Reports: Clippers, Suns, Bucks agree to trade involving Eric Bledsoe, J.J. Redick
Yahoo! Sports reports that the Clippers will send Bledsoe and Caron Butler to the Suns, the Suns will send Jared Dudley to the Clippers, the Bucks will sign Redick to a four-year, $27 million deal and trade him to the Clippers, and the Bucks will receive two second-round picks. USA Today Sports confirms the terms. CBSSports.com reports that the Suns and Clippers will each send a second-round pick to the Bucks.
Free agency officially opened on Monday, July, 1 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time. Although teams and players can begin having contact as of July 1, deals cannot be officially consummated until the end of the free agency moratorium on July 10.
Bledsoe, 23, averaged a career-high 8.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game in a reserve role behind Chris Paul last season. A 2010 first-round pick, he is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will soon be eligible for a rookie extension. One of the most athletic players in the league, Bledsoe's name has come up in trade rumors for months, as the Clippers looked to sell high on his potential after committing to a five-year deal for Paul earlier this week.
Butler, 33, averaged 10.4 points and 2.9 rebounds as the Clippers' starting small forward last season. A serviceable, hard-nosed 3 with traditional size, Butler is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $8 million next season.
Dudley, 27, averaged 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists for the Suns last year. A team-first, do-everything scrapper who shot 39.1 percent from deep last season, Dudley is entering the third-year of a five-year, $21.3 million contract.
Redick, 29, was acquired by the Bucks from the Magic in a 2013 trade deadline move before becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer. He averaged 14.1 points and 3.8 assists for the Magic and Bucks last season and shot 36.6 percent from deep. Known primarily for his pretty shooting stroke, Redick has developed his game on both ends since he was selected in the 2006 lottery out of Duke.
Clippers -- Grade: A
There's plenty to like about this move from the Clippers' standpoint, even if it means parting early with the tantalizing Bledsoe. The incoming pieces -- Redick and Dudley -- are, first and foremost, floor-spacers who should make life easier for the Clippers' All-Star duo of Paul and Blake Griffin. Want to send help from the wings when Paul attacks off the dribble? These guys can make you pay. Want to run a second player at Griffin as he operates down low? Ditto. Both are hard-working, high-character competitors itching to play for a team that has a chance to make some real postseason noise. Redick never found the fit in Milwaukee -- not even close -- and Dudley was languishing on a talent-deficient Phoenix roster that couldn't make real use of his talents. With the Clippers, both get a quality fresh start.
Moving Butler's contract -- which meaningfully exceeded his production value -- is a nice bonus for L.A., who will pay Paul, Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan more than $44 million combined next season. The incoming contracts for Redick and Dudley represent even better financial news: the pair will combine to make roughly $11 million next season, and both players will be under contract for what should be their prime years as professionals.
The Clippers will miss Butler's size on the wing, especially after Grant Hill announced his retirement and with unrestricted free agent forward Matt Barnes' future up in the air. They will also need to find a full-time back-up for Paul, unless they plan to use Jamal Crawford as an offense-initiator and surround him with shooters. L.A. will still have a mid-level exception to address those concerns. With Paul in place and new coach/executive Doc Rivers demonstrating an aggressive approach, the Clippers look like an increasingly desirable destination for low-cost veterans looking to latch on to a potential contender.
Suns -- A+
The Suns deserve top marks for this move even if we fully acknowledge the holes in Bledsoe's game. Yes, he's turnover-prone, he's not a natural distributor and the range on his shot is strictly limited. Those are issues that can't be ignored; he will need to expand and polish his game to fulfill his potential as a big-time starting point guard. That said, his addition directly addresses Phoenix's biggest need: talent. The post-Steve Nash Suns sported one of the weakest rosters in the league with holes at virtually every position, and Bledsoe will provide a jolt of excitement and high-flying play on both ends. A strong guard with major leaping ability, Bledsoe might not yet be a franchise guy but he certainly qualifies as a building block, and he should have all the freedom and playing time he can handle on a Suns team that seems destined for lottery trips as they accumulate talent over the next couple of seasons.
Taking on Butler's deal is a no-brainer for the Suns because it expires after this season and therefore doesn't crimp their long-term efforts. By NBA standards, a one-year, $8 million deal is a small price to pay to acquire a potential star. Parting with Dudley was going to happen sooner or later; a complementary piece like that makes little sense without leading talents in place for him to complement. Exchanging Dudley's three-year deal for Butler's expiring contract also opens up an added measure of flexibility for new GM Ryan McDonough come next summer, assuming Butler isn't flipped in another move before then.
Phoenix now faces a decision: try to make it work with Bledsoe and incumbent starter Goran Dragic in a dual point guard lineup or explore trade options for Dragic, who has three years and $22.5 million left on his deal. There should be outside interest in Dragic, a capable starter on a reasonable contract, but why not at least try him alongside Bledsoe and see what happens? It can't be worse than last year, their skill sets aren't all that redundant, and the Suns' off-guard pickings are pretty slim at this point.
As for 2012 lottery pick and forgotten man Kendall Marshall? The GM who drafted him has been fired and there are now two players way, way above him on the depth chart at his position. Even though the pass-first, pass-second, pass-third point man has been in town for just a year, no one would blame him if he's already hoping for a change of scenery.
Bucks -- Grade: D-
This could have been worse: Redick could have departed as an unrestricted free agent, leaving Milwaukee completely empty-handed. Still, this was pretty close to as bad as it gets. The second-round picks here amount to a charitable pat on the back for helping facilitate the sign-and-trade; Bucks management surely agreed to this deal through gritted teeth.
Remember, the Bucks parted with 2011 first-round pick Tobias Harris, 2012 second-round pick Doron Lamb and reserve guard Beno Udrih to land Redick at the trade deadline. Rather than do whatever it took to keep Redick happy and interested in re-signing in Milwaukee long-term, the Bucks actually cut his playing time. Things got so bad that Redick admitted during the playoffs that he wasn't even communicating with the team's coaching staff. The Bucks hired Larry Drew rather than retain interim coach Jim Boylan, and now they have to explain to their new coach why one of the best players on their roster just walked out of the door with no immediate compensation coming back.
By the way, Harris, still just 20, averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds down the stretch for the rebuilding Magic. This post has been updated.