Eric Bledsoe has been traded for the second time this offseason, and this time it’s to Los Angeles in exchange for the longest-tenured Clipper.
LA reportedly is sending Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Grizzlies for Bledsoe, who had just been acquired by Memphis from the Pelicans.
The Los Angeles Clippers are trading Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Eric Bledsoe, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 16, 2021
The move marks a shift for the Clippers as they add a scoring presence and clear up cap space, though it comes at the cost of a fan favorite.
Sporting News graded the trade for both teams.
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The Clippers are adding a guard that could slot right into the starting five and will help them save money in the 2021-22 season.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that Los Angeles will save $30 million in luxury tax payments and gain an $8.3 million trade exception. And in moving three players for one, the team will cut its roster to 14 players on guaranteed deals as opposed to 16.
Cap ramifications for LAC/MEM:
🏀Eric Bledsoe: $18.1M and $19.4M ($3.9M GTY)
💰LAC will see their tax bill drop from $125M to $95M (savings of $30M)
💰$8.3M TE for LAC
🏀Patrick Beverley: $14.3M
🏀Rajon Rondo: $7.5M ($750K likely bonus)
🏀Daniel Oturu: $1.5M
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) August 16, 2021
Bledsoe will also bring offense to a team that is losing Kawhi Leonard (knee surgery) for most, if not all, of the 2021-22 season. Bledsoe is a better scorer than Beverley and Rondo, but he’s far from his career peak. He averaged 12.2 points per game last year for the Pelicans, the fourth season in row in which his scoring average went down. That’s far removed from his back-to-back 20-plus ppg seasons with the Suns in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Still, it is a marked improvement over Beverley and Rondo, and he could potentially rebound as he returns to the place where he began his career.
Beverley and Rondo weren’t going to help much on offense. Beverley hasn’t averaged double-digit points since the 2017-18 season; Rondo last did in the 2015-16 campaign. The real impact of their loss is to the fans. Beverley has been with the Clippers longer than any other player on the active roster. He was a thorn in the side of other teams and gave Los Angeles an aggressive defender, at times to a fault. He helped ease the transition from the Chris Paul era to the Leonard era.
Fans won’t be happy to see Beverley move, but he was likely slated to back up Jackson and Rondo did play a huge role for the team after he was acquired from the Hawks last season. Bledsoe doesn’t add as much offense as a team might hope to get in moving on from a popular player like Beverley, but he makes the Clippers better.
It might be pointless to grade the return for the Grizzlies as both Beverley and Rondo could be on the move before they even put on a Memphis uniform.
The Grizzlies, with an already packed roster, are open-minded on the futures of all three players in Memphis — and will likely consider trades with some of those arriving in this deal. Memphis gets salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2022 with trade.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 16, 2021
There’s no obvious role for either player other than as veteran influences on younger players like Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. Right now, Beverley and Rondo figure to slot behind Morant at point guard, though Beverley could move behind Brooks at shooting guard. Memphis also has Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton to take up minutes at the guard positions.
Bledsoe was guaranteed $3.9 million for the 2022-23 season, though the total could reach nearly $20 million, while Beverley and Rondo will be unrestricted free agents after the ’21-22 season. Should Memphis hold onto both of them, they’ll be off the books and clear up cap space in a season where the Grizzlies might be better prepared to compete. If they’re already eyeing trades, they now have two players on contracts that will be easier to move than Bledsoe’s.
Oturu is a bit of a wild card. The 33rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, he appeared in 30 games for Los Angeles last season and averaged just 5.4 minutes, 1.8 points and 1.6 rebounds. But the 6-10 center is only 21 and thus offers upside. He had a strong campaign in his final collegiate season with Minnesota, averaging 20.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 2019-20. He could also find himself traded, or the team could look to carve out a role for him.
The Grizzlies part with one veteran with two years remaining on his contract for two veterans who have one year each left and a young flyer. They’re not in a drastically different spot than they were before the deal.