Another big trade that might go down before or even during the night of the NBA draft is between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Orlando Magic, with Arron Afflao heading to the West Coast, while the worst team in the NBA last season get Caron Butler and the high-in-demand Eric Bledsoe.
The Clippers, until they re-sign Chris Paul (which should happen very soon), have only $45 million committed for next season. The Orlando Magic on the other hand, with Hedo remaining for another season probably (no one will pay him the $12 million he’s due next year), are in need of some cap relief in the near future, so trading for Butler makes a lot of sense, while Bledsoe was probably the best backup point guard in the NBA last season.
Arron Afflalo averaged 16.5 points per game for the Magic last season, but did miss 18 games in what was his best NBA season so far. He began playing as a small forward last season, something that might continue if he joins the Clippers, who need to improve the quality of their wing players, even though Afflalo shot only 30% from beyond the arc last season, compared to the 38.8% Butler gave them.
In any case, Butler is on his way down in terms of quality (averaging 10.4 points per game), but his contract, $8 million per season, expires after next season, which might give the Magic some cap relief in the long-term or simply provide to be a useful trading chip if the opportunity rises to get something of value from such an exchange.
In terms of Bledsoe, it seems like half the teams in the NBA were somewhat interested in finding a way to get him. Not just his ability (8.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals in 20 minutes a night) but his contract, paid only $2.6 million next season (his last on his rookie contract) is something most teams find very favorable in a prospect of this quality.
For the Clippers, who’ll probably see some changes to their bench unit next year, this means improving their starting five, especially in terms of firepower, while giving up on a key guy on the bench and Butler, who didn’t give them anything special at this point of his career. The Clippers aren’t about stocking on young players and building for the future. They need players who can contribute now, with playoff experience; Afflalo does that better than both Bledsoe and Butler at the moment.
For the Magic, it’s about losing Afflalo’s contract ($23.4 million for the next three years) in the long run, hopefully clearing enough space soon enough to get out of the rut that is following the departure of Dwight Howard last year.