Keeping in the recent trend of messy divorces the Eric Bledose era has finally come to an end in the Valley of the Sun. After sitting for nearly the last two weeks following a Bledsoe tweet that I suppose was intended to be cryptic but was well…….not the Phoenix Suns was finally able to move their disgruntled guard. Phoenix sends Bledsoe to Milwaukee in exchange for Greg Monroe along with protected 2018 1st and 2nd round picks. This is another swap between teams moving in two different directions so there are clearly different motivations at play. Let’s see if they achieved what they set out to do here.
Winner: Eric Bledsoe
On the surface this is a win because he got the hell out of Phoenix. The fact that he’s going to a team that is expected to compete for the conference crown is simply lagniappe. While a plus defender he will be able to focus more on facilitating and scoring since he’ll be sharing the backcourt with second year sensation Malcolm Brogdon who is a pretty damned good stopper by his own right.
I really expect Bledsoe to flourish here because of Milwaukee’s depth and versatility. As good of a player he is injuries have unfortunately played a large part in shaping how we view the narrative of his career. However, in 66 games last year (he was a healthy scratch for the latter part of the season) he averaged 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists posting career highs in first and the last.
Offensively, Eric has never been the most efficient. Even with posting his highest scoring average to date he did so on so-so shooting splits of 43-34-85. Much of this I suspect had a lot to do with Phoenix’s lack of options on the offensive end. This isn’t a problem Milwaukee has. We very well may see the best Eric Bledsoe in Milwaukee and for a very uncertain Eastern Conferenece his arrival marks a pretty big splash in that puddle.
Loser: Greg Monroe
I have the NOLA boy (Harvey actually) drawing the short straw, at least for now. Greg Monroe has actually made strides in maintaining his relevance in a league that is rapidly becoming an inhospitable place for a player of his skill set, the non rim protecting big that can score in the post efficiently but not much anywhere else. He’s found his niche and even when asked to come off of the bench last season he played a large part of their offensive in averaging roughly 12 and 7 while shooting 53% from the field.
This is why it sucks that he’s going to a team that will have a very hard time figuring out how to utilize his very specific talents without making him a liability on the other end. He joins a crowded front court that include forwards Dragan Bender and Marquisse Chriss their two recent high draft picks that haven’t panned out but the Suns are still very committed to developing along with centers Tyson Chandler and Alex Len as well as Alan Williams once he returns from injury. Hence, the best case scenario for Moose may be to get moved from the Suns and hopefully land with a contender seeking a player of his niche.
Winner: Milwaukee Bucks
In a business sense this was a great move for Milwaukee as they unloaded a less productive and more expensive (albeit on an expiring contract) player for a more versatile and cheaper (for now) one. If you’re crunching numbers it works even if Bledsoe’s health woes makes you a bit squeamish (and it should). But the real kicker are the protections around the picks
Milwaukee will send its 2018 first-round pick to Phoenix if it lands between 11 and 16. But if the pick carries beyond 2018, the Suns get a loosening of protections in 2019 where they will get the pick if between 4 and 16, 2020 it moves to landing between 8 and 30 and 2021 the pick would come unprotected reportedly. The Suns will get the Bucks’ 2018 second-round pick if it lands between 48 and 60, otherwise, the Bucks keep the pick. Pretty smart if you ask me.
On the court the Bucks get a huge upgrade in the back court that makes the already largely positionless team even harder to figure out. When at full strength this will be a team that can sport a death lineup of Brogdon-Bledsoe-Middleton-Parker-Antetokounmpo, take out Brogdon and add Maker for a larger look. Pretty damned terrifying if you ask me. Bledsoe’s defesnsive prowess will definitely come in handy as he joins a backcourt that already boasts plus defenders in Brogdon, Middleton and Dellavedova. I can also see Bledsoe’s shooting improving with the improved spacing.
Loser: Phoenix Suns
It’s pretty damned hard to lose a trade when you’re tanking because you’re always given the benefit of the doubt of the trade working out down the road because the future is the purpose right? Well, yeah but while difficult it is possible. And I hate to say that Phoenix may take an L on this one.
As mentioned in the Milwaukee section the protections around the picks really hamstrung the Suns and in these types of trades the picks are kinda the point right? I expect that the parties agreed on picks before the actually talent was settled on. The Suns were bullish on having either Khris Middleton or Malcolm Brogdon included in the deal and if this were the case the protections make sense. But having to settle for a lesser talent in Monroe it appears that they may have to wait for this 1st rounder. And in rebuilding this is pretty counterproductive.
On the court I can (somewhat) see the logic in settling on Monroe after striking out on Brogdon and Middleton. With young breakout big Williams out possibly for the season I see the appeal of Moose for the Suns. While they have roughly 6,000 forwards and centers on the roster none of them are capable post scorers. This is where Monroe can help. However, his addition does not solve their larger post issue of rim protection. And even if they can move Monroe by the deadline i wouldn’t expect much in return.
With the Suns building for the future behind exciting young players like Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Tyler Ulis a great deal of interests will be taken in the moves they make to build this team. However I hate to say that between the the Watson firing three games into the season (not disagreeing with the firing but the timing) and this trade there is clearly cause for concern.