The New York Knicks were already linked to disgruntled Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe once. Here’s another look at a potential trade.
Eric Bledsoe averaged 21 points and 6 assists last season. He was ninth in scoring among point guards and 12th in assists. The numbers weren’t staggering to the rest of the league. But to the New York Knicks, that’s Hall of Fame worthy.
The lowly Knicks have only had two guards post 21 and 6 since the great Walt “Clyde” Frazier did it on four separate occasions (via Basketball-Reference.com). Bledsoe would be the most talented Knicks point guard since Stephon Marbury. It wouldn’t even be close.
New York was linked to him back in July, but the rumors never seemed stable. Now things are different. Not only are the Knicks looking to deal, but Bledsoe is unhappy with Phoenix.
The 25-year-old shook things up when he sent out a tweet saying “I dont wanna be here.” It’s an odd way to request a trade, but it’s hard to blame him for feeling that way after how things have gone recently with his team.
I Dont wanna be here
— Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2) October 22, 2017
The Suns are coming off a 24-win season; They just lost their first three games by a combined 92 points and fired their head coach. Although Bledsoe’s not too upset about that last one. Believe it or not, he would have a more stable culture in New York.
That says more about Phoenix than it does New York. Could things be so bad in the Valley of the Sun that the former Clipper may welcome a trade to the Big Apple? It’s a possibility.
We know he’s leaving now and that the Knicks are interested. The Suns are reportedly engaged in trade talks with other teams (via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski) after sending their disgruntled star home from practice.
According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, the Knicks are reportedly one of those teams. Now let’s take a closer look at just how it could happen.
Do the Knicks have the pieces?
That’s the million dollar question. Phoenix is a rebuilding squad and won’t want to take on a lot of salary. Don’t get your hopes up Knicks fans, Joakim Noah‘s not going anywhere. The Suns will be looking for young prospects and reasonable contracts.
Kyle O’Quinn has a player option for next season of just over $4 million—which he’ll inevitably turn down—and the first two games of the 2017-18 season have been like an audition for another team. He has 21 points and 17 rebounds in 46 minutes.
The 27-year-old can play both big man positions. He can also be an asset as a veteran mentor to rookie Josh Jackson.
The Knicks will also be looking to trade Courtney Lee. Whether or not Phoenix will take him is tricky. Lee is a solid player, but New York is trying to move him because he doesn’t fit their rebuild. Phoenix is in the same spot; maybe even worse.
But one thing the Suns have going for them is cap room. Lee makes $24 million combined over the next two seasons, but if Phoenix unloads Bledsoe, they’ll have roughly $87 million committed in salary for next season. With the salary cap projected at about $101 million, taking on Lee and another piece would be acceptable.
The Suns are one of the worst defenses the league has ever seen. A guy like Lee would be a huge help on that side of the ball. He’s not much on offense, but playing next to Devin Booker they wouldn’t need much of it.
Should the Knicks even want Bledsoe?
The Knicks just drafted a point guard with the eighth overall pick four months ago. Bledsoe turns 28 years old in Dec., and he’s only under contract for one more season following 2017-18.
New York hasn’t seen enough of Frank to make a judgment of him. He’s only logged 26 game minutes in the preseason and regular season combined. Head coach Jeff Hornacek announced that the rookie will likely miss Tuesday’s contest vs. Boston as well.
The odds are that Frank will never be the player Bledsoe currently is. Ideally, New York should try and pull this one off without having to give up Frank. Even though the entire roster should be on the table except for Kristaps Porzingis.
There will always be the fear that Frank goes to Phoenix and becomes a star. Then Bledsoe bails in a couple of years when his contract’s up and the Knicks are back at square one. But this is a rebuild. The Knicks need to take some risks.
Trading for Eric Bledsoe is a big one. That doesn’t mean New York shouldn’t go for it. If Lee and O’Quinn will get the job done; then it’s a no-brainer. If Phoenix wants Frank, the deal is still worth considering. But they shouldn’t need to go that far.
Phoenix’s general manager made the mistake of letting everyone now he wants Bledsoe gone. The team has no leverage. New York should be able to get their guy at a reasonable price, but this is still a tough call.
Eric Bledsoe would instantly be the most talented point guard the Knicks have had in over a decade. Not saying much, but it’s something for fans to cheer about. This guy does things that no other Knicks guard is capable of.