WEDNESDAY, 3:30pm: Both Bledsoe and his agent, Rich Paul, traveled to Phoenix today to meet with Suns management to discuss a new deal, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter links). No agreement is in place, but significant progress has been made according to Wojnarowski’s sources.
TUESDAY,10:00pm: In his full story, Wojnarowski adds that tomorrow’s round of negotiations are expected to be crucial in determining whether the two sides can come to terms on a contract before training camp. Phoenix has only increased their offer to approximately $50MM, a $500K difference in annual salary and still well below the max, according to Wojnarowski’s sources.
9:01pm: The Suns and Eric Bledsoe have made progress in the last few days on a new contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets. The two sides had been in a stalemate since Bledsoe balked at Phoenix’s initial four-year, $48MM offer. The Yahoo! scribe says a deal is not imminent, but that serious progress is being made.
Bledsoe had signaled a willingness to sign the Suns’ qualifying offer rather than settle on a contract below the max. The Rich Paul client had been seeking sign-and-trade opportunities with other teams, but Phoenix hasn’t been eager to facilitate any such move according to the latest reports. The most notable suitor was Minnesota, as the Wolves were reportedly willing to give the point guard a maximum salary had Phoenix been open to dealing for anyone on their roster.
While Bledsoe’s camp has been unwilling to budge, the Suns have been open to upping their offer. If the explosive point guard signs for less than a virtual max contract, however, Phoenix will have gotten the better end of the market this summer. While Chandler Parsons (near max) and Gordon Hayward (full max) were signed to lucrative offer sheets as restricted free agents, Phoenix effectively spooked other teams from inking Bledsoe to the same by insisting they would match any such offer. It’s clear that at least one team would have valued Bledsoe at the max on the open market, but Phoenix is attempting to use the mechanics of restricted free agency to secure him for the long term for substantially less.