Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe continues to sit out as his front office seeks a potential trade partner for the former first-round pick.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has made it clear that he is not satisfied with their point guard situation. In fact, he said the position is “open” as the team is off to a poor one-win, four-loss start to the season.
Jerian Grant has the highest Player Efficiency Rating among their potential starting point guards, though the pace of the team is remarkably slow when he is running their offense. Viable replacements Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine both have negative pure point ratings, according to RealGM.
Kay Felder, who was picked up after he was waived by the Cavaliers, is their best option if they want to run a fast-paced offense. His usage rate is also the highest among the aforementioned players. But of these options, Felder has the lowest overall net rating as the team has a negative-21 point differential with him on the court.
From there, the options are increasingly thin. Cameron Payne is expected to miss “at least a couple months” and Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract so his time in the NBA will be on a game restriction. Even though the Lakers tried David Nwaba as a point guard, the Bulls are not expected to do the same as Hoiberg got upset when a reporter said that Nwaba played the position.
Does that mean Chicago could pursue a trade for Bledsoe?
It would be increasingly likely if the team had more assets to offer. It seems that each day he remains on the market, the cheaper he becomes for rival front offices. The question now is whether or not he has become cheap enough for Chicago.
NBA analyst Paolo Uggetti wrote about the return Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough may receive for Bledsoe (via The Ringer):
“McDonough’s been talking to the media, trying to paint Bledsoe as a malcontent, but it’s just tanking his trade value. How long will the Suns wait for a deal that’s to their liking? And will they ever get a fair return on a player they are keeping away from the court?”
Not only are the Suns likely hurting trade value by waiting, but they are also reportedly interested in including Tyson Chandler in a deal. This will limit suitors to the few teams with the most available cap space. Experts believe this will result in a weaker overall asset in exchange for a team taking on a big contract.
One team with surplus cap space is the Bulls, who may be in a situation where they are forced to trade either Nikola Mirotic or Bobby Portis after a recent altercation between the two players.
Team insider Vincent Goodwill recently corroborated this rumor (via NBC Sports Chicago):
“Mirotic prefers a trade out of Chicago—which won’t be available to the Bulls until mid-January at the earliest because he was a free agent this summer—and is willing to waive his no-trade clause to do so … It’s been described by one source as ‘one of them has to go’ and the Bulls are aware of the tenuous situation.”
Even though Chicago just picked up the team option for Portis, which likely confirms they will not outright release him, a trade remains possible. It may make sense as Phoenix could use a young asset viable for rebuild towards a competent roster.
Could the Suns agree to a Portis-for-Bledsoe swap, though? Probably not, considering Phoenix already has a logjam in its frontcourt.
Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender are all recent picks selected in the draft lottery who are already competing for minutes at power forward. Portis (another recent first-round pick) or Mirotic, if he waives his no-trade clause, would just add to the already crowded position competition.
Unless there is a third team somehow involved willing to take on either player publicly in the center of a team controversy, don’t expect Bledsoe to take over at point guard in Chicago.
Even if the Bulls do somehow convince the Suns to take Portis (likely with a future pick) in exchange for Bledsoe, it would gut their important cap space heading into the 2018 offseason. It seems a deal just doesn’t make sense for either side.
DunkWire, Top, Bobby Portis, Cameron Payne, David Nwaba, Denzel Valentine, Dragan Bender, Jerian Grant, Josh Jackson, Kay Felder, Kris Dunn, Marquese Chriss, Nikola Mirotic, Tyson Chandler, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns