There are now only six games remaining before the trade deadline and Phoenix has yet to make a move. While there is still a chance the Suns actually stand pat, a recently growing topic of trade interest is that Eric Bledsoe should be the first – and most important player – to be traded.
With each Suns loss comes greater odds that that they finish in the top-3 in the lottery, giving themselves a very solid opportunity to draft a franchise point guard, potentially one that will be talented enough to start right away. If this is the case, flipping Bledsoe for either a player or an additional pick, either of which could become a solid low-post scorer, would seemingly be ideal.
The reasons for trading Bledsoe are simple:
First, should General Manager Ryan McDonough trade Bledsoe, the team would be left without a quality point guard. If still on the roster, Brandon Knight would fill the roll for the rest of the season, but he is by no means an upgrade over Bledsoe in any conceivable category. Should McDonough manage to trade them both, then Phoenix would be left without a starting caliber point guard on the roster meaning the Suns may not win a game the rest of the season and would be all but guaranteed at worst the #3 overall pick – enter rookie point guard.
Should the Suns trade Bledsoe, Phoenix would probably be able to easily get at least one 1st round pick in
the returning package. Granted, if he were to be traded to a team competing for a playoff position this season, the pick would likely be later in the round, but still valuable. If they keep the pick, there is a chance they still draft an impact player. If they choose to package it up and send it somewhere else, they could receive a player ready to play in the league who is at least proven to make an impact and build from there.
This is all even possible if a pick received is a future first rounder as those can still be highly valuable in a trade now and would at least give the Suns additional options down the road.
There is the chance that Bledsoe could break down in the next 2-3 years. Kevin Johnson, for instance, retired at the age of 30. With all the knee operations Bledsoe has suffered through, there is a chance that in the near future one of his knees simply does not allow him to play point guard at a high level any longer. Meaning, while he is already in an age bracket significantly older than his newer counterparts as it is, should his knees go, then a team possibly beginning to reach their early prime years together will either be without a starting point guard, or will be playing with one whose talent is that of diminishing return. Either way, it could easily hurt the team at the time and stunt the growth of other players who are depending on a talent like Bledsoe playing point guard. That alone is a risk the Suns should rid themselves of.
Eric Bledsoe will also never have a higher trade value than now. He is playing healthy and outside of the last four of five games had been producing at an extremely high level. His scoring average is a career-high; assists are currently tied with his career-high; and his rebounds are just .2 below his career-high. He is also signed for two more seasons beyond this one. For a team that would be interested in his services, they would not only get him at a very affordable $29.5M (compared to contracts signed under the new salary cap) but would also have the next two months to help work him into their system and work with their core players to having him more fully prepared at the start of next season.
Certainly trading him over the summer would serve nearly the same purpose, but the extra games this season could be extremely valuable to the new team. Also, should the Suns hold him now and look to trade him in the summer, Phoenix will be at a greater disadvantage, especially if a trade comes on draft day or after the drafting of a point guard. Other teams will know that Phoenix will need to get rid of at least one of the point guards, and the offers made to the Suns for one of their plethora of points will likely not be equally as high as they would be today.
The math is simple:
Suns in no rush to trade + a team gets additional time to implement him into their system > Suns more desperate to make a trade + team gets less time to implement him into their system
Finally, while Bledsoe’s salary is low (again comparatively) especially for his offensive and defensive output, if the Suns could have that contract off their books and replaced with a lesser valued contract, especially with a player still under a rookie deal, it gives Phoenix more of a chance for flexibility.
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Something the franchise has not been able to do for some time is take another team’s financial castoff through trade, with the addition of a 1st round pick. If Bledsoe can be replaced on the roster with someone with a lower cap value, then maybe Ryan McDonough could look to fill a roster spot with another team’s expensive castaway, provided the Suns get an additional draft pick in the deal further bolstering their stockpile. Such a move will become more difficult – if not impossible – with Bledsoe still on the roster should the Suns decide to re-sign either or both Alex Len and P.J. Tucker this summer as each salary will be significantly higher than they are right now. Moving Bledsoe now at least opens that door to the possibility – even if an opportunity comes midway through next season.
If the Suns cannot trade Brandon Knight, and even if they do manage to relieve themselves of his under-performing contract, the only other player on the roster who is not named Devin Booker that can bring back any semblance of a return of value is Eric Bledsoe. And hey, this team is rebuilding. Acquiring as many pieces as possible that can potentially be here for ten years is a necessity to making the rebuild work – and be successful.
To listen to the Valley of the Suns Official Podcast as we further discuss the possibility of trading Eric Bledsoe as well as the options involved, CLICK HERE.