As the free agency market dries up, the focus on Eric Bledsoe's free agency continues to intensify. With the Milwaukee Bucks frequently mentioned as a possible suitor for Bledsoe should he leave the Phoenix Suns, any developments are being closely watched. Here's the latest:
Sources: Suns offered Eric Bledsoe 4-year, $48 million contract. Bledsoe wants max of 5 years, $80 million. Sides far apart— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 17, 2014
Almost a twofold difference in total contract value, plus an extra year? Yeah, that's pretty far apart.
Bledsoe demanding a maximum contract isn't unexpected, and it makes plenty of sense. Bledsoe and his representatives know how much hype he's built over the past couple of seasons, they've seen some of the other players who have gotten max or near-max contracts this summer, and they know how clean Phoenix's salary sheet is right now. With few other high-impact players left on the market, why not try to grab every dollar you can?
Now, that doesn't mean he's going to get a max deal. The main questions everybody is asking right now are:
- How much is Bledsoe actually worth?
- What's the biggest contract Phoenix is comfortable giving him?
- At what price would Bledsoe be willing to sign in Phoenix vs. with another team like the Bucks?
- How much might another team be willing to pay him in order to pry him away from the Suns?
Milwaukee has been bandied about as competition for Bledsoe's services because they seemed to have a need in the backcourt, and they had the ability to offer him a substantial contract, maybe even a max deal (which for them would be four years and around $64 million) after unloading another player. But nobody knows if Milwaukee would be willing to give him that much money, and the pending deal with Jerryd Bayless not only adds another guard to the roster, but reduces Milwaukee's workable cap space (which may also be why it hasn't been finalized). Even with that deal, the Bucks could still make a max offer if they traded, for example, Ersan Ilyasova, but who knows if such a move is probable or even possible right now.
Negotiations between Bledsoe's camp and the Suns are ongoing, so it's entirely possible the two could meet somewhere in the middle. But the longer things drag out with such a big gap in money to fight over, the greater the chance another team will work to either throw a big offer sheet Bledsoe's way or offer the Suns some sign-and-trade options that they might consider. A compromise that keeps Bledsoe in Phoenix still seems the most likely outcome, but the clock is ticking.
Want to read more chatter from this year's Las Vegas Summer League? Check out Kevin Arnovitz's Summer League Buzz column over at ESPN.
As for the Bucks' Summer League? It's soon to come to an end, perhaps without a single win to show for it, but there were definitely some things to like:
Doug McDermott, Giannis Antetokounmpo among Summer League superlatives ESPN (Insider)
Kevin Pelton ranked the best rookies and veterans of the first half of LVSL, and while Jabari Parker didn't get any ink, Pelton did highlight the work Giannis Antetokounmpo has put in expanding his game:
With the possible exception of Nerlens Noel -- who has played just one game for precautionary reasons -- Antetokounmpo is the most talented veteran playing summer league. While he hasn't dominated Vegas competition, Antetokounmpo is using the summer for development purposes by expanding his game. The Greek Freak has played point guard at times and is posting up smaller defenders.
If you want a great in-depth read about Giannis' point guard escapades and how the Bucks can use him going forward, head over to Bucksketball and dive into KL Chouinard's piece.
ESPN also handed out grades for the Wednesday slate of games, and Giannis left a strong impression (guess we're still ignoring turnovers for these purposes):
No one -- coaches, defenders, teammates -- really knows what to make of him. He won the tip to begin the game, then immediately served as de-facto point guard, then ran both parts of the pick-and-roll like that’s a normal thing to do. Defenders played off him (because he’s 6-foot-11, after all), and he calmly knocked down open 3-pointers. With about 95 percent of the players in Las Vegas, you think about what they can do at the next level. But with Antetokounmpo, you wonder if there’s anything that he can’t do.
Jabari Parker earned some praise of his own:
Give him credit for recognizing what he was largely failing to do in previous appearances. Parker had a few really aggressive moves in tight spaces where he used that considerable derriere of his to create contact and separation. What’s more important than the few blown finishes or the mistakes with the ball is that his physical gifts were actually utilized properly, as his drives were quick and purposeful. When you get to the line 13 times, it’s an admission from defenders that you’re too much to handle.