Over the summer it was reported that Eric Bledsoe turned down an offer that would have netted him a dozen million dollars per season. Potential is one thing, but actual performance should trump all factors. The guy can’t stay healthy so his court time is limited. Freak accidents happen, but it’s been more than that with him. If you’re going to pay an athlete, an underrated statistic is games played. I don’t disagree with the possible evolution of his skills, but I’m not sold that he is dedicated to taking care of his body. Max contract? He’s not even the best guard on the Phoenix Suns.
Now, Klay Thompson has gone from trade bait to wanting a max contract. The Kevin Love scenarios were put to rest when he landed in Cleveland. So, Thompson participates with Team USA after most of the star players elected to enjoy their offseason, rest, or simply train with their teammates for the upcoming season. Thompson got to stay in Golden State because the front office was reluctant to ship him, but they already have a max contract player in back court mate, Steph Curry. Klay isn’t the best guard on his team either.
Sure, everyone wants a max contract, but these two guards are very far away from deserving such an offer. Right now they’re both sidekicks and not franchise cornerstones. Look, I have nothing against these guys, but they opened themselves up to be critiqued by, unrealistically, seeking max deals.
From the Suns’ perspective, Bledsoe declined a 4-year, $48 million offer. Other teams around the league thought Phoenix would match any offer sheet for the restricted free agent’s services, yet no one shot over a max offer sheet. The Mavericks, for example, were successful in prying away Chandler Parsons from the Rockets. Houston allowed him to walk and they filled his void elsewhere (Trevor Ariza). Bledsoe is likely to play out the final year of his contract and rumors could be swirling around the trade deadline. As for the Suns, the engine that makes them go is combo-guard Goran Dragic. Last season’s Most Improved Player of the Year played well over the summer too, in the World Cup, for Slovenia with his brother Zoran Dragic. Zoran is currently in discussions with the Suns, among other interested teams, to join an NBA roster. They aren’t panicking about Bledsoe, nor should they be. Just because he has the same agent as LeBron James, his close friend, that means very little since “King James” has chosen his original and final destination with the Cavs. He’s not coming to Phoenix, or anywhere else.
Thompson publicized his displeasure with the business side of the NBA, that was being involved in trade talk. His father, former player and current broadcaster Mychal Thompson, said that he would “have to talk him off the ledge.” That’s just way too much. He’s getting paid more money than most day jobs to play a sport for a living. Threatening that you wouldn’t re-sign with a team in a couple years when he’s due to hit free agency, professionalism certainly went out the window in this situation.
The Warriors moved on from head coach Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr. They will switch roles this season, flip-flopping as coach and commentator. Jackson will get another opportunity, perhaps one that he gets to choose in the near future. Golden State however, one of their biggest setbacks was the lack of maturity. I can’t stand watching them play. The amount of bad shots that get jacked up between Curry and Thompson, they’re just so well-liked that they don’t get nearly the amount of heat most stars would. Curry, he’s a star and still getting better. He upped his distribution last season, just shy of 10 dimes per contest. He’s the face, the go-to guy, he’s Gepetto with the strings. The lead role in the “Splash Brothers.”
Thompson has a stroke. The starting shooting guard 44% from he field and 42% behind the arc. Last season he shot a career-low, 80% from the charity stripe. He drops 18 points a night, but only a few boards and a couple assists. The stats don’t measure up to the eye-test. He might light it up during the season but when the lights are on in the playoffs, where does he go? He looks like a black hole on offense, and for as much as I hear about his defensive activity, he’s very pedestrian. He could very well develop into one of the best shooting guards in the league, but at this point in time his pedigree is giving him a lot of slack.
Bledsoe has the stats to merit a bigger contract. He also drops nearly 18 points on average. He brings more to the table on both sides of the ball too: 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. He connects on 48% of his shots. Some lower numbers would be his 77% free throw rate, 36% from downtown, and 3.3 turnovers. Even bigger than that,two of his four seasons he only played in half the games. The other two seasons, his minutes were monitored in the low 20s.
There’s nothing wrong with developing and believing in a player’s potential. That’s not to mistake the business aspect of the NBA and these teams have before them. Plain and simple, Eric Bledsoe and Klay Thompson are not max-contract worthy, nor should next season change that perception around league circles. What I found interested, do a Google search of images of “Steph Curry Klay Thompson” and “Goran Dragic Eric Bledsoe.” You’re going to see similarities between Thompson and Bledsoe, they kind of look unengaged and that’s on the court with their back court mates. My unwarranted suggestion: play the game you loved since you were a kid, but practice like a champion, and the dollars will follow.