The Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe have not come close to making any sort of long term deal happen this summer. Their is a ton of friction between Bledsoe, his agents, and the Suns organization. The Suns have explored every possible course of action, from trading Bledsoe to signing him to a one-year deal. However, it looks now as if Bledsoe will sign his one-year tender offer from the Suns and move on from the franchise next summer.
While Phoenix would prefer to keep Bledsoe long-term, hence why they traded for him, they may be in a position now where their hand is forced. Bledsoe wants out. The Suns can either give him the 5-year max contract he desires, trade him before or during the season, or simply let him walk at the end of the year.
That last option is the most dangerous, especially when you consider that the other Suns point guard, All-Star Gorin Dragic, will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Even more dangerous for the Suns is that their is one team lurking in the shadows who wants to acquire not one, but both of their starting guards.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com that team is the Los Angeles Lakers.
“If Bledsoe elects to go the rare qualifying offer route, Phoenix would suddenly face the very real possibility of losing both of its two best assets without compensation in 2015 free agency.
The Lakers, for example, are just one team league sources say would likely make a hard run at both of them, based on the premise that the Suns couldn’t afford the cost of paying both at that point, theoretically making either Bledsoe or Dragic gettable. Sources say that Houston, furthermore, has Dragic on its list of potential targets next summer given how he’s blossomed since leaving the Rockets for Phoenix in the free-agent summer of 2012.
If Bledsoe signs the qualifier, furthermore, you can pretty much bank on him leaving Phoenix as soon as he gets the chance, because players don’t take that sort of gamble and then bury the bad feelings months later to re-sign with the incumbent team. And that would naturally increase Dragic’s leverage in the process, because Phoenix simply couldn’t stomach losing its two most valuable players, who both happen to play what is routinely regarded as the most important position on the floor in the modern NBA.”
The Lakers know that they cannot compete long-term in the Western Conference without a premium point guard that can score, distribute, and defend. They could wait for Russell Westbrook to become a free agent. However, it seems the team has more immediate plans.
The Lakers will have almost $30M come off the books after this season as the contracts of Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and others expire. The organization will have a ton of cap space available, once again, to try and lure the leagues elite players to come play for a franchise with 16 championships. Perhaps next summer the allure of Los Angeles will actually attract marquee free agents.
Brining in Eric Bledsoe and/or Goran Dragic would be a phenomenal place for the Lakers rebirth to start.