NBA Rumors: Milwaukee Bucks Could Use Eric Bledsoe As Trade Chip

Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe handles the ball during Game 4 of his team's second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat in 2020.
Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images

After struggling mightily during his team’s disappointing run in the NBA Playoffs, Eric Bledsoe could potentially find himself offered up in trade talks as the Milwaukee Bucks look to improve their roster. Per The Athletic‘s Shams Charania, via Slam, the Bucks are feeling the pressure in their efforts to retain former league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for the long term in the wake of their surprising 4-1 second-round ouster at the hands of the Miami Heat.

According to Charania, Bledsoe is expected to be used as a trade chip as Milwaukee explores its options for roster upgrades this offseason.

The 30-year-old has been a key cog in the franchise’s rise from the postseason fringes of the Eastern Conference to a spot among the league’s legitimate title contenders. Over his three years with the Bucks, Bledsoe has averaged 16.3 points, 5.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per contest. Meanwhile, he’s been one of the association’s more efficient scorers, posting an effective field goal percentage of 54.0.

He has also cemented himself as one of basketball’s most respected defenders. This past season, Bucks opponents scored just 100.8 points per 100 possessions when the former Phoenix Suns and L.A. Clippers point man was on the floor.

Along the way, the Bucks saw their regular-season winning percentage jump from 51.2 in 2016-17 — the year before Bledsoe’s arrival — to 53.7 the following season and well over 70 percent in each of the last two campaigns.

Milwaukee Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe looks on during a 2019 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

However, the Bucks have failed to break out of the Eastern Conference in back-to-back postseasons in the face of high expectations, and Bledsoe was particularly ineffective during their most recent run. During the 2020 playoffs, he shot just 38.8 percent from the floor and a paltry 25 percent from three-point range.

Still, he remains a borderline All-Star on the back end of his prime. And while he has three years left on the four-year, $70 million pact he inked in 2019, it remains a fair-market deal and only $3.9 million of his 2022-23 salary is guaranteed, per HoopsHype.

As such, he could be a sound option for a team in need of a legitimate floor general, especially given the likelihood teams will be pinching pennies in free agency during the upcoming offseason, which will probably be defined by league-wide revenue loss amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As relayed recently by The Inquisitr, the Bucks could make a play for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul to help improve their title chances, as well as their ability to keep Antetokounmpo happy. To that end, Bledsoe could also make a lot of sense for the Thunder in terms of fitting the organization’s timeline and allowing it to shed Paul’s exorbitant salary.