The Phoenix Suns' standoff with restricted free-agent point guard Eric Bledsoe has carried on longer than many expected. But thanks to the inability of Bledsoe's agent to obtain an offer sheet from another team, Yahoo! NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said the Suns remain in the better position at the negotiating table.
On Monday's Bickley and Marotta show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Wojnarowski said Bledsoe and his agent, Rich Paul, have "kind of boxed themselves into a corner" after rejecting the Suns' four-year, $48 million offer but being unable to secure an offer sheet from another team.
"It's not really a negotiating strategy to say, ‘Max deal or nothing.'" he said. "Restricted free agency is about the agent going out and getting an offer sheet for his player. That's it. It's not about the Suns bidding against themselves. Utah didn't bid against itself with Gordon Hayward, and Houston didn't do that with Chandler Parsons, but their agents went out and got offer sheets, and got max offer sheets."
Wojnarowski said the Suns' offseason signing of point guard Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last season with the Sacramento Kings, was for "insurance and protection" in case they aren't able to come to terms with Bledsoe.
"I do think the plan was that Thomas would play with Bledsoe and be a sixth man, and would certainly play a significant role," he said. "But they've got an insurance policy with him there now…"
Regardless, Wojnarowski said he "can't imagine a scenario" in which the Suns would allow Bledsoe, who averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists per game last season but missed 39 games due to injury, to "march out into free agency and lose him for nothing."
While the lines of communication between Bledsoe and the Suns may be cut off at the moment, Wojnarowski said it's not too late to reopen them.
"A lot of this, I think, is posture. The idea that it's so poisonous and they can't go back - everybody can go back. I don't buy that. But the Suns will have to make a decision going forward with him.
"If there was a number a little higher than ($12 million per year) that could get a deal done, I'd be shocked if they didn't do it."