After elite point guard Chris Paul announced his intention to remain with the franchise for the foreseeable future, the Los Angeles Clippers finally traded away Paul's highly-rated understudy, 23-year-old Alabama native Eric Bledsoe, in a three-team deal that also involved the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.
The trade will see Bledsoe head to Phoenix along with forward Caron Butler. In return, the Clippers will receive Suns swingman Jared Dudley and shooting guard J.J Redick from the Bucks. For their part in proceedings, Milwaukee will receive two future second-round draft picks - one from each team.
Bledsoe, picked 18th overall in the 2010 draft, has been the subject of persistent trade rumours ever since the Clippers picked up Paul in December 2011.
The team have traditionally resisted the temptation to deal him, though, as he has unquestionably proved to be one of the most talented back-up point guards across the entire NBA. However, with Paul now having signed his $107 million max deal and Bledsoe's rookie contract only having two more years to run, the Clippers and new head coach Doc Rivers obviously feel that this is the ideal time to finally allow him to move on.
For the Suns, this move would appear to represent a commitment from recently appointed general manager Ryan McDonough to radically transform a lacklustre roster who were responsible for the team's woeful 25-57 record last season - the second-worst in franchise history. Dudley is a popular figure with fans having been in Phoenix since 2008 and losing him will certainly be a blow, but fans are sure to be excited about the arrival of Bledsoe. The only obvious question mark for Phoenix concerns the future of current starting point, Slovenian Goran Dragic.
The Milwaukee Bucks, who only traded for Redick in February in a deal that sent promising forward Tobias Harris to the Orlando Magic, would certainly appear to be the losers in this particular deal. With starting guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis also reportedly due to test their worth during the current ongoing free agency period, Redick's departure will leave them desperately searching for adequate backcourt replacements.
However, Bucks fans can be slightly encouraged that they received at least something in return for Redick.
Were it not for the sign-and-trade deal they struck with with the player in association with the NBA's collective bargaining agreement (CBA), they would have seen him walk away for absolutely nothing as an unrestricted free agent.
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