The Clippers get: SF Jared Dudley (pride of the Boston College Eagles) and SG JJ Redick
Phoenix Suns get: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Caron Butler
Milwaukee Bucks get: Two second round picks
We live in a world where endless information is at your fingertips. Where scientists have the ability to clone other humans, but choose not to because of moral quandries. When people can realistically think about traveling to Mars. Mars!
We also live in a time where the Clippers are dangerously close to becoming championship contenders. A truly, truly wondrous moment in human history. Incredible, remarkable, disgusting. That’s how to mark today’s events.
After much speculation, the Clippers finally traded back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe, along with forward Caron Butler (and most importantly his $8 million dollar salary) in a deal with the Phoenix Suns. In return, the Clips received former Milwaukee Bucks guard JJ Redick (who will be sign and traded with a new, four year, $27 million dollar contract) and the finest professional basketball player ever to come out of The Heights, forward Jared Dudley. For their participation in getting Redick slightly more money by the S&T transaction, the Bucks will receive two 2nd round picks for their troubles.
Let’s state the obvious: the Clippers got a haul here for a talented potential future All-Star in Bledsoe. JJ Redick is exactly the type of pure jump shooter and wing facilitator they needed. The former Duke star shot .366 from the 3-point line last season on nearly six shots per game, though his .390 mark in Orlando was much more impressive than his below average .310 in Milwaukee. Still, this helped Redick establish a new career high in ppg at 14.1, as well as a fantastic 3.8 apg in a new role as combo guard while Jameer Nelson was perpetually hurt. While JJ has his limitations on defense, he’s certainly not a sieve and throws out max effort, as you’d expect any Coach K product. A four year deal at an annual salary of just around $7 million sounds about right for the 29 year old, so the Clips got a long-needed solution at the 2 spot for a market price. Incredible.
The component that puts this deal over the top, at least to this former Eagle, is the addition of the indomitable Jared Dudley. The Junkyard Dog has transformed himself from an out of shape hustle & grit undersized college power forward into a legitimate NBA SF with a deadly stroke from long. Dudley has shot a remarkable .413 from 3-point land in his last four full seasons in Phoenix, this after a very mortal .365 mark while at Boston College. However, even with his refined elegance from the arc, Jared is still a rugged rebounder for his size (nearly 4 per game over the past 4 seasons) and an intelligent defender who rarely fouls. He’s signed for the next 3 years and just under $17 million, which is fantastic for his skillset, production and age (27). Like Redick, he’s not a defensive stopper by any means, but he puts forth a ton of effort and won’t kill a team by being on the floor. Objectively, Dudley fits in with what the Clippers need, especially in seeing how much he benefited by playing with another virtuoso point guard in Steve Nash. Subjectively, Dudley is going to be the greatest Clipper ever to embrace that wretched uniform.
Landing these two solid swingmen was a great trade for the Clips in regards to an area of need. Last season, the team was depending on a washed-up Chauncey Billups, a solid but underwhelming Willie Green, an oft-injured and unhappy Caron Butler, a 40-year old Grant Hill and the sublime Matt Barnes to shore up the wing unit. Now, they’ll look to two 20-somethings in Dudley and Redick and perhaps Barnes if he re-signs with the team. The Clips have loaded up on shooters after last year’s inconsistencies, a must if Blake Griffin is going to become an even deadlier force in the post, or off of the pick and roll. Moreover, Redick and Dudley’s veteran calm, professionalism and competitiveness is sorely needed on a wild Clippers team.
The obvious flipside is losing a player with the potential of Eric Bledsoe. Chris Paul’s signature is all but guaranteed on the dotted line and thus the young point guard’s presence went from a great contingency plan to an unnecessary luxury. Playing the 1 spot, Bledsoe’s size, speed and strength could often overwhelm opposing guards, and over time the hope is that his playmaking ability will increase with experience (after all, how much of a true point was Tony Parker his first couple years?). Defensively? Please. He’s already a total assassin, with the requisite athleticism and footspeed to become one of the very top defenders in the game. Bledsoe is just 23 years old–with all his natural gifts and a better jump shot, he could blossom into one of the best young guards into the league.
With the Clippers, there was a solid chance he’d never quite get there playing behind Chris Paul and often being shunted to the off-guard slot. Without having the ball and penetrating, as well as being frequently matched up with guards 4 to 5 inches taller, Bledsoe would be worn out on a nightly basis just defending. With only 2 years left on his rookie deal and a probable $40 million dollar (or more) offer sheet coming from another team, the Clippers maximized the value of a player that perhaps would never reach his potential in their arena. On face value, turning a bench player and an aging small forward for two fairly compensated, 20-something starting caliber players in an area of need? That’s a great return. With a back-up big man (they’re rumored to have talked to Carl Landry, as well as their own free agent Lamar Odom), the Clippers look set to contend for the NBA title. The end is nigh, my friends.
The upside is obvious for Phoenix: they gave up a 2nd round pick and a solid role player in Dudley for a guard that could very well turn into an All-Star. Not bad. However, with Goran Dragic signed long-term, Bledsoe might hit the same road blocks that he would have in LA. Phoenix is going to be terrible this season once again, so at the very least, they’ll have a ton of time to find out who will be the point guard of the future, or if the two can play together. Either way, by making this trade Phoenix seems to have committed itself to paying Bledsoe sooner than later, provided he gives them the type of production everyone seems to think he’s destined for. I’m not sure he’s going to get there (again, he’s a streaky shooter and while he shot .397 on threes last season, he only took 1 per game), but for a rebuilding team like the Suns, the promise of future stardom is enough to take a chance. If Bledsoe improves as expected while being given more responsibility, I’d expect a four year, $44 million dollar extension next summer.
Though he was mostly a cap throw-in from the Clippers’ side Caron Butler still has solid value as a veteran jump shooter–by putting up some good numbers on a bad team, he might be able to fetch the team an asset at next year’s trade deadline.
The only loser in this trade is the Milwaukee Bucks. In the words of our own El Miz:
The Bucks traded Tobias Harris (who averaged 17 points, 8 boards in 36 minutes getting his first extended burn), Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih after being dealt midseason to Orlando for Redick. Four months later they sign and traded Redick (who wasn’t going to re-sign with them) for two 2nd round picks (the Clippers one is probably worthless if its their own 2nd, while the Phoenix pick is probably early 30s if its their own).Brutal trade.
The lesson: Any time you can get JJ Redick so that you can get swept by Miami in Round 1, you gotta do it.
That more or less sums it up. With Monta Ellis most likely leaving, along with Redick, the Bucks are in for another rebuilding period, their 7th of the new millennium. That might have been an exaggeration, but it’s the Bucks of the Good Land. No one will care if my calculations are inaccurate.