SUNDAY, 9:12am: The Raptors may end up simply sending Bargnani, whom the Clippers prefer over DeRozan, to L.A. for Butler, with the Clippers saving Bledsoe for another deal or holding on to him for next season, Stein tweets.
But sources tell Stein Doc Rivers' new position as the senior vice president of basketball operations for the Clippers has complicated matters since he was steadfast in his refusal to allow the Clippers to part with Bledsoe while they were acquring him from the Celtics. Rivers is said to be "lukewarm" on the Raptors' offer up to this point.
Rivers still isn't keen on giving up Bledsoe (Twitter), or DeAndre Jordan, despite the fact Chris Paul will probably re-sign with Clippers next month and Bledsoe is due an extension when his rookie deal runs out next summer.
Bledsoe has expressed a desire to sign an extension before the Halloween deadline for his rookie class, and Paul even said that Bledsoe should start somewhere during this past season. Keeping Bledsoe on the roster, even with Rivers' strong support, may be untenable and most league executives expect him to be unloaded some time this offseason while the Clippers can still get something back.
If Bledsoe gets traded, it will most likely be conjoined with Caron Butler, Stein notes.
3:44pm: The Raptors have significant interest in Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe, and have begun exploratory talks with L.A. about a trade, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Raptors would like to include Andrea Bargnani in any deal, and while that idea wouldn't entirely turn off the Clips, L.A. has greater interest in DeMar DeRozan than any in other Raptor, according to Stein.
Some executives around the league believe the revamped front office in Toronto, with GM Masai Ujiri in charge, isn't keen on the four-year, $38MM extension that DeRozan got from former GM Bryan Colangelo and company. The Magic have been frequently linked to Bledsoe as well in recent weeks, reportedly with a deal that would include Arron Afflalo, and sources tell Stein that the Pistons are one of a half dozen teams that have interest in Bledsoe, as well.
Caron Butler, who drew mention in the Clippers' talks with the Magic, would likely have to be a part of a deal with the Raptors, though both the Clips and Toronto have discussed a variety of options, Stein writes. In addition to the new regime for the Raptors, coach Doc Rivers appears to have assumed the role of primary basketball decision-maker for the Clippers. During negotiations over Rivers between the Celtics and Clippers this month, the coach reportedly tried to make sure Bledsoe remained in L.A. Still, Bledsoe is due for an extension to his rookie contract this summer, and with Chris Paul seemingly assured of returning to Clipperland, Bledsoe would become an expensive luxury as a bench player. Many front offices have assumed that Bledsoe would be on the block once Paul re-signed this summer.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan told reporters Thursday that his team may revisit its pursuit of Bledsoe, and Orlando remains at the "head of the list" of teams chasing the 23-year-old point guard, Stein writes.
Spencer Lund contributed to this post.