Sorry, couldn’t resist. RJax and Fledsoe have numbers that are eerily similar to each other this season (though Fledsoe’s been in 7 fewer games, natch).
The Suns, led by professional Bad-At-This Robert Sarver, who generally uses his team to make himself money rather than to actually win basketball games, have traded Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks for Greg Monroe, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick. Moose Monroe’s salary will come off the books after this season, so it’s your typical Awful/Cheap Owner shenanigans.
First of all, good for Eric Bledsoe. Phoenix has been a poorly run organization for a long time (even Allfather Kerr made some mistakes while he was the Suns GM), but it’s really not a mystery why: it’s a BS place to work. If you look at employee reviews of Robert Sarver’s other businesses, you’ll see that there is a healthy dislike for working for him. Almost no one who leaves the Suns speaks well of the team, aside from Steve Nash, who is bidness partners with Sarver. And, surprise surprise, Phoenix is bad again this year. Want to know how bad? They just traded a good point guard for another big man, even though they’ve already tried to trade their starting big men and will now have an even worse logjam in the front court.
This reminds me of Kyrie’s request/demand to get the hell outta Cleveland. It’s smart! Why would you want to work in an environment like that? Dan Gilbert is a racist who preys on poor people, and Robert Sarver is notorious for fleecing his team and cheap AF. It’s hard to believe that this trade isn’t just a pure salary dump, Bledsoe and Moose Monroe and the picks be damned. There’s a great chance that Phoenix will flip Moose for another (cheap) asset later this season; if they don’t, then his contract comes off the books in the offseason, anyway, so who cares? The first round pick is heavily protected, which probably means that it’s not a first round pick, at all, rather it will devolve into a second rounder somewhere down the road. So, the Suns basically traded Eric Bledsoe for two second round picks and the right to NOT pay Bledsoe or Monroe.
Goddamn, Sarver sucks. He’ll splurge, ruin the Suns’ cap room, and have a bad team; and, he’ll be cheap as Uncle Scrooge and sell first round picks for second round picks because he doesn’t want to pay a first rounder’s salary. I am in full support of athletes forcing their way out of a toxic situation and moving on to a better job. In fact, I’m in full support of that for everyone. Bledsoe now has the opportunity to shine on a team with a generational talent and has playoff aspirations. Meanwhile, Phoenix will start backup point guard Brandon Knig—oh wait, he’s injured and that relationship is probably ruined, too.
The optimists will say that Phoenix has multiple first round picks in the next draft. When you have such a good reputation for developing and retaining talent, how could you not be excited about that??
In terms of fantasy, this is great for Bledsoe. Jason Kidd knows what ails point guards and Bledsoe will fit perfectly on the Bucks, especially because of his length (though, he’s only 6’1”, which surprised me). If he can return to his very good perimeter defense from a couple of years ago, then Milwaukee suddenly has a point guard who can defend Kyrie (as well as one can guard Kyrie), Dr. Wall (ditto), Kyle Lowry, I.T., Bledsoe’s twin Reggie Jackson, Markelle Fultz (hahaha, tough assignment to guard an ambidextrous “shooter”), AND who has familiarity with the lethal PGs in the West. This might end up being the best trade of the entire season. People keep pointing out that the Bucks are sub-.500. You know who they’ve lost to? The Cavs, the Celtics, the Thunder, the Hornets, and the Pistons. Those are all good teams, and now they have a distributor who can defend? Get real, the Bucks woulda won at least two of those games with Bledsoe, so they’d be 6-4 or even 7-3. And, the Bucks gave up nothing, basically, especially since they’re replacing Monroe’s salary with Bledsoe’s.
Last year, Bledsoe’s best, he averaged 21 points on (lower than his historical average) 43% shooting, along with 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and a steal a game. He was the 36th best player on ESPN’s player rater last season, which was better than DeChozan (!!!), Goran Dragic, and pre-Hoodie Melo. He was basically Mike Conley. Could your fantasy team use Mike Conley? Because, Bledsoe’s numbers are most likely going to be even better. He’s not a great off ball player, but maybe he just needs the right personnel in order to shine, or the right coach in order to challenge him, or hell, maybe he just needs a team to believe in him. I predict his assists go up, his scoring goes up (his true shooting percent suggests he should be scoring more), and his ratios improve. He WILL have open three point opportunities. And, when Kidd wants to let him run the second unit so everyone else can rest, watch out: Bledsoe will be on a mission to show everyone just how good he really is.
Bledsoe could end up being a top 25 player. You know who was the 24th best player on ESPN’s player rater last year? Jeff fudging Teague. He averaged 15 points a game. Is Eric Bledsoe better at orange-in-the-bucket than Jeff Teague? Yeah, I think so, too.
This may suck for dudes farther down the totem poll, but you never know when an opportunity to be a vital 6th man can turbocharge your career. Remember Andre Igoudala? I don’t know if this means that Malcolm Brogdon will go to the bench, or if it’ll be Tony Snell, but I do know that a small ball lineup of Bledsoe, Brogdon, Snell, Middleton, and Giannis will be INCREDIBLE to watch.
Let’s assume the Cavs get it together (why on Earth should we doubt LeBron?), and the Wizards and the Raptors stay the same: is Milwaukee the 4th best team in the East? Or, are they better than that? If Bledsoe goes back to his old defensive ways (which is really just about effort), then why can’t the Bucks beat DC? Or, Toronto?
Also, so long as we’re just speculating, lemme ask you a question: would some combination of Snell, Brogdon, Middleton, Jabari Parker, and future picks get you Boogie Cousins? And, if so, why the hell would you say no to that? Milwaukee maybe needs to shed payroll, anyway, so why not send replaceable assets to get one of the best players in the NBA? Boogie and Giannis together would break basketball, no wait...that’s not right. Boogie and Giannis would FIX basketball. And, we didn’t even know it was broken! I’m a Pistons fan so a trade like that would ruin my life, but GOD. DAMN. do I want to see those two play together.
The fantasy implications for Phoenix are.... who cares. Seriously. Does someone care? I honestly don’t know if anyone cares. I mean, Tyson Chandler, Alex Len, and Dragan Bender care because this trade impacts them the most. Hopefully, Phoenix can dump both Monroe and Tyson (who are both still good rotation players, but perhaps best utilized off the bench), but what are the odds of them getting something good in return? Probably not good.