Two weeks after Eric Bledsoe all but demanded a trade with his now infamous “I Dont wanna be here” tweet, the Phoenix Suns point guard is finally on the move. Pending medical clearance, the Suns will send Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Greg Monroe, a protected first-round pick and a second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Bledsoe’s NBA career has been a series of mesas and deserts, as they say in Phoenix. (They probably don’t say this in Phoenix.) A former late first-round pick, he emerged as a desirable commodity as Chris Paul’s backup on the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns landed him in a 2013 three-team trade, which also happened to include the Bucks, that only cost them Jared Dudley and a second-round pick.
He averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals in his first season in Phoenix, when the fun Suns won 48 games and barely missed a Western Conference playoff spot. Still only 24 at the time, Bedsoe seemed primed to become an All-Star, but the combination of persistent knee problems and a Phoenix front office intent on stripping the organization down to the studs derailed that progression.
The beginning of the end for him and the Suns occurred in March of this year, when Phoenix benched a healthy Bledsoe in what since-fired coach Earl Watson termed a “management decision” (code for the team tanking). So, when a Suns team composed of the young and the listless started this season 0-3, including a pair of 40-point losses, nobody was all that surprised to discover Bledsoe wanted out.
The only shock was that Bledsoe went public with it on Twitter, a move that earned him a $10,000 fine from the league. That dried up what was already an arid trade market for the disgruntled 27-year-old, which irked Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who called Bledsoe and his agent “misguided.”
When the Bledsoe fire sale began, the Denver Nuggets reportedly offered Emmanuel Mudiay and “other pieces,” but the Suns sought something more like Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez from the New York Knicks. The actual package always seemed like it would fall somewhere in the middle, and the Bucks lingered from the beginning — but never for the ridiculous late-October rumor that Milwaukee would part with Monroe, Thon Maker and a protected pick in a deal for Bledsoe.
There were several iterations of a trade, including the Bucks reportedly centering an offer around Matthew Dellavedova and the Suns countering with an ask for Malcolm Brogdon. Eventually, the two sides came to terms on a package of Monroe and a pair of picks. The Bucks will send their own protected first-round pick and one of the five second-round picks under their control through 2020. All medical roadblocks on the way to finalizing a deal, a la the Isaiah Thomas trade, obviously still apply.
In Bledsoe, the Bucks add another weapon in their quest to build a contender around early MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo. When healthy, Bledsoe’s averages remained consistent in Phoenix, finishing at 18.8 points, six assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 33.6 minutes per game. He can man the offense or play off the ball when Brogdon or Antetokounmpo are running point. With a young core that also includes Maker, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker and Tony Snell, the Bucks can at least imagine a title in a post-Golden State Warriors era, especially if Giannis continues his ascent to the heavens.
Meanwhile, the Suns get two more picks to add to the cache of recent draft selections that make up their current roster and Monroe, a solid old-school power forward whose game was probably better suited for an NBA decades past and whose biggest value to Phoenix comes as an expiring contract. With the $15 million commitment to Bledsoe in 2018-19 now off their books, the Suns can create more than max cap space in the summer of 2018, when the free-agent class features a handful of All-Stars.
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