The Wolves haven't hidden interest in acquiring Eric Bledsoe, both before and after the Kevin Love trade. However, this week...
More #Twolves fodder to digest: told they have talked to the Suns about Bledsoe even after the Love trade. HOWEVER, no real match.— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) September 18, 2014
NBA sources tell me the Twolves are prepared to offer Eric Bledsoe a Max contract #nba— Jude LaCava (@judefox10) September 19, 2014
Take with a massive grain of salt, obviously. But...
It's no secret that the Suns and Bledsoe are not on good terms. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent and his camp is not budging on a max contract demand, which the Suns are (wisely, in my opinion) not willing to meet. Bledsoe has not secured an offer from another team that satisfies him, so there's no need for Phoenix to bid against itself. Factor in a grim injury prediction and the simple fact that the Suns were quite successful with him only playing half a year last season, and there's just no way Phoenix is going to value him that highly.
So the question here is, should the Wolves value him that highly?
Bledsoe is immensely talented; no one disputes that. He's a prototypical, modern-day NBA guard: fast, great handles, and can score. He broke out his third year in Los Angeles, serving primarily as Chris Paul's backup, and even with the injury issues last season, still managed to be even better. Injury free and in a high-demand market, you could probably argue Bledsoe is at least close to worth a max contract.
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But the demand obviously isn't there (we're 11 days away from training camp and he still doesn't have a contract) And the prognosis on his injury going forward is not good: Phoenix's medical staff has put a 9 year shelf life on his knees, with a 50% chance of a major injury reoccuring in that time. That's a scary thing to consider in a guy you're talking about signing for 5 years at something like $16 million a season.
Also factor in that the Wolves will still almost certainly be on the outside looking in come postseason time. There's no way Minnesota can sign Bledsoe to an offer sheet, not just at that price, but at any price. We're over the salary cap. We have no free money.
So dealing for Bledsoe will require a sign-and-trade, and Phoenix....even in their situation...isn't going to just take spare parts for him. What would Phoenix even deem acceptable in the first place? As broken as their relationship with Bledsoe is, they're not just going to give him away. They're a young team themselves, and nearly made the playoffs last season. They're a direct competitor of ours in both the standing and in youth movement. They want the same stuff we want.
Flip badly wants to make the playoffs this year, both as the obvious end to an embarrassing 10 year drought and as a bit of a 'screw you' to Kevin Love. I think he's probably willing to go to some extremes to make that happen. This whole summer has already been a home run derby for him. Nothing halfway. Clear the fences or go home.
As the Wolves are fully committed to #EyesOnTheRise, that means at least one major veteran player going out. Probably two. And while adding Bledsoe certainly gets some of that back, the fact is the Wolves 'playoff readiness' level is already poor as it is. Kevin Love is gone. Pekovic and Martin are both capable but still limited role players, and the rest of the team is painfully young. Rubio is the only guy on the roster that can make the playoffs happen, and he'll have to make a jump something on the order of Brandon Jennings to Jason Kidd. So unless that happens....or Bledsoe joins the team and immediately ascends to a Russell Westbrook level...the Wolves just don't have enough to get into the playoffs past a Memphis or Dallas either way.
Dealing out say, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and JJ Barea, even for Eric Bledsoe, doesn't move the needle much in terms of the Wolves' playoff hopes this season. Assuming Phoenix would even consider that deal acceptable. And either way, $16 million is a lot for a non-playoff team to pay anyone.
All that said, it's not an uninteresting possibility to consider. Healthy Bledsoe would instantly be the team's best player. He'd give the backcourt legit dynamism and grit that it's been missing since the Sam Cassell days, and provide insurance against Camp Rubio's contract demands and the possibility LaVine washes out. It's really hard to see how an acceptable deal for all sides can be constructed, and harder to see how it would actually solve anything in the short term. But the long term prospect of Bledsoe out there with guys like Wiggins, LaVine and Dieng is appealing.
And if nothing else, it'd be amusing to see Flip pull of a second failed Kahnism. Bledsoe and Rubio, that mythical two guard lineup. The real next Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, right?