Phoenix Suns Dilemma: Where Could Eric Bledsoe Go?

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If he wants to be traded, where could Eric Bledsoe go? Here are the options for the other 29 teams in the league.

The rumor mill is working once again, and the latest is that the Suns are actively shopping Eric Bledsoe in sign and trade scenarios. While some of the rumors are wildly outlandish (the 13th hour attempt to nab Kevin Love, for instance), there is likely some substance to these rumors.

The real question is, if the Suns are shopping Bledsoe, who are they shopping him to, and what are the chances that an actual deal could go down?

Assuming a trade involving Bledsoe is most likely to be a simultaneous trade, there are a few things to keep in mind about any trade that happens:

  1. If a team is a non-taxpaying team after a trade is made, it can accept: 150% of the outgoing salary (if the outgoing salary is under $9.8 million); $5 million + the outgoing salary (if the salary is between $9.8 million and $19.6 million); or 125% of the outgoing salary if it is over $19.6 million
  2. If a team is a taxpaying team after a trade is made, it can accept: 125% of the outgoing salary
  3. A team over the 'apron' ($4 million over the tax line - set at $76.829 million this season) cannot accept a sign and trade unless it lowers team salary
  4. A team cannot accept a sign and trade if it has already used its Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception; currently, none of the lists that track this have been updated, so I'll try to
This is important to keep in mind, as it establishes the range of money that would have to come back to make an Eric Bledsoe trade possible.

Another thing to keep in mind is Bledsoe's contract value.  While it is not guaranteed that a sign and trade involving Bledsoe would be for the full max (and, frankly, I don't think anyone would do that unless they were shedding a bad contract in return), we're going to assume that any sign and trade would only occur for the maximum contract Bledsoe could receive, $14.75 million dollars.

The contract value that must be returned for each team is a function of whether or not the trade puts the team over the tax line after the trade is completed.  All numbers will fall between $9.75 million (Bledsoe's contract minus $5 million) and $11.8 million (Bledsoe's contract divided by 1.25).
So use this as a resource for all your rosterbation fantasies. I have ranked each team with a categorical ranking, grading the chance of a trade. In order, they are NO CHANCE, FAT CHANCE, SLIM CHANCE and EH, MAYBE?

We'll go team by team, starting with the teams with the highest current payrolls and ending with the teams with the lowest.

Brooklyn Nets

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $89 milliion

- Roster

- Contract value returning: NA

-Verdict: NO CHANCE. The Brooklyn Nets have already used their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (on Bojan Bogdanovic) and thus cannot accept Bledsoe in a sign and trade.

New York Knicks

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $86 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: NA

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. The Knicks have already used their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (on Jason Smith) and thus cannot accept Bledsoe in a sign and trade)

LA Clippers

- 2014-15 Salary: just a hair under $80 million

- Verdict: We're just gonna skip this one. There is no chance. They'd have to leverage back players they traded Bledsoe to get, while giving us players we might actually want, all for a backup...

Sacramento Kings

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $74 million (I know, right? Unbelievably high...)

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $11.8 million (125% of Bledsoe's salary)

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. This is the first team where the team isn't over the 'apron', and thus the Suns wouldn't have to take back more than $15 million in contracts, and instead could take back as little as $10 million. There is some talent here, and a combination of Jason Terry, Derrick Williams and a pick or one of the two young shooting guards could work mathematically while not saddling the team with money beyond this season.

LA Lakers

- 2014-15 Salary: Just under $74 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $11.8 million (125% of Bledsoe's salary, since they are just literally a hair over the salary cap taking on Bledsoe)

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? This is a weird one. Theoretically, this is one that could work pretty easily and beneficially for both teams: swap Nash, Randle and losing the restrictions on the pick for Bledsoe. LA can afford to pay Bledsoe gobs of money, and Bledsoe can be the heir apparent to Kobe. The Suns get a quality prospect at PF and the chance at a higher lottery pick from LA (face it, they'll still be bad, and their chances would be bound to two oft-injured guards and Carlos 'Spray-on Hair' Boozer...).

Oklahoma City Thunder

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $74 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $11.7 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. This is the stuff of rosterbation dreams for many an OKC fan - swapping Perkin's expiring and some garbage for Bledsoe would be great for a team that's biggest weakness was at shooting guard last season. The problem is on the Suns' end - would we be willing to trade Bledsoe for a prospect or two (or maybe the rights to guys in Europe like Abrines or Pleiss), a dead-weight contract that might be worth something at the deadline, and what is likely to be a super late pick? Probably not. But not impossible to imagine.

Toronto Raptors

- 2014-15 Salary: just over $73 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. They just re-signed Kyle Lowry and have DeMar DeRozan. No way Bledsoe agrees to go into a situation where he's probably the backup.

Denver Nuggets

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $73 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $10.9 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. There are a multitude of possible deals given the large number of mid-tier contracts the Nuggets possess. But it doesn't seem realistic to pair Bledsoe and Lawson (both considered a bit small), and the Suns wouldn't be getting a lot back, unless you really value someone like Gary Harris (who we passed on in the draft, so...)

New Orleans Pelicans

- 2014-15 Salary: just under $73 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $10.6 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Really, the cupboard of assets we might have a legitimate interest in is pretty bare. The Brow is obviously not available. Its so bad that getting a player we might want, like Ryan Anderson, would force us to accept contracts we likely don't want, like Austin Rivers. Unless we were willing to straight swap Bledsoe for Jrue Holiday and something, or Tyreke Evans and something, but that seems preposterous.

Golden State Warriors

- 2014-15 Salary: $72.5 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $10.35 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I really, really wanted to rate this as NO CHANCE. But the possibilities are too intriguing, and I can't imagine the Warriors wouldn't at least try. Bledsoe, Curry and Thompson, theoretically, could share the court. There are things we might be interested in - Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, maybe Festus Ezeli, and obviously picks.

Minnesota Timberwolves

- 2014-15 Salary: $70.1 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. There are players both sides would likely be interested in, especially if we buy into the idea that Flip Saunders really wants to win this season. The problem is the contracts - either we'd have to take back Thad Young, who I think Saunders wants, or we'd have to take back a BUNCH of players (like, Barea, Budinger, Hummel and picks...). However, again, we could potentially remove the restrictions on the Wolves pick, which might be a good value.

Indiana Pacers

- 2014-15 Salary: $69.9 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I don't doubt there would be interest from the Pacers - Bledsoe is almost definitely an upgrade over George Hill. But I cannot imagine the Suns are real interested - unless we want Hibbert or West, we'd have to take back George Hill. And Indy doesn't exactly have promising young players, as much as I love King Solo...

Memphis Grizzlies

- 2014-15 Salary: $69.3 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see it happening. While I think Bledsoe is better than Conley, I don't think he's worth twice as much as Conley. Plus, Conley has good synergy with Gasol and Randolph. Finally, the Suns really shouldn't have interest in the Memphis assets, unless they're really interested in Kosta Koufos...

Cleveland Cavaliers

- 2014-15 Salary: $68.4 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. Team owners, and likely a significant chunk of both the player and fan bases, would have a fit if this somehow came to be. Anyways, short of sending us Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Matthew Dellavedova, it couldn't happen unless they're trading Kyrie, which they aren't.

San Antonio Spurs

- 2014-15 Salary: $68.1 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Its not out of the realm of possibility - there are players on expiring contracts we could use as leverage, and a few interesting young players (Kyle Anderson, Livio Jean-Charles). And a starting three in the future of Bledsoe, Danny Green and Kawhi would be formidable. But I just don't see it happening - there isn't enough to make the Suns bite, and the Spurs I think want to try to repeate with their core.

Portland Trail Blazers

- 2014-15 Salary: $67.25 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. Did you know the Blazers are paying Brandon Roy $14.4 million this season? Eek. Anyways, while there are potentially assets here that the Suns may want - including incumbent shooting guard Wesley Matthews - I just don't see Bledsoe agreeing to go there to be second fiddle to Damian Lillard. Or that Portland would buy into Bledsoe as a legitimate shooting guard.

Boston Celtics

- 2014-15 Salary: $64.8 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. The only reason I have this as a slim instead of fat chance is because of the history between McDonough and Ainge. I have no doubt Ainge would love to have Bledsoe as Rondo insurance. But as it stands the Suns would have to take back a crap contract to make it work (Marcus Thornton or Brandon Bass, most likely). I could see the two GMs working as facilitators for each other, though, in a three team trade, a possible scenario.

Dallas Mavericks

- 2014-15 Salary: $63 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I have no doubt Mark Cuban would LOVE to have Bledsoe. He's an automatic upgrade. But the cupboard is bare in Dallas (Crowder, Mekel, Ledo and Greg Smith as their young prospects) and we'd have to take some crap back (Raymond 'When's Lunch?' Felton would almost have to be included, as would likely Brandan Wright [disclaimer: I think he would be decent])

Orlando Magic

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.9 million (Note: it appears there are problems with HoopsHype with this roster)

- Roster

- Contract value returning: No less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see it. This move would immediately relegate Elfrid Payton to the bench for the foreseeable future. I have no doubt the Suns would have interest, but they'd have to send us two crap contracts as well as a player we might be interested in.

Utah Jazz

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.9 million

- Verdict: NO CHANCE. They just drafted Exum, and they already have Burke and Burks. It isn't happening.

Chicago Bulls

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.8 million

- Verdict: No way this happens. Bledsoe doesn't agree to it, most likely, and Rose's contract plus Bledsoe's would be crippling - together they'd be more than half the team's salary cap through 2016-17, barring massive growth.

Washington Wizards

- 2014-15 Salary: $55.8 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. The only reason this gets any chance is because Wall and Bledsoe played together at Kentucky, and the Bradley Beal experiment hasn't exactly gone smoothly to this point. Swapping Beal, Seraphin and a couple of un-guaranteed minimum guys would do it, but it seems far-fetched.

Charlotte Hornets

- 2014-15 Salary: $55.1 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? The contracts line up relatively well here, and Kemba is not nearly as talented as Bledsoe, so it is an obvious upgrade. The Hornets also have some young players we might legitimately be interested in (Kidd-Gilchrist, Zeller, Biyombo) as well as some established guys it wouldn't kill us to take back (Gerald Henderson).

Atlanta Hawks

- 2014-15 Salary: $57.1 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. I just don't see the Hawks being interested. Is Bledsoe worth twice what Jeff Teague is? Maybe. But they'd still be paying Teague and probably have to give us Al Horford. Just doesn't seem likely.

Houston Rockets

- 2014-15 Salary: $53.5 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. We know Houston is interested - pairing Bledsoe with Howard and Harden has the potential for a new, more tamed Big 3. But they would likely have to send/the Suns would likely have to accept Trevor Ariza in conjunction with whatever youth/picks they want, and I just don't see that happening without a third party facilitator.

Milwaukee Bucks

- 2014-15 Salary: $51.3 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: EH, MAYBE? The Bucks are rebuilding, and the one place they have a fairly substantial hole currently is PG. They also have a ton of guys at the big positions, which is the biggest weakness for the Suns. The biggest question is likely, would Bledsoe agree? Something tells me no.

Miami Heat

- 2014-15 Salary: $49.2 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: FAT CHANCE. The Suns would have to take back crap contracts, for what gain? Summer League All-Star James Ennis?

Detroit Pistons

- 2014-15 Salary: $38.4 million

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: SLIM CHANCE. I gotta imagine Bledsoe is considered a better player and prospect than Brandon Jennings by the Detroit FO. And, at least in theory, a straight swap of Bledsoe for Monroe would work. However, I just don't see it happening. Bledsoe would have to agree, and the Pistons would still be paying Brandon Jennings for two years to come off the bench.

Philadelphia 76ers

- 2014-15 Salary: Do they have one?

- Roster

- Contract value returning: no less than $9.75 million

- Verdict: WHO KNOWS. Sam Hinkie is either a mad genius, or a complete imbecile. Only time will tell. I have no idea what he's going to do at any given time. I don't think this trade should happen, and it would likely require us to take back Jason Richardson in combination with anything we wanted, but I just don't know.

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