Monday will mark two months since the start of free agency, and still two of the top five players on the 2014 Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings remain unsigned. The restricted free agencies of Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe have dragged on longer than it seemed reasonable to expect, even though teams and their restricted free agents often engage in protracted negotiations, as the Wolves and Nikola Pekovic did last year. There’s little doubting the game-changing ability of either, but the power for Phoenix and Detroit to match all other offers for their respective young stars appears to have effectively short-circuited the market.
Reports have indicated that both Bledsoe and Monroe are prepared to sign their qualifying offers, the standard one-year offers that teams must make at the start of free agency to retain matching rights on their restricted free agents. One report amid a series of dispatches earlier this month indicated that Monroe had already let the Pistons know he would accept the qualifying offer, though other reports conflict with that notion. Bledsoe is insisting that he either receive a max deal or he’ll take the qualifying offer, according to the latest we’ve seen on him.
Signing the qualifying offer would represent a drastic step. Monroe’s QO is worth a shade less than $5.48MM, while Bledsoe would make just $3.727MM this season if he signed his. The Pistons and Suns appear to have made long-term offers that would pay much more than that. Phoenix reportedly has four years and $48MM on the table for Bledsoe, while the Pistons are apparently willing to give Monroe more than $54MM over four years. Still, the max for both would be a five-year, $84,789,500 contract, and it seems neither would be satisfied settling for less. Sign-and-trades remain a possibility, but it doesn’t appear as though there’s much traction toward one for either of the free agents stuck in limbo.
Bledsoe and Monroe could hit unrestricted free agency in a year if they sign their qualifying offers, and while it would seem that both would field more competitive offers from teams who would no longer have to worry that the Suns or Pistons would match, there are no guarantees. Bledsoe has only started 78 games in his career, and it appears few around the NBA regard Monroe as someone worthy of a maximum-salary contract. Only 17 players have signed qualifying offers in the past two decades, and none have carried cachet of either Bledsoe or Monroe, underscoring just what an unusual move it would be.
Let us know whether you think signing the qualifying offer, and the chance to hit unrestricted free agency in a year that comes with it, would be worthwhile for Bledsoe and Monroe, or if you think they should take the more lucrative long-term deals in front of them. Weigh in on your choice in the comments.