The Los Angeles Clippers have traded Eric Bledsoe, dealing the onetime backup to Chris Paul in a three-way deal with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.
The deal sends Bledsoe and Caron Butler from the Clippers to the Suns, while the Clippers receive J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. The Bucks receive two second-round picks, one each from the Clippers and Suns, sources said.
The Clippers trade brings Redick to Los Angeles, giving the team a shooting threat alongside point guard Chris Paul. Redick is now expected to sign a four-year extension with the team.
Bledsoe had long been considered trade bait for the Clippers, and was reportedly coveted by the Boston Celtics as the teams tried to work out a trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Though that deal fell apart, it set the stage for another trade that would lead to Bledsoe’s deailng. The Celtics and Clippers worked out a swap sending coach Doc Rivers to Los Angeles in exchange for draft picks, one that was reportedly pushed along by Chris Paul.
With Rivers in place, Paul agreed to a five-year, $107 million extension with the team.
Though it was nearly assured that Paul would re-sign, some doubt emerged when he reportedly became angry with the team for taking blame for coach Vinny Del Negro’s firing. Bledsoe was viewed as an insurance policy to Paul, so once the All-Star point guard re-signed it was a foregone conclusion that Bledsoe would be traded.
After being drafted 18th in the 2010 draft, Bledsoe showed promise in his first few seasons and averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists in 76 games last year for the Clippers. He now looks to be an important piece of the rebuilding Suns, coming in the first trade by new general manager Ryan McDonough.
The Clippers trade will also give Los Angeles a much-needed edge against Western Conference foes. Though the team had a 17-game winning streak and won its first-ever Pacific Division title this year, it faltered in the playoffs, losing to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.