Eric Bledsoe coming to Minnesota wouldn’t have been imaginable 12 months ago. But, today, everything is almost a possibility. The idea of him still coming to Minnesota is still far-fetched, but if the T’Wolves really want to make it work, they’ll make it work.
The NBA salary cap is making another jump for the upcoming season. It will be set at $63 million. Minnesota is $ 7 million over the cap, but they have plenty of “dead” contracts that they could give the Phoenix Suns, the team that has tried to sign Bledsoe to, what they think, is a fair offer, but Bledsoe wants a max contract. Phoenix has the ability to take Minnesota’s bad contracts if it wants because they are $19 million under the cap. As reported by all the big media outlets, for Bledsoe to come to Minnesota, it would have to be via a sign-and-trade.
I don’t oppose that one bit. I’m sure Flip Saunders would rather have, as almost any coach would, a 47% shooter in Bledsoe, who is probably just as good defensively as current point guard Ricky Rubio, but a bigger offensive threat. Think about the T’Wolves starting lineup: Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Thaddeus Young, and Nikola Pekovic. As good of an offensive coach as Saunders is, that unit is going to struggle to score a lot of points because the shooting isn’t very good and I expect a lot of teams will stack the paint. Saunders will pull his hair out if he has to sit through 82 games of Rubio shooting 38% from the field again.
A guy like Bledsoe adds more quickness, explosiveness, and speed to a team that expects to run a lot this season. A package of Rubio (one-year, $4.6 million), Kevin Martin (three-years, $21 million) and J.J. Barea (one-year, $4.5 million) would put Minnesota roughly $9 million under the cap. On top of that, Minnesota has $6 million trade exception that could be used for Bledsoe, if he signs the max contract.
Now, a lot of people say that Bledsoe isn’t a max player and I would have to agree with them. However, Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward aren’t either. Bledsoe is a two-way player who was on pace to have a great season until injuries got the best of him, forcing him to miss 39 games. He has had a problem staying healthy, even in his three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers where he came off the bench. However, I think he would be an upgrade over Rubio and his crippling inability to shoot the ball.
If you’re struggling to make a decision on who you’d rather have, ask yourself two questions, 1.) Who is better: Rubio or Bledsoe? and 2.) Who’d you rather pay a max contract to: Rubio or Bledsoe?
Hopefully Saunders is asking himself two similar questions.