Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported yesterday that the Sacramento Kings are "expected to express interest" in Phoenix Suns Guard Eric Bledsoe, according his source.
The Kings, one source said, are expected to express interest in Bledsoe. While Sacramento has been buried in rumors involving center DeMarcus Cousins, a league executive said the Kings have been far more focused on improving the point guard position. The Kings started Darren Collison at the position, but would like to move him into a backup role. And if Sacramento keeps Cousins, bringing in his former Kentucky teammate and good friend surely would help to keep him happy.
I’ve been firmly of the belief that the Sacramento Kings should absolutely pursue Bledsoe, but would likely come up short due to their lack of tradable assets. Prior to the draft, I thought the Kings could have made a run at Bledsoe by offering up their #6 selection, but now that Willie Cauley-Stein is here, I think he’s staying here, and won’t be offered up in any trade scenarios.
Deveney brought up an interesting point in his report that I hadn’t considered. Due to Bledsoe’s contract and injury concerns, his value may not be as high as I previously thought.
After Deveney’s report broke, Phoenix Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek said that the Bledsoe rumors are false in an interview on Sirius XM Radio NBA, which is exactly what a coach would say if one of his more tradable assets were starting to lose value.
I’m half kidding. If anyone knows how destructive and downright false anonymous sources can be, it’s Kings fans. It’s entirely possible that there is nothing to this recent crop of Bledsoe rumors, and it’s entirely possible that there is. It’s impossible to say.
What we do know is that Eric Bledsoe would fit perfectly into what George Karl wants to do with his guard rotation, and he would certainly help alleviate some of the pressure on DeMarcus Cousins, both on and off the court.
Bledsoe and Cousins are really good friends, and while that is never a good enough reason to acquire someone, I’d consider that a perk. Bledsoe is worth pursuing on his own merits, but I’m not going to hide the fact that a Bledsoe acquisition would help me feel a little bit better about Cousins’ mindset heading into the season.
Karl loves playing two point guards. That cannot go understated. I don’t know what kind of future Ben McLemore has on a George Karl-led basketball team simply because he cherishes off guard ball handling as much as anyone. McLemore made improvements last season, but he isn’t nearly the ball handler Karl is comfortable with.
Nik Stauskas actually fits into George Karl’s mold for a shooting guard better than McLemore, but it would be foolish to count on much from Stauskas this season. Maybe he gives you something, maybe he doesn’t, but you can’t count on it.
We’re talking about a coach who played a then-36 year old Andre Miller 26 minutes per game for 82 games in his final season with the Denver Nuggets. This was in addition to Ty Lawson’s 34.4 minutes per game. The two point guard love is real.
On that note, I don’t know if there is a better player capable of filling that role for Karl on the market right now than Eric Bledsoe.
Bledsoe has a lot of experience playing with other ball handling guards. Before Brandon Knight, it was Goran Dragic, and while Bledsoe has been vocal about getting away from that sort of dual guard offense, he’d be the focal point of a guard pairing with Darren Collison.
They don’t call Bledsoe Mini-LeBron for nothing. Despite his average-for-his-position height, Bledsoe is a big point guard. There just aren’t many scenarios where I would see Bledsoe being at a disadvantage guarding opposing shooting guard if he and Collison were the Kings starting backcourt next season. I think that would be the play, by the way. If the Kings can find a way to bring Bledsoe to Sacramento, It'd be to start him next to Collison.
If the Kings were to acquire Bledsoe, some combination of Ben McLemore, Nik Stauskas, and Jason Thompson would be the most likely package being sent out. The Suns may hold out for Rudy Gay, and I just don't think the Kings are ready to make that sort of lateral move. If you can add Bledsoe to the Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins core, that's a tangible improvement. If you are just replacing Gay with Bledsoe, you aren't really moving the needle.
I still have my doubts that the Kings have the assets to pull a deal like this off, but Deveney’s report does leave us with a shred of hope.
I am concerned with Bledsoe’s injury history, but as we’ve been saying in regards to the Kings for a long time now, there is a ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ thing going on here. Bledsoe is a near perfect fit. Players of his caliber are only available because they have a red flag of some kind. It’s a gamble, but one worth taking.