Imagine the call from the future…
“Derrick Favors with the massive rejection! Hayward picks up the loose ball, launches it to Eric Bledsoe at mid-court. Bledsoe angle right as Alec Burks cuts through the paint to the far corner, now directs Kanter to the high block. Kanter picks, Bledsoe slips his man on the screen, Kanter rolls to the rim, Bledsoe makes a beautiful bounce pass to a cutting Favors… and the Jazz are moving on to the next round of the NBA playoffs!”
Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com late Saturday there is a level of mutual interest between the Clippers and Utah Jazz in exploring a deal that would feature Bledsoe as the headliner in a trade package for Jazz forward Paul Millsap.
Now pinch yourself.
In order for the money to work the Clippers would need to include an additional player(s) to make the 125% of salaries match up, otherwise they are over the luxury tax cap rules, likely Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf, etc. players not valuable to the Clippers’ current title hopes run. That means someone on the Jazz roster would have to be cut either from the current or incoming roster — Utah has the maximum allowed 15 currently — or a third team would have to become involved to absorb the extra salary and player(s).
We already know the Jazz never, ever leak trade rumors, so if this is more than mere speculation it has to be coming from the Clippers’ end, and they’ve been adamant that they’re hanging onto Bledsoe for the future, especially considering Chris Paul isn’t likely to re-sign until at least July, if he chooses to stay in the former lesser-LA.
Chris Paul has been out for extended stretches this season and the only other point guard on the roster, Chauncey Billups, is seemingly out more than in, in this the twilight of his career, meaning that moving Bledsoe now would be gambling that that pair stays healthy from here on out, a pretty big one in the midst of a potential title run.
There’s also the matter of Paul Millsap, who already turned down a tidy extension from the Jazz front office, presumably to test free agency waters to see if can “get paid.” Millsap has insisted repeatedly that he’s a starting power forward in the NBA, and a move to the Clippers would mean he rides the pine behind Blake Griffin, a massive hit to both his minutes and ego, also compromising his ability to display his skills on the NBA stage heading directly into a soft summer of free agency where Millsap will be a top target.
Millsap would essentially be a rental for a playoff run, as he’s unlikely to re-sign for mid-money to come off of the bench, even for a second-tier contender like the Clippers. The Clippers would basically be losing both Eric Bledsoe and Paul Millsap for the sake of a 40-game run.
But, hey, after an intelligent run by the Los Angeles Clippers’ front office, who knows, maybe they’re due for a major blunder. If new Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey were to pull this off he’d be straight up robbing the Clips.
— Brian Brockhoff (@blazerdog38) February 17, 2013