The Los Angeles Clippers, yes those Los Angeles Clippers, have had perhaps the NBA’s best offseason thus far. The Clippers landed on the league’s top coaches by prying Doc Rivers from the Celtics (a massive upgrade from the “coaching” provided last year by Vinny Del Negro) and reached an agreement on a maximum contract extension with one of the league’s very best players, point guard Chris Paul. Today, they gave Doc more talent to shape and CP3 a better supporting cast with which to work. In a blockbuster three team deal, the Clippers agreed to trade promising guard, Eric Bledsoe and aging small forward Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for 3 and D swingman Jared Dudley, while simultaneously sending a second round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks in a sign and trade for shooting guard J.J. Redick. The Bucks will also receive a second round pick from the Suns for their trouble.*
Redick’s new deal is reportedly for 4 years, $27 million, which feels right for a floor-spacing shooting guard who does a little bit of everything while shooting very well from deep (39% for his career). Redick’s numbers did slip overall last year, but it was primarily due to the pretty miserable situation in Milwaukee into which he was traded. J.J. Redick things are meant to be done for a smart team with smart teammates, and well, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are not smart basketball players. They make lots of bad decisions and take bad shots and waste opportunities created by the off-ball movement of a player like Redick. That should change in L.A. where Redick will be playing for a great coach and with one of the league’s smartest players in CP3, Redick should see many more open looks and should really shine for the Clippers. It is worth noting, though, that Redick’s production did slip this year, as he will be 29 in the first year of this new deal and many a shooting guard has seen his production slip starting at around age 30. Should Redick follow that path, the numbers on this deal might end up seeming a bit bloated, but for a team that is clearly all in and going for it with superstar Chris Paul, this is a minor worry. In addition to shoring up the shooting guard position, the Clippers are getting an upgrade at small forward swapping out the declining 34 year old Caron Butler for career 40.5% 3 point shooter and solid defender, Jared Dudley. Dudley doesn’t have the ball-handling or penetration skills of Butler, but he’s younger, on a very friendly deal, and will be a great offensive fit with CP3 dribble drives and pick-and-roll dives to rim by DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin resulting in the collapse of the opposing team’s defense inside freeing Dudley for open looks in the corners. This trade is a big win for the Clips.
For the Suns, the deal is an opportunity to rebuild, yet again. This time they’re betting on Eric Bledsoe to be a star. Bledsoe has certainly shown flashes that he could be that guy. Bledsoe is an athletic freak, who can do things like this:
And perhaps more impressively, he did this to Dwyane Wade:
Phoenix, and its new GM Ryan McDonough, are hoping that Bledsoe can develop into the next Russell Westbrook: an incredible athlete who is a terror on both ends with whom opposing point guards must deal. At just 23 years old, Bledsoe has shown improvement in leaps and bounds and this year posted a solid 17+ PER while also becoming a terror on the defensive end. The Clippers were nearly 5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Bledsoe on the floor versus when he sat, which is doubly impressive when you realize that the player he was usually replacing was CP3, who made the NBA’s All-Defensive Team this year. This is a smart move by the Suns, as they sacrificed relatively little (Jared Dudley’s talents are mostly wasted on a bad team like the Suns and taking on Caron Butler’s deal is not that onerous) in order to acquire a guy who has the potential to be an impact player on both ends of the court. Bledsoe is the sort of talent you bet on. Good job by Mr. McDonough.
*The Bucks have to be disappointed to receive just two second round picks for Redick after giving up promising rookie combo-forward Tobias Harris to acquire Redick for just the back half of this past season, especially given how well Harris played in Orlando following the trade. On a brighter note, Redick was going to leave the Bucks either way so prying two second round picks out of the process is not nothing, but it probably feels pretty close to Bucks’ fans right now.