The time between becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1 until when he re-signed with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday was "a tough two weeks" for Ronnie Price.
Of course, signing a contract for the next two years — with no options attached, he verified Thursday — made the relatively minimal wait worth it.
"Very pleased, very happy" is how Price feels about extending his stay in the Beehive State through the 2010-11 season.
But there were moments, he admitted, when his bright hopes of remaining in Utah — where he played collegiately at Utah Valley State College, met his wife, had a child and played two seasons with the Jazz — were clouded with thoughts that the Texas native might be forced to leave his adopted home.
"I just prepared myself for the worst, and prepared myself for anything that could happen," Price said Thursday during a conference call.
But for him, he claimed, "The best situation would be staying here."
Whether the Jazz could and would make that work was the question.
It just took a couple of weeks. Which was fine for him, really. Price knew the Jazz had bigger contracts to fry, so his situation wasn't on the front burner at first, and he knew the team was interested in bringing him back. Coach Jerry Sloan said as much after the team drafted another point guard, Eric Maynor, in June. As such, he tried not to worry and focus too much on his own blurry future. He tried to stay positive, keep busy and let his agent deal with the business side of things.
"We heard interest from other teams. It was good to know that other teams are interested, but our interest was to mainly stay here," Price said. "We wanted to give the Jazz an opportunity to put in an offer. I wanted to have the opportunity to stay here first."
With that matter of business taken care of, Price has another battle ahead with first-round draft pick Eric Maynor to become Deron Williams' primary backup.
Price hopes for "a more successful year" in 2009-10 than he and the team had last season. Price battled some shooting woes, but he did finish the season on a positive note when his energetic play late in Game 5 nearly helped the Jazz prolong their first-round series against the Lakers before a furious comeback fell short.
Sloan praised him and even questioned if he'd made a mistake by not giving Price a bigger role during the season in which he only made 52 appearances.
"I was just a player on the court fighting to win. That's how I approach every game," Price said. "The fact coach Sloan respected my attitude toward the game, maybe the heart or energy I showed, that felt good coming out of his mouth."
Price said the team can continue to expect that from him as he enters his fifth NBA season.
"I feel like I've had some OK seasons here. I think that when my name was called, I tried to do the best of my ability and tried to do my job, tried as hard as possible," he said. "I'm not going to change my mentality. ... I'll still have the same aggressive defensive mentality and try to have a more successful next two years."
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