Suns do what’s best for the franchise with trade of Eric Bledsoe
PHOENIX — When the Phoenix Suns traded Eric Bledsoe, it marked the third time in as many years the team dealt a player who had made it clear they no longer wanted to play for the franchise.
Bledsoe follows Markieff Morris and Goran Dragic; all went public with their trade request.
“I don’t think it’s unusual. I think what’s unusual and a little bit disappointing, and we take ownership of this, is how public it’s been here,” GM Ryan McDonough said Wednesday, the day after the Suns traded Bledsoe to Milwaukee.
“It’s the nature of the NBA,” McDonough continued. “I do have some regrets about how public our process has been or players have taken that tact. We have to look in the mirror and evaluate that as well. At the same time, we have to do what’s best for the franchise.”
Bledsoe had informed the Suns of his desire to be traded prior to the season. He then took it a step further with his tweet, “I Dont wanna be here” on Oct. 22. The next day the Suns sent Bledsoe home, believing his presence around the team would be a distraction.
Sixteen days later, the Suns pulled the trigger on a deal that landed them big man Greg Monroe plus a pair of heavily protected draft picks, including a first-round selection that will convey to the Suns in 2018 if in the range of 11-16 overall.
“The pick has a chance to be in the lottery. Those picks are always valuable,” McDonough said. “People say, ‘Well, it’s protected 1-10, though.’ I think our response to that is, we got Devin Booker and T.J. Warren in that range, 13th and 14th picks in the draft, and those guys are, in my opinion, two of the top young wings in the league, so I think there’s value in the pick.”
It’s possible now that the Suns might have seven total picks in next year’s draft: three first-round and four second-round selections.
McDonough also liked the Milwaukee deal in terms of the salary cap flexibility it gives the team moving forward. Monroe is on an expiring contract, while Bledsoe was signed through 2018-19.
Monroe has not yet reported to the Suns. McDonough said he was en route and will undergo a physical on Thursday. McDonough added he and Monroe’s agent, David Falk, continue to discuss whether or not Monroe even remains in Phoenix.
The Suns could look to move Monroe, who’s in his eighth NBA season, or buy him out, which would then free him up to sign with a contending team.
And if the decision is that Monroe stays, it would be at least a week before he’s in uniform due to a calf strain he’s been dealing with, according to McDonough.
The reaction to the Bledsoe-Monroe trade has been mixed. Some believe the Suns hurt Bledsoe’s value by 1) sending him home and 2) calling into question his leadership as well as the advice he had received from his agent.
“I always tell the truth, that’s who I am. I’m Will McDonough’s son. He didn’t really sugarcoat things,” McDonough said, referring to the longtime Boston Globe sportswriter. “I could sit up here and spin or deflect or dodge. I just tell you what happened. Maybe Eric’s side of it is different, but I don’t want to rehash that, that’s not the point of today.
“Eric is a talented player, we thank him for his contributions and we move on. He’s, I think, in a good situation in Milwaukee. We’re excited about Greg and the draft pick and wish him the best going forward.”
Still, McDonough admitted there needs to be better communication between the team and its players, making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the direction of the Suns.
“We have to do whatever is best for the franchise,” he said. “I understand that some feelings may get hurt in that process, but it’s bigger than any one person or anyone player. It’s hopefully about positioning the Suns to be a championship contender over the next few years, that’s what we’re trying to do.”