how you feel about including Rondo, I felt like it is an interesting development to watch. If only to see how a point guard fares in the free agent market.
Bledsoe's real problem is that being a really good point guard in the NBA is not as special these days. The league is saturated with quality point guards, leaving teams not in need of one, not wanting to spend exorbitantly for a minor upgrade, or waiting to develop or draft one. Nine other point guards averaged at least as many points per game as Bledsoe last season. Twenty-four point guards averaged more assists. All of them played more games. Eleven teams have an All-Star point guard. Another 12 to 14 teams arguably are set at the position and have either an established point guard, one on the rise or the point-guard market cornered (see Phoenix).
Rondo will face a similar field next year, though he won't be bounded by the restricted free agency that Bledsoe is.
Just food for thought.
(And yes, I know that I'll be accused of "another Rondo trade article" and I'm sorry in advance. But it is an interesting topic that is already being discussed elsewhere.)