The Suns entered the offseason intent on improving their overall talent level.
A three-way trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, ultimately bringing promising young guard Eric Bledsoe and veteran forward Caron Butler to the Suns, helped Phoenix take a big step in the right direction.
Phoenix traded popular swingman Jared Dudley to the Clippers, where he will join fellow new arrival and former Buck J.J. Redick. The Suns also shipped a second-round pick to Milwaukee as part of the deal.
Although a Phoenix favorite, Dudley’s loss is softened by the arrival of Bledsoe, an explosive 23-year-old guard, whose potential made him one of the most coveted young players in the league this summer.
In the end, Phoenix got to him first.
“The addition of a very dynamic young player in Eric Bledsoe and an All-Star veteran in Caron Butler is very exciting for the Suns,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby. “At the same time, we thank Jared Dudley, a consummate professional in every respect. He takes our best wishes with him to the Clippers.”
Bledsoe proved to be an electrifying talent while backing up All-Star point guard Chris Paul in Los Angeles, averaging 8.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals in just 20.4 minutes per game last season. At just 6-1, Bledsoe also showed an unusual knack for shot blocking, sealing that reputation with a highlight rejection of a Dwyane Wade dunk attempt.
Butler will also be a welcome addition at small forward, providing the outside shooting (38.8 percent from deep last season) and NBA experience (13 years) the Suns need as they seek to right the ship from a year ago.
The 33-year-old averaged 10.9 points per game as a starter for the Clippers last season. Like Bledsoe, Butler’s production came in limited minutes (24.9 mpg).
Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough praised Bledsoe and Butler not only as individuals, but for what their contributions meant to the Clippers in what was a banner year for the 201-13 Pacific Division Champions.
“We are thrilled to add Eric and Caron to the Phoenix Suns,” McDonough said. “They were both key parts of the Clippers’ team that set a franchise record for wins last season and we are excited to add their athleticism, shooting, and leadership to our organization.”
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek echoed McDonough’s initial thoughts as to the intangible impact the former Clipper duo will bring to Phoenix.
“They are two guys that have played on a winning team and will bring that winning attitude here,” he said. “They know what it takes. The Clippers were a very good team last year and those guys were a big part of it. It’s great to have those guys involved in our team and bring some of that mentality here.”
Dudley’s departure comes after four and a half seasons with the Suns, in which the Boston College product averaged double-figure scoring in his final three seasons with the team.
The Suns will hold a press conference on Thursday, during which Suns management will address the trade and introduce Bledsoe and Butler to the media.