Danny Green, the hero of Games 1-5 of this year's NBA Finals, bounced around through multiple leagues before catching on with the San Antonio Spurs. But that change ended up reshaping his life. Though scary and unknown, sometimes moving cities is the best (or only) way to actualize one's potential.
Of all the players rumored to be traded this offseason, some stick out above the rest as men who would benefit from such a move. Here are three shining examples:
PG Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
Rumored Destination(s): Toronto, Orlando
An energetic bench player on a contending team gets traded in the offseason, moves to a team that just missed the playoffs, becomes a primary option and morphs into an immediate All-Star.
I'm not implying Eric Bledsoe is James Harden—the latter is probably better than the former—but the similarities are hard to ignore. Bledsoe has thrived when given the chance coming off the bench in Los Angeles and has the potential to do oh so much more with his talent.
He'll still be just 23 years old when next season starts and entering his physical prime, which is scary since he, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are already on the short list of "most athletic point guards." If given the opportunity to parlay that athleticism into a full-time starting gig, there's no telling how good he could be.
Bledsoe's PER of 17.60 last year was 15th among all NBA point guards. He only played 20.4 minutes per game, though—less than every PG in the top 21—which stilted his growth and put a ceiling on his numbers.
If sent to, say, Toronto, which sounds like a genuine possibility, the presence of Rudy Gay would prevent defenses from focusing too much on Bledsoe. That would provide him both minutes to play and opportunities to get into the paint at will—something Bledsoe has always been among the league's best at doing.
He could easily make a James Harden-esque improvement in another uniform next season.
PF/C Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors
Rumored Destination: Los Angeles Clippers
Also in the rumored deal that would send Eric Bledsoe to Toronto, Andrea Bargnani is, perhaps, more desperate for a change of scenery.
The first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Bargnani has enjoyed a couple of decent statistical seasons in Toronto. He averaged 21.4 points in 2010-11 and followed that up with 19.5 the year after. He's still (rightfully) considered a bona fide bust, though, and coming off a wildly disappointing 2012-13 season, his diaspora from Toronto seems all but inevitable.
But that could be a good thing. Bargnani does still possess a very unique NBA skill set, standing a legit seven feet and possessing a more-than-legit 24-foot range. He's a capable scorer who's been burdened by expectation in Toronto—the city that drafted him—and by his inability to play defense.
If sent to the Los Angeles Clippers, Bargnani would find remedies (at least partial ones) to both of those problems. Little would be expected from him in Lob City, where he would be mostly counted on to come off the bench and stretch the floor with his shooting. If ever in conjunction with DeAndre Jordan, he'd have the perfect weak-side helper to mask his deficiencies guarding the post.
Being just another useful weapon instead of "that guy we wasted a pick on" would do wonders for Andrea Bargnani, who feels like he's been around forever but is still just 27 years old. His career is not yet past salvaging.
UPDATE: According to Howard Beck, Andrea Bargnani has been traded to the New York Knicks. He will fill a similar role to the one described above.
PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
Rumored Destination(s): Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles Clippers
Aldridge vehemently denied rumors that he'd demanded a trade out of Portland, but by the time he did, the seed had been planted. Even if he's not asking out, it seems like he wants out. And even the blindest Blazers fan would admit that Aldridge, at the very least, is amenable to leaving.
Losing "LA" would be a brutal blow to the Blazers but a boon to the career of Aldridge himself. He's learned and grown as a player in Portland, but the franchise's star-crossed injury plague has kept him from ever being relevant. Not unlike Chris Bosh during his days in Toronto, Aldridge is wasting away his prime.
He's proven he can play for a fringe contender and now needs to prove something more. Aldridge needs to prove that he can compete at the highest level—not just during the regular season but during the playoffs—in a situation where he's expected to come out on top.
Portland's rebuilding process ebbs and flows. Even when it puts together a good roster, as it has right now, something usually gets in the way of its contention. In the immediate future, that something appears to be the conspicuous lack of a center to pair with Aldridge down low.
He's earned his stripes since entering the league and now deserves to be rewarded with a team that can get him farther in the playoffs.
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