AP Source: Suns, Bledsoe agree to 5-yr, $70m deal
PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns and point guard Eric Bledsoe have reached agreement on a five-year, $70 million contract, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been officially announced.
The deal is considerably more than the four-year, $48 million the Suns initially offered but well below the five-year, $80 million-plus maximum contract Bledsoe’s agent, Rich Paul, sought for the restricted free agent.
The sides didn’t budge in their negotiations until talks finally progressed in the last few days.
Bledsoe faced an Oct. 1 deadline to sign a $3.7 million qualifying offer to play for the Suns this season, then become an unrestricted free agent.
“Happy to be back in the valley of the (Sun)!!!,” Bledsoe said in a tweet. “Clutch my brother Rich Paul.”
It was accompanied by an Instagram photo of Bledsoe signing his contract. Paul is Bledsoe’s agent and also represents LeBron James.
The Suns see Bledsoe as a critical part of their double point-guard system. He missed much of last season after undergoing his second surgery to repair a meniscus in his right knee.
When Bledsoe teamed with fellow point guard Goran Dragic last year, the Suns won two-thirds of their games. But injuries kept the duo apart, most significantly the knee surgery.
While the Suns covet Bledsoe’s skills — particularly his drives to the basket and defense — as well as his obvious upside, they balked at giving the 24-year-old guard a max contract but felt highly enough of him to give a rich deal.
The Suns flourished with their high-energy, double-point guard system of Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. Despite Bledsoe’s knee injury, the Suns won a surprising 48 games and just missed the playoffs.
Bledsoe was the backup to Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers before the Suns acquired him and Caron Butler in a three-team trade that sent journeyman forward Jared Dudley to the Clippers and a second-round draft pick to Milwaukee.
Bledsoe had knee surgery in October of 2011, then again last January.
Injuries limited him to 43 games last season, 40 as a starter. He averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists.
Dragic, carrying a bigger load when Bledsoe was out, had a breakout season, averaging 20.3 points and 5.9 assists, shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range. The Suns added a third point guard to the mix in the offseason, signing high-scoring free-agent Isaiah Thomas.