BY: Cole Raines
The Milwaukee Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo had a meeting with management on Monday, September 14th, and it proved to be successful. The Bucks told last year’s MVP that they are willing to spend and be more flexible this offseason to build a successful roster around Giannis. Building a better-fit roster around Antetokounmpo starts with one player’s name on the trade block, Eric Bledsoe.
After his trade from Phoenix to Milwaukee, Bledsoe saw the team success he was striving for. But, Bledsoe seems to be a piece that will get the Bucks to the playoffs, but not helps them thrive there. A career 33% 3-point shooter, Bledsoe tends to minimize the spacing around Giannis and seems to be only effective with the ball in his hands. In an offense around the Greek Freak, that play style does not work.
To make the Bucks’ lineup more suitable around Giannis, it starts with trading Eric Bledsoe. Fire up the trade machine, Bucks fans! I have five trades to get Bledsoe out of Milwaukee, ranked worst to first.
#5: Opening up Cap Space
This is not the ideal return for the Bucks, but this deal opens up close to $12.5 million in cap space for Milwaukee. On top of that, if Malik Beasley can continue his solid play that we saw after his trade from Denver to Minnesota, the Bucks may have another high-ceiling wing to pair with Donte DiVincenzo.
For Minnesota, Bledsoe would pair with D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt. It would move Russell to the shooting guard position, where he has experience playing. Add in Bledsoe’s strong defensive ability would compensate for Russell’s poor defensive play and Minnesota might have a top 5 guard duo out west.
#4: Bledsoe Forms a Big Three in Dallas
As mentioned previously, the best players that complement Giannis on the Bucks are floor spacers. Seth Curry is a shot 45% from three this season, and Tim Hardaway Jr. shot just about 40% from downtown this season. They are not the stars you hope to grab in a deal for a player of Bledsoe’s caliber, but they fit what the Bucks are trying to do offensively better than Bledsoe has.
Dallas gets a defensive piece to help ease the defensive load that Luka Doncic takes on. He may not be the floor spacer that the Mavericks need to be, but he can take the playmaking load of Luka as well. Bledsoe fits better than Luka than he does with Giannis because Luka can play on and off the ball better than Giannis can. With Doncic’s off-the-ball ability Bledsoe’s penetration is more of an asset in Dallas than it would be in Milwaukee.
#3: A Three Team Deal
Out of all five deals listed, this is probably the most unrealistic due to how many players are involved. However, each team gets something they are looking for in the offseason. For the Bucks, Buddy Hield is a perfect third or fourth option for what Milwaukee tries to do offensively. A career 41.1% 3-pointer shooter, his floor spacing is exactly what Milwaukee is looking for in the guard position. Add in that Sacramento is looking to deal Hield, and we may see the former Sooner in Cream City before the end of the shortened offseason.
For the Bulls, they get a defensive-minded point guard to make up for the lackluster defensive play by Zach LaVine. Much like the duo of Russell and Bledsoe, LaVine and Bledsoe both complement each other’s weaknesses.
At the butt end of the stick is the Kings. Sacramento would lose a budding star in Buddy Hield, but would add in depth at the forward and guard positions. They get a few protected picks, but every deal has a loser, and if the Kings are trying to trade Hield, this a possible deal they might have to accept.
#2: Mile High Bledsoe
Another deal that opens up cap space for the Bucks is the deal that sends Bledsoe to the Nuggets. In return, the Bucks receive Will Barton and Monte Morris. Barton and Morris increase the depth in Milwaukee and the flexibility that they can have with their lineups. Barton can play guard or forward, which can allow Milwaukee to go with bigger or smaller lineups with Barton.
The addition of Morris gives more spacing at the point guard position. He and George Hill are both floor spacing point guards that can play off-the-ball if needed, so they both fit the Bucks’ style of play.
For Denver, they get a proven guard defender to play alongside Murray and Jokic. He may not be the floor spacer that Denver needs him to be, but he can shoulder the load of guarding the star guards out west. The addition of Bledsoe allows Jamal Murray to focus on the offensive side of the ball as Bledsoe specializes in defense. It may not be the ideal pickup for Denver, but it makes them a better defensive team.
#1: CP3 to MKE
Since the Bucks have been eliminated by Miami, NBA fans are buzzing about pairing Chris Paul with Giannis. With his monstrous contract, to get CP3 to Milwaukee, Bledsoe has to be included in the deal. Stylistically, the swap of Bledsoe for Chris Paul makes sense. Paul can play off the ball, he can become the primary playmaker in Milwaukee, and his IQ will help Giannis and the Bucks improve to the team that Bucks’ fans hope they become.
These are Potential Trades
Obviously Bledsoe’s name has been circulating in rumors since the Bucks early exit. But who knows what a deal will look like for him. He is 30 years old, is a below-average shooter, and is athletically declining. All five of these trades benefit both sides and fit what each team is trying to do stylistically. Bledsoe will be on the move, and Milwaukee fans can only hope that is a winning deal for their beloved Bucks.
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