Bledsoe Focused on Season, Not Future

by Matt Petersen

Thursday marked the deadline for the NBA class of 2010 to sign extensions of their rookie contracts, but the Suns and guard Eric Bledsoe elected to let the day pass without finalizing terms on a new deal.

With multiple factors in play, including Bledsoe’s minimal history with the team and transition to a new role, both sides left the bargaining table under the mutual decision to resume negotiations after this season.
Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby praised the spirit of the process, citing the professionalism that pervaded throughout the negotiating period.

“It was two sides presenting lots of ideas from a principal point of view with the understanding that we didn’t have to get it done now if we couldn’t,” Babby said. "I think everybody just concluded at the end that it was just prudent to wait until July.”

Speculation on Bledsoe’s future in Phoenix has run rampant, but Babby has and the rest of the Suns staff acknowledge it is far too soon for them – or anyone – to expect an all-encompassing commitment from one of their most recent acquisitions.

“I can’t say that we received an unqualified declaration of [Bledsoe wanting to stay in Phoenix long-term], but I wouldn’t expect that. That’s part of the issue. He’s only been with us for 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. He’s an important part of this franchise for a long, long time to come.”

Bledsoe, meanwhile, has exhibited the same game-first mentality he showed upon his arrival. Now equipped with a starter’s role and minutes, the fourth-year guard has every intention of cashing in on both.

“I’m preparing for this moment to be a star,” Bledsoe said. “It’s a business, but I play the game and I love it every day. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

“I’m preparing for this moment to be a star. It’s a business, but I play the game and I love it every day. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

— Eric Bledsoe

“Ryan [McDonough] and Lon are great guys,” he continued. “At the end of the day, they’ve got to do their job. I’m going to come here, work hard and help my team the best I can. I’m looking forward to a great year.”

Babby and his staff know full well that a break-out year could be in store for the highly prized point guard. A recent panel pegged him as one of the favorites to win the Most Improved Player Award this season.

Babby’s response to that scenario?

“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,” he said.

“I think he’s in a good place and he knows he has a wonderful opportunity,” Babby continued. “It’s our job to make this a great place for every player to be.”

“Ryan, Jeff [Hornacek] and I will sit down with him now and remind him how much we love him and how much we look forward to having him here for a long, long time and that we’re rooting for him.”