Sorry to be bombarding you with posts today, but it's Draft Day, and some of these need to be out there before the draft. The funny thing is, even if I doubt anyone is going to have the time to read all of this stuff today, sometimes I feel compelled to write it anyway. Sometimes it's just about being "on the record" -- I think that later, if something happens, I'll want to be able to go back and look at how right I was (or how wrong I was). Weird, I know. But these sorts of compulsions are what create the need to start a blog in the first place, I suppose.
Obviously, the reason I'm catching up on draft posts now is because of the Doc-udrama, which took up most of the oxygen around here for about two weeks. One thing that got almost completely lost in all of that was the SBNation blogger mock draft. The good news is that I almost completely escaped ridicule over my trade of DeAndre Jordan for Spencer Hawes and Jason Richardson (and by the way, in the alternate universe where that trade occurred, the doctors assured me that JRich was fully recovered and he was wowing observers with his off-season workouts). The bad news is that I never got a chance to discuss some of the other aspects of that mock draft.
The advantage of conducting a mock draft with 30 drafters instead of one is that, assuming those 30 individuals know their teams well as of course we do, you can conduct trade talks that are semi-realistic. Chad Ford can't make a draft day trade in his mock draft, because there's no one with whom to negotiate.
From the start of our blogger mock draft, I put out the word that Eric Bledsoe could be available for the right price. Now, any trades in this exercise were draft-related -- so there would be no point in offering Bledsoe and Caron Butler to Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows for Danny Granger. But one possibility to explore with Bledsoe is the idea of getting a lottery pick for him.
I can report that in our alternate universe, Bledsoe was indeed worth a lottery pick -- but not a high lottery pick. Part of that is driven by team needs. Utah needs a point guard -- and Amar offered a package built around the 14th pick for EBled; Orlando needs a point guard, but Evan Dunlap obviously wasn't going to offer the second pick.
In the end, I had my choice of three draft pick trades for Bledsoe, all of them in the late lottery, and all of them fairly similar in nature.
Zeb, the blogger GM for the Thunder, offered the 12th pick and some sweetener. Unfortunately, the sweetener wasn't all that sweet to me -- he gave me my choice or their little used rookies, Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones. I was a little tempted by Lamb, but felt I had a better offer elsewhere.
The blogger GM in Dallas made a similar offer -- the 13th pick and either Jae Crowder or Jared Cunningham, but that was even less compelling. Unfortunately, there really wasn't much else to pick from on the Dallas roster, so this trade was a non-starter.
The Utah trade was the most compelling, since Utah actually has some other assets. Also, Utah needs a point guard more than any other team in the league, so they were motivated. Amar offered me the 14th pick and Alec Burks, the 12th pick from 2011, for Bledsoe right off the bat. I countered with the 14th pick and Gordon Hayward, which he considered, but declined. In the end, he tossed a mix of assets into the deal -- but most of them were useless, and the final offer was more or less the 14th pick, Burks and their second round pick, 46th overall.
I would have done it for the right player at 14 -- but when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went to Minnesota at nine, the deal looked shaky. There weren't a lot of players that looked to be available at 14 I liked significantly more than the guys that would be there at 25, and the idea of adding two rookies to this Clippers roster seemed dubious enough. When even Shabazz Muhammad came off the board with Dallas' pick at 13, I told Amar the next pick was his, no deal.
It was an interesting exercise. It probably tells us something relatively accurate about Bledsoe's trade value. Of course I couldn't compare it to other, non-draft pick related trades -- and in the end I was convinced that he was worth more on the open market than I was being offered in the lottery.
It's worth noting also that I was certainly more willing to make "make-believe" deals than I would have been if there were actual consequences. We also had much more time to discuss things once the draft began -- hours between picks as opposed to five minutes. Imagine the same Utah-LAC discussion in real time -- you don't know whether you have a deal or not at 14 until pick number 13 is announced. Crazy.
I took a fair amount of ridicule for the Jordan-Hawes deal -- which I didn't like much, I have to say -- but I made the deal knowing it was all pretend. I looked at the exercise and said, "Hey, it's more fun, there's more to talk about, if we make trades." I no doubt came a lot closer to trading Bledsoe than I otherwise would have for the same reason. It's actually kind of amazing there are as many trades in the NBA as there are -- finding a deal that works for both sides is difficult, both parties are trying to negotiate the best deal possible (as we saw with BOS and LAC), and GM's are scared to death to make a bad trade that could cost them their job. That's why most deals tend to involve players that are in the doghouse with their current team -- GMs trade each other their headaches in hopes that a new environment might help a player. But you'll almost never see a trade featuring "good" players on both sides, even if in theory there are win-win trades out there.
Have the Clippers shopped Bledsoe for a draft pick? I'm certain they've tested the waters, but how many calls they've made is anybody's guess. Will they make a move involving Bledsoe today? It seems unlikely, but with several teams looking for a point guard, if those teams don't like their prospects in the draft, their interest in Bledsoe could increase.