The Los Angeles Lakers are keeping a close eye on the situation that is unraveling in Phoenix with the Suns and Eric Bledsoe. Not because they’re planning on pursuing a potential trade this season, but because of what could happen next offseason.
Phoenix reportedly offered Bledsoe a four year, $48 million contract extension, which they believe is more than a fair deal; Bledose, and his agent, want the full five-year, $85 million max contract, though.
They’re far apart from any agreement, and have been for the better part of the offseason.
If push comes to shove, and if anything, Bledsoe is going to sign his $3.7 million qualifying offer for next season, then will become an unrestricted free agent in 2015. In that scenario, which also happens to be the most likely at this point, Bledsoe would almost certainly sign with another team in the offseason. Unless, of course, the Suns decide to give him a max deal next summer.
Ideally, the Suns would be able to offer more, if they feel Bledsoe is worth a max after another solid season, next summer. The only problem with that, however, is the fact that there’s a good chance that Goran Dragic will also become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Dragic has a player option for the 2015-16 season that he could easily decline to test free agency.
The Suns could find themselves in a bind next offseason. Standing right behind, hoping to clean up the mess could be the Los Angeles Lakers, who could target Bledsoe, Dragic or both next summer.
Should Bledsoe decide to sign the qualifying offer, as appears increasingly likely if no sign-and-trade materializes, Bledsoe can’t be traded without his consent for the whole season … and would instantly set himself up to join Goran Dragic as an unrestricted free agent next summer….
If Bledsoe elects to go the rare qualifying offer route, Phoenix would suddenly face the very real possibility of losing both of its two best assets without compensation in 2015 free agency.
The Lakers, for example, are just one team league sources say would likely make a hard run at both of them, based on the premise that the Suns couldn’t afford the cost of paying both at that point, theoretically making either Bledsoe or Dragic gettable. Sources say that Houston, furthermore, has Dragic on its list of potential targets next summer given how he’s blossomed since leaving the Rockets for Phoenix in the free-agent summer of 2012.
The Lakers will again have money to throw around next offseason, and will be in the market for a new face of the franchise once Kobe Bryant decides to call it a career.
If Bledsoe turns in another “star-worthy” year next season, he could just be the free agent that the Lakers need to bring in. They might even have enough dough to bring in both Dragic and Bledsoe.