Prior to the 2013-14 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers traded point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns. At the time, fans would have been disappointed to lose such a bright young talent after he had provided three years of excellent service backing-up Chris Paul.
Though once the Clippers were able to lock up their All-Star point guard on a long-term deal, and it became increasingly apparent they wouldn’t be able to afford to resign Bledsoe, they opted to offload him in three team deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. L.A. got the sharp shooting duo of J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and a pair of second round picks in return, while Bledsoe got a fresh start.
Now free from the enormous shadow of Paul, he came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as he put up 22 points, hauled in seven rebounds and dished out six assists in his first regular season game. That sort of form continued all season long as he averaged nearly 18 points, along with 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per contest.
In addition to this, he also shot a career high 47.7 percent from the field, while hitting 35 percent of his 3 pointers. However, a knee injury led him to miss a large chunk of the season, limiting him to only 43 appearances out of a possible 82.
Nonetheless, that did not deter him from seeking a HUGE payday.
According to reports, Bledsoe is seeking a max deal that would pay him a whopping $80million over five years. That is a lot more than what the Suns offered him (four years, $48million) and neither side seems to be budging. Moreover, Phoenix has already signed former Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas, therefore the position does appear to be somewhat congested, with Goran Dragic already in the mix.
So all things considered, maybe it is time for Bledsoe to seek employment elsewhere. However, his options are limited.
Most of the teams in the association are set at point guard. And those that could do with an upgrade i.e. the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, don’t have anywhere near the money Bledsoe wants.
Then again, there may still be hope.
The Orlando Magic could possibly be a destination since they do appear to have a need at the point. They recently signed veteran Luke Ridnour on a two-year contract, but rookie Elfrid Payton did not seem all that comfortable during the Summer League and he isn’t expected to blow the doors off next season.
With regards to sophomore Victor Oladipo, perhaps it’s best the Magic accept that he is a shooting guard rather than trying to force him into being a point guard. The sooner they concede that, the sooner he can start developing and fulfil his potential.
Pairing him with Bledsoe could pave the way to a beautiful front-court partnership that is a force both offensively and defensively. Though, there is a bit of a problem with that since Orlando has already filled out their squad with 15-players under contract.
Nevertheless, they could still cut a player or two out of the roster to make room for Bledsoe. However his contract demands only help to dissuade the front office because it would constrict the team’s flexibility when it comes to pursuing future free agents, or trades.
Another potential destination could be Milwaukee. The club is desperate to draw in more fans and they need some sort of star attraction to do so. Also, he and Jabari Parker could form a dynamic 1-2 combo. But again, his contract demands are a little much, considering they are based on just over half a season’s worth of play.
In addition to this, Brandon Knight did average a respectable 18 points and 4.5 assists per game. Although that should be taken with a huge grain of salt, since the Bucks had the worst record in the NBA last season.
Ultimately, it does seem like Eric Bledsoe may have to ease up on his demands because no team has been willing to take a chance on him. Either he lets up or he will end up without a team.