Story filed to ESPN: Suns declining 4th-year option on former No. 4 overall pick Dragan Bender. He tells ESPN: “Of course I wish they picked up the option, but I am not going to let this stop me from reaching my goals. I am 20 and I will keep working to make it in this league…”
Bender, a former number-four overall pick, hasn’t been the world-beater Pheonix hoped he would be when he was drafted. Touted as a perfect big man for the modern NBA, Bender still hasn’t fulfilled the enormous potential scouts saw when he played overseas. His shooting improved dramatically between year one and two, but he has yet to show the ability to score efficiently or in volume.
It’s always difficult when a top pick doesn’t make it through the length of his rookie contract. Dragan Bender still doesn’t turn 21 years old for another couple of weeks and still has the potential to turn into something valuable, but the Suns didn’t believe him to be worth the $5.8 million he was owed next season. It’s possible the Suns work out a smaller extension with Bender before the deadline, but it seems likely that he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this off-season.