What really happened between Eric Bledsoe and his former Phoenix Suns head coach Earl Watson?
As a refresher: In October 2017 Bledsoe, now a member of the New Orleans tweeted: “I don’t wanna be here”
Soonafter, Watson was fired.
To be fair: that season, the Suns lost their first three games by a league-record 93 points.
On Friday’s episode of the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked Watson what really happened between he and Bledsoe. “A’ight, so here we go,” Bledsoe told me.
“This where you start to unpack what’s true and false. Me and Eric Bledsoe NEVER had a confrontation. The Suns controlled that confrontation and there was an article that was released recently that came from a source that was involved in that entire Suns era of years. Bled can tell his own story but, for me I was always a problem fixer, right? So Bled wanted an early extension because he was forced to sit the previous season because of the business of basketball. So for me, I wanted to make sure that Bled, the front office and the ownership understood that it’s a business for everyone and it’s a way to calm all personalities and keep the peace. So if you read the article, it talks about how I was given the ultimatum to either fire my agent at the time which was Klutch Sports, who represented Bled; so it didn’t make sense I was going to have controversy or be let go. And for the culture, I’m not about to fire a Black agent because ownership ‘demanded’ it. I just have to take my lumps and losses and you just have to check my DNA for that and my DNA is my dad is one of the first African-American to integrate the U.S. Army in 1954 as a drill sergeant. So there’s no way in hell that I was going to ever let go of an agency to keep my job, and at that point I had to do what was right and that was just get fired but, the spin on it was me and Bled – and Bled’s never ever said that publicly and so you know, journalists know the truth. No one’s really wrote about it and it’s part of the game but, it’s the business of basketball.”
Earl Watson said a mouthful.
From his account, his loyalty was to team chemistry as the Suns’ head coach, ownership and to his agent, Rich Paul, one of the most powerful and successful NBA fixtures who represents notables like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and John Wall.
Watson sought peace and his story checks out.
In fact, his account falls in line with esteemed writer, Dan Bickley of Arizona Sports, who in August of 2020 wrote that Rich Paul went ‘fishing’ for a contract extension for Eric Bledsoe.
Per Bickley, Paul framed it as a way to soothe his client’s unhappiness over the Suns’ treatment of Bledsoe the previous season, when the Suns shut him down near the end of the season in an effort to tank games.
Bickley said that the conversation became heated and personal between Paul and Sarver and according to the writer, Paul knows how to push buttons, Sarver doesn’t back away from confrontation and chaos ensued. It was increasingly awkward, as Paul also represented head coach Earl Watson.
Weeks later, Bledsoe was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for center Greg Monroe, a 2018 protected first-round draft pick and a 2018 protected second-round pick.