Through four games, the Phoenix Suns’ season has already begun to spiral out of control. Sitting with a 1-3 record at the bottom of the Western Conference barrel, 2017 is already looking like another lost season and, while his tweet may not have caused it, Eric Bledsoe certainly hasn’t helped the situation.
I Dont wanna be here
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
Bledsoe has been synonymous with trade rumors over parts of the past three years and, with this tweet, his desire for a new home was seemingly announced to the world and, most importantly, the Suns. Since, Phoenix General Manager Ryan McDonough has all but confirmed Bledsoe’s request, and has dismissed him from the team while they sort things out. With his foot already out the door, where are some of the better landing spots for Bledsoe?
The Indiana Pacers don’t play in the largest market, nor will they be the most successful team on this list during the season or even in the next few seasons. What the Pacers do have, however, is an opportunity. The NBA is a point guard driven league, and the Pacers are one of the few teams in the Association without a future at the position. While Bledsoe, 27, may not exactly be the long-term answer either, his defensive acumen and overall upside make him a much better option than Darren Collison and any other able-bodied point guards currently available. While Bledsoe certainly won’t fill the shoes vacated by Paul George, his presence will allow the Pacers to take advantage of a weak Eastern Conference and, at the very least, remain relevant throughout the regular season. Bledsoe alongside Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young would make for quite the athletic core as well.
The Denver Nuggets almost seem like an obvious destination for Bledsoe. Their roster is nearly complete, with breakout candidate Gary Harris manning the two-guard position and Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap roaming the front-court. But, like the Pacers, the Nuggets future at the point guard position is unclear. Emmanuel Mudiay is not the answer and Jamal Murray hasn’t exactly impressed (albeit a small sample size). Bledsoe would instantly improve a putrid Nuggets defense that allowed over 113 points per 100 possessions last season. At the same time, he would alleviate some of the pressure felt by Jokic on the offensive end and make for a much more balanced attack.
San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the league. Dejounte Murray has impressed in the season’s early goings. But Bledsoe is the ideal acquisition for the San Antonio Spurs. While they may have a bevy of options at the position (Murray, rookie Derrick White, eventually Tony Parker), none are arguably better than Bledsoe. And with Kawhi Leonard on the shelf for the foreseeable future —
the Spurs have yet to provide a timetable for his return to the court — San Antonio will need all the help they can get in order to maintain a seat near the top of the Western Conference hierarchy. While he may not improve their already elite defense, Bledsoe adds another wrinkle to Popovich’s game plan that teams need to prepare for and, following his return, would alleviate some of the pressure from Leonard on the defensive end.
A Bledsoe acquisition by the Milwaukee Bucks would inadvertently address their shooting guard position, arguably the weakest spot in their starting lineup, as opposed to their point guard position. With Bledsoe in the fold, Jason Kidd would be able to slide second-year guard Malcolm Brogdon to shooting guard and Tony Snell to the bench, improving the team’s starting lineup and overall depth. The athletic tandem of Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is seemingly on his own Most Valuable Player destruction tour, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to watch either. Like the Pacers, a Bledsoe acquisition would help the Bucks take advantage of a dilapidated Eastern Conference and put them in a position to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Central Divison title.
If winning is the primary objective, what better situation is there, short of the Golden State Warriors, than partnering with LeBron James? Bledsoe has been stuck in a Phoenix’s losing culture for years and the change of scenery and energy, coupled with his new running mate in James, would almost certainly elevate his play to a new level. The Cavaliers have a clear need at the point guard position — Derrick Rose is already on the mend with an ankle injury and Isaiah Thomas is unlikely to return before midseason — after resorting to starting James at the position on Tuesday. An instant upgrade to their horrid defense as well, the Cavaliers need to make a move for a player like Bledsoe if they want to see the NBA Finals fourth installment of Warriors vs. Cavaliers come to fruition. The fact that the two teams had trade discussions earlier in the offseason should help the Cavaliers chances and, with Bledsoe’s value dropping due to his trade request, Cleveland would likely be able to cobble together a suitable deal without giving up the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick they acquired from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade.
While it may not happen soon, Bledsoe is almost certain to be traded at some point this season. While the Suns may not receive a huge return, at this point a trade would be best for both parties; Phoenix can continue their rebuild while Bledsoe can be happy trying to win in a new, more satisfying environment.
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