PHOENIX (AP) Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns have made progress over the past few days on a new contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the talks were ongoing. The report was the first indication of any movement in the talks between the team and Bledsoe, a restricted free agent.
The Suns reportedly had made an initial offer four years and $48 million, while Bledsoe wanted a maximum deal of five years, $80 million. But with no team signing Bledsoe to an offer sheet that the Suns would then have to match to retain him, the sides remained far apart until the past few days.
News that progress was being made in the talks first was reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Bledsoe faces an Oct. 1 deadline to sign a $3.7 million qualifying offer that would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent after the coming season. But that move would be a gamble given the chance of injury and the uncertainty as to what kind of offer would come his way after the 2014-15 season ended.
While the Suns covet Bledsoe skills and his obvious upside, they have balked at giving the 24-year-old guard a max contract. Bledsoe has yet to play as a starter for a full NBA seasons and has twice undergone knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, first in October of 2011, then again last January.
He is by far the best backcourt defender on the team and possesses a powerful drive to the glass.
The Suns flourished with their high-energy, double- point guard system of Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
Bledsoe was the backup to Chris Paul with the Los Angeles Clippers before the Suns acquired him and Caron Butler in a three-team trade that sent journeyman forward Jared Dudley to the Clippers and a second-round draft pick to Milwaukee.
Injuries limited him to 43 games last season, 40 as a starter. He averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists. Dragic, carrying a bigger load when Bledsoe was out, had a breakout season, averaging 20.3 points and 5.9 assists, shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range. The Suns added a third point guard to the mix in the offseason, signing high-scoring free agent Isaiah Thomas.
The team gathers for media day on Monday, then leaves for a week-long training camp in Flagstaff.