The Phoenix Suns are trading Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. It’s the inevitable end to the Bledsoe saga, who had requested a trade and has not been with the team since the start of the year.
Milwaukee will send back Greg Monroe (who has an expiring contract) and a first-round pick, per Wojnarowski. The first round pick has complicated protections: It was convey in 2018 if it’s between 11 and 16, and in 2019 if it’s between 4 and 16, according to John Gambadoro. That means it will likely be conveyed in 2020, when it’s only No. 1 through No. 7 protected, or 2021, when the pick finally becomes fully unprotected.
Bledsoe played the first three games of the season in Phoenix, but he tweeted “I Dont wanna be here” after head coach Earl Watson was subsequently fired. Bledsoe claimed that he was at a hair salon with his wife, and that the tweet was about that, but he had also reportedly requested a trade earlier in the preseason that was not granted.
I Dont wanna be here— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
What type of player is Eric Bledsoe now?
Bledsoe averaged 20 points and six assists each of his last two seasons in Phoenix. Both teams were bad, so Bledsoe was mostly producing during meaningless basketball games, especially as each season wore on. But those numbers aren’t anything to scoff at. The 28-year-old is a proven playmaker who can get his own shot and decent efficiency.
Don’t rule out Bledsoe defensively, either, since he can lock in on that end of the court. (He did not try in the slightest during his three games of the season, it should be noted, and it was a part of the reason the Suns lost twice by 40-plus points.) Bledsoe has two years left at about $30 million total, and that’s a fair price for a high-end playmaking guard who can play on the ball or off it.
Why Milwaukee would do this
The Bucks’ biggest need right now is depth. They’ve won just four of their nine games this season despite Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP-like start because there are too many negative players in their rotation. Bledsoe will immediately take minutes from players like Rashad Vaughn and will likely reduce Matthew Dellavedova’s role.
Milwaukee’s on-off splits tell this story well. The team is plus-1.7 when Antetokounmpo is on the floor, and plus-4.0 with Khris Middleton. Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon are both right around even, and John Henson (plus-8.4) lineups perform admirably well. Everyone else is well into the negatives, meaning the Bucks consistently get outscored per 100 possessions anytime they’re playing so far this season. (It’s still early, but these small sample tests check out with other metrics, like the eye test.)
Jabari Parker will eventually return, but Bledsoe gives head coach Jason Kidd and Milwaukee another reliable piece that can shore up a short rotation. Greg Monroe had only played five games, averaging about 15 minutes, so that’s a small loss to pay. And while the first-round pick hurts, Milwaukee is envisioning a season that will have them as a high Eastern Conference playoff seed. It’s why they made this move, and it’s why the loss of a pick wouldn’t hurt that much.
What do Milwaukee fans think?
They all appear to be ecstatic.
I was anti-trade when I was hearing that Bucks might have to give up Middleton, Thon or Brogdon. Bucks get Bledsoe & keep these guys?! WIN!— Dan A "ConfusionSay" (@wontstaystill) November 7, 2017
Awesome awesome trade— Nick Johnson (@nickjj42) November 7, 2017
The only downside: Monroe was well known for one thing.
I’m sad I’ll never hear AND ONNEE again— Taylor (@TKeul_) November 7, 2017
Why Phoenix would do this
Phoenix only hurt themselves by not dealing with the Bledsoe situation then and letting it spill over into the regular season, where it became a public situation. However, trading Bledsoe was the only real resolution to this problem, even as the Suns won four out of their next five games. (They have now lost three in a row, meaning order is slowly being restored to the league.)
What do Suns fans think about this deal?
They’re disappointed, since Phoenix clearly sold low on Bledsoe. They had to — Bledsoe’s trade request and dismissal from the team tanked his value, but those were team-created problems and means that the Suns didn’t get the value on him that they would have hoped.
So basically after this year, we get a late first rounder? This timeline is like 2028 now— Max Holtzhouser (@holtz_max) November 7, 2017
I️ see what McD is doing. Clearing the books for next year and at the moment, another lottery pick, but pic.twitter.com/FDikA7g8dL— PHZ-Sicks (@PHZ_Sicks) November 7, 2017