Bucks Deny Trade Rumors Surrounding Eric Bledsoe

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Eric Bledsoe dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

The 39-6 Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA and have refuted a report that they would be willing to deal guard Eric Bledsoe if offered an enticing return package.

"We have no talked to any teams about trading [Bledsoe], since the day that we traded for him," Bucks general manager Jon Horst told Bleacher Report's Howard Beck. "And I think it's evident, pretty strongly, in the fact that we extended Eric, what he means to us. The fact that we currently have the best record in the NBA, had the best record last year in the NBA, he's an All-NBA First Team defender and a guy that we feel strongly should be an All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks this year. We have not had those conversations, and we are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe."

NBA reporter Gery Woelfel previously reported he was told by an Eastern Conference executive that the Bucks would "definitely" consider dealing Bledsoe.

This reportedly is not the first time the Bucks have considered trading Bledsoe.

According to Woelfel, they nearly dealt him to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr. last season. Instead, they signed the University of Kentucky product to a four-year, $70 million contract extension, but Woelfel reported some around the league felt that was to make him a more trade-friendly asset so potential suitors would have multiple years of team control available.

The report also pointed to the notion Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is "more comfortable" with veteran George Hill running the offense and likes of Donte DiVincenzo playing alongside him in the backcourt.

Still, there is plenty Bledsoe, 30, brings to the table.

He was an All-Defensive First Team selection last season and is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in 2019-20 while shooting 48 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range.

Beck noted "Horst praised Bledsoe as being 'really impactful' in the first two rounds last spring and pointed to his continued improvement since then. 

"He's improved his drive rate, he's improved his free-throw percentage, he focuses a lot on his shooting," Horst said. "I think he's improved in that area. And I fully expect Eric to be even better this year in the playoffs than he was last year."

Beck added that, "like many teams, the Bucks could use a boost in three-point shooting. But there are no glaring needs that need to be addressed before the trade deadline, and while Horst advised 'never say never,' he indicated a deal was unlikely."

Bledsoe's Milwaukee legacy will ultimately be decided by his postseason performance in this championship-or-bust season after he shot just 29.8 percent from the field and 16.4 percent from three-point range in last year's Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"We'll always look at things to figure out how to get better," Horst said, per Beck, but added, "I don't anticipate us being incredibly active. We are very happy with the group that we have, and I think there's a strong chance that we stick with the group that we have."