Jared Dudley signs five-year extension with Phoenix Suns


Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Mike Conley … and Jared Dudley.

Those five players are the only members of the 2007 NBA Draft class to receive a contract extension after Dudley inked a five-year, $22.5 million deal with the Phoenix Suns right at the midnight EDT deadline for players from his class.

According to The Arizona Republic, Dudley will make a base salary of $4.25 million each season and will receive an additional $125,000 in incentives for the Suns both reaching the second round and the conference finals. It also includes a player option in the fifth year.

But while the aforementioned quartet were all top-10 picks and all but Conley are bonafide studs, Dudley was the No. 22 pick who re-invented his game and became a player the Suns didn’t want to risk losing this offseason.

Even Dudley himself didn’t expect a deal to go down with so many teams wanting to wait on the result of this year’s labor negotiations before committing to players from this draft class. However, Dudley clearly wanted to stay in Phoenix and the feeling was mutual, leading to the last-second deal.

“Jared Dudley is a valued member of what makes this franchise special,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in a release.  “The uncertain future made these discussions challenging; but in the end, good will prevailed and we are delighted to have reached an agreement.”

The deal makes sense for Dudley because he receives financial security in an uncertain market, one that saw the fewest number of extensions for draft picks ever, according to AOL FanHouse.

Meanwhile, the Suns get price control on a quality young player who they clearly envision as part of their future. Especially when you consider the kind of contracts tossed around this offseason, Dudley for $4.25 million is quite the deal for Phoenix. If the two sides had not reached an agreement, Dudley would have become a restricted free agent this offseason, so the Suns still could have matched any offer.

Dudley, who averaged a career-high 8.2 points per game last year, came to the Suns as a throw-in of the Jason Richardson deal from Charlotte, but immediately after Alvin Gentry replaced Terry Porter, he became a quality rotation player. Last season his hustle, energy and three-point shooting typified Phoenix’s elite bench.

He’s a player who has continued to prove skeptics wrong throughout his career, and most importantly a guy who has always gotten better. Dudley strives to improve on one NBA skill every offseason. Last summer he worked on his three-point shooting and turned in the fourth-best three-point shooting season in all the NBA in 2009-10 (45.8 percent).

This summer he worked on shooting pull-up jumpers off the dribble to combat teams that run him off the three-point line, and thus a non-existent phase in his game last year has become another weapon. Dudley also slimmed down about 15 pounds and lowered his body fat to around seven percent to help him defend shooting guards.

Dudley’s popularity has skyrocketed in large part due to the way he’s embraced social media, Twitter in particular. He keeps the locker room loose with his laid-back personality and popular JMZ videos, in which he gives fans an inside look at the Suns and cracks teammates up at the same time.

His refreshing takes on Twitter — which has even included a fallacious breaking news report of LeBron going to New York — has ingratiated himself to his fans.

Thus it’s likely no surprise that he excitedly tweeted the following reaction to his extension:

"Breaking News!! This is bigger then @KingJames going to Miami,bigger then Brett Favre goin to Minn.I have just sign a 5yr deal with the SunsYes Suns fans!!!! 5 yr Max deal!!!!!!! Lol ok not max but a fair and good deal.. Glad to be apart of this org future.First off have to give God all the glory and praise cuz without him this could not be possible. My Family for always be there supporting meGotta also thank Alvin Gentry for giving me an opp to show the world what I can do.. Can’t forget @the_real_nash, he gets everybody paid!!!!Last but not least I have to thank U the Fans!!!! For all the support u have given me.. It means a lot..JMZ now has a bigger budget lol"

Dudley earned this extension by becoming indispensable to the Suns on the floor as a do-everything hustle player, as well as a quality 3-D guy (three-pointers and defense). Even more so, he used his social media charm to become the kind of fan favorite that Suns fans wanted to see stick around for a few more years.

Dudley, Suns management and the fans all got their wish, as Dudley will be tweeting, hustling and knocking down threes for the next five years in Phoenix.

No deal for Clark

Although this is a happy day for Dudley, it must be a sad one for Earl Clark. No news broke of his third-year option being picked up, a rare circumstance for a lottery pick.

The option would have been for only $2.03 million, really not a whole lot of money in the scheme of NBA finances. I would have liked to have seen Clark, 22, around another year since he is still so raw and potentially could develop into an NBA player one day with his elite athleticism. That the Suns didn’t pick up the option is really telling about how they feel about his future.