Eric Bledsoe Trade Rumors: Clippers Would Be Crazy to Move Dynamic PG

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

January 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Eric Bledsoe (12) controls the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers have made point guard Eric Bledsoe available in potential deals, and it's shocking that Clipper Darrell hasn't rallied the fans to storm the Staples Center.

Bledsoe brings so much to the table in terms of skills and athleticism, but GM Gary Sacks has still included him in trade talks with other teams. 

Granted, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Sacks has been "adamant" that he has not been shopping Bledsoe, but other reports seem to suggest otherwise.

Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN Los Angeles earlier reported that Bledsoe was being discussed in a deal for Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap, while Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports stated that Bledsoe could be headed to the Boston Celtics in a deal for veteran Kevin Garnett.

Regardless of whether those rumors are true or false, one thing is certain: The Clippers would be crazy to even consider trading a guard as dynamic as Bledsoe.

The former Kentucky Wildcat has been a backup his entire career, but has shown great potential behind Chris Paul this season. Though he has averaged just 9.6 points and 3.3 assists per game, he has shot an astounding 43 percent from three-point range. Per 36 minutes, Bledsoe is averaging 15.9 points and 5.5 assists per contest.

The good numbers don't stop there.

In February alone, Bledsoe is averaging 12.8 points and five assists while shooting an eye-popping 53 percent from downtown, mostly due to him making a few spot starts while star point man Chris Paul recovered from a bruised knee.

This leads us to the biggest reason why the Clippers should not trade Bledsoe. All great skills aside, he is the heir apparent to the starting point guard spot in Lob City.

Paul is set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer and will have a multitude of teams angling to sign him to a max contract. Los Angeles has $24 million coming off the books and should not have a problem getting together the money necessary to bring Paul back, but teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks cannot be written off as mere competition in the sweepstakes.

That all being said, suppose the Clippers do trade Bledsoe in the next couple of days and then lose Paul via free agency. The team will have to start from scratch at that point and pursue another option via the free-agent market.

The only point men who are unrestricted free agents and could be a solid fit in the Lob City offense are Jose Calderon and one-time Clippers guard Mo Williams, but neither man has the skill set nor the leadership abilities of Paul.

It thus serves the Clippers better to keep Bledsoe this season, unless Sacks is completely confident that Paul will remain in Los Angeles for next season and beyond. If the star point guard signs a new deal with the team in July, then it makes more sense to trade Bledsoe.

He can score points, dish off passes and is a great dunker, so buyers should line up no problem.

Until that scenario is solved, however, the Clippers aren't doing themselves any favors by even entertaining the idea of dealing Bledsoe. The team is in a great position to contend for an NBA title and losing Bledsoe now means losing a key piece of the formula for success.