Cohen: Talks With Clippers Involving Bledsoe Were Just "Exploratory"
By Josh Cohen
June 26, 2013
ORLANDO -- While most of Rob Hennigan’s focus is the draft, evaluating all the prospects and deciding who fits with the franchise’s long-term goals, there is always chatter amongst front office executives about potential trades this time of year.
One specific rumor that has caught the attention of many is one surrounding the highly touted Eric Bledsoe, who served as Chris Paul’s backup in L.A. with the Clippers the last two seasons.
Hennigan, however, noted during his press conference on Wednesday that he has not had any conversation with the Clippers in almost three weeks and that all talks were “exploratory” during those brief discussions.
“I really don’t know where that stuff is coming from,” the Magic GM said. “I would be stunned (if a trade involving Bledsoe occurred on draft night).”
The Clippers have been front and center in the headlines lately. Earlier this week, they came to an agreement with the Boston Celtics to acquire head coach Doc Rivers, who was also named Senior VP of Basketball Operations, after weeks of speculation and back and forth trade proposals.
The deal wasn’t much of a surprise, however, considering Boston is likely to gut its roster and begin a full rebuild. Prior supposition hinted that Kevin Garnett and/or Paul Pierce could also eventually be sent to L.A. to join the Clippers. That, nonetheless, remains cloudy and indeterminate.
For a while it was also thought that perhaps Bledsoe would be included in any deal involving Rivers and the Celtics. But Boston backed off those steep demands and for now the blossoming point guard remains in Los Angeles.
Drafted 18th overall out of Kentucky by Oklahoma City (immediately traded to L.A.) in the 2010 NBA Draft, Bledsoe has impressed team executives, scouts, coaches and fellow players across the league with his athleticism, defensive tenacity and ability to flourish in a high octane offense.
The 23-year-old, coincidentally, enjoyed his best game of his career against the Magic in Orlando this past season when he started in place of an injured Paul and posted 27 points, six rebounds, six steals and three assists.
L.A. was reluctant to surrender Bledsoe at the trade deadline back in February, largely because of the ambiguity facing its franchise superstar and impending free agent. There was and continues to be a fear that if they were to trade Bledsoe and Paul decides to sign elsewhere in July, the Clippers would be absent of a floor general all together.
However, those close to the Clippers organization say Paul was ecstatic about the acquisition of Rivers, who led the Celtics to an NBA championship in 2008 and helped transform Rajon Rondo into one of the elite point guards in the NBA. Most believe it is almost a certainty the six-time NBA All-Star will opt to sign a long-term deal to remain in Los Angeles.
For now, though, nothing is imminent involving Bledsoe – with the Magic or any other team interested in potentially trying to acquire him.
“If we’re about to make a trade with them, I guess I missed that memo,” Hennigan said.
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