As we enter the final week before the NBA trade deadline, the rumors will only continue to intensify, and a number of trades that were never rumored will actually occur as teams play musical chairs.
Because of a confluence of factors for the Phoenix Suns, including their status as a rebuilding team, the fact that the draft is chalk full of elite point guard prospects and the fact that Eric Bledsoe is 27 and playing by far the best basketball of his career, there are some murmurs that they should sell high on Eric Bledsoe.
Here is Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough commenting on Bledsoe during Arizona Sports 98.7 FM radio Thursday morning show:
“He’s really come a long way,” McDonough said. “Look, I think he’s just starting to enter his prime at 27 years old.”
Here is what he said about the likelihood of a Bledsoe trade:
“We will more likely look at add players to help him and Devin [Booker] and help our young core grow,” McDonough said.
The argument in theory for such a trade is as follows: Bledsoe is an injury prone player who’s value may never be higher than what it is at the current moment. With Bledsoe playing the best basketball of his career, the rare non-existence of high-caliber guards in the current trade market (look who has been dealt so far, Ibaka, Plumlee brothers and Nurkic) and the fact that although he may be a nice natural back court fit with Devin Booker, the Suns are clearly building a young nucleus for the future. The other supporting point is the fact that the Suns will likely have a top three pick, which means moving Bledsoe opens up a natural opportunity to draft a young point guard like Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball to fit with their time frame.
The missing caveat here is what the Suns would actually acquire in return for Bledsoe. The only sort of return that would make sense would be in a package for a star wing player like Paul George or Jimmy Butler, or a young potential star wing player which in all honesty doesn’t really exist. The other option would be for a talented young center, I don’t see the Pacers parting with Myles Turner and using Bledsoe to acquire Cousins would make zero sense as they are friends and played together in college, that is part of the appeal for trading for Cousins in the first place. Do you think Cousins, a player who has never made the playoffs in six seasons, would want to re-sign with a Suns team built around him and a number of 21-year-old’s in this hypothetical scenario? I’m going to say no.
The reality is that there is no ideal or realistic trade scenario for Bledsoe. Also, the Suns seem to legitimately like playing with one another and Bledsoe is doing everything the organization has asked of him; becoming more of a leader, setting an example for the younger players, becoming a more efficient and less turnover prone point guard and improving his outside shot. For a team that has had plenty of drama in the past few seasons, rocking the boat by trading their best player right as he enters his prime would send a horrible message across the organization and wouldn’t do the team any favors.
Also, although Bledsoe has struggled to consistently stay healthy, (let’s be honest the Suns sat him purposefully the last few months last season) he is continuing to improve and is evolving into an All-Star player and a top 10 point guard in the league. He could also play at this level or near it for at least five more years and that would still mesh with a Suns team built to be a couple years away.
If the Suns aren’t able to pool some of their picks and other assets not named Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker or Marquese Chriss to acquire a star like DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George or Jimmy Butler, which are all highly unlikely, they should just stand pat and continue to let their young core grow. Their group of experienced, high-character veterans like Tyson Chandler, P.J. Tucker and Jared Dudley can mentor them. The Suns can deal with the possibilities available to them around draft time when they know their draft pick and what their plan of action will be for the 2017 off-season.
Unless they can trade Brandon Knight of course, for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a new washing machine or whatever any team is willing to trade for him.