When the Paul Millsap for Eric Bledsoe rumor surfaced this morning, it occurred to me: even with fewer than 100 hours remaining before Thursday's NBA Trade Deadline, we can probably expect to see Bledsoe's name linked to a whole lot of other players. It's no secret that Bledsoe is a trade chip, he's a young player that could be a major contributor as a starting point guard somewhere in the league, and he is expendable to the Clippers, so teams will be calling Gary Sacks to ask about his availability, and Sacks is at least going to listen to some offers. Those offers could of course include anything and everything, but at the same time we know that there is a subset of relatively big names in circulation, as is always the case this time of year.
It occurs to me that some of those names are probably easy enough to dismiss straight off the cuff -- Millsap for one just doesn't make sense because the Clippers would be trading one positional redundancy (Chris Paul and Bledsoe) for another (Blake Griffin and Millsap) and they don't want to have to pay Millsap starter money to be a backup when he's a free agent this summer any more than they want to do that for Bledsoe the following summer.
So I thought it might be fun to go through the list of names that make up most of the grist in the rumor mill and do an off the top of my head take on a potential trade. Now, it goes without saying that almost all of these completely imaginary trades would undoubtedly involve more than two players -- the Clippers, with a team that can win now, would almost certainly be taking on a more established (i.e. more expensive) player in exchange for the super-bargain priced Bledsoe, so by definition other players would have to be included for salary matching purposes. Without knowing who those other names might be, you can't truly evaluate the trade of course. But for any trade where Bledsoe for Player X is the centerpiece, does that basic exchange, losing Bledsoe while adding Player X, make any sense at all for the Clippers? In the short term, in the long term, whatever, does it make basic sense? If I'm Gary Sacks, do I say "No thanks" and hang up, or do I say "I'm listening"?
Here's the list I came up with, in no particular order:
Bledsoe for Josh Smith: "No thanks." Smith is positionally redundant with Griffin (even moreso than Millsap) and is a terrible perimeter shooter which is one need the Clippers would like to address in any deal. He's also a free agent this summer currently making $13M.
Bledsoe for Paul Pierce: "I'm listening." Pierce can play either wing position, which is one place where the Clippers may be deep, but they could clearly use an upgrade. The Celtics would want a lot for Pierce and the Clippers would have luxury tax issues looming with Pierce/Griffin/Paul making something in the neighborhood of $47M next season, but you have to listen.
Bledsoe for Kevin Garnett: "I'm listening." I've already posted my take on this deal. KG's no trade clause is a major complicating factor, but he's a great complement to Griffin in the front court, and tremendous defender and a winner. Clearly the Clippers are at least listening on this one.
Bledsoe for Rajon Rondo: "No thanks." The Clippers already have a point guard, which is why Bledsoe is available.
Bledsoe for Brandon Jennings/Monta Ellis: "No thanks." Jennings and Ellis are just as redundant with Chris Paul as Bledsoe is, maybe more so. While Ellis isn't a point guard, he's not big and needs the ball in his hands, both of which make him a bad fit with Paul. No reason to pursue this discussion.
Bledsoe for Millsap: "No thanks." I might actually pause a bit before saying no on this one, but it just doesn't make sense beyond this season. If you truly believe this deal wins you a championship in June, then you do it, but I just don't think that's the case, and the deal makes no sense past June with Millsap heading into free agency.
Bledsoe for Andrea Bargnani: "I'm listening." OK, now before you freak out, I'm only listening a little. Remember, this exercise is about whether the basic swap makes any sense for the Clippers, first and foremost at a basketball level. A big who can shoot is exactly the complement to Griffin that the Clippers would love to add. But Bargs' contract is a disaster, and I'm only listening to Toronto to see how they will sweeten the pot to convince me to take on that cap anchor. I don't think it's possible, but I'm willing to listen to what they can do, because on the court, this trade could actually work.
Bledsoe for Ben Gordon: "I'm listening." Similar to the Bargnani situation, Gordon's nightmarish contract probably can't be overcome, no matter what else Charlotte is willing to do here. But Gordon is also a career 40% three point shooter who is probably the new Juwan Howard -- not worth his contract, but not nearly as bad as people think when they overreact to his contract. Still, he'd be best as a backcourt scorer off the bench which the Clippers already have, so on second thought, "no thanks."
Bledsoe for Dwight Howard: "I'm listening." You'd have to listen, but there's really no way this is happening.
Bledsoe for Iman Shumpert: "I'm listening." This is the rare trade on this list that would actually stand as is, one for one. The Knicks would have to give me something else, but I'd have the discussion.
Bledsoe for J.J. Redick: "I'm listening." Redick would be a good (great?) fit as a starting shooting guard for the Clippers. Bledsoe has a lot of trade value and Orlando would probably have to sweeten the pot some, but I'd certainly take the phone call.
Bledsoe for Danny Granger: "I'm listening." Granger's a small forward who was an All Star in 2009. You'd have to listen, though I don't think you could make it work.
Bledsoe for Carlos Boozer: "No thanks." Bad contract, same position as Griffin, no chance.
Bledsoe for J.J. Hickson: "No thanks." Clippers are looking for more in return, and Hickson doesn't address any significant need.
Bledsoe for Al Jefferson: "I'm listening." Even though I'm listening, I'm not really. I love Big Al's game, but he's a free agent this summer, and he's only a decent fit with Griffin. Yes, he can make an 18 footer, but he's really a post up center, not a floor spreader.
Whom did I miss? What other names are floating around that we're going to see linked to Bledsoe in the next four days?