After a long and drawn out battle over his restricted free agent contract with the Phoenix Suns, point guard Eric Bledsoe received the money he was looking for. It has been confirmed that Bledsoe and Phoenix agreed on a five-year, $70 million deal.
Bledsoe was traded to the Suns by the Los Angeles Clippers last year but was a restricted free agent before signing his new deal.
Bledsoe had held out all summer for this sort of deal, and was in danger of facing an Oct. 1 deadline that looms large during the unique negotiation. He had until that date to sign a $3.7 million, one-year qualifying offer that would have allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Bledsoe, who had wanted a maximum-level deal of five years and a combined $80 million, previously turned down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Suns.
The 24-year old Bledsoe missed half of last season when he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he still had a breakout season pairing up with teammate Goran Dragic in coach Jeff Hornacek’s two point guard lineup.
Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points (on 47.7% shooting), 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 43 games.
The knee injury could have cost him the maximum deal he was looking for, especially when the Suns acquired fellow point guard Isaiah Thomas during free agency via a sign-and-trade with the Sacramento Kings. The Suns was thinking long-term and decided to take a chance with Bledsoe because they know Dragic can use a player option to become an unrestricted free agent next season. Now they have some leverage with two starting point guards under long-term contracts.
Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough was delighted with the acquisition and told the team’s official website:
“We are thrilled Eric Bledsoe will be in a Phoenix Suns uniform for years to come. Eric is one of the most exciting and dynamic two-way players in the league. He played very well for us on both ends of the floor last season and we feel he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the elite players in the NBA.”
“Lon (Babby, Phoenix president of basketball operations), Ryan and the Suns have shown confidence in me, and I am looking to take that responsibility and help our team get better from last year and position ourselves to win an NBA championship. It’s why I came back to Phoenix. All summer, I knew that I really would be most comfortable coming back to Phoenix because of the great fans, my Suns teammates and our coaches.”
“I am very happy it was able to work out this way.”
The Suns open their 2014-15 season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 29.