This isn’t the first rodeo for general manager Ryan McDonough when it comes to looking to deal distressed assets. He’s had to move Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, the Morris twins, and now Eric Bledsoe after this latest fiasco.
When examining how the Suns should go down their path of moving Bledsoe, McDonough will likely have to work from a point of less leverage. Teams will expect to offer less after what has occurred over the last week but McDonough has already mentioned he would be willing to drag this process out until the perfect deal arises.
Looking around the league, there are definitely deals you can throw together and try to make them stick but after overseeing the point guard landscape, there are only five spots that make any sense for both sides of the equation.
Below, I’ll go through the five teams that would make a move for Bledsoe while allowing the Suns to get back their best package possible.
Denver: Bledsoe for Emmanuel Mudiay and Kenneth Faried
Through the first week of the season, Denver has stood out as a team in disarray. It’s obvious that Mudiay and Jamal Murray are not capable of controlling a team as a starting point guard yet. Bledsoe would help stabilize their intentions of making a deep playoff run around Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap.
For a possible deal, this is the obvious one from both ends. Mudiay, who’s only 21-years-old, would be another project for Phoenix to take on but they still have Tyler Ulis to help his transition. With Mudiay, his issue is turnovers, but maybe a change of scenery would help his cause.
As far as Faried, he’s mentioned on multiple occasions not being a fan of his current role. Coming into the league, Faried burst onto the scene with his boundless energy and rebounding prowess for a 6-8 forward. Much like Mudiay, maybe a 20-25 minute per game role off the bench for Faried could provide him a spark.
For Phoenix, this is likely not the best offer they could field, but it’s the one that will always be sitting there for the taking if they have to come back around to it a few weeks down the line.
Milwaukee: Bledsoe for Malcolm Brogdon and Greg Monroe
Yesterday, the Malcolm Brogdon to Phoenix news was spreading like wildfire. According to the Racine-Journal’s Gary Woelfel, he reported that Milwaukee and Phoenix were in dialogue around a Bledsoe-Brogdon swap. He also mentioned that Mirza Teletovic, John Henson, and Matthew Dellavedova have been discussed, too.
Brogdon, last year’s Rookie of the Year who has been a seamless fit alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, is the prototypical point guard to put alongside Devin Booker. At 6-5, Brogdon would be able to present opposing lineups with a larger backcourt to deal with, while he would take the toughest assignment on the perimeter.
Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz reported that the Suns weren’t interested in Brogdon, and I, in fact, can confirm that is incorrect. Brogdon is Phoenix’s top target if they do a trade, and fits into #TheTimeline a lot more smoothly.
Brogdon comes very cheap as a second rounder, and he could be in line for a big payday the summer of 2019 as a restricted free agent if he continues to perform at this level. That is also the year that Jared Dudley and Tyson Chandler’s large salaries come off Phoenix’s books.
Meanwhile, throwing in an expiring contract like Greg Monroe would actually help Phoenix this season. The Suns need depth at center, and he would be an immediate upgrade over Chandler. Monroe’s post scoring prowess would actually be a welcome addition to this squad. And then his salary sheds once July 1 hits, which saves the Suns more money than what they came out with.
If McDonough is able to pry Brogdon out of Milwaukee, who could see Bledsoe as the missing piece to a Finals run alongside the Greek Freak, that’s a major win.
Milwaukee seems to be balking on including Brogdon, but they have had a long-standing obsession with Bledsoe according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
Cleveland: Bledsoe and 2018 Miami 1st for Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and 2018 Brooklyn pick
This one really, really intrigues me.
Sure, Shumpert and Frye would be non-factors with the Suns but the pick Cleveland acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade via Boston, Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first rounder, would surely be McDonough’s top choice in this type of package.
The Cavaliers could see this as an opportunity to bolster their already deep backcourt. And with Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul and LeBron James, Bledsoe going here is not out of the question. Isaiah Thomas won’t be back until at least the All-Star break, and Bledsoe would step in and be an instant upgrade over Derrick Rose.
Brooklyn has exceeded expectations through the first week, but I expect them to fall back down to earth over the next few months. McDonough should offer their Miami 2018 1st rounder if Brooklyn’s pick is actually on the table.
If the Suns threw Cleveland that pick back, which will likely fall in the mid-teens, they would at least have to consider it heavily. Yes, it’s not better odds of achieving a top-five pick, but it still gives them that extra pick of security in a good crop of upcoming prospects if LeBron bolts next summer.
For Phoenix, this gives them possibly two top-10 picks in a loaded draft, which would allow them more flexibility to trade up for the likes of Luka Doncic or Marvin Bagley III.
The other option here could be making a move for a young star by trading the Brooklyn pick for Anthony Davis in June. Just an idea, but I bet McDonough would pounce on such a possibility.
New York: Bledsoe for Frank Ntilikina, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and Joakim Noah
The only team with no wins so far this season is the New York Knicks. Outside of the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have been utterly chaotic. Jeff Hornacek is already losing his locker room (sound familiar?) and their young talent has been usurped by the likes of Kyle O’Quinn and Ramon Sessions.
Does new general manager Scott Perry press the panic button and try to get somebody like Bledsoe to stop the bleeding? Bledsoe has a history with Hornacek, so it would not be a surprise to see him pounding the table for them to make such a move.
What would the Suns want back in return from New York? Well, the main prize is Frank Ntilikina, 2017’s No. 8 overall pick. Ntilikina hurt his ankle in their season opener against Oklahoma City but is set to return this weekend.
Much like Brogdon, Ntilikina is a splendid fit defensively to compliment Booker. Only being 19-years-old is another plus, too. At 6-6 with a wingspan that eclipses 7’, his physical tools give him the opportunity to develop into a menace on defense.
Also, during the pre-draft process, Ntilikina proved to have a capable jumper which would slide him comfortably next to a ball-dominant guard like Booker.
For the price of Ntilikina, Joakim Noah likely has to come to the Valley in return. Mindaugas Kuzminskas is an expiring contract who could provide 10-15 minutes a night at the three or four spot.
If McDonough has his sights set on 2017’s No. 8 selection, Tyson Chandler could go alongside Bledsoe to New York. Keeping both Noah and Chandler on the roster, even before a trade went through, makes little sense.
At the moment, this trade might be unlikely but if New York continues to be in a tailspin, this could be the actual deal here very soon. The question is, will the Knicks pull a Knicks? McDonough sure hopes so.
Orlando: Bledsoe for Terrence Ross, Mario Hezonja, and Elfrid Payton
Who would have thought Orlando would be 3-1 after the first week? Certainly not me, and likely a lot of people around league circles as well.
With Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Jonathan Isaac, their frontcourt seems set but with Bledsoe could they make a run at the playoffs? It’s certainly possible, and he would actually be a really good fit in a Frank Vogel system.
For Phoenix, they would be receiving the Magic’s misfit toys in return but much like Mudiay in Denver, a change of scenery might do them some good.
Payton and Hezonja were lottery selections by Orlando, but they have been mighty disappointments. Ross was acquired last year and has played rather well for them this season.
These three would come in and be immediate rotation pieces, which fits onto the league’s youngest roster. It all depends now if Orlando’s front office led by former Bucks general manager John Hammond will pull the trigger to get Bledsoe.
It would not surprise me to see this deal happen, and really all five of these aforementioned ones make sense for both teams involved.
What is your ideal Bledsoe deal? Let me know in the comments section because much like the Markieff Morris situation, we could be in this position for awhile if McDonough actually plays the waiting game with a new disgruntled player.