Once upon a time, the Orlando Magic was on the verge of nabbing a point guard from the Los Angeles Clippers who would give the team the kind of playmaker Orlando has not seen since the days of Penny Hardaway.
That guard was Eric Bledsoe, and at the time he was a role player that had the potential to one day make a name for himself in the NBA. Even though he was playing behind Chris Paul, Bledsoe would make a name for himself with his hustle and offensive creativity.
That same attitude led to many NBA teams making phone calls to the Clippers’ front office, asking them if there was any chance they could acquire his services since there was no way he could be a starter in Hollywood with Paul running the show. One of those teams was the Magic, and by the summer of 2013, the Magic and the Clippers were in serious talks of bringing the talented guard to Central Florida.
But that would not be the case. The deal — which would have sent Arron Afflalo, forward Andrew Nicholson and this year’s first-round pick to L.A. — would end up falling apart, and the Clippers instead would choose to send Bledsoe to the Phoenix Suns. Despite injuries, Bledsoe was everything as advertised for the Suns in 2013-14. He averaged a career-high in PPG (17.7) and APG (5.5) while almost leading the Suns to a stunning playoff berth.
But now Orlando may have a second chance at landing the prized guard. Bledsoe was on the last year of his rookie contract, and sources coming out of Phoenix indicate he is looking to test the free-agent waters.
Bledsoe would be a blessing to Orlando’s offense, which blacked out too many times thanks to poor point guard play. Pairing Bledsoe with Victor Oladipo would give the Magic one of the best backcourts in the Eastern Conference, if not the entire NBA. That guard tandem would be a handful to defend, and would easily lift Orlando into playoff contention.
Now don’t get me wrong, Kyle Lowry is still the No. 1 guard the Magic should pursue in free agency this year, as he brings the same game Bledsoe has, but with more experience. But if Lowry decides to stay in Toronto or signs somewhere else, then Bledsoe should be plan B for Rob Hennigan.