After botching their summer flip of Eric Bledsoe, and then botching it again by not playing Eric Bledsoe in November so his value was diminished, the Phoenix Suns have finally exiled Eric Bledsoe. The disgruntled guard has been traded to the other conference. The Suns won’t have to deal with him. In return, they received crumbs. Greg Monroe who is on an expiring deal, (and is an average defender who plays at a geriatric pace), and some draft picks, are coming west. To translate. The Phoenix Suns have jumped all in to the Process West Coast version, making Sam Hinkie’s legacy live on. The Suns have a bunch of kids and more coming in the future. Their 7 year playoff drought may last another 7 years.
Eric Bledsoe is glad to escape his house arrest. The Kentucky guard drafted by the Clippers, traded to the Suns for Jared Dudley, signed to a near max deal, is now far from the disaster that is the Suns front office. Sure, he forced his way out of town. That is how the NBA works for stars. He got what he wanted. But the Suns could have made it way easier on themselves.
Once he was purposefully benched in late March so the Suns could get a top lottery pick, Bledsoe wasn’t long for a rebuilding job that looks light years away from being successful. Consider that when Devin Booker dropped 70 points against the Celtics in a loss, in a totally meaningless game, Eric Bledsoe was on the bench. Booker’s 40 shots was at the mercy of Bledsoe being forced to sit and watch and act like he was all in. He wasn’t.
He asked to be traded this summer. No one in his camp leaked it to the media ala Kyrie Irving. Bledsoe was included in trade talks for Kyrie but it fell through when the Cavs had a better offer from the Celtics. Truth be told, there isn’t much evidence that the Cavs were that high on Bledsoe in the first place.
The Suns didn’t take care of their unhappy NBA player. Perhaps they hedged their bet thinking that the season would dull the rough edges ala Kobe in 2007. But on opening night, the Suns lost by 48. Then they made the catastrophic shot maker Lonzo Ball look heroic-Ball dropped a cool 29 on the Suns in Phoenix. The Suns then followed that defensive gem by getting mutilated by Bledsoe’s old club, the Clippers. The 42 point loss in L.A. was more than Bledsoe and Rich Paul could take.
No one other than Phoenix brass blamed Bledsoe for his passive-aggressive twitter behavior in the aftermath. The ship was sinking. The Suns forced him not to play. The Suns fined him. And here we are.
Milwaukee was always on the table. The Suns wanted Malcolm Brogdon (of course they did) in what they thought was an even swap. A guard for a guard. But the math was all wrong. Brogdon was Rookie of the Year. He is 24 years old. Bledsoe is 27 and has had two knee issues. He has missed more than 85 Suns games because of injury. Brogdon leaving Milwaukee was dead on arrival.
So the Suns took crumbs in Monroe. Get what you can get. This season is a wash anyway. The Suns will make sure they finish in the bottom three. But my favorite part in the Suns messiness is when GM Ryan McDonough said Bledsoe was getting bad advice from agent Rich Paul. Would that be the summer advice when he privately asked McDonough to move him, giving the Suns all the leverage?
Losing twice by 40 points, trailing by 58 points in the first game of the season, is a recipe for dysfunction. A veteran player is going to want to bail, particularly after he wanted out in the summer. McDonough did nothing to appease Bledsoe or Rich Paul. They procrastinated and got burned.
Now Bledsoe is relieved. They need him in Milwaukee. Sorry Dellavedova, Bledsoe just ate up your minutes. Bledsoe has had two 20 points scoring years in his career and they happened back-to-back, 2015-2017, as did his two years with a PER of 20.0. His defense in those years has been pretty pathetic. But the Bucks hope that is the result of playing with kids who care more about dunking and scoring 70 points than they do about guarding people.
Bledsoe has never been a midrange shooter. But he is the wing creator and speedster the Bucks desperately need to play off of Giannis and help the floor spacing.
“I’m in my prime and headed towards a competitive situation in the Eastern Conference. I felt like it was time for me to find a better situation for my career.” (Eric Bledsoe)
photo via llananba