Eric Bledsoe

Nuggets Were Close To Eric Bledsoe Trade

Denver was in the “red zone” on a potential trade for Eric Bledsoe last month, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Complete details aren’t provided, but Lowe believes Phoenix would have received Emmanuel Mudiay and a first-round pick.

Negotiations with the Suns eventually fell apart and the Nuggets moved on, leaving them with an extremely young point guard duo in Mudiay and Jamal Murray.

“We chase every opportunity to improve ourselves,” said Denver GM Tim Connelly, who refused to comment directly on the Bledsoe talks. “We’ve had a lot of excellent players offered to us for our young talent. There’s a fine line between overvaluing your own players and being too aggressive chasing short-term results.”

The decision not to give up too much for Bledsoe is understandable, writes Lowe, who says he wouldn’t have made made the Nuggets title contenders this season or next. After that, he will be seeking a huge contract as a free agent in his 30s with a history of knee problems.

Lowe also notes that Denver had an opportunity to make a run at Kyrie Irving over the summer, but refused to include Murray in a potential deal. He believes a package of Murray, Wilson Chandler and a minimally protected first-rounder would have gotten the Cavaliers’ attention.

The experience issue at point guard was created just before the season started when the Nuggets elected to waive Jameer Nelson, who played 75 games last season and started 39. Denver worked out a deal to trade him to a lower-level team in exchange for a protected second-round pick, but pulled out because the front office didn’t want Nelson to be stuck on a team with no shot at the playoffs. He eventually signed with the Pelicans after clearing waivers.

“It was tough to see Jameer go,” coach Mike Malone said. “The players trusted him. I find value in veteran mentors. In our meetings, of course I brought up all the reasons it made sense to keep him. But you have to think big picture. It wasn’t like I was kicking and screaming. By the end, we were all on board.”

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Grant, Dunn, Pistons

The Bucks are now 3-0 since trading for Eric Bledsoe, and the veteran point guard believes even better things are ahead for his new club. Prior to Milwaukee’s win over the Grizzlies on Monday night, Bledsoe told Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops.net that he’s still getting back in shape and getting familiar with his new teammates.

“It’s only going to get better,” Bledsoe said. “It’s only two games, bro. I can’t really go off two games. I haven’t played in two, three weeks. I’m still trying to get back into the flow of things. But as the season goes on, we’ll learn more about each other and our tendencies and where we like the ball.”

Meanwhile, Bledsoe’s arrival has pushed Malcolm Brogdon into a bench role, which has actually worked out well for the Bucks, who can no longer count on Greg Monroe to anchor the second unit. As Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Milwaukee’s new-look bench has produced solid results so far, with Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova sharing ball-handling duties.

  • While the Bulls‘ power forward situation has drawn most of the headlines as of late, the club’s point guard situation is also worth watching, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who says that head coach Fred Hoiberg is still looking for “his” point guard. Jerian Grant and Kris Dunn are among the point guards vying for the lead role, and both players are expected to be in the starting lineup on Wednesday, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Pistons have been one of the NBA’s most pleasantly surprising teams in the first month of the 2017/18 season, but that hasn’t yet translated to good attendance numbers for the team’s new downtown arena. Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a closer look.
  • Earlier this afternoon, I previewed the 2018 salary cap situations for all five Central teams.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Drummond, Parker

Expect Eric Bledsoe to start in his Bucks debut tonight, Matt Velasquez of The Journal Sentinel writes. Milwaukee will clash with the Spurs in San Antonio and Bledsoe will see his first taste of in-game action since October 21.

For his first day of shootaround, you could see the dynamic of his speed, something that we don’t have at that position,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll find out here quickly [how he fits with the team].”

The 27-year-old guard has averaged 13.1 points and 4.6 assists per game over the course of his eight-year NBA career, his best two seasons coming with Phoenix last year and the year prior.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons know that Andre Drummond needs to keep his head in the game in order to be most effective. As Ansar Khan of MLive writes, the big man is well aware of that fact himself. “When I play with high energy and confidence it gives everybody else confidence and you can see it in everybody’s face when they’re playing,” Drummond said. “In previous years, I played down and it looked like it could bother me and everybody kind of moved around in slow motion.”
  • If the Bulls are to choose one of Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune believes it would be the former. Portis, he writes, is well liked by his teammates. He’s also on a cheaper contract and would handle coming off the bench behind rookie Lauri Markkanen better.
  • This isn’t Bucks forward Jabari Parker‘s first time recovering from an ACL injury. This time around, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes, he does so well aware of what the process entails – and in a nicer facility, to boot.

Central Notes: Bucks, Wade, Pacers

The Bucks haven’t announced how they plan on utilizing recently acquired point guard Eric Bledsoe but incumbent starter Malcolm Brogdon is fine with whatever option they choose, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.

Starting you automatically get into your rhythm faster,” Brogdon, now in his sophomore season with the Bucks, said. “Coming off the bench you’re colder, it can be harder at times. But I’ve done both and I’m going to do whatever this team needs me to do.

Through the first nine games of the season, the reigning Rookie of the Year has averaged 16.2 points and 4.9 assists per game for the Bucks. If Brogdon ends up with a reduced number of minutes and/or touches, however, those would inevitably decline.

Even if the addition of Bledsoe doesn’t impact Brogdon substantially, the acquisition could impact current Bucks backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova.

We’ll see how it goes, but [with] shorter minutes everybody should be able to go harder and do it on both ends,” Dellavedova said. “We’ve been scoring a lot of points; we need to get some stops.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The decision to play Dwyane Wade off the bench has paid off for the Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The veteran guard’s production has risen across the board compared to his previous stint as a starter with his new club.
  • The Pacers have lost four straight contests, the most recent resulting in a closed-door team meeting, Clifton Brown of The Indianapolis Star writes. Per point guard Cory Joseph, the contents of the meeting will stay internal. How the club handles the recent adversity will serve as a test of character for the young franchise.
  • The Cavaliers can’t expect Isaiah Thomas‘ eventual debut to fix all the team’s issues, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “IT is definitely a big piece of what we want to do, but IT hasn’t stepped out on the floor in a Cavs uniform yet,” LeBron James said. “We know what he’s capable of doing, but he hasn’t played with us, so we don’t want to put that type of pressure on him, even though he loves it.

Eric Bledsoe Leftovers: Quotes, Reactions, More

Speaking to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Eric Bledsoe opened up about the trade that sent him to Milwaukee, expressing excitement about playing for a future Hall-of-Famer in Jason Kidd, and alongside a current superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bledsoe also admitted that the Suns sitting him at the end of last season played a part in souring him on his situation in Phoenix, since he felt he was “100% healthy.” Still, he says he has no hard feeling about how things played out.

“I felt like with where the team was headed, it was time for me to move on,” Bledsoe said of the Suns. “They’ve got an amazing, young, talented team, and I feel like it was time for me to find a better situation for my career. It had nothing to do with anything the Suns had going on. I made the decision that this was best for me.”

With Bledsoe poised to make his debut for the Bucks later this week, let’s round up a few more grades, reactions, and leftover notes on Tuesday’s trade:

  • Malcolm Brogdon, who may see his role altered as a result of Bledsoe’s arrival, tells Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders that losing Monroe “is definitely a negative for us.” However, he likes Bledsoe’s game too. “Having another guard that can really create his own shot, get downhill and make plays—I think that will definitely help us,” Brogdon said.
  • While Bledsoe should fit the mold of the Bucks‘ “long-armed and athletic” roster, he likely won’t do much to solve the club’s spacing issues, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post in his assessment of the deal.
  • The Bucks are the clear winners of the swap, in the view of Charles Curtis of USA Today, who suggests the Suns‘ return for a player of Bledsoe’s caliber was absolutely terrible.” Jeremy Woo of SI.com was less harsh on the Suns’ side of the trade, but agrees that the Bucks were the winners, while ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) is somewhat lukewarm on the deal for both sides.
  • The merits of the trade for the Suns and Bucks are debatable, but Bledsoe himself is the clear winner, says Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
  • The Suns haven’t made the postseason since 2010, and now they’ve further postponed the timeline on their rebuild, writes Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com, who suggests that the fans in Phoenix deserve better from the franchise.

Bucks GM Jon Horst Talks Eric Bledsoe Trade

Bucks general manager Jon Horst went through his first summer as the head of basketball operations in Milwaukee this year, taking the reins in mid-June and guiding the team through the rest of the offseason. However, as our Offseason in Review piece on the Bucks detailed, Horst didn’t exactly make any major splashes in his first few months as GM. The team didn’t sign any outside free agents, and its only two trades involving sending or receiving cash in exchange for a draft pick.

As such, Tuesday’s acquisition of Eric Bledsoe represented Horst’s first major move as general manager of the Bucks, as he sent Greg Monroe and a pair of draft picks to Phoenix in exchange for the play-making point guard. After completing the deal, Horst sat down with Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to discuss the move. The Q&A is worth reading in full, but here are a few highlights from the Bucks’ GM:

On why the Bucks made the move for Bledsoe:

“I think this was the right deal because we were able to add someone that’s dynamic, another dynamic player that can score the ball, that can play-make for others, that has defensive toughness, athleticism and strength. And we were able to do that with effectively giving up one of the pieces of our core, as we’ve talked about publicly. Also, the Bucks DNA thing we’ve talked about is real. He is a high-character guy, highly talented, he has positional versatility, he can play on the ball and off the ball and he’s got great toughness.”

On whether Bledsoe’s messy split with the Suns gave the Bucks any pause:

“No, because with everything we do we do our due diligence. In surveying the league and getting that information, to a person everyone thinks very highly of Eric. … I think he was in a tough situation. We had a franchise that was trying to go in one direction, a player that wanted to be competitive in a different direction and those two things pulled at each other and it kind of resulted in what we all saw. That was of very little consideration for us, really all through this.”

On whether Bledsoe is a better fit than Monroe for the modern NBA:

“I think players like Greg Monroe have a role in this NBA without a doubt. So I don’t really buy into that. I do think Eric fits into a style of play that maybe we want to try to be a little bit quicker, up-tempo, more aggressive defensively and offensively and I think he can help us do that. I don’t think Greg is a dying breed or anything like that.”

On how the Bucks will handle their reduced depth at center after moving Monroe:

“The same way that we handled approaching and getting Eric Bledsoe. We’re turning over every stone, we’re going to look at every option. We increased a little bit of financial flexibility this year in the deal, which will allow us to kind of be more active in discussions and addressing things. But John (Henson) has been playing at a really high level, Thon (Maker) was very productive last year and is playing well this year. We don’t mind giving D.J. (Wilson) some minutes. Joel Bolomboy is a guy that we’re intrigued by and we’re going to look for opportunities for him. We’ll consider that, we’ll look for that, but in the short term we’re fine as is. We’re not going to rush into anything.”

Suns Trade Eric Bledsoe To Bucks

The Suns and Bucks have finalized a trade that sends Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee in exchange for Greg Monroe, a 2018 first-round pick, and a 2018 second-round pick. Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN first reported the deal, which has now been officially confirmed by both the Suns and Bucks.NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns

Bledsoe had been publicly on the trade block since the first weekend of the season, when he published a tweet that read “I don’t wanna be here” after the Suns lost their first three games. The veteran point guard had previously – and privately – expressed a desire to be traded, and Phoenix had explored potential deals at that time. However, Bledsoe’s tweet forced the issue, and the team responded by sending him home and pursuing deals more aggressively.

Bledsoe, who will turn 28 next month, is coming off a career year for the Suns in 2016/17. He recorded 21.1 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in 66 contests (all starts) before the team shut him down as part of its tanking effort down the stretch. The Suns’ handling of Bledsoe at the end of the season is likely one reason why the former first-round pick wasn’t thrilled with his situation this year.

As trade rumors swirled around Bledsoe, the Bucks were frequently cited as a potential suitor, with Milwaukee and Denver viewed as the most likely landing spots for the disgruntled point guard. So far this season, Malcolm Brogdon has been playing regular minutes at the point guard spot for the Bucks, with Matthew Dellavedova getting the backup minutes and Giannis Antetokounmpo also assuming some ball-handling duties in a point forward role. With Bledsoe entering the mix, Brogdon may begin to see more action at the two.

From an on-court perspective, Monroe doesn’t seem like a fit in Phoenix, considering the team’s frontcourt is already pretty crowded. Alex Len and Tyson Chandler are the Suns’ current centers, though Chandler is a trade candidate. Even if the club hangs onto Chandler, the unbalanced roster isn’t a major issue, since the Suns aren’t in win-now mode. It will be more interesting to see if the Bucks’ frontcourt holds up without Monroe, who played well last season. Milwaukee has been leaning more heavily on John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, and Thon Maker while Monroe has been sidelined with a calf injury.

Monroe is earning $17,884,176 this season and is in the final year of his contract, while Bledsoe is making $14.5MM and has one additional year left at $15MM. The deal will reduce Milwaukee’s team salary by more than $3MM, moving the club comfortably away from the luxury tax threshold. The Bucks will also get a trade exception worth $3,384,176.

However, the team now has about $106MM on its books for 2018/19, without taking into account a qualifying offer or a new contract for Jabari Parker, who will be a restricted free agent. If the Bucks hope to re-sign Parker, they may need to move another contract to avoid becoming a taxpayer.

As for the Suns, they won’t mind taking on a little extra money in the swap, since they still have a significant chunk of cap room. The deal should get their team salary above the required floor for 2017/18, and by trading Bledsoe for Monroe, the Suns also remove $15MM in guaranteed salary from their books for 2018/19, increasing their flexibility to make moves next summer.

Finally, the two draft picks included in the deal include some unusual protections. As first reported by Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), the second-rounder is top-47 protected. If the second-rounder doesn’t change hands in 2018, it appears the Bucks’ obligation relating to that pick would be extinguished.

As for the first-rounder, the Suns have confirmed the details initially reported by John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter links), who describes the protection on that pick as follows:

  • Suns receive pick in 2018 it falls between Nos. 11 and 16.
  • If Suns don’t receive 2018 pick, they’ll receive pick in 2019 if it falls between Nos. 4 and 16.
  • If Suns don’t receive 2019 pick, they’ll receive 2020 pick (top-7 protected).
  • If Suns still haven’t received pick after 2020, they’ll receive unprotected 2021 pick.

In addition to potentially landing Milwaukee’s pick in 2018, Phoenix will have its own first-rounder and Miami’s (top-seven protected) for next year’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Notes: Suns, Bucks, Bledsoe, Monroe, Okafor

Major early-November NBA trades are rare, but the Suns and Bucks are on the verge of completing one, having agreed in principle to a trade that will send Eric Bledsoe to Milwaukee. Greg Monroe is heading to Phoenix as part of that deal, along with the Bucks’ 2018 first-round pick and 2018 second-round pick.

Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) expressed some surprised that Tyson Chandler wasn’t involved in the trade, since he’s a good friend of Jason Kidd, who has wanted Chandler on his roster in the past. However, Chandler is earning $13MM and is under contract next year as well, so the Bucks would have had to add another substantial salary to the deal to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Chris Haynes of ESPN observes (via Twitter) that the Suns finalized the agreement just when Bledsoe was about to return to the club’s facility to work out, which was either a fortuitous coincidence or a sign that the team really had no interest in having him around.

Here’s more on the Bledsoe trade:

  • Monroe and his $17MM+ contract appear to be functioning primarily as salary filler to complete this deal, but the Suns have yet to decide whether to keep, trade, or release him, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. If Phoenix buys out Monroe, the big man would be an “obvious candidate” to sign with the Celtics or Thunder, says Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link).
  • After trading Monroe, the Bucks look like a match made in heaven for Jahlil Okafor, argues Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype.
  • While Bledsoe didn’t have a strong preference for where he ended up, Milwaukee was at the top of his wish list, according to Gambadoro, who says the point guard is looking forward to playing with Giannis Antetokounmpo (Twitter links).
  • Because today’s trade is a one-for-one swap in terms of players, the Suns will still have to open up a roster spot within the next month in order to convert Mike James‘ two-way contract to a standard NBA deal, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The acquisition of Bledsoe doesn’t come without a good deal of risk for the Bucks, given the point guard’s injury history, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

Eric Bledsoe Fined $10K For Tweet

12:54pm: Bledsoe will return to the Suns’ facility this week and begin working with staff members, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. Bledose won’t rejoin the team, but he will use the facility to remain in game shape in anticipation of a trade (Twitter link).

12:07pm: Suns guard Eric Bledsoe received a $10K fine from the league for the tweet that sparked trade talks and led to his dismissal from the team, according to Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link).

Bledsoe, who reportedly asked Suns management to trade him during the preseason, hasn’t played since sending out a tweet that read, “I Dont wanna be here” on October 22. Bledsoe denied the message had anything to do with the team and said it was directed at a hair salon, but GM Ryan McDonough didn’t believe that explanation. Bledsoe was sent home the next day and hasn’t rejoined the team.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN noted (via Twitter) when Bledsoe first published his tweet, the NBA has the ability to penalize a player for a “public statement detrimental to the NBA,” and issued an identical $10K fine to Markieff Morris two years ago when Morris publicly demanded a trade out of Phoenix.

The Suns have been listening to trade offers for the 27-year-old Bledsoe, but haven’t found one to their liking. A rumored deal this week involving the Pistons and Reggie Jackson has apparently fallen through.

Cavaliers Notes: Bledsoe, Okafor, Wade, Irving

The Cavaliers were among the teams mentioned when the Eric Bledsoe trade request first went public, but Cleveland should pass on the Suns guard, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. In response to a reader’s question, Vardon says Bledsoe doesn’t solve the Cavs’ need for shooters and his desire to start would muddle an already crowded backcourt.

Bledsoe shot 43% from the floor and 34% from 3-point range last season and wouldn’t stretch opposing defenses the way the Cavaliers need. Bledsoe and LeBron James were workout partners this summer, so they have a connection, but Vardon doesn’t expect Cleveland to offer any significant assets. Phoenix is looking for young talent and valuable draft picks, and apart from Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder, the Cavs don’t have much to offer in those areas.

Sources also tell Vardon the team isn’t interested in Sixers center Jahlil Okafor.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Dwyane Wade won’t rejoin the starting lineup before Isaiah Thomas returns from his hip injury, Vardon adds in the same piece. With Derrick Rose at point guard, the Cavaliers need J.R. Smith starting beside him to provide a 3-point threat. Smith is averaging 5.2 points in nine games this season and struggling with his shot, hitting just .209 from long distance, but he has a history as an effective 3-point shooter. Wade, who hasn’t been much better at .222, started three games at the beginning of the year before asking to be moved to a reserve role.
  • Cleveland hasn’t figured out how to handle the loss of Kyrie Irving, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Irving played a key role in winning three straight Eastern Conference titles and posted a career-best 25.2 points per game last season to go with 5.8 assists. He gave the offense an explosive quality that has been missing so far this year. “One thing I did notice at Miami, teams were afraid of us a little bit,” Wade said in comparing his old Heat teams with the Cavs. “Ain’t nobody afraid. Maybe at some point it will get there, but not right now. Everyone’s playing free, it’s early in the year, and everything’s going right for everybody but us. And we’ve got to figure it out.”
  • Coach Tyronn Lue has expressed a desire to “play with pace,” but Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com isn’t convinced that’s the best approach for the NBA’s oldest team.
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