The Lakers were able to make a trade earlier this offseason with the Houston Rockets for Jeremy Lin and a first-round pick in 2015. According to Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post, the Lakers are reportedly interested in trading that first-round pick along with rookie Julius Randle to the Phoenix Suns for point guard Eric Bledsoe:
Hearing that Lakers have moved to front of the Eric Bledsoe sign-and-trade line. Suns want Julius Randle + HOU first-rounder.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) July 20, 2014
Bledsoe is a very talented player who could help the Lakers. However, considering what they'd have to give up to get him, it doesn't make sense for the Lakers to go after the 24-year-old.
In terms of production, Bledsoe was one of the better guards in the league in the 43 games he played in this past season, having easily the best year of his career. He averaged 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field, with all of those numbers being career highs.
However, Bledsoe wouldn't be cheap in a potential sign-and-trade deal. In June, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweeted that it would likely take a full max deal to acquire the talented guard:
Suns interested in Love deal w/best assets Dragic, Bledsoe & picks.NBA sources say it will take full max deal to control free agent Bledsoe.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 7, 2014
The Lakers certainly have the cap space to make such a deal work, but Bledsoe simply isn't a player that's worth a max deal. There's a good chance that Bledsoe is going to continue to improve, but there's also the possibility that this past season was a one-time thing for him and that he'll return to putting up average numbers the rest of his career.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Bledsoe turned down a four-year deal worth $48 million from the Suns, and the fact that he's wanting more means that he'd be a very costly addition for the Lakers as they try to rebuild for when Kobe Bryant retires. Rotoworld's Adam Levitan tweeted that he doesn't feel Bledsoe is worth the max deal of $80 million over five years:
Not sure RFA Eric Bledsoe is quite worth the max (5 years, $80M). But definitely worth more than the 4 years, $48M PHX reportedly offered.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) July 18, 2014
Along with Bledsoe costing quite a bit, the Lakers would also be giving up several key pieces to their future in this potential trade scenario. With Pau Gasol recently signing with the Chicago Bulls, Randle looks like the key piece for the Lakers to build around in their frontcourt. Without him, the team wouldn't have any long-term options down low.
Kobe also seemed to be quite happy with the team drafting Randle, tweeting to him after he was selected in the 2014 NBA draft:
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne tweeted some quotes from Kobe, and he seemed to already be quite happy with the moves the Lakers have made this offseason:
Kobe: "I can sit here and tell you with 100 percent honesty that I'm happy with the effort the organization put forward this summer"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 18, 2014
Kobe "I think Mitch has responded quite efficiently (from missing on Melo/Pau) by picking up some of the pieces he has"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 18, 2014
In addition to Randle, the Lakers would also have to trade away the 2015 first-round pick they acquired along with Lin. That pick could be a crucial one next year, as their other first-round pick would go to the Suns unless they ended up picking in the top five.
Should the Lakers trade for Eric Bledsoe?
While a backcourt pairing of Bledsoe and Kobe would be exciting, it wouldn't last long. Kobe is 35 years old and has just two years remaining on his contract. With his recent injuries, it's unlikely he'll be able to play at a high level past his current deal.
As much as the Lakers would like to try to add enough talent around Kobe to make a playoff run, the Western Conference is simply too deep right now, and Los Angeles needs to focus on making a run down the road rather than right now. In order for that to happen, the Lakers need to hold on to their assets and avoid trading for Bledsoe.