The Los Angeles Lakers have had a forgetful offseason thus far, after striking out on the big-name free agents. Gaining the talents of LeBron James was a pipe dream, but who can fault Lakers faithful for hoping? The more tangible player was Carmelo Anthony, who was strongly considering the purple and gold prior to returning to the New York Knicks. Both big-name free agents decided to stay or go back to what they considered home, leaving the Lakers to pick up the pieces.
While former free agent Isaiah Thomas is from Washington, his love for the Lakers put him in rumors to land in L.A. That did not happen either, and Thomas ended up signing a contract to play with the Phoenix Suns. This was an interesting decision simply because the Suns are rather guard heavy after drafting Tyler Ennis, who joined an already crowded backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe, an unrestricted free agent, turned down an offer from the Suns that would have netted him $48 million over four years, or $12 million a year. The market for point guards has been inflated due to the contract of All-Star Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving, who inked a max extension for $90 million over five years.
Thomas put up similar numbers to Irving, also asking for more money than he is worth. As a result, we are now seeing the market affect other players. Bledsoe, after turning down an offer much like Thomas, has now received interest from the Lakers. The Suns have a slight edge because Bledsoe is restricted, meaning they can use the sign-and-trade leverage against all possible suitors.
The rumored sign-and-trade for Bledsoe would require too much from an already decimated roster in Laker land. The Suns are asking for the seventh overall selection, Julius Randle, the first-round draft pick acquired from the Houston Rockets after landing Jeremy Lin, and big man Jordan Hill.
That is a very steep price tag on a player who is asking for max money, and no one views him as a top-dollar player. Yes, Bledsoe would fill a glaring hole at the point guard position, a position that the Lakers desperately need upgraded. Steve Nash is an injury waiting to happen at his age, and Lin has played long past his brightest moments during the Linsanity period.
A hopeful sign at point guard is Jordan Clarkson, who has averaged 16.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game during summer league action. The key part of this trade would be Randle, and what he ends up being in the NBA. Randle played in the summer league, brushing off rust while averaging 12 points per game and four rebounds.
While Randle has some lingering question marks surrounding his foot, he is more promising than Bledsoe. While Bledsoe is a true talent at point guard, he also has had his share of injuries. Bledsoe is coming off of his second knee surgery, something that has kept him off the court for extended time.
Many view Randle as a possible cornerstone to a franchise, a sure player who will produce from Day 1 in the NBA. While no one doubts the talents of the player who he could possibly be traded for, many doubt if it is the right move to make. Bledsoe simply is not worth max money, especially with his injury-riddled past.
The Lakers would be better suited trying to swindle a sign-and-trade with the Suns while keeping Randle. If the asking price from the Suns is Randle or nothing, then the Lakers should stay grounded and proceed to upgrade the roster with other players.
Bledsoe simply isn’t worth Randle, Hill and a max contract. The deal is a bit much for a player who may not make it through an entire season. The Lakers should keep Randle and see how he plays alongside Kobe Bryant and company.