The Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks agreed on a three-team blockbuster trade on Tuesday. The Clippers received J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, the Suns received Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, and the Bucks received two second-round picks, one from each team. The Clippers then turned around and signed Redick, a free agent, to a four-year, $27 million contract thanks to a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Bucks.
There's a lot to unpack here, but I like the move for two teams.
FOR THE CLIPPERS: For the price of Bledsoe, a player they needed less in light of Chris Paul's maximum extension, the Clippers completely rebuilt their wing rotation around two excellent, cerebral shooters that don't need the ball in their hands. Redick and Dudley immediately slide into the starting shooting guard and small forward spots alongside Paul, and both are upgrades over the players they replace.
Offensively, they're both beautiful fits. Redick's ability to move without the ball should allow Doc Rivers to use him much like he used Ray Allen in the Celtics' offense over the past several years. Dudley is a career 40 percent three-point shooter that had his best years playing alongside Steve Nash, a similar ball-dominant point guard to Paul.
Dudley's corner three-point shooting has fallen off a bit in recent years, but it should be reinvigorated playing with a point guard like Paul and alongside an elite wing shooter like Redick. It's worth noting that Butler and Willie Green were two of the league's best corner three-point shooters last season -- Butler shot 47 percent, Green shot 48 percent -- so there's something to the idea that Paul can improve shooters' percentages from the most efficient spots on the floor.
Defensively, they're both adequate, which is better than the Clippers' starting wing tandem last year. Redick and Dudley are both a bit slow in isolation situations, but each will play their role in a team setting well. Nevertheless, the Clippers may be a little deficient here, even if they bring back Matt Barnes to back both players up. (They also have Reggie Bullock, their first-round draft pick).
Executing the sign-and-trade with the Bucks for Redick was also a nifty little trick because it allows the Clippers to preserve the mid-level exception. L.A. has approximately $60 million committed to seven players after this trade, giving them about $11.5 million to spend on the rest of the roster while staying under the luxury tax. L.A. is reportedly courting Golden State's Carl Landry, who would be a great fit with their roster. If they can convince him to sign for the mid-level exception, they can fill out the team with veterans that would be willing to take pay cuts, like Barnes. If L.A. signs Landry and convinces Barnes to sign for 120 percent the veteran's minimum -- a tough sell, but potentially possible -- they'd have an eight-man rotation of Paul, Redick, Dudley, Griffin, Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Barnes and Landry. That's a scary roster if everyone stays healthy.
Losing Bledsoe is unfortunate, but this is how you cash in on his value. Most rumors had the Clippers dealing Bledsoe for a single useful wing player. In the end, they got two.
FOR THE SUNS: This is all about asset management for new general manager Ryan McDonough. He turned a role-playing swingman with a long-term contract on a lottery team into a young potential starting point guard that has his best years ahead of him. That's a nifty use of assets, and when you're a rebuilding team, it's all about assets. Eric Bledsoe is a much more valuable asset than Jared Dudley, so it was a nice trick to take advantage of the Clippers' desperation to make an uneven swap like this.
Of course, Bledsoe is a point guard, so he plays the same position as Phoenix's best player, Goran Dragic. That's a weird situation that will probably have to be addressed at some point by moving one or the other. Bledsoe is eligible for a contract extension until October, after which he becomes a restricted free agent next year. So there's some time, but not all the time in the world.
But the awkwardness is OK for a rebuilding team. There's little risk in Dragic and Bledsoe splitting the point guard duties on a bad team while often playing together in small lineups as McDonough figures out which one he wants to keep. Both should maintain enough value to eventually flip for parts that better fit the long-term future of the franchise. More importantly, both are worth more on the open market than Jared Dudley ever was going to be.
Butler is merely a salary throw-in to the trade, and I wouldn't be shocked if he eventually gets bought out to return to a contender in the middle of the season.
FOR THE BUCKS: Well, two second-round picks is better than diddly squat, I guess. Redick was reportedly going to leave anyway, so John Hammond had no leverage here. The Suns' pick at least could be a high second-rounder if it's their own selection.
Nevertheless, this puts a bow on the disastrous midseason trade for Redick that cost Milwaukee a promising prospect in Tobias Harris. At the time of the deal, I was under the impression that a summer re-signing was a formality, with Redick replacing Monta Ellis in a conventional backcourt. But Redick was so soured by the Jim Boylan experience -- he barely played at times in the first-round sweep against Miami -- that he decided to move on. For their efforts, Milwaukee lost a forward prospect they buried that went on to show signs of stardom in Orlando, as well as a decent backup point guard in Beno Udrih that would have been valuable to keep around.
It's also worth wondering why the Bucks couldn't maneuver their way into acquiring Bledsoe themselves considering they don't have a point guard under contract right now. Why not sacrifice a prospect like Ekpe Udoh to sweeten the pot?
GRADE: C for the trade, F for the sequence of events.