When the Phoenix Suns made Eric Bledsoe available—or when they were forced to make him available, whichever way you prefer to say it—two teams stood out as the best potential suitors: The Milwaukee Bucks, and the Denver Nuggets.
One of these two, the Bucks, ended up snagging him for what still appears to be pennies on the dollar—Greg Monroe’s expiring contract, an intricately protected first-round pick, and a protected second-round pick. As for the other team, those Nuggets, well they were involved in trade talks for Bledsoe, too. And according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, they came pretty darn close to getting him:
Around the same time, the Nuggets were in the red zone — if not at the goal line — in talks with Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe, according to several league sources. The deal would almost certainly have included Mudiay and a first-round pick. Talks collapsed, and the Nuggets washed their hands of it. They would chase a playoff spot in one of the toughest conferences in history behind a 20- and 21-year-old sharing the controls with Jokic.
Connelly would not comment on specific trade talks. “We chase every opportunity to improve ourselves,” he says. “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 lack of specifics about Denver’s proposed package makes you wonder where the front office drew a line—particularly after looking at how little the Bucks ultimately gave up for him. Emmanuel Mudiay is, of course, our starting point. He’s a point guard, and the Suns and Nuggets talked shop about a Bledsoe deal centered around him ahead of the draft:
ESPN Sources: Phoenix, Denver discussed trade that would feature Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Emmanuel Mudiay and No. 13 pick. Talks fluid.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 22, 2017
The Nuggets probably could have picked Bledsoe up for less than that now—Mudiay and filler, sans first-round pick might have done the trick. The Suns might have even accepted a future first and Kenneth Faried’s contract. Time will tell whether they made the right decision holding off. Mudiay and Jamal Murray give them two promising young point guards, but they also aren’t seasoned enough to put the Nuggets in the championship conversation.
Then again, with the Golden State Warriors existing, Bledsoe wouldn’t have done that either.