Why didn't the Suns hash out a contract extension with Eric Bledsoe after GM Ryan McDonough told 620 AM in Phoenix last week that the team was "hoping to get something done" with his prized young guard before Thursday's 11:59 p.m. deadline?
As covered in our recent broad look at the extension landscape, Bledsoe was seeking at least $10 million annually. He was after that sort of salary when he was still Chris Paul's backup with the Clippers and was naturally only emboldened to pursue a deal in the Ty Lawson/Steph Curry/Jrue Holiday ballpark when the Suns made him their marquee summer addition.
Yet sources say there was an undeniable gulf between the sides in this month's negotiations. The Suns were not willing to go that high and are apparently convinced that they can handle any sort of lucrative offer sheet Bledsoe commands in July as a restricted free agent, whether that means matching the offer or facilitating a sign-and-trade if they deem the cost to be too pricey.
The Suns, in essence, were not prepared to pay Bledsoe at that level without seeing more of him in action when Goran Dragic (at $7.5 million annually) is more established in terms of running his own team. You can reasonably infer, then, that Phoenix actually won't be making Dragic available in the short term. Not until they're sure Bledsoe can indeed make the jump to full-time starter.
The risk there, of course, is that the 23-year-old uncorks a top-flight debut season in the desert, which would surely generate offer sheets in restricted free agency that the Suns won't want to see. The market for point guards next summer is quite thin, to put it charitably, with Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey ranking as the most attractive unrestricted free agents among lead guards.