The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies have broken the late-summer malaise the NBA was in with a fairly significant trade. Eric Bledose will go to the Clippers in exchange for Rajon Rondo, Patrick Beverley and Daniel Otoru, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Earlier in the offseason, the New Orleans Pelicans traded Bledsoe to the Grizzlies in a pre-draft trade, but the veteran point guard was never expected to remain in Memphis. Likewise, Rondo and Beverley could be on the move again soon. So could Otoru for that matter, though as of now there’s no subsequent deals in place.
Bledsoe began his career with the Clippers and spent three seasons there before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team trade ahead of the 2013-14 season. Since then he’s bounced around, and most notably spent a few seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. There, he made back-to-back All-Defensive teams and helped the Bucks finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference in two straight seasons. However, he struggled so much in the playoffs that the team thought it was necessary to trade him last summer and then immediately won the title with his replacement, Jrue Holiday.
It will be interesting to see if he can shed those playoff demons in a new situation — that is, assuming the Clippers can get there with Kawhi Leonard expected to miss most of the season with a torn ACL. Perhaps the primary motivation for the deal, however, is that the Clippers will save about $30 million in luxury-tax payments this year. And looking forward beyond this upcoming season, Bledsoe only has a partial guarantee of $3.9 million for 2022-23, which gives them some flexibility if they don’t want to keep him longterm.
From a Grizzlies perspective, it made sense to move Bledsoe since he didn’t want to be there and would not have been a good fit. And by moving him they’ll clear some cap space next season since they don’t have his partial guarantee on the books. Other than that, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens since it seems likely that some combination of these players will be heading elsewhere.