Five extension-eligible players have already inked new deals this offseason, a figure that aligns fairly closely with what we’ve seen in past years. But with another week remaining before the October 31st deadline, there could be a few more players locked up by Halloween. One of those players is Eric Bledsoe, who continues to discuss an extension with the Suns, according to Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough.
“If we’re not able to work out a deal, we would start next summer with Eric as a restricted free agent,” McDonough told Arizona Sports’ 620 AM. “But obviously we’re hoping to get something done before that.”
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported earlier this week that Bledsoe ranked behind only Gordon Hayward and perhaps Ed Davis among remaining extension candidates likely to work something out with their respective teams. As Stein noted at the time and as Andrew Gilstrap of Arizona Sports writes in his recap of McDonough’s comments, the Suns are in an unusual position, having only acquired Bledsoe this summer, and not having seen him play extended minutes as a starter yet.
“With Eric, there’s more projection. Some would say there’s more risk, but I’d also counter that there’s more upside,” McDonough said. “He does some unique things athletically. I think he’s the best shot-blocking guard in the league. If he plays extended minutes, which he will for us, I think he might lead the league in steals. He has a unique potential.”
When I examined Bledsoe as an extension candidate back in August, I suggested his lack of track record compared to other recently-extended point guards like Jrue Holiday and Ty Lawson might limit the amount the Suns are willing to offer. However, if Phoenix hopes to keep him off the restricted free agent market, it sounds as if it may take a deal close to the $40MM+ that those players received. For now, McDonough says negotiations are going “pretty well,” so we’ll see if that translates into a new contract by next Thursday.