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On Thursday, the Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe failed to agree on a contract that would extend the fourth-year player's future in the Valley, effectively destining him for restricted free agency at season's end.

By missing the extension window, the Suns will now have to wait until next summer to re-ignite contract negotiations.

The earliest that those talks could begin is July 1, 2014. And then, the first-year starter is reportedly expected to seek a max deal of $59 million over four years. Sporting News first dropped the hint that Bledsoe was eyeing max money, adding that the 23-year-old's expectations for the 2013-14 season were such that such a contract wasn't out of the question.

...The failure to come to a contract extension this week, which usually is a result of a team's reluctance to commit to a player, actually stemmed more from Bledsoe's reluctance to sign on now than from the Suns' tepidness in making him a key part of their future. 



As one league source told Sporting News, "He is probably going to want a max deal. If he plays the way he thinks he is going to, he will get it, too."



Bledsoe, of course, is starting for the first time of his career this season with the Suns after spending his first three years in the NBA backing up Los Angeles Clippers' point guard Chris Paul. He has never before averaged more than 22.7 minutes per game in an NBA season and, through his first three seasons, the University of Kentucky product has averaged just 6.7 points, 3.0 assists per game and a .432 field-goal percentage.

Arizona Sports 620's Craig Grialou caught up with Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby on Friday. And despite the organization's failure to lock up Bledsoe with a multi-year extension, Babby seemed confident in the team's ability to keep Bledsoe in orange for the foreseeable future.

The point guard himself, meanwhile, sounded optimistic about staying with the Suns, too, stating his focus on the immediate future and its games.

Jules Tompkins,

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