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.
Extension deadline passed but Babby said Bledsoe part of #Suns future,"Our expectation that he's going to be here for a long, long time"— Craig Grialou (@Craig620) November 1, 2013
Babby said #Suns rooting for Bledsoe this year, "If that means we have to pay him a higher market value over the summer thats a good thing"— Craig Grialou (@Craig620) November 1, 2013
The point guard himself, meanwhile, sounded optimistic about staying with the Suns, too, stating his focus on the immediate future and its games.
Bledsoe said he's "focused on the season ahead of me", won't let contract be a distraction; as far as future in Phoenix, "It's a cool city"— Craig Grialou (@Craig620) November 1, 2013