Reserve point guard Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers has been mentioned in a number of trade rumors-specifically being dealt to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett-but if the Clippers are wise they should keep the third-year athletic point guard around until next season at the earliest.
Bledsoe has shown vast improvement from his rookie season to now and is averaging 9.6 points per game, 3.3 assists and sports an impressive 18.9 player efficiency rating, so it’s understandable why many teams are enamored with his potential. But the Clippers desperately need to keep Bledsoe around for their playoff run this season or their season will end a lot sooner than they would prefer.
Bledsoe’s attacking style of play is a perfect fit for the Clippers bench and meshes well with their aggressive back-up wing players Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and vets Lamar Odom and Grant Hill. The Clippers lack another point guard capable of keeping their second unit productive. When Chris Paul went down in January and Bledsoe moved to a starting role, the Clippers bench suffered with the shoot-first Crawford taking over back up PG duties. The Clippers slumped to a 6-6 record over that span.
Also, it’s worth noting that Bledsoe is under his rookie contract with the Clippers and won’t be due for a qualifying offer until 2014, meaning the Clippers have the luxury of Bledsoe playing CP3’s understudy for only $2.6 million next season. That probably won’t make Bledsoe the happiest guy on the roster, but that’s the way the business works sometimes.
Eric Bledsoe may be good enough to start for a few teams in the NBA, but it won’t happen this season, if the Clippers are smart. As a contending franchise they have to consider what moves will keep the team competitive, and holding on to Bledsoe at the trade deadline would be their best bet.