A reaction to the Suns' trade for Eric Bledsoe

Acquiring Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler in exchange for Jared Dudley and a pick was a savvy move by Suns general manager Ryan McDonough. I went back and forth with Dave Dulberg to talk about the deal itself, the possibilities of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt, and the next move for Phoenix this offseason.

Kevin Zimmerman: My initial impressions of the trade are all-around very good. Dudley gets to play for Alvin Gentry and a Western Conference contender while the Suns get cap flexibility sooner and a young, exciting point guard in Eric Bledsoe. Obviously, the one question mark in this deal has to do with the many point guards on the roster. Do you see that — or anything else — being too problematic for this next season?

Dave Dulberg: I have two big takeaways from the trade regarding the point guard logjam it might have created. One, that it could work out potentially very well putting Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the same backcourt together. Granted they’d be a little bit small defensively and Dragic hasn’t had a ton of experience playing without the basketball, but it could work.

My other takeaway is that this is the first of many moves. It’ll be hard to top the WOW factor Ryan McDonough created with his first trade Tuesday, but it’s very possible that there are others to come over the next few months. Be it Dragic or Kendall Marshall or any other player on the roster, McDonough isn’t tied to anybody. He didn’t sign Dragic to a four-year contract last summer or draft Marshall with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. I can’t say it’s a foregone conclusion that both of them will even be on the roster heading into the 2013-14 season.

The question I have for you revolves around Caron Butler. Obviously, the deal doesn’t get done if the Suns don’t take on his $8 million price tag. However, when you add a guy who averaged 10.4 points in just over 24 minutes per game last season and a young point guard who has all the tools to become a budding star, did McDonough make the team a little too good going into next season? I know that’s a weird question, and I’m not insinuating they have any chance to compete for a playoff spot, because they don’t. But as the roster currently stands do you see them as a team competing for a top-5 pick or a pick in the mid to late part of the lottery? If the latter is true, given the talent in next year’s draft, that scares me.

Zimmerman: That’s a really interesting point. It’s hard to say right now because I’m still in the initial semi-shock phase of the Suns pulling off a sneaky trade. I do think that adding guys like Butler and Bledsoe gives Phoenix a much more dynamic roster, and in that sense they could look less out of order. Take the ball out of Michael Beasley’s hands to reduce a few turnovers per game, and that’s at a couple more wins. A couple more wins is also a couple spots down in the lottery order.

I think the best hope would be in what you said earlier. This is just the first of many moves. I think guys like Shannon Brown, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat can still be dealt. I saw the comments about Gortat not being moved more as a temporary status. Who knows? The impressive return McDonough got on Jared Dudley makes you believe not rushing into trading, say, Gortat for a 10th pick in last week’s draft was a pretty good call. As teams get more desperate, the more willing they could be to give up more.

So if the Suns can make a few more deals with their vets and acquire better returns — whether it be picks or younger players — I think Phoenix won’t have to worry a whole lot about their lottery status. Young teams don’t do well in this league, just look at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Getting back to the backcourt situation: Do you think Dragic and Bledsoe can play together? I think they’re both dynamic enough where it’s not an issue outside of when they’re guarding elite shooting guards. But who’s the point guard? Does it even matter?

Dulberg: I think what we learned Tuesday is that Ryan McDonough gets what it takes to really start the rebuilding process. It’s taking good veteran guys — who have more value to a winning team than a losing team like Jared Dudley — and flipping them for young, sometimes unproven talent. It’s the kind of move that I don’t think Lance Blanks could have even wrapped his head around.

And to your question, I think McDonough is more concerned with stockpiling talent than he is with filling specific positions. At this point, almost every position for the Suns is a position of need. He said during the pre-draft workouts that he wanted to be able to put a lineup out there where multiple guys could handle the ball. Most of us assumed that might be in reference to a Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams. Turns out it was Eric Bledsoe. Point is, both he and Dragic can play the point, but they can also play at shooting guard. I wouldn’t call either extraordinary scorers without the basketball, but they are both athletic enough and quick enough to make things happen without the basketball should they be slotted off the ball.

The NBA is a guard-dominated league these days, so if you have multiple guys with skill sets that make them adaptable at the 1 or 2, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Some will say that mixing and matching Dragic and Bledsoe stunts their individual growth at the point guard position, but to that I say, “Why narrow their capabilities when it’s apparent that both have the potential to fill multiple roles?”

What are your thoughts on that? And also, you mention potentially moving Shannon Brown, Luis Scola and/or Marcin Gortat. Do you think the Suns make another notable move this offseason or will it be quiet until next season’s NBA Trade Deadline?

Zimmerman: I agree it’s just about having more options at this point rather than creating an identity — granted, the identity of that athletic backcourt is now sort of exciting. Eventually, I think the Suns will need to trade one of Dragic or Bledsoe, but it doesn’t need to be immediate. I think the only drawback is Phoenix might not have much playing time for Kendall Marshall, so even getting something for him in a trade seems highly unlikely. Such is the result of prior mismanagement.

Anyway, I can’t imagine McDonough is done scouring the NBA for trade partners. Scola and Gortat, heck, even Shannon Brown could be used as trade bait right away. While I mention the Suns don’t appear to be in a rush, I still think McDonough is not wanting to waste time dilly-dallying and hoping for a lottery pick next season to fix the team’s woes. If you look at what Cleveland has done and what Orlando did very quickly, there’s still a lot more tossing of wrecking balls through this team to really start from ground up.

Final thought: Jared Dudley gave the Suns some good years. Anything in particular stick out to you (either a moment or in general)?

Dulberg: When you think about Jared Dudley’s time in Phoenix, the first thought that comes to mind has to be the 2009-10 team that overachieved on its way to the Western Conference Finals. The thing that endeared Dudley so quickly to Valley fans was how well he adapted to his role as really the leader of the second unit. Being a team-first guy, he really embraced that role and understood what it meant to the overall recipe for success. On a team that featured Amar’e Stoudemire, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson and Steve Nash, he might have been the glue guy. Maybe a bold statement for somebody who only played 24 minutes per game that season, but his effort and enthusiasm were just as important as his ability to knock down a three-point shot during that run.

He deserves a chance to win a title, so while I’m thrilled about the value the Suns got in return for him, I view this as a win-win for everybody…Well, maybe except for the Milwaukee Bucks. Have fun with those two second-round picks!

Tags: Nba Trade


    the suns will beat the heat in this years final 4-0

  • Scott

    The Suns got one trade for young talent done. It’s doubtful that will be the end of it, especially with the Suns roster chock full of expiring contracts.

  • WC

    I agree about the knee-jerk reaction of us possibly being “too good” to get a top 5 talent next year. I feel the same exact way. Here’s the thing though: while I am ecstatic we just got Eric Bledsoe out of left field, I think it’s easy for people to assume that this guy single handedly gives us a few more wins. And while he probably does, I, like you, want to be a top 5 pick next year with the *loaded* 2014 draft. And upon further thought, I don’t think this trade pushes us out of there. Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though their record and other dampening stats may suggest otherwise, their team on paper looks pretty nice, I would even say maybe a little better than ours based on the sole fact that they have Kyrie Irving. And they had the number 1 pick (granted they had injuries and such). The Wizards and John Wall. So it’s completely speculative at this point obviously, but I think we should still be good for a top 5 pick next year.

    Regardless, this was a fantastic trade. So happy Bledsoe is with us now. Hindsight is 20/20: THANK GOODNESS that Eric Gordon contract fell through last summer..

  • Scott

    It could be that the Suns just need to trade Scola to preserve their lottery spot.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Love this deal.

    I was clamoring for Bledsoe all last season….the guy has star written all over him.
    I believe Calipari said that Bledsoe would be the surprise of that class & could turn out to be better than Wall.
    Bledsoe & Dragic should co-exist just fine in the backcourt while Goodwin is developing.
    Dragic took a beating last year & this definitely relieves the pressure on him.

    Great job McDonough !

  • Petshop

    Good trade but not great. Were supposed to be in full rebuild mode and I think Kendall and/or Goran might get traded this season. I hope we don’t come back to the time that we can’t content to a title yet we can’t get a top talent from the draft.

  • Josh

    Love this deal for the Suns and the Clips. Glad to see eBled is going to stay close to home. I usually catch about 5-10 Suns games a year, I’ll probably double that this year just to watch our little guy grow into a man. Ignore all the negative BS, he makes plays and is going to be a star.

    As a Clips fan, I’m thrilled we were able to turn this into a 3 way trade and get Dudley with Redick. MUCH better than any pick or roster fluff Milwaukee could have thrown in. True Win-Win-Win trade. Even the Bucks walked away with picks for a guy they wouldn’t even play at the end of the season.

  • KeZ

    Guys, Dragic will NOT be moved! Brown, Scola, Gortat, Marshall and Beasley might…

  • esc

    Like the deal for the suns. I too was a little worried it gives us a few more games above 25 wins. I didn’t like that at all. We are still not as bad as the cats, and I see other teams purpously tanking for a top 3 pick (which is what I want). But no way anyone is going to touch Beasley in a trade. We have to eat that contract.

    One thing I see that has not been mentioned is that Butler I think is a chip in this rebuilding process where McD is going to move him at the deadline to a playoff team for a younger player or another pick. I see him wanting to get assets to make this team better in any way. that is why I think Gortat and Butler is our best vet assets for teams making a playoff push. He wants cheap and young talent to build around to make trades or have cap space to sign free agents. He is also smart enough to be aware of next years draft and wants to improve this team talent wise, but not necessary win wise. I think he is setting this team up perfectly in some aspects. Now all we need is some luck for the first time in our franchise history to land a top 3 pick.

  • Junior

    Steve Nash trade to Lakers also makes this trade looking great

    Last week, the Suns used one of the two first-round picks they got in that deal to draft Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin. As painful as dealing Nash to a long-time rival may have seemed this time a year ago, Phoenix ultimately prioritized its future. And, if it comes to that, the Lakers might have to do the same.

    Nash Trade so far has been in Suns favor. Goodwin gives us a deep back court and leverage to trade Dragic.

    The extra 2nd picks we got as well. Open up the game to get Bledsoe and Butler. Giving a 2nd rd pick and Dudley?

    Suns looking to build from the draft and having a young nucleus. This isn’t evenmentioning the extra 2015 draft pick the Lakers also gave us.

    Usually Lakers get the better end of the deals. Suns greatly top out on this one and still haven’t used up all the draft picks.

  • Bryan

    Love the move to get Bledsoe. He’s a high-ceiling guy and can certainly play alongside Dragic, in fact.. he may thrive playing next to Dragic as he won’t be asked to be the sole playmaker. Bledsoe may only be 6’1″ but he has the bulk, athleticism, and length to guard the other teams best backcourt player.

    Also, it’s time to chalk up Kendall Marshall as a wasted pick and plan for a future with him as a backup.

    Gortat and Scola are on borrowed time. If they aren’t traded this offseason, they will likely be gone before the trade deadline. Perhaps to a contending team with front court depth issues or an injury concern… Pelicans? Thunder?

    Getting two first rounders in the loaded 2014 draft would be pretty awesome.

  • Scott

    @Bryan -

    I realize the Marshall draft is looking iffy right now, especially in comparison to Bledsoe, but keep in mind that Bledsoe is 23 and has had 3 years in the NBA already to grow his game, while Marshall is just 21 and has completed his first season.

    The Suns shouldn’t be too hasty with their young guys. Give them a few years to develop before you cross them off.

    It’s like with Goodwin, being drafted at 18 years old … it doesn’t seem likely to me that he will be much good over the next two years, and I expect fans will grow impatient. But if he can straighten out his shot and continue building his strength, and get enough court time that the game starts to slow down for him, I think those two years will be well spent.

  • tolga

    hey to all. if the history has taught us 3 things: each decade, we play run&gun and be contender at least once (but never get the title). our medical staff can heal anyone. and last, no matter how bad we are, we will never end up with a top 3 pick. We are Suns, it is our tradition ;)

  • BCrayZ

    Eric & Gogi?

    Good pairing potentially. Will be good for Dud to reunite with Alvin.

    What we already know works well is pairing Gogi with the Brazilian Blur. Tore his ACL last year. Still, he is working hard at rehab & will be happy to come back here for near zero cost. Pair LB with Gogi in the back court. Then pair one of the young guys (Kendall or Archie) with Eric. This way, Eric can mentor them.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!