Updated Nov 1, 2013 - 3:41 pm
Eric Bledsoe remains ‘important part' of Phoenix Suns despite no deal
Eric Bledsoe is committed to the Suns.
The two parties, however, could not agree on common ground to solidify that commitment in the form of a contract extension.
The Oct. 31 deadline passed without a deal being reached.
"It's no reflection on our excitement to have Eric here and our expectation that he's going to be here for a long, long time," Suns president of basketball operations, Lon Babby, said.
"It's just one step in a process."
The Suns and Bledsoe were not alone.
Only six players from the 2010 NBA draft class received extensions: John Wall, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Larry Sanders and Quincy Pondexter.
"You saw a lot of good players around the league: Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Avery Bradley, they didn't do extensions and they had been with their teams for a number of years," Babby said.
"In our case, it's very rare to have a player traded and then do a rookie extension before he's really played for that team. That's hard. And in this situation made harder by the fact that we're both trying to project his performance and his market value. He's never played this role before. It's a little hard to assess that."
Bledsoe, whom the Suns acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a three-team trade, is in his first season as a full-time starter.
Babby said the plan is to resume negotiations in July, when the 23-year-old point guard becomes a restricted free agent, meaning the Suns can match any offer sheet he might sign with another team.
"In the meantime," he said Friday, "everybody throughout this organization will root like crazy for Eric to have a great year. If that means we have to pay him a higher market value over the summer, that's a good thing because that means he would have produced at a very high level."
For his part, Bledsoe said the contract talks weren't a distraction and won't be moving forward.
"I was worried about the season," he said. "We play Utah tonight and that's where my mind is focused at right now."
Considering he's been here less than three months and has played only one regular season game with his new team, Bledsoe has had very little time to get a feel for the city and whether or not he wants to call Phoenix home long term.
"It's a cool city," he said. "But I'm focused on the season ahead of me. That's all I can control."
Asked whether the organization had gotten a feel for whether Bledsoe wants to be here, Babby seemed to have no doubts.
"I can't say that we received an unqualified declaration, but I wouldn't expect that. I mean that's part of the issue. He's only been with us a short time.
"But if you're asking me is there any indication he's not happy here? Absolutely not. I think he's very, very happy. And we'll do everything we can to make sure he's happy because he's an important part of this franchise for long, long time to come."
Both Babby and Bledsoe mentioned negotiations, which reportedly lasted several weeks, ended on good terms.
"No question. It's a business," Bledsoe said.
"I play the game I love every day, and that's what I'm going to continue doing. I'm going to come in, work hard (and) help my team out the best way I can. I'm looking forward to a great year."
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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