The best free agent left in Eric Bledsoe to Hollywood? That’s a possibility according to some NBA sources and if true, the move could cost Jeremy Lin his starting job with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here’s the snippet from the Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“Before the Lakers decided to make an amnesty claim for Carlos Boozer, occupying more than $3.2 million on their salary cap to ensure more space next summer, NBA sources said they considered making a bid for Phoenix restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe,” said Washburn.
The Lakers are hard-pressed to form a competitive team around Kobe Bryant, who is signed through the next two years for a gigantic $48.5 million salary. The Los Angeles squad did acquire Lin from the Houston Rockets but the franchise is apparently looking at Lin’s expiring contract rather than his on-court value.
“Although the Lakers already acquired former Harvard standout Jeremy Lin and his $14 million salary for this upcoming season, it was only to create more space next summer. Bledsoe could have been the team’s point guard of the future. Teams such as Houston and Milwaukee are considering bids for Bledsoe, who remains the biggest free agent on the market,” continued the Boston Globe writer.
The Lakers acquired Lin via a trade with the Houston Rockets, which sent their 2015 first round pick, a 2015 second round pick along with the Taiwanese-American to L.A.
"This trade allows us to acquire a solid player who will make us a better team, as well as draft picks to improve our team in the future, while at the same time allowing us to maintain financial flexibility,” said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchack about the acquisition of Lin via the L.A. Times.
That financial flexibility could mean letting go of Lin, who is set to be paid $14.89M although only $8.4M of which counts against the team’s salary cap. In a way, getting Lin’s one-year deal is similar to the acquisition of Carlos Boozer off the waivers. Like Lin, Boozer has some value for the 2014-2015 season but their long-term stay in L.A. is in still in question.
Already the Lakers are looking for that long-term solution and they have identified Bledsoe as a probable long-term PG of the future for the Lakers—a move that can be seen as another slight to Lin and his ability to be a starter in the NBA.
Lin averaged 12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 71 games for the Rockets in the 2013-2014 season.
Bledsoe is the top player left in free agency and he’s apparently demanding maximum salary. However, teams are hesitant of offering him the max because of health issues in the past and also because the Phoenix Suns can match any offer for him owing to his Restricted Free Agent (RFA) status.
The Lakers’ offseason has been a failure so far. They missed on the big names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh among others and even lost big man Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls. So a move to get Bledsoe could be a way to appease Bryant, who has repeatedly demanded he wants a contending team.
Bledsoe, who also had a stint with the Los Angeles Clippers in his first three years in the league before landing in Phoenix, averaged career highs of 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals in the 2013-2014 season. He only played 43 of 82 games because of various injuries.
There is a chance that they offer the max contract to Eric Bledsoe and take the risk with his injury history. And if that happens, jeremy Lin will just be another expiring contract in the Lakers roster.