The Los Angeles Clipper most likely to be traded this off-season, and in fact one of the most tradeable players in the NBA right now, is Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a young, exciting point guard who needs a bigger role, who just happens to play behind the best point guard in basketball in Chris Paul. The Clippers fully expect to lock Paul up for five more seasons, limiting Bledsoe's worth to the team for a very long time.
With the NBA draft about a month away, teams will become active on the trade front. Teams like to draft the best player available rather than drafting for need, so if they can address needs via trade it frees them up to pursue the best player.
According to ESPN's draft guru Chad Ford, the Orlando Magic, who have the second pick in the draft, have expressed interest in Bledsoe (insider required) to address their need at point guard, in part because they don't feel that the best point guard in the draft, Michigan's Trey Burke, warrants the second pick.
Sources say the Magic have a lot of interest in Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe and would be willing to trade Afflalo for Bledsoe and Caron Butler's expiring contract.
Does this trade make sense for the Clippers? It's not terrible; but surely the Clippers can do better. Of course your take on this trade depends completely on how you feel about Afflalo. As a featured scorer in Orlando this season he was dreadful on a dreadful team. After making better than 40% of his three the past four seasons, he made just 30% this year; he had not shot so poorly in any category since his rookie season in Detroit.
Comparing Afflalo's numbers last season to those of Butler, it's far from clear that he's any sort of upgrade over Tuff Juice, let alone a major one -- and he makes essentially the same money per season, with two additional years on his contract. Caron scored about as much per minute, with better efficiency. Afflalo has never posted a season PER over 15 (15 being considered average in the metric) and registered a 13 compared to Butler's 12.4 last season. Sure he's younger than Caron -- but at 27 he's not exactly young, and the Clippers would be committing to about $8M for him as a 30 year old. He's a good defender, which is helpful, but is he a difference-maker on defense? I'm not convinced he is.
So based on the most recent season, he's barely better than Butler -- so why would the Clippers give up Bledsoe to get him? Let's hope they wouldn't.
Making a trade is about maximizing value. The Clippers do need to explore any and all trades for Bledsoe, and they do need a starting wing (or possibly a starting big) in return. So Bledsoe and Butler for Afflalo meets the basic parameters of what the Clippers want and need to do this summer. But one certainly hopes that they can do better.
Bledsoe and Butler for Danny Granger? It's risky and short term -- Granger is coming off of a major injury that cost him the entire season and is only signed for one more year, but he's a higher impact player than Afflalo.
Bledsoe for Gordon Hayward? Utah needs a point guard, LA needs a wing, swapping a couple of 2010 picks for each other might make sense.
There are a lot of possibilities out there for a Bledsoe trade. The Clippers need to do better than Arron Afflalo.