Bucks swoop in to save Eric Bledsoe from dysfunctional Suns: Trade grades

Eric Bledsoe didn't want to be in Phoenix anymore. On Tuesday morning, he got his wish. The Milwaukee Bucks agreed to a deal with the Suns to acquire Bledsoe in exchange for Greg Monroe, a heavily protected first-round pick, and a protected second-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.

Bledsoe, who the Suns forced to sit out for the last month of last season despite the fact that he was healthy, was unhappy with how things were going in Phoenix. According to the report from Wojnarowski and Lowe, he actually first met with management and asked for a trade during the preseason. 

He didn't get one, of course, and after the team started the season 0-3, including a 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night that doubled as the worst loss in franchise history and the worst opening-night loss in NBA history, Bledsoe sent his infamous "I dont wanna be here" tweet

Shortly after, the Suns fired coach Earl Watson, and banished Bledsoe from the team. Just recently, however, reports came in that Bledsoe was to be allowed back into team facilities to start working out again, but would not be rejoining the team. As it turns out, he never even got back to the facilities, as the Suns swung the deal with the Bucks. 

So, how did these two teams make out in the deal. Let's grade the trade. 

Milwaukee Bucks (Grade: A)

Bucks receive: Eric Bledsoe

This is a great pickup for the Bucks. When it first became clear that Bledsoe wasn't going to be with the Suns much longer, the Bucks were one of the first teams that everyone thought of as a potential destination. Now, we see why. 

Coming of an impressive showing last season in the first round of the playoffs, the Bucks are clearly on the rise. But even as great as Giannis Antetokounmpo is, he can't do everything on his own -- no matter how much he tries. 

The addition of Bledsoe, who is coming off a career season with the Suns in which he averaged 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists, will give the Bucks another dynamite secondary option alongside Khris Middleton. With Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Bledsoe, the Bucks have a legitimate trio of guys who can put the ball on the floor and create their own shots. And that doesn't even include Jabari Parker, who should be back sometime around February. 

Losing Monroe will give the Bucks some matchup problems against certain teams, as he was by far their bulkiest post player, and a solid rebounder. However, finding a big man who can rebound and be tough inside to replace Monroe is much easier than finding an exceptionally athletic scorer like Bledsoe -- especially in Milwaukee, which isn't exactly a marquee free-agent destination.

It will be interesting to see how the Bucks decide to shift around their lineups now. They could move Malcolm Brogdon to the bench and let Bledsoe run the show with the starters, or send Tony Snell to the bench and let Bledsoe work off-ball. Either way, Bledsoe will be an exciting addition to this Bucks team. 

Additionally, the Bucks did well to hold on to both Brogdon and Thon Maker, each of whom have shown plenty of promise in their first season-plus with the team. And even though it's unlikely to matter, adding a lottery protection to the first-round pick was a wise hedge against something disastrous happening this season. 

Phoenix Suns (Grade: D)

Suns receive: Greg Monroe, protected 2018 first-round pick, protected 2018 second-round pick

According to a report from John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, confirmed later by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the 2018 first-round pick is protected so that the Suns only get it if the pick falls between 11-16. If it doesn't, it rolls over to 2019, where they would only get the pick if it falls between 4-16. From there, it becomes protected 1-7 in 2020, and unprotected in 2021 if it is yet to convey. Furthermore, the second-round pick is protected from 48-60 and will not carry over if it doesn't convey this season. 

So, aside from a heavily protected first-round pick, and possibly a second-rounder, the Suns also get cap relief -- Monroe's contract expires after the end of this season, while Bledsoe's ran until 2018-19. This is not much of a haul for Bledsoe, even considering where his value was at. And besides, the Suns' bad decisions are the only reason his value was so low in the first place!

If Wojnarowski's report is correct -- and it would be a rare occasion if it wasn't -- the Suns could have tried to deal Bledsoe before the season when he met with management and asked out. With Bledsoe coming off a career year, and two seasons left on his contract, the Suns could have gotten much more for him before the season than they did now. He wouldn't have drawn the same interest as Paul George or Kyrie Irving, but you have to imagine some team would have paid a nice price to acquire such a talented guard.

Instead of handling Bledsoe's complaints in-house and working behind the scenes to deal him, the Suns publicly banished him from the team. Then, GM Ryan McDonough bashed Bledsoe in the media, leaving the team with no leverage whatsoever. 

This deal is unlikely to do much to ever help the Suns on the floor, and is yet another example of the poor management which has led the team to the position it's in right now. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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