Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe is a hot name in the looming NBA free agency period, ranking as the fourth most valuable player in this year's class.
Beginning July 1, all NBA teams can talk with Bledsoe, a restricted free agent, and sign him to an offer sheet as early as July 10. The Suns can match another team's offer within three days, which would keep Bledsoe in Phoenix.
AZCentral Sports Suns beat reporter Paul Coro told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM not to read into Bledsoe not publicly expressing his desire to remain in Phoenix.
"I don't think he wants to leave Phoenix," Coro said. "It's probably frustrating for everybody to hear him not just say a simple thing like ‘man I would really love to stay here, it was great here, I love my team, I could really see myself being here a long time.' It would have been great if somebody had coached him to say that or had him say that, but I think we maybe read a little too much into Eric Bledsoe not saying things like that."
Bledsoe had a breakout season in his first as a full-time starter, averaging 17.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He missed 33 games with a torn meniscus and six because of a shin injury, raising concerns about his durability.
"I know just from being around the team, and watching his interaction, he loves that team, and he loved (them) playing the way they did and I think he really showed a great appreciation too for the process he went through after the knee surgery and how the training staff handled that with him and how he wasn't pushed through that whole process, and came out feeling really healthy and with full confidence once he was able to play again," Coro said.
Coro said the Suns want to pair him up with guard Goran Dragic, the 2013-2014 NBA Most Improved Player. Dragic averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists last season. He is only under team control for one more season, after which he can opt out of his contract.
When asked whether he thinks Bledsoe and Dragic will comprise the Suns' backcourt next season, Coro said, "Yes, I really do."
"That was the plan. That's why they went and got Bledsoe last year and didn't trade Dragic; to play those guys together and nothing that happened this season would dissuade you from continuing with that. When those guys played together, the Suns won two-thirds of their games. If you do that over the course of a whole season, you're a pretty elite team. So I think they at least continue to see how that plays out and then deal with the repercussions of that down the line with Goran's contract."