Eric Bledsoe trade winners and losers: Suns, Bucks both do well; Monroe enters a mess
Phoenix wins, but has bigger concerns long-term, and the stakes raise in Milwaukee for coach Jason Kidd
The Suns have traded Eric Bledsoe to the Bucks Tuesday in exchange for protected picks and Greg Monroe. While SportsLine projects no real change in the Bucks' season, as their projected wins only go from 43.0 to 43.1, the move ends an uncomfortable situation in Phoenix after Bledsoe asked out several weeks ago.
Here's a look at the winners and losers from this latest star player trade in the NBA.
Eric Bledsoe: Bledsoe successfully managed to not only be traded within a month of requesting out, but goes to one of the most exciting teams in the league to play alongside one of its best players in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bledsoe fits with the Bucks, because of his athleticism, his length and his versatility. Bledsoe is primarily known for his athleticism, as he's one of the fastest guys in the league when healthy, and able to finish through contact.
Last season, Bledsoe shot 38 percent on catch-and-shoot shots last season, per Synergy Sports. That ability to play off-ball next to Antetokounmpo will be huge. Watch how he takes advantage of Damian Lillard sneaking over on T.J. Warren, and then imagine that's Giannis:
Bledsoe will have big expectations on him, but this is also an opportunity to play for a franchise going somewhere for the first time in three years.
Malcolm Brogdon: The Bucks' rookie point guard may loose the reins, but Antetokounmpo runs point most of the time anyway. This gives Brogdon a veteran to learn from and a player that complements his own abilities. Brogdon can play off-ball alongside him and operate as a secondary playmaker. It allows him to do what he does well without having excessive responsibility. Moving him to an auxiliary role will only make him better.
Jon Horst, GM, Bucks: The Bucks saw an opportunity and went for it, and gave up very little for it. The pick is so heavily protected that if they wind up surrendering it before 2021, they have way bigger issues, and even then, they can't give up a top-five pick. Monroe has been on the block for years, and while he's played well, he didn't fit with where the Bucks saw their team going. He lands a big upgrade at a key position for very low investment. If it doesn't work out, they didn't surrender enough for it to be a disaster, and if it does, he's set the team up to make a run in the East.
Sometimes it's just about being willing to make the bold move, and Horst was willing to after a quiet summer.
Phoenix Suns: They handled the situation before it got worse, and somewhere, sometime down the line, they'll get a first-round pick. They made the most of a bad scenario and didn't let it linger any more than it did, which is for the best. They get to move on, have another pick to add to their cache, and Monroe is still very serviceable and can help them compete now. It's not ideal, but for a player who literally demanded out on Twitter, it's not bad.
The Suns' Reputation: Marcin Gortat. Channing Frye. Marcus Morris. Markieff Morris.Goran Dragic. And now, Bledsoe becomes the latest player to end his time in Phoenix under auspicious circumstances. Ryan McDonough has been the face of the franchise's front office the past four seasons, but things have been shaky for the past seven years. The Suns are this place where eventually players demand out. They have to change the team's culture, whether that's through a coaching hire, bringing in someone else to turn around the vibe -- which they may have done already by adding James Jones as Vice President of Basketball Operations -- they have to find ways to change how players view them. Players talk, and right now, no one's saying good things about Phoenix.
Greg Monroe: Tough break for him. Monroe signed a big contract three years ago, and then the league underwent a revolution that made non-stretch, non-rim-protector bigs irrelevant. Here's the thing: Monroe's biggest weakness was defense, and he's made tremendous strides there. He legitimately may be the best big defender on the Suns at this point, given Dragan Bender's inexperience and Tyson Chandler's age. The Suns are going nowhere, and no one seems to thrive there, outside of Devin Booker. Monroe's a pro; he took his move to the bench two seasons ago in stride and has kept his head down and just continued to work. He was legitimately contributing to Milwaukee and was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate last year. Getting traded is always hard. Getting dealt to this Phoenix team, with so many bigs they have to get minutes for ... that's rough.
Matthew Dellavedova: Dellavedova obviously loses the most minutes with this addition. None of the guards got moved, Brogdon is going to stay where he's at, and he's a weird fit next to Bledsoe in certain lineups. Dellavedova's struggle to make an impact defensively is odd; the Bucks have the same defensive rating with him on-court as off this season. Delly is still shooting a respectable 36 percent from 3-point range this season, right in line with where he was last season. He's going to see his small, 20-minutes per game rotation spot shorten even more with this move, most likely, even with Milwaukee's capability to run four-guard lineups.
Jason Kidd: Moves like this are put on the shoulders of the coach. He has to add a star point guard now that the team is already in the the midst of the season, and has to manage the balance between incorporating Bledsoe and making sure Antetokounmpo is the engine of the team. There's a lot to make this work, and it raises expectations for where the team needs to finish. Getting Bledsoe gives him another weapon, but it also makes his job harder in some respects.
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