Phoenix is on a self-imposed downhill slide, and Eric Bledsoe won’t have any of it.
Many are convinced that the firing of Earl Watson is in response to the soon-to-be infamous “I dont wanna be here” tweet by Bledsoe—that and, in a bigger part, because the Suns are having one, if not the most, horrendous start to a NBA season– losing by an average of 30.7 points in their first three games. And yet, even with an assurance from Eric that he didn’t mean what he said, General Manager Ryan McDonough looks determined to trade him away for more, let’s say, programmable pieces and embrace, as if he still does not, the rebuilding process in Phoenix.
Who would’ve thought that it’d be tweet while in a hair salon that would finally do it for Eric Bledsoe? He’s been wanting a trade before the season started and now, at least according to McDonough, he’ll finally get his wish. Will it be a contender who’ll get him, or is the Suns management bitter enough to exile him to just another pigsty of a team? Well, as long as the deal would benefit them, I think they have the luxury to not care.
In no particular order, here are five takes on where Eric Bledsoe could be days from now.
Of course, this is assuming that Mike Muscala agrees to be dealt—him being a one-year Bird player. By the current CBA, if he does agree, his Bird status will be reset, and he will be once again viewed as a non-Bird free agent next summer.
That said, Mike Muscala could be a nice fit for the young bigs of Phoenix. Alex Len and Marquese Chriss just can’t do what Tyson Chandler does with his old school style of play. A younger mentor in Muscala, with his efficient shooting, could be a better fit for this developing squad.
They might also be pretty set at SG/SF with solid performers in Devin Booker and TJ Warren, not to mention rookie standout Josh Jackson, but having Kent Bazemore around ups their second unit more than any of their other non-starters can. He may have busted on his starter-level contract last season, but is definitely aching to prove that he’s worth that sum of money he signed a couple of seasons back.
Now, in case Muscala does not agree to the trade above, Phoenix might consider this one as well—two “poison pills” for a rising starter and a quality return man: Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for Dennis Schroder and Miles Plumlee.
Calling Eric Bledsoe a poison pill is as bitter as it can get but the thought seems similar to the current atmosphere in Phoenix. Having Dennis Schroder replace him as starting point guard cuts at least a couple of years off the rebuilding scheme of theirs. The German has continued to improve since his rookie season, and just recently has been handed the reins. Phoenix, too, has more shooters and agile big men for him to feed, so the union would be, at the very least, fun to watch.
Losing a first rounder and a “peak” Miles Plumlee for Brandon Knight would be regarded as a win for McDonough. But that was before Knight played nothing like his “peak” self with the Bucks just a season prior. He’s been a reserve since then, being paid while collecting DNP-CDs. This Bledsoe tirade is a perfect opportunity for Phoenix to take back a bit of what they lost then.
Miles Plumlee had the best days of his career with the Phoenix Suns, hence the quotation marks. His game fell to pieces when he was traded, but only after he inked a self-sustaining deal. And like all bad contracts, he’s a guy optimistic of a comeback course. If he can just provide the same game he had during his previous Phoenix stint, he’ll be a more suitable back-up to Tyson Chandler, and better eventual starter than Alex Len.
Atlanta agreeing to this, obviously, doesn’t mean that they’re into the “poison pill” labels. They still won’t reach the playoffs with this trade but their young guys can very much use the mentoring Eric Bledsoe can provide. They can even have go small now with a two-point guard lineup, and get John Collins to strut his stuff at center, and breakout candidate Taurean Prince to up his game at power forward. These changes could very well be the thing that rejuvenates Brandon Knight’s game and career—which could pay huge dividends for Atlanta in the long run. He’s only 25.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Eric Bledsoe and 2018 first round pick [from Miami] for Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, and 2018 first-round pick [from Brooklyn])
Cleveland doesn’t have Isaiah Thomas until January and Derrick Rose, as expected, back on the sidelines after having his first injury in a Cavs uniform. They traded away Kay Felder on a salary dump and now only have a serviceable yet 36- year old Jose Calderon at point. They also no longer have Deron Williams and Dwayne Wade’s not much of the playmaker now.
They’ll lose that coveted Brooklyn pick, yes, but they’ll gain a more legitimate chance at the championship now, plus a better chance at retaining the King beyond this season.
JR Smith and Tristan Thompson are quality veterans who can teach a thing or two about winning championships to their young flock, but it’s the better chance at landing number one in that top-heavy draft next year that entices Phoenix to go green on this deal.
Ramon Sessions might be holding the fort now but the Knicks better hope it’s not long term. Frank Nkitilina is the Bruce Caboclo of his draft class. Jarrett Jack’s only good now for DNP-Olds. THJ’s not his dad. Ron Baker’s not a point guard. New York would be crazy not to make a play for Eric Bledsoe, who can probably lead them, and breach the playoff ranks again, and maybe relive that 1999 run.
A 35-year old Tyson Chandler is after all, still better than having two 30- year olds, one of which is a bad contract right from the start.
Phoenix might not be that excited to land Noah or Lee, but it’s that additional first rounder that makes it numbs the pain. They can even ask for an additional second rounder for shouldering Noah’s salary.
A few months ago, a similar package was dangled to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. It failed. Now, they have another bite at a similar apple named Eric Bledsoe, and should offer the same deal. The trade would be a no brainer for the both parties.
For the Suns, having the two means increased scoring, especially three pointers for their team. Ranked 27th in three-point shooting percentage last year, not to mention 28th in its attempts and 29th in makes, having Brogdon’s and Middleton’s 40 percent and 43 percent three-point shooting, respectively, are good returns.
For the Bucks, well, they’ve been wanting another playmaker besides the Greek Freak, to alleviate the attention the kid’s having and ultimately improves his efficiency. And with a proven scorer in Bledsoe, Giannis can focus more on developing his three-point stroke, without compromising much of the team’s scoring. Solid reserves like Rashad Vaughn and Sterling Brown get a clearer path to more minutes, thus contributing to Milwaukee’s youth development while contending in the weak Eastern Conference.
I could be wrong but I think the last time San Antonio Spurs had a trade was in the summer of 2015 when they made room for LaMarcus Aldridge and shipped Tiago Splitter away. Two summers after, it could be another Aldridge contract that’d force Greg Popovich’s hand to do a trade once more.
In three games, Danny Green’s been averaging 14.3 points (with 2.3 made threes), five rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and a steal per game. We have yet to see how that production holds when Kawhi gets back but why not just sell high and land Eric Bledsoe in the process. Dejounte Murray is the point guard of the future in San Antonio, yes, but that future’s not now and LMA’s already 32. Phoenix won’t say no to Green’s level of defense, especially this early and they are already in the bottom three of the defensive efficiency rankings.
Kyle Anderson beefs up their thin SF depth. Phoenix Suns probably would ask for a future pick, too.