The Phoenix Suns send disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks. The trade was inevitable, but how did each side come out?
Eric Bledsoe is off to the Milwaukee Bucks for Greg Monroe and a first-round pick and second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adjrian Wojnarowski. The Phoenix Suns have been searching for a trade partner for the past couple of weeks after Bledsoe voiced his displeasure with the Suns over the firing of ex head coach Earl Watson. Bledsoe was fined $10,000 for tweeting, “I Dont wanna be here” and sent home by the Suns.
Here’s how the trade breaks down:
Phoenix Suns get C, Greg Monre, 1st round pick, 2nd round pick
Milwaukee Bucks get PG, Eric Bledsoe
The Suns needed to move Bledsoe, but a key was finding a team willing to take on the roughly $29 million owed to him over the next two seasons. Making around $14.5 million this season, it made sense for Milwaukee to find a player making a similar amount of money. Monroe will make roughly $17.8 million this season; while the Suns will take on more money, they remain well under the salary cap.
From an on-court perspective, Monroe is more surplus for the Suns than anything. The team has Tyson Chandler and Alex Len, and while neither are world beaters at this point, Monroe isn’t an upgrade either. He won’t even play initially, as he is out at least another week recovering from calf soreness. When is ready, it will be interesting to see how he fits, if at all, in the Suns frontcourt. How much or little he plays will factor into the futures of Chandler and Len.
To be honest, there’s a strong chance Monroe was brought in primarily due to his expiring contract. The Suns are rebuilding, and the chance to shed salary next summer gives them more flexibility. It’s doubtful the team has Monroe in their long-term plans, at least right now.
Details of the first round pick (namely, whether it is for 2018 or beyond) are unknown at this time, but Woj is reporting the pick has lottery protections tied in. Given Milwaukee’s status as a playoff contender, it figures to be a mid-to-late first round pick. While not a high value first-rounder, it’s smart for Phoenix to stock up on them. The second pick, meanwhile, sweetens the deal, but doesn’t add a lot of value.
The move makes them worse in the short-term, but the full impact of the trade won’t be known until after the pick is used. At this point, however, it makes sense given the team’s direction.
The Bucks are known for their length and athleticism. While they have Malcom Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova, Giannis Antentokounmpo will play point guard. Bledsoe offers more of a legitimate scoring point guard. His number are down this season at just 15.7 points per game, but he’s featured in just three games and the current situation with the Suns hasn’t been the most favorable of circumstances. Bledose averaged over 20 points per game the previous two seasons, and averaged over six assists per game the previous three. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he’s an overall efficient scorer, shooting 44.4 percent from the field for his career. Bledsoe improves the Bucks at point guard, and helps round out an already strong starting five that includes Tony Snell, Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo, and Thon Maker.
Only giving up Monroe is a steal. There’s certainly a chance Phoenix could’ve asked for Jabari Parker, who is recovering from a torn ACL. While it would’ve been a gamble, the Bucks remain hopeful Parker will recover and develop into a strong forward (he’s certainly played well when healthy). Milwaukee had the upper hand in this instance; however, since they essentially had to move Bledsoe. Plus Parker is making roughly $6.7 million this season, and would be signed through next season as well. Whether Parker was discussed or not, Phoenix likely decided taking on Monroe’s expiring contract was sensible move.
For Milwaukee, losing Monroe could affect things from a depth standpoint, but he wasn’t making that big an impact this season. His time in Milwaukee was mixed. Brought in to be the team’s starting center, he struggled at first and was dropped to the bench. After trade speculation died down a couple of seasons ago, Monroe settled in last season from the bench. His future with Milwaukee was uncertain beyond this season; however, so it makes sense that he was dealt. The team does lose some depth in the frontcourt, but they will count on Maker, John Henson, and Mirza Teletovic to step up (and Parker when he returns).
Overall, acquiring Bledsoe makes the Bucks a better team, and they should remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race as the season moves along.