The Suns have spoken with at least one team and fielded inquiries from others about the possibility of a sign-and-trade involving Eric Bledsoe, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes. That confirms a report from Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Phoenix, who spoke earlier this week on FoxSports 910 radio in Phoenix (transcription via Dave King of Bright Side of the Sun).
Phoenix brass never ruled out a sign-and-trade from the beginning of negotiations with Bledsoe last month, according to Coro, but the team remains adamant that it prefers to retain the point guard, Coro adds. The Bucks and Jazz were linked to pursuits of Bledsoe shortly after free agency began, though it’s not clear if the Suns have spoken with either of those clubs.
Progress toward a long-term deal that would keep Bledsoe in Phoenix has seemingly stalled since a report more than a month ago indicated the Suns were offering a four-year, $48MM arrangement while the Rich Paul client held out for the max. Still, the team has remained open to further negotiations on its offer to Bledsoe, Coro says.
At least one rival GM has expressed hesitance about the idea of signing-and-trading for Bledsoe, who’s reportedly giving strong consideration to signing his qualifying offer so he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Still, inking the qualifying offer would mean a drastically discounted salary of little more than $3.7MM for the coming season, and it’s a move no restricted free agent of his caliber has ever taken.
Bledsoe and the Suns nonetheless appear at loggerheads, with Bledsoe having accused the Suns of “using the rules against me,” while owner Robert Sarver said recently that the team hasn’t heard directly from the 24-year-old in four months. Multiple reports have indicated that there’s a worsening relationship between Bledsoe and the Suns, though Sarver indicated that there are no hard feelings from the team’s side.