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Draft Day Fits for Eric Bledsoe

After trading Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas midseason, the Phoenix Suns are looking to make Eric Bledsoe the third casualty of the three-headed monster of point guards they were so proud of a year ago. The team is reportedly shopping Bledsoe, and there’s a chance draft night will bring the Suns an opportunity to move on from arguably their best player.

One reason the Suns might want to find Bledsoe a new home is due to the five-year, $70 million contract he signed just a year ago. Adding Brandon Knight at the trade deadline last year affords them the ability to live without him on the court. While that contract may seem like too much for the Suns’ front office, with the salary cap set to jump it should be an affordable expense for suitors looking for an athletic upgrade running the point.

To get a rough idea of what Bledsoe might be worth in a trade, let’s take a general look at the last six notable point guards to get traded in the NBA:

What you can decipher from that chart is that we have no idea what general managers in the league think of Bledsoe. There’s a glut of viable point guards, meaning there are limited landing spots for him, and even the good spots might not be willing to part with premium assets to acquire Bledsoe’s services.

I don’t know if any of these deals will come true, and some may not even be that realistic, but it’s a fun story to keep an eye on during the first round. Many of them involve the Suns also dangling the 13th overall pick along with their star point guard. We’ll start with the trade we have already heard in play, but add a few more creative options if the Suns are intent on getting rid of him tonight.

Knicks for the No. 4 Pick

This is the framework for the most popular rumored offer. The Knicks would move down to No. 13 where they could still get a lottery pick, while the Suns get to move on from Bledsoe’s contract and have a chance at either D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay (or someone else if they’re enamored with someone else).

For the Knicks, they get a super-athletic point guard who doesn’t fit into the Triangle, which is great news for the majority of Knick fans who are hoping to never see that shape again. They also have a chance at getting Frank Kaminsky or a similar player at the end of the lottery, although Frank the Tank is drawing interest from a few teams ahead of No. 13. The Suns might like Kaminsky for themselves, and could consider him if they can move up a few spots, but hopefully they have higher ambitions with the fourth overall pick.

Kings for the No. 6 pick (or in a crazy turn of events, maybe  DeMarcus Cousins)

If it doesn’t work out with the Knicks at No. 4, the Kings at No. 6 could still land them the player they’re looking for. Bledsoe and No. 13 could be enough to make this move happen, but it’s hard to project.

The Kings are in chaos right now, as they may be preparing to trade Cousins, possibly to the Lakers. That trade could potentially include the No. 2 pick, along with Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, which would be tough to compete with for the Suns. Maybe Bledsoe and No. 13 with a couple of extra players and future picks puts them in the running, but if the Kings do move on from their cornerstone, they’d probably rather have the No. 2 pick.

While going after Boogie could bring in a good player, the Suns might be better off hoping the Kings strike a deal with the Lakers. The Kings could take Jahlil Okafor or Russell at No. 2, and possibly be more willing to deal the sixth pick for a guy like Bledsoe, while moving down to No. 13 and still getting a second lottery player.

Nuggets for the No. 7 Pick and a player

The Nuggets have been actively looking for trades, and if they move Ty Lawson, they’ll have a need open at point guard. Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried have been mentioned during Cousins rumors, and if Denver is willing to part with either of them, it might be more appealing to the Suns than just the No. 7 pick.

Hornets for the No. 9 Pick and Kemba Walker

The Hornets have already been active in the trade market, picking up Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lamb in separate deals. Lamb is a gamble, but trading Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh for Batum has inspired speculation of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist next to the Batum to create a defensive nightmare on the perimeter.

If that thinking is correct, imagining Bledsoe in that lineup would put together a ferocious defensive trio. Walker isn’t untouchable in Charlotte, and if the Suns want to get out of Bledsoe’s contract and move up in the draft to target a player like Kaminsky, grabbing Walker and the ninth pick isn’t a terrible return, even if Bledsoe is the better player.

Pacers for the No. 11 Pick

The Pacers have a core of players that’s falling apart, and a point guard in George Hill who has held the team back in the biggest moments in 2013 and 2014. Hill is a good player, but his deficiencies are brought to the forefront on the biggest stage, where teams can focus on taking advantage of his sometimes shaky ball handling for a point guard.

The Pacers could add another ball handler who can play the 1 or the 2, and add some badly needed two-way play to a team that needs a change but doesn’t want to step back into rebuilding mode. This is a little low for a player like Bledsoe, but if there’s someone they really like available and they are determined to get out of that contract, it wouldn’t be the craziest idea ever, assuming Indiana could put together a fair and legal deal.

Bucks or Rockets for the No. 17 or No. 18 Pick

Jason Kidd just traded Brandon Knight and brought in Michael Carter-Williams, and probably could’ve gotten Bledsoe at the time if he liked him, but if the price is cheaper now this could be a second chance. Bledsoe is a better player than Carter-Williams and has more natural shooting talent, even if he does struggle at times. Kidd obviously thinks he can make a serviceable shooter, as evidenced by the trade for Carter-Williams. That faith should only make Bledsoe’s athleticism and defense more appealing.

The Rockets make even more sense, considering their desperate need of a point guard and general manager Daryl Morey’s penchant for adding stars. With these picks, there will need to be some serious sweeteners to make it worth Phoenix’s while. Houston’s roster has a number of spare parts that can be thrown into the deal. It might hurt their already short bench, but Bledsoe could be a difference maker.

Each one of these deals will have a snag somewhere along the way, and the fight over Bledsoe’s value will likely be a long one. It depends how serious the Suns are about getting rid of him, and how much other general managers are willing to part with to pay Bledsoe’s contract.

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