The potential deal was reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who gave us insight into where the sides stand in talks:
Raptors join Magic at forefront of list of teams known to be chasing Clippers G Eric Bledsoe via trade. ESPN link: http://t.co/YjZ6e9EuUb— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 29, 2013
Sources told ESPN.com the talks between the Raptors and Clippers are still in the exploratory stage, but the Raptors' interest in L.A.'s prized young point guard is said to be significant.
The Raptors have been openly shopping forward Andrea Bargnani for months and would try, sources say, to include Bargnani in any deal for Bledsoe, which wouldn't necessarily dissuade the Clippers, given their longstanding need for a big man who can stretch the floor. But sources added that Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan is the Raptor most likely to tempt the Clippers, which falls in line with L.A.'s interest in Arron Afflalo in their Bledsoe talks with Orlando.
Stein gave us some updated insight late Saturday night on Twitter:
In short: Sources say Clippers prefer Bargnani to DeRozan but are lukewarm to Toronto's pitch in either case, with Doc still so pro-Bledsoe— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 30, 2013
Right now, the biggest competition the Raptors have keeping them from Bledsoe is both the Magic and his current Clippers team. Per Stein, Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan "may revisit" talks with the Clippers about a deal involving Arron Afflalo.
Meanwhile, new Clippers head coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers is a "well-known fan of the 23-year-old and has indicated he'd like to keep Bledsoe around if possible."
This Raptors-Clippers deal hasn't been surfaced long enough for us to know the details, but it looks like DeMar DeRozan is the best player Toronto could lose and Andrea Bargnani is the most likely to hit the trading block.
The Clippers have been most adamant on getting help in the shooting guard position, so a move for DeRozan could fit into that category as he has vast two-way potential with his athletic moves as a swingman.
Also, Bargnani could fit in well in L.A. on a frontcourt that lacks outside shooters. The 7-footer has made his case in the league as a formidable stretch 4 who can also defend well given his size.
But what will it take to land Bledsoe? Those details aren't clear, but it would be tough for the Raptors to see a huge gain in a deal that would primarily swap Bledsoe and DeRozan.
Sure, Rudy Gay is Toronto's obvious player on the wing and deserves to be as the franchise player, but DeRozan also contributes so much to both sides of the court whether Gay is in the game or not. Bargnani won't be missed as much, but his 12.7 points per game will be tough to replace.
The move is surely a sign that the Raptors aren't happy with the future of Kyle Lowry. Toronto's starting point guard has continued to be effective, but he's not bettering himself enough as a player during his prime years.
Perhaps a move for such a budding star like Bledsoe would pay dividends for a team that seems to be knocking on the door of having a formidable starting lineup.
Although, any involvement with DeRozan in the deal should really make the Raptors think twice. Maybe they could get some more pieces involved and land another Clippers player, but otherwise they shouldn't think about dumping off DeRozan.
The 6'7" shooting guard has proved able to play in the No. 2 slot, which would work out well beside potentially Bledsoe and Gay. But without him there, it makes the scenario he walks into much less dangerous.
Would getting Bledsoe pay off for Toronto?
After all, DeRozan averaged 18.1 points per game in 2012-13 as just a 23-year-old, while the same-aged Bledsoe averaged 8.5 points (albeit playing backup to Chris Paul and 16 less minutes per game than DeRozan).
Bledsoe's value certainly overshadows his stats, as he boasts speed, skill and straight-up freakish athleticism that will translate into him becoming a formidable starter in The Association. But to just assume that he'll be a better player than DeRozan is jumping the gun due to the way the Raptors swingman's skill set flourished last season.
And apparently, the Clippers are primarily shopping for a scoring shooting guard as told by their interest in both Afflalo and DeRozan, as well as Paul Pierce earlier in the offseason.
So if it comes down to Bledsoe for DeRozan, don't expect this to go through. But anything ensuring his staying in Toronto or involving a second talented Clipper could turn into a deal before we know it.