The NBA offseason is full of surprises, and if the Phoenix Suns actually trade Eric Bledsoe to the New York Knicks, it’ll undoubtedly be one of the most surprising moves. Not just of this season, but over a long period of time.
Bledsoe was signed to a five-year, $70 million deal last season after it seemed like the negotiations during his restricted free agency almost caused an unbridgeable gulf between the two sides. But Bledsoe went on to have a healthy season and showed that he’s a player the Suns can build with and around, averaging 17 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists, as the Suns gave up on making the playoffs, trading Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat before the trade deadline.
So why trade Bledsoe? Well, there’s only one reasonable string of thought that leads to this being a good move. The Suns were planning on tanking before the 2013-2014 season, but the combination of Jeff Hornacek with a young, athletic and hungry squad resulted in almost making the playoffs. Suddenly the plans changed, and the Suns were battling for that 8th spot for quite a while last season too until Dragic told them it’s either a max contract or losing him, so he was traded.
What do the Knicks have to give? Nothing, except for the fourth overall pick, which the Knicks aren’t too high on because the players they do want – Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, won’t be available most likely by the time they make the pick. The Knicks prefer to trade down and get a player who can contribute right away, like Bledsoe, who in the East is an All-Star player. Isn’t just the fourth overall pick a bit cheap for him?
If the Suns have decided that tanking now, two years after it should have started, is the plan they’re comfortable with; it’s the only explanation of Bledsoe being shopped. Unless it’s simply Sporting News, and through them us as well, making stuff up. And there’s also the matter of making Bledsoe fit in the triangle system, which he might not be perfect for.
The Knicks are going to try and get anyone they can to improve them, and it’s not difficult improving a team that was so bad last year. But the Suns? It’s hard to tell what their plan is. Everyone thought they’re going to keep trying and make the playoffs but maybe the fear of ending up 9th or 10th in the West year after year without actually improving – the famous fear of mediocrity in the NBA, is pushing them towards giving up on their best player.