According to Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly discussing a trade that would send backup point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Utah Jazz for power forward Paul Milsap.
Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com late Saturday that there is a level of mutual interest between the Clippers and Utah Jazz in exploring a deal that would feature Bledsoe as the headliner in a trade package for Jazz forward Paul Millsap.
Although two sources with knowledge of the Clippers’ thinking insisted during All-Star Weekend that Bledsoe would not be moved in coming days and strongly predicted that L.A. would stand pat, two other sources indicated that the Clippers and Jazz will at least discuss the feasibility of a trade headlined by Bledsoe and Millsap before the deadline.
Bledsoe is averaging 9.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game for Los Angeles, while Milsap is averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds out in Utah.
More pieces would need to be added to make this trade happen, as a straight-up swap wouldn’t work from a financial standpoint (Clippers would be over luxury tax threshold).
If this potential deal has any legs behind it, both sides should be eager to make this trade come into fruition before the February 21st deadline.
It works out for everyone involved.
The Utah Jazz need a legit starting point guard like diabetics need insulin. A three-man combination of Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson just won’t cut it anymore. Eric is a huge upgrade over all three of them, so it’s safe to assume that he would jump right in the line of fire and become the new starter at the point right off the bat.
With the return of Chauncey Billups, Bledsoe’s minutes will slowly start to decrease more and more as the playoffs approach. At least in Utah, he could thrive in an offense that will certainly give him more playing time than he’s getting as a Clipper.
Paul Milsap is expendable to Utah. The Jazz have huge depth in their frontcourt (Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors), so they can afford to part ways with at least one of them and not lose any of their strength down low.
It should also be noted that Milsap will become an unrestricted free-agent in July, so he will be free to sign with whichever team he chooses this summer. The Clippers would more than likely need some sort of insurance that he plans to re-sign with the team, rather than trading away a quality asset in Bledsoe for a player who has no intention of sticking around long-term.
The Clippers have little depth off the bench at the power forward position (Lamar Odom), so Milsap can fill a need for Los Angeles by spotting Blake Griffin in the second-unit. Paul is a much more aggressive player on offense than Odom. He can also rebound, box out and play strong defense in the paint. He’s come off the bench before in his career, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
As with all trade rumors, it’s not a given that this deal will in fact happen, but considering the value it brings to both the Clippers and Jazz, I don’t see why it shouldn’t.