Knicks Trade Rumors: Eric Bledsoe, 1st-Round Pick Offer Discussed with Pelicans

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe (5) moves the ball up court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The New York Knicks have explored the market for a trade package centered around New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe and a first-round pick, according to SNY's Ian Begley.

Bledsoe has a $16.9 million salary this season, and absorbing his contract wouldn't be difficult for the Knicks, who have $15.1 million in salary-cap space.

However, Begley speculated New York may have gauged interest in Bledsoe as part of a wider three-team deal to land Pelicans star Lonzo Ball.

Getting the framework together for New Orleans to trade Bledsoe is obviously the first step, and that may be easier said than done because the 31-year-old has seen his value decline precipitously in recent seasons. The Athletic's Sam Amick reported March 15 he's "very available" but didn't have a robust market.

Bledsoe is averaging 11.3 points and 3.7 assists while shooting 41.6 percent overall and 36.4 percent on three-pointers. His production has declined, and his track record in the playoffs—a 25.4 percent clip from beyond the arc—makes it a tough sell for contenders to think he can meaningfully contribute at that point in the season.

That all combines to make his four-year, $70 million contract a bit of a millstone on the Pelicans' payroll since his $18.1 million salary in 2021-22 is far from a bargain.

Be it for the Knicks or New Orleans, putting a first-rounder together with Bledsoe is the easiest way to get another team to sign off on a trade.

The Pelicans might be able to avoid that outcome by including him in a trade centered around Ball, who has been one of the most frequent names referenced as the deadline nears. The 23-year-old is due to become a restricted free agent, and ESPN's Zach Lowe reported New Orleans is open to moving him "if the offer is strong enough."