NBA Rumors: L.A. Clippers' Refusal of Josh Smith Shows Commitment to Bledsoe

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIFebruary 20, 2013

Nov 24, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) fights for control of a loose ball with Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe (12) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Clippers 104-93. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Los Angeles Clippers declined a trade proposal via the Atlanta Hawks involving Eric Bledsoe and Josh Smith. The Clippers are said to have no interest in acquiring J-Smoove, specifically for the proposed cost.

After weeks of speculation, L.A.'s refusal of a trade for Smith shows their commitment to Bledsoe.

In his third year in the league, Bledsoe has improved in virtually every area of his game. For proof, simply check the numbers.

Bledsoe is averaging career-bests in points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, free-throw percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio.

To be specific, Bledsoe is averaging 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.9 blocks in 21.8 minutes per game. He's doing so on a slash line of .453/.429/.798.

Bledsoe shot just 20.0 percent from long range in 2011-12—a mind-blowing 22.9 percent improvement.

Not only has Bledsoe improved, but he's become one of the most dynamic players in the NBA. As of the All-Star Break, he ranks second in steals per 48 minutes and eighth amongst point guards in Player Efficiency Rating.

For 12 games, Bledsoe put his abilities on full display as a starter.

With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups injured, Bledsoe kept the Clippers' heads above water. The team went 6-6 under Bledsoe's guidance and witnessed the birth of a future star.

In that time, Bledsoe averaged 14.2 points, 5.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. That's not a misprint—1.3 blocks by a 6'1" point guard.

For perspective, no player in NBA history has averaged at least 1.0 block per game while standing shorter than 6'3" (via Basketball-Reference). This is legendary defense, people.

Even still, Bledsoe has been involved in trade talks for weeks on hand.


KG for Bledsoe Saga

On Feb. 3, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that the Clippers had engaged in trade talks with the Boston Celtics. The deal was said to be centered around Bledsoe going to Boston and Kevin Garnett ending up in L.A.

Chris Broussard of ESPN later confirmed the interest, but disputed the claims that there had been talks.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported on Feb. 16 that the Celtics and Clippers had finally begun conversations. KG quickly responded by making his desires clear.

If it were up to him, Garnett would remain in Boston for life (via The Boston Globe).

Garnett had shot down the rumors, saying, “I bleed green, I’ll die green.”

He repeated those sentiments here during All-Star Weekend. “If it’s up to me, I’m going to live green and die green,” he said.

The funny thing is, it is up to KG—he has a no-trade clause.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports now reports that the KG for Bledsoe deal is off. Unless franchise star Chris Paul requests otherwise, the Clippers will remain idle at the deadline.

In other words, Bledsoe will remain in L.A.


Coming to Bledsoe's Defense

By declining a trade for Josh Smith, the Los Angeles Clippers have effectively committed to Eric Bledsoe. How long the two sides remain together is unclear with his rise and Chris Paul's potential re-signing, but one thing is known.

The Clippers want Bledsoe to remain with the team as long as fate permits.

According to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times, Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks offered insight on the situation. In his words, he is not shopping Bledsoe to any team.

He's simply performing his due diligence as the VP of basketball operations.

"I haven't called anybody to say, 'Hey, we have Eric Bledsoe and would you like him?'

"You've got the best point guard in the NBA on your team and you've got the best backup who is ready for a bigger role, potentially," Sacks said. "So, of course, they are going to call. But that doesn't mean we should just trade him. That's crazy."

When you're referred to as the "best backup point guard in the NBA," there's a strong possibility that your team wants you to stick around.

Sacks wasn't alone in his comments, as Jamal Crawford compared a potential trade to "trading a family member" (via HoopsHype). It's this type of mentality that has the Clippers in position to hold on to Bledsoe.