Milwaukee Bucks: Grades for Eric Bledsoe’s four-year, $70 million extension

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 25: (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 25: (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 6: (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 6: (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /


It’s fair to say, with every contract signed in the NBA, that its true value can only be assessed in time. With Bledsoe’s extension, that sentiment is likely even more applicable, though.

Bledsoe and the Bucks both opted for this deal rather than testing the free agent market this summer, yet the deals completed elsewhere when free agency does open will play a major role in the longer term assessment of this contract.

Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stand out as the obviously desirable, top tier point guards now left in a relatively shallow free agent class at that position.

That All-Star duo are virtual locks for max contracts, while D’Angelo Russell‘s age makes him a prime contender for a hefty pay day too. Guards like Ricky Rubio, Darren Collison and Terry Rozier will be the more realistic measures for whether this deal made sense for Bledsoe and the Bucks.

Bledsoe is definitely a better player than those three, but if they end up making even remotely similar money due to the dearth of point guard options available this summer, then it will be obvious that the Bucks have got away with a steal.

As it is, Bledsoe’s play this season made it almost inevitable that he was going to fetch a pay rise on his next deal. The fact that it’s a relatively modest one certainly helps the Bucks in terms of juggling the remainder of their key contract decisions this summer.

Ultimately, the main question in terms of value comes in terms of what the contract will look like in its latter years. Bledsoe’s deal is expected to begin at $15.6 million in the first year, with annual increases kicking in over its duration. This makes sense, both in terms of keeping the costs down in the short term when the Bucks have to navigate a cap crunch to tie their key players down to new deals, and in terms of coinciding with cap increases in the years ahead.

The problem on that front is Bledsoe will be 33 by the end of the deal, and his abilities will likely decline as his salary rises. A front-loaded deal would have been ideal, but Milwaukee’s remaining free agency question marks rendered that an impossibility.

There’s nothing egregious about Bledsoe’s extension in the moment, although how his peers gets paid and how his game ages will both play significant roles in how its perceived in the bigger picture.