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Comically Eric Bledsoe has publicly tweeted his dissatisfaction with his current playing situation and then attempted to blame it on being at the hairdresser with his girlfriend. Suns GM Ryan McDonough wasn’t buying any of it and has stood the guard down and explicitly stated his tenure with the team is over. Each team across the league will be testing the waters but only a few have real need at the point guard position. Usually in this situation the Suns would have very limited leverage, and more or less they don’t, but the team is tanking and isn’t in any huge rush to move him so long as they can sit him and continue to lose, so the Suns can take their time on this one to excise the best return possible given the circumstance.
Bledsoe can play elite defense when engaged, and is a highly capable offensive player. Many of the teams seeking his services will be needing his defense but also his offensive versatility. He doesn’t need to be ball dominant with many of the teams in the running already having other offensive centre pieces and would be looking for a compliment to that star.
We have outlined the top landing spots for Bledsoe here, however expect the unexpected. We had a crazy off-season and the Suns are actively trying to lose, don’t be surprised if what appears to be the worst deal available is the one that wins the prize.
Kenneth Faried and Picks (likely combination of 2018 second round picks, potentially 2019 first round pick) for Eric Bledsoe.
This is the most obvious landing spot for Bledsoe, Denver are crying out for a consistent presence at point guard. Bledsoe is the perfect fit. He is capable of playing off the ball which will allow Denver to run the offense through their prized big man Nikola Jokic, and his tenacious defense will be warmly welcomed. So how do we get him there? Denver have a bottleneck at Power Forward and Center, with 6 guys who can only play big and three others, Hernangomez, Chandler and Jefferson who would offer quite some value as small ball 4s in particular lineups.
We can put a line through Paul Millsap and Jokic, they are here to stay. Plumlee is not eligible to be traded until Jan 15 as he resigned with the team this summer. This leaves Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Trey Lyles and Juan Hernangomez.
The Nuggets should be willing to give up on the Emmanuel Mudiay experiment if it lands them Bledsoe.
Could Kenneth Faried help bring Bledsoe to the Mile High City? Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The numbers work here for a Faried trade and while Denver will be reluctant to give up a favoured son, the forward rotation is a mess in Denver. Faried is an enigmatic player. He is the purest energy guy in the league and wills himself into usefulness each night. In the right circumstance he has potential to be a critical glue guy on a contender doing all the dirty work for his team mates. And his success in this role is proven after being named to the All-Tournament team at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Faried could slot into a mentorship role at the Suns immediately, showing Marquess Chriss the ropes. However he will like act as trade bait for picks or youth. Honestly Faried should be the primary backup to Jokic and Millsap, however if Denver want to get their hands on a PG, and they should, he might have to go.
New York Knicks
Joakim Noah or Enes Kanter and picks for Eric Bledsoe.
Similarly the Knicks need a point guard to help balance the offense. It seems as though Kristaps Porzingis has taken his game to another level in 2017 and a physical presence at the one who can play both sides of the ball would be the ideal foil to the finesse big man.
Now the Knicks have a rare opportunity here to actually behave like a functional and competent organisation. The Knicks unfortunately do not have anything of value, outside of the untouchable Porzingis, to offer the Suns, but depending on the market for Bledsoe they may be able to dump a very poor contract on them.
The Knicks may need to add some picks to make this palatable for the Suns, but if the Knicks can relieve themselves of either of these contracts it will be one of the best moves the organisation has made since the signing of Amare Stoudemire. Unfortunately Noah is well past his life as a useful NBA player. The once defensive player of the year has declined quickly over the past two seasons and is still cashing a tidy near $18,000,000 in 2017.
Conversely Kanter is a player I still quite like but not one I’d like on my team. He is quite the personality and is a very gifted offensive player, however he cannot play defense and unfortunately simply cannot be on the floor in a playoff series. Kanter is not a bad fit for this team that seems to have no interest in defending at all. He is still quite young (only 25) and can easily be plugged into the Suns line-up right away.
The sticking point here will be the picks required to make this happen. With Bledsoe and Porzingis the Knicks will still wont be competitive, even in the weaker eastern conference. Parting with first round picks might be too much to swallow, especially with Frank Ntilikina waiting in the wings.
John Henson and Thon Maker for Eric Bledsoe
This is by far my favourite trade partner for the Suns. Not only is Bledsoe a great fit here, but the Bucks can also make a really strong offer to beat off the competition. Point Guard play in Milwaukee is ok without being good and there isn’t promising upside to be excited about. Delly and Brogdon are highly capable NBA players whose ceiling’s are as high level bench players. Bledsoe brings a genuine NBA starter to a team looking to solidify its status as a contender in the East. Presently this team lives and dies by Giannis, and so far it has been living the good life, however adding Bledsoe allows the team to have a functional offense in the few minutes Giannis sits each night, give the team some balance in it’s starting unit and variety in crunch time without giving anything up on defense.
To get him the Bucks will seek to give up Greg Monroe but the Suns will push for John Henson. The Bucks have a number of other nice young pieces they can throw in as a cherry on top and this will be a nice test to see how attached the Bucks are to Thon Maker. If they refuse to part ways with Thon, they can toss in Brogdon, Vaughn, Brown or Wilson.
Pat Beverly, Wes Johnson, Sam Dekker and Picks for Eric Bledsoe.
Be sure the Clippers will be calling about their former player. Unfortunately these guys have no shot at landing him as they simply do not have the assets. Any trade will have to revolve around Lou Williams, Austin Rivers, Wes Johnson and Pat Beverly. The Suns will have little interest in Lou Williams. It would be fun to see Doc have to part with his son, but again would the Suns want him? Wes Johnson is Wes Johnson.
Will we see Bledsoe back in a Clippers uniform? Credit: USATSI
Pat Beverly holds value league wide as an elite defender, capable three point shooter and a genuine guy. I’d hate to see it happen to him but he will be critical to the deal. Further who knows what Clippers picks will be worth. They look good to start the season with Blake flashing that MVP potential, Jordan dominating the paint and the rest of the team filling their roles nicely.
Bismack Biyombo for Eric Bledsoe.
Always under the radar Orlando have a great chance to make a play for Bledsoe. Does he fit their team? Sure. Does he fit their timeline? Probably not. Is it something the Magic would do? Absolutely. Would it be the worst move the Magic have made? Not even close.
The Magic might have to throw in a pick or two to sweeten this deal. If the Magic can pull this off it’ll be the first step out of the darkness since Howard left. Dumping the insane salary for Biyombo, who is making $17,000,000 for his 14 minutes off the bench, would be a huge relief. Additionally it would open up the front court rotation for Aaron Gordon, who is a 4 not a 3, and Jonathan Isaac. How they handle Elfrid Payton with Bledsoe on the roster is anyone’s guess. He might be a nice trade piece for another deal or more likely he fulfills his destiny as an above average NBA back-up.
San Antonio Spurs
Danny Green and Kyle Anderson for Eric Bledsoe.
The Spurs will never make this trade. Not because they wouldn’t want Bledsoe, I think Bledsoe would flourish in a Spurs system, but because they would never condemn one of their beloved sons to the torture of being on the Suns roster.
The only moveable contracts that make this work are those of Danny Green and Kyle Anderson. Not only would this throw the Spurs roster balance out, with no depth on the wing and a bottle neck at the point, the Spurs would not do Green like that.
Ricky Rubio for Eric Bledsoe.
For the Jazz the question is, how comfortable are we with Ricky Rubio at point guard? If the answer is very, then move on. Rubio is a fine NBA player and fits the current persona of the Utah Jazz. Hard working, defense first, offensively limited. Bledsoe can play elite defense if he feels so inclined. The value of Bledsoe to this team is it gives them a genuine scoring option who can also be a facilitator. I believe Quinn Snyder can get him buy into their system and he can be a functional part of their team focused offense, can get them out of scoring droughts through his own offensive capabilities and can meet the high defensive standards the Jazz will require to compete this year. The Jazz could easily swap Rubio for Alec Burks but if you are trading for Bledsoe, why keep Rubio? Trading Rubio will give them a great inside track to land the disgruntled guard.