Phoenix Suns Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch: Eric Bledsoe

April 2 at 1:50pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Suns owner Robert Sarver and president of basketball operations Lon Babby both said even before Eric Bledsoe returned from a torn meniscus in his right knee that they intend to match any offer for the restricted free agent this summer. That doesn’t preclude teams from challenging them to honor their word and making the Suns pay dearly to keep a 24-year-old who’s only started 69 games in his NBA career. Indeed, it appears the Lakers have considered overpaying for Bledsoe this summer to see if they can bring him back to L.A., where he spent his first two NBA seasons with the Clippers.

Overpaying for Bledsoe would almost certainly entail a maximum-salary offer, and even that sort of money might not be too much for a player with his upside. The Rich Paul client is only eligible for a starting salary worth approximately 25% of the salary cap. The precise figure won’t be known until after the July Moratorium, but it’ll likely be close to $14MM, based on last year’s numbers. That would give him more money than fellow point guards Stephen Curry and Ty Lawson but less than elites like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. He’d have the same salary as John Wall, who shared a backcourt with Bledsoe in their lone season at the University of Kentucky.

Wall received his max via an extension with the Wizards this past summer. The Suns were wary of handing out a lucrative extension to Bledsoe, whom they’d just acquired via trade with the Clippers. The former 18th overall pick had never been a full-time starter, and so GM Ryan McDonough and company took a cautious approach, even though it seems likely they could have extended Bledsoe for significantly less than the max. The Suns gave him a chance to prove his worth this season, and when healthy, he’s done just that, averaging 17.3 points, 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. The Suns give up 3.1 fewer points per 100 possessions with Bledsoe on the floor, thanks in part to his team-leading 1.5 steals per game. In hindsight, the decision not to extend Bledsoe looks like a mistake.

There’s still plenty of room for him to improve, as his 3.1 turnovers per contest demonstrate. Still, it’s about the same rate of turnovers per minute as he’s committed throughout his career, so it’s no sign of regression. He shot nearly 40% from behind the arc last season and is making just 34.2% on such attempts this year, but apart from last season’s small sample size of 78 attempts, he’s never been a top-flight shooter from long distance. His assist numbers aren’t eye-popping because he shares ball-distributing duties with Goran Dragic.

The presence of Dragic complicates matters to some degree. The pairing of two point guards has certainly worked so far this season, but Bledsoe and Dragic have only shared the floor for a total of 716 minutes, or the equivalent of about 15 full games, a sample size that might be too small for the team to draw definitive conclusions. Dragic, not Bledsoe, has been the team’s most productive player this season, and if Dragic turns down his $7.5MM player option after next season, he can become a sought-after free agent in the summer of 2015. Dragic is also three and a half years older than Bledsoe, and the Slovenian has never played nearly as well as he has this season, so a regression could be in order for next year. If Dragic continues his sterling play, the Suns face the prospect of paying nearly $30MM a year to retain both of them.

The Suns have the benefit of cap flexibility if that scenario emerges. They’re tied only to about $23.6MM for next season and less than $1MM in the two seasons that follow. That doesn’t include rookie salaries for the slew of first-round picks coming Phoenix’s way in the new few years, but those are fungible assets that the Suns would have little trouble sending away if they want to pursue a marquee to add to Bledsoe and Dragic.

Plenty of teams would love to forestall the rise of the Suns, who play in an attractive, warm-weather city, as a title contender, and Bledsoe will draw plenty of attention this summer, as he did last year when he was on the trade block. The Raptors, Pelicans, Pistons, Magic, Mavericks and Celtics all expressed interest in trading for Bledsoe this past summer, with the majority of the talk surrounding Orlando. The Magic’s interest might have been overstated, and while the team seems committed to a slow rebuild, I wouldn’t be surprised to see GM Rob Hennigan float an offer to the point guard. The Magic would have little to lose in doing so, since even if Bledsoe signs an offer sheet and the Clippers take the maximum three days to match, Orlando probably wouldn’t miss out on any of its primary targets during the 72-hour holding period.

Sacrificing $14MM worth of cap maneuverability for three days is probably a worthwhile endeavor for other teams, too, but it’s certainly no given that Bledsoe would entertain signing an offer sheet. His contract could run for five years, with 7.5% raises, if he signs with the Suns outright, but he’d only get four seasons and 4.5% raises on an offer sheet with another team. Given the team’s stated intention to match any offer, Bledsoe and his agent have reason to negotiate with Phoenix first. That might be why Sarver and Babby have both said publicly that they’re willing to match offers, though I’d expect Paul to shop his client elsewhere if the Suns don’t at least come in with an offer equivalent to what other teams can make.

Ultimately, I don’t expect Bledsoe to change teams for a second consecutive summer. He’s only appeared in 35 games for the Suns, but his success, and the success of the team, is enough to justify the Suns keeping the No. 4 free agent in our 2014 power rankings around at any price.

Pacific Rumors: Warriors, Hill, Tucker, Nash

April 2 at 10:57am CDT By Chuck Myron

Jermaine O’Neal has hinted that he’ll retire after the season, but the 35-year-old scored 20 points Tuesday in an overtime win, and he says the rumors surrounding coach Mark Jackson and the team have been a galvanizing force in the Warriors locker room. Jeff Caplan of has more from the 18th-year veteran, and we have the latest from around the Pacific Division:

  • Jordan Hill won’t rule out a return to the Lakers in free agency this summer, but not if it means playing the same limited role he’s seen this season, notes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Hill would reportedly like the team to replace Mike D’Antoni, but Tuesday the power forward offered praise and respect for the Lakers coach. Still, if D’Antoni is back with the team next year, Hill certainly won’t be, Medina writes.
  • P.J. Tucker, a restricted free agent this summer, calls the months ahead “the most important time in my career,” but he feels indebted to the Suns, and the Arete Sports Agency client fully intends on re-signing with them, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic“Of course, why would I not?” Tucker said. “They brought me here. I think I exceeded their expectations and mine with what has transpired. Of course, I want to retire a Sun.”
  • The Lakers plan to keep Steve Nash and his full $9.701MM salary for next season, and his 10-assist effort Tuesday against the Blazers shows that he’s still capable of being more than just a sunk cost for the team, writes Dave McMenamin of

Contract Details: Butler, World Peace, Suns

March 31 at 9:38am CDT By Chuck Myron

Mark Deeks has updated his salary databases at ShamSports, and, as usual, he’s revealed several nuances about the latest contracts signed around the NBA. We’ll pass along the details we hadn’t previously heard about here:

  • Caron Butler gave up $1MM in his buyout deal with the Bucks. He signed for that same amount for the remainder of this season with the Thunder, who dipped into their mid-level exception to accommodate Butler’s $1MM salary.
  • Metta World Peace gave up $305,166 of this season’s $1.59MM salary in his buyout deal with the Knicks. All contracts with player options include a clause indicating whether or not the player receives the money for his option year in the event that he’s waived before deciding on the option. It looks as if the clause in World Peace’s deal stated that he would not receive the option-year pay, since Deeks doesn’t list any of World Peace’s $1,931,550 salary for 2014/15 on New York’s books.
  • Shavlik Randolph‘s contract with the Suns includes a non-guaranteed year for 2014/15, rather than a team option, as we suspected.
  • If the Hawks exercise their team option on the fourth season of Mike Muscala‘s deal, the contract will nonetheless remain non-guaranteed until the leaguewide guarantee date. It’s similar to the structure of the contracts a handful of Sixers have, including recent signee Jarvis Varnado.
  • Chris Johnson also has such a deal with the Celtics, although there are a pair of guarantee dates attached to the third and fourth seasons. The third year becomes fully guaranteed providing he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2015, and the fourth year becomes fully guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before September 1st, 2016.
  • The Celtics also arranged for a couple of guarantee dates on Phil Pressey‘s three-year contract. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before July 15th, but if the Celtics keep him beyond that date, it’s fully guaranteed. The same happens for the third year of the deal on July 15, 2015.
  • The Rockets have a team option on Troy Daniels worth the minimum salary for next season.
  • Luke Babbitt‘s two-year deal with the Pelicans is for the minimum salary. Next season isn’t guaranteed, but it becomes partially guaranteed for $100K if he isn’t waived on or before July 22nd.
  • The Magic used cap room to sign Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year contract that gives him $300K for the rest of this season, slightly more than what he would have made on a prorated minimum-salary deal. Dedmon is set to make the minimum salary in the other two seasons covered in the pact. Next season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before opening night, when it becomes partially guaranteed for $250K. The final season is non-guaranteed if he’s waived on or before August 1st, 2015, when it becomes fully guaranteed.

Western Notes: Tucker, Aldridge, Carter

March 29 at 6:50pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

P.J. Tucker has made it known that he wants to re-sign with the Suns this summer, albeit at a higher salary than the veteran’s minimum he has been playing for the last two seasons, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Tucker said, “The love I have for this organization will always be. They gave me a chance to prove myself and actually to prove that I’m a player in this league. It’s almost emotional for me to think about everything I’ve been through and for them to give me an opportunity to do it. Not just to be on the team, but in two seasons, I’ve started a whole year and a half for the team on a minimum contract. That doesn’t happen. When I sit back and think about it, which I never do, it’s too much. So I’ll always be indebted.” The article notes that Tucker was named by Forbes magazine as the most underpaid player in the league with his $884,000 salary. In 72 games, Tucker has averaged 9.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 30.9 minutes per game.

More from out west:

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Kings, Cap Space

March 29 at 12:54pm CDT By Cray Allred

Both Tim Kawakami of Bay Area News Group and Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report believe the Warriors players and coaches made a statement of support for coach Mark Jackson with their effort and emotion in a win against the Grizzlies last night, with both Andrew Bogut and David Lee injured (Twitter links). Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • After the game, Warriors forward Draymond Green told Kawakami that the team is in fact unified behind Jackson. “Coach is a guy we fight for and we’re going to continue to fight for,” said Green. “He’s given his all to us and we’re going to continue to give our all to him.”
  • Marcus Thompson of Bay Area News Group thinks that the Warriors would be more at risk by parting ways with Jackson than the coach would be (Twitter link). Thompson says that Jackson would land another job, but the team might not find a suitable replacement as easily.
  • The Kings don’t plan to use their open roster spot on a guard yet as they monitor the health of injured Isaiah Thomas, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The roster spot remains vacant after the team opted not to sign Royce White for the rest of the year following his second 10-day contract with Sacramento.
  • The Kings struggled in a loss to the Thunder while Thomas sat another game, but Jones finds a bright side to the situation: opportunity and development for Sacramento’s rookie backcourt pairing of Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum. Both players said they were excited to see more minutes. “I’ll take all the minutes I can get,” McCallum said. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity all year and getting a good opportunity to go out here and get some good experience and go out there and play.”
  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders takes a look at the projected cap space for teams in the Pacific, and how each team might use its cap space this summer.
  • We looked at the latest with the Lakers in an earlier roundup.

Pacific Notes: Young, Meeks, Hornacek, Kings

March 27 at 2:34pm CDT By Chuck Myron

It appears likely that Nick Young will opt out of his contract, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, though there’s mutual interest in keeping him in purple-and-gold. The team also likes soon-to-be free agent Jodie Meeks, Bresnahan adds, and while Meeks has spoken of his desire to remain a Laker, the Times scribe believes the shooting guard will probably command a tidy raise from his $1.55MM salary this season. Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Within a story noting that Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg must pay the school $500K if he accepts an NBA head coaching or GM job, Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register reveals that Jeff Hornacek is making $2MM as coach of the Suns this year. Hornacek reportedly has a four-year deal with a club option in the final season.
  • The Kings are debating whether to re-sign Royce White for the season, and they’re enamored with his play, professionalism and the way he’s meshed with teammates, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. White’s second 10-day contract with Sacramento expires tonight.
  • Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento hears it was a failed physical that derailed Chris Johnson‘s deal with the Kings (Twitter link). The team is reportedly adding Willie Reed instead.

Western Notes: Lakers, Suns, Lowry, Jordan

March 19 at 9:57pm CDT By Alex Lee

The NBA has parameters in place to ensure the relationship between Lakers president Jeanie Buss and now-Knicks president Phil Jackson doesn’t become an issue, reports Ramona Shelburne of NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Shelburne the following: “The Knicks’ hiring of Phil Jackson is subject to the league’s conflict of interest rules. To avoid even the appearance of a conflict, we have addressed the issue with the Knicks and Lakers to ensure that the relationship between Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson will not affect how the teams operate.”

We heard yesterday that Buss recently met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on this very topic. Shelburne followed up on Twitter, adding that Buss and Silver had similar conversations last year when Jackson considered working for Toronto or a new Seattle franchise. In short, because Buss’ role with the Lakers is on the business side, the league approves, Shelburne says, an explanation that agrees with what we heard from Buss earlier today.

Let’s take a look at what else is going on out west:

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Brown, Green

March 16 at 7:08pm CDT By Zach Links

Earlier today, the Sixers dropped guard Eric Maynor in order to sign forward James Nunnally to a 10-day deal.  More from the Atlantic..

  • Phil Jackson knows what it takes to win, but Keith Schlosser of Knicks Journal wonders if he should be credited with building the teams that he has previously coached. Carmelo Anthony recently praised the Hall Of Famer as rumors swirled that he was Knicks-bound, but Schlosser wonders if he can do enough to live up to those expectations.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters, including Dei Lynam of, that a true rebuild takes time.  “That is the en vogue angle,” Brown said. “I think if you ask Kevin Durant about the 20-win season he had, he seems to be doing just fine. I think when you look at those teams that have had a chance to rebuild, losing is a long-gone memory. To truly rebuild and grow something is going to take three to five years. That is just the way it goes. It is too talented a league and too well-coached. The experiences we are going through now will be distant memories when these guys start getting older. They will find positives in this season and Michael Carter-Williams will be better for it.
  • In today’s column, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe catches up with Gerald Green, who seems to have found a home with the Suns.  “When you go places in life that you think you’ll never go, you change a little bit,” the former Celtics draft pick said. “You mature a lot faster. I knew something had to change. It either was going to be me or I wasn’t going to be back in the league. That made it an easy decision for me to change. Two years ago, I was nowhere to be found. Now I’m older, more mature, understand that this is not a hobby, this is a job.”

Western Notes: Hayward, Wolves, White

March 14 at 10:51pm CDT By Cray Allred

Leandro Barbosa thought he was heading back to the Celtics when he received a call from Suns GM Ryan McDonough, he tells A. Sherrod Blakely of Barbosa knew McDonough from his stay in Boston, and didn’t know he had been hired as the GM in Phoenix. “I didn’t know that until I got the call,” Barbosa said. “So when I got the call, I was surprised. I thought Boston was interested in myself. But then he (McDonough) explained it to me. ‘Oh, you’re in Phoenix?’ I was happy either way, just to get the opportunity to go back to the NBA.” Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Jazz standout Gordon Hayward tells Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that he’s excited for his upcoming restricted free agency. “It’s weird to think about,” Hayward said, “just because it’s been four years and you kind of see yourself as staying with whatever team you get drafted by. But we’ll see where it goes. I can’t worry about it now. I’m just excited about where it can go.”
  • Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders scouted the Big 12 Tournament yesterday, and is doing the same at the SEC tournament today, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link).
  •  The Kings’ addition of Royce White, who might get his first playing time in the NBA soon, on consecutive 10-day contracts is a small gamble that an organization like Sacramento must take, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. While White is looking for a team that can accommodate his mental health issues and offer him an opportunity in the summer league and beyond, the Kings aren’t thinking much beyond the coming days. “I see Royce as a mature guy who is trying to get where he needs to go,” Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro said. “There is untapped potential. Can he get there? That’s really going to be up to him. I have to give him credit. A lot of players would not have been willing to come to the D-League, and we spoke about that from the beginning. And he’s already come in here and done some good things. We’ll look at the full 10 days, then make a decision on where to go from there.”

Western Notes: Fisher, Warriors, Barbosa

March 10 at 9:40pm CDT By Zach Links

Thunder guard Derek Fisher has said that he plans on calling it quits after this season, but Kevin Durant plans on speaking with his family this offseason about allowing him to delay his retirement, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.  Ramona Shelburne of (on Twitter) adds that the last time she spoke to Fisher, he joked that retirement was still the plan but he’d “go to Montana for a week after the year, then decide.” More from the Western Conference..

  • The Warriors announced that they have assigned guard Nemanja Nedovic to the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League.  Nedovic has appeared in seven games (five starts) for Santa Cruz this season, compiling averages of 15.6 points, 3.7 assists, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.14 steals in 26.6 minutes.
  • Leandro Barbosa, who is recovering from a hand injury, doesn’t expect to return until the playoffs, the guard told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.  The 31-year-old is averaging 7.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 18.4 minutes per game this season for the Suns.
  • The Blazers announced that they have assigned rookie guard Allen Crabbe to the NBA Development League’s Idaho Stampede.  The 21-year-old is averaging 2.0 points, 0.2 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 4.9 minutes in 12 games for the Trail Blazers this season. Acquired by Portland in a draft day trade with Cleveland, Crabbe was the 31st overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft out of California