Report: Wolves offer Eric Bledsoe max deal, Suns won't let it happen

Bledsoe

All hell broke loose a little bit ago on Twitter with the report from Fox10 in Phoenix and then Brian Windhorst from ESPN.com that the Minnesota Timberwolves were making a run at restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe with a max contract offer sheet. Bledsoe has been battling the Phoenix Suns all summer long, waiting for them to show up on his doorstep with a max offer. The problem is Rich Paul, Bledsoe’s agent, never set the market for his client like what happened with Gordon Hayward, so there hasn’t been any push between Bledsoe wanting the max and Phoenix offering four years and $48 million.

With less than two weeks until training camps start and no resolution in sight, someone decided to put some pressure on the Suns in a last ditch effort to force their hands. Windhorst says sources have told him the Wolves are making a push at a sign-and-trade with a max offer sheet on the other side of that transaction rainbow. From ESPN:

With just days before the start of training camp, the Minnesota Timberwolves are making a final push to acquire restricted free-agent guard Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns, sources told ESPN.com.

The Wolves are offering Bledsoe the four-year, $63 million maximum level contract that he has been seeking, sources said, but because of cap restrictions, the only way he can join the team as currently constructed is through a sign-and-trade deal. Bledsoe and the Suns have been in a stalemate all summer after the team offered him a four-year, $48 million deal in July.

Now let’s talk about why none of this is likely to happen and why it’s being talked about: 

1. The Wolves don’t have the cap space — like they don’t have any cap space. The NBA salary cap is just over $63 million and the Wolves have just over $70 million committed. In order to be able to actually offer an offer sheet to Bledsoe, they’d need to clear roughly $21.7 million from their existing commitments to make the offer be a real thing.

2. Because of the cap space issues in this situation, the Suns have to agree to a sign-and-trade for the Wolves to even get a shot at acquiring Eric Bledsoe. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, they don’t want to even discuss a potential trade unless an All-Star is coming back in the deal. I’m sure they’d change their tune for Andrew Wiggins, but the Wolves aren’t even going to pretend to entertain that so it’s a nonstarter. Because of the lack of sign-and-trade possibilities, I could offer Bledsoe a max offer sheet and it would mean the same as Flip Saunders doing it.

3. Even if the Suns did want to entertain a sign-and-trade possibility with the Wolves, there are so many complications in getting a package together the Wolves would be willing to give up and the Suns would even consider accepting (outside of Wiggins, of course). I wrote about it a bit on CBSSports.com:

Secondly, a sign-and-trade between these two teams is also complicated. The Wolves would have to offer up about $10-11 million in returning salary. The Suns aren’t just going to give Bledsoe away to give him away. You’re probably talking a draft pick in return and/orRicky Rubio as the starting point. That’s not impossible by any means but the Suns have Goran Dragic and don’t exactly need a backcourt of Dragic and Rubio together. They wouldn’t play off each other the same way Bledsoe and Dragic did.

The Suns aren’t going to accept Nikola Pekovic’s $47.9 million owed over the next four seasons. They’re probably not thrilled about taking Corey Brewer at $9.6 million over the next two years, Kevin Martin’s $21.2 million over the next three years, or Chase Budinger’s $10 million over the next two years (considering his knee injury). You could maybe package Rubio, J.J. Barea’s expiring deal, and another player plus a pick, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense with the Rubio-Dragic pairing unless they believe Dragic may leave in free agency too in 2015 if he opts out.

4. There are two reasons why it makes sense for this rumor to be leaked to the press. First, Rich Paul hasn’t been able to get anywhere on his client’s restricted free agency with getting a max offer sheet because he took too long to take it seriously. It turns out when he’s not representing the best player in the world, he’s not a very good agent. Secondly, the Wolves currently need to find a little leverage to keep Ricky Rubio’s contract extension number down.

Dan Fegan wants to leverage Rubio’s potential stardom into a big offer from the Wolves before the October 31 deadline for contract extensions involving the 2011 rookie class. The Wolves having a backup option in a potential Bledsoe deal (if we pretend it’s possible) takes away a lot of leverage. Whether the Wolves or Rich Paul leaked this out to the media, it is theoretically beneficial for both. My money would be on it being Bledsoe’s camp leaking it out. The Wolves have likely called about Bledsoe at some point but it going beyond a courtesy call seems unlikely without Kevin Love there to come back in the trade.

5. I’d put the chances of anything happening being around 2-5% and even that seems high, but I guess anything is possible.

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16 Responsesso far.

  1. Jeff says:

    Why do you and everyone else hate on Rich Paul so much? He is taking all this heat, as if he is the story of this RFA stalemate. I don’t remember any of the Greg Monroe stories point the finger at his Agent…even though he ended up taking a measley 5.5 mil, and a huge risk by signing his qualifying offer. Last year when Pekovic and the wolves were at a stalement no one was talking about his agent. I don’t know Rich Paul from a hole in the ground, but from what I’ve read he has some solid people working for/with him, and he seems to have done pretty well with LBJ. Maybe make this story about Bledsoe…or the Suns…and not mentioning Paul like 5 times?

  2. farnorth says:

    Can we imagine a world for just a moment where we trade Martin and JJ for Bledsoe and revel in that moment for that instance?

    OK that was fun….. But it sounds about right Zach, The Wolves are trying to gain leverage on Rubio while Bledsoe’s group is doing the same to Phoenix.

    Bummer….. It was a nice thought for a while there.

  3. David says:

    yes Martin an Barea Shabazz and a pick and I would still pull he trigger.

  4. Tim says:

    This is fun to dream about at least.

  5. telecustom says:

    why does it seem that most people actually LIKE this trade? this is a horrible fit for everybody involved! why would we want bledsoe alongside rubio, this would be the worst shooting backcourt in the history of everything. why would we deal rubio for a somewhat-upgrade-but-same-type kind of guy who is more aggressive but doesn’t pass as well, is injury prone and doesn’t shoot well? I’m not even sure bledsoe is better than rubio in net production for the team as it is anyway – if you trade the most tradeable asset in rubio, should we really settle for bledsoe? how ’bout someone who can shoot? and how does this make any sense for the suns?
    I don’t see any upside for anyone in this trade. it has to be about the contract, otherwise I’m going to puke.

  6. awgrbr says:

    Don’t forget the $4M trade exception the wolves picked up in the Wiggins/Young deal… I doubt this trade happens, but it could make financial sense for both teams. Still this is total posturing, and I like that the FO seems to have grown a pair.

  7. David says:

    if we could get him without losing rubio pek dieng or wiggins we should consider it at least

  8. Patrick says:

    This is outstanding sports journalism. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw some of these reports, but I really didn’t see how in the world this made any sense for either team. I said, “I bet that pretty early in the morning there’ll be an article on AWolfAmongWolves that’ll make sense of this.” Yep, and thank you!

    I agree with fannorth that if we could make this happen without giving up a lot, it’d be a dream. Just having to pay Eric Bledsoe over $15M a year seems borderline with it to begin with, let alone having to pay him AND give up anything of value. But the guy did have almost a 20 PER last year and is obviously a much better scorer than Rubio.

    I do see a potential negative side effect for the Wolves that the article and none of the responses mention, and that’s is: Does this start to strain our relationship with Rubio? What must he be thinking right now as he hears that his employer is willing to offer a max deal to another PG, but isn’t willing to do the same for him? We shot ourselves in the foot a few years ago by not offering Love a max deal. Rubio doesn’t appear to be on the path to becoming as impact a player as what Love became, but I hope this isn’t step 1 down a path that’ll lead to the Wolves losing another star player because they didn’t make him feel appreciated.

  9. Brady Skog says:

    I believe that people need to realize and look at the facts. Why wouldn’t you trade for Mr. Bledsoe? He plays at both ends of the court. Gets the bench excited and brings other players level of play to a higher level. You know, Change is good and this is business so leave your personal life at home.

    Predict the future…

  10. Mitch Wilde says:

    I’m not sure why the Wolves would make this offer unless they had some kind of plan, with rubio seeing this I’m sure he isn’t too happy. I will pretend for a bit that the Suns would entertain offers and that the Wolves are able to get JJ off the books and use our trade exception. I see the Wolves willing to part with
    A. Anthony Bennett
    B. Thaddeus Young
    C. Gorgui Dieng
    D. Rubio(although the suns don’t need him)

    Im sure we would jump at the ability to get rid of K. Martin, C. Brewer. or maybe even Shabazz along with any of those options along with a pick.

    If you are Phoenix you either are willing to let Bledsoe go for nothing if you don’t give him the max, or you end up making a deal with the Wolves and get a really good young player….instead of nothing.

  11. shlabotnik13 says:

    I’d give up Zach Lavine to get Bledsoe (plus removing restrictions on the 2015 draft pick and other Wolves players/salaries). But I haven’t seen enough of Bledsoe… Would he fit well alongside Rubio?

  12. Hurly says:

    Come on Zach… I get the cool video saying “anything is possible”, but does it really need to be Garnett winning his ring in Boston. Like we haven’t been through enough pain!

  13. Zach Harper says:

    Jeff, I don’t “hate on” Rich Paul. He’s a bad agent when he’s representing people who aren’t the best player in the world. Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons had no problem setting the market for themselves and had Rich Paul done his job, Eric Bledsoe wouldn’t have either. Greg Monroe’s agent is David Falk. David Falk has a track record that allows him to get away with this screwup of his client’s restricted free agency this summer.

    At the same time, Falk wasn’t publicly demanding his client get a max deal constantly and then having one of his other clients Instagram sympathy messages for Monroe after months had gone by without any progress. Falk struggled to set the market for Monroe. That’s undeniable. But he’s done enough to have one screwup not ruin a reputation. This Bledsoe debacle is just furthering Rich Paul’s.

  14. Zach Harper says:

    Also, to everybody else, I don’t think people are really against the idea of adding Bledsoe; it’s just not realistic. Wolves can’t really put an offer together unless the Suns are willing to play ball, which they aren’t.

  15. gjk says:

    The biggest problem with Paul in this case has been the media ploys like this one. They’ve been lobbing shots at the Suns unproductively.

    Even without Bledsoe’s injury history, the PG market is oversaturated compared to other positions, and Parsons and Hayward had multiple years of starting compared to Bledsoe’s 1.

    As for Rubio, it’d be a shock if Flip hasn’t reached out to him since the report came out. And any anger he may have is mitigated by his RFA status. I’m more concerned about what this regime thinks of him as a player since I hope he’ll be here long term.

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