While there's been no shortage of names linked with the Bucks leading up to the official start of free agency on Monday, there's been precious little to report in the way of actual movement. And even with $20+ million of potential cap space burning a hole in their pocket, that may not be a bad thing for the Milwaukee Bucks. After all, aside from the no-brainer max deals for guys like Chris Paul, how many good contracts have historically been agreed to on the first day of free agency? Hint: remember Drew Gooden and John Salmons in July 2010?
So it may not be bad news that as of 4 pm central time on Monday they don't appear on the verge of signing any shiny new free agent deals. But that doesn't mean they haven't been active. From ESPN Los Anegeles' Ramona Shelburne:
Rumblings that Clippers and Bucks are discussing deal involving JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2013
Bledsoe is a starting point guard in this league. Any team that trades for him knows that. I'll let you connect the dots— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 1, 2013
The Clippers have been rumored to be shopping the 23-year-old Bledsoe since the trade deadline back in February, and Paul's agreement to sign a new five year, $107 million deal means he's once again more expendable for a Clipper team looking to maximize its assets heading into Doc Rivers' first season. Bledsoe has NBA starter talent, but to date he's had to bide his time as Paul's understudy, which explains his modest numbers in three years in L.A. He's by no means the finished product at the point, but as a 2010 first rounder he's cheap for another year before hitting restricted free agency in 2014.
Recently, speculation about Bledsoe has centered around a potential deal that would send the former Kentucky star along with Caron Butler (owed $8 million this season) to Orlando in exchange for shooting guard Aron Aflalo. Tha seems rather underwhelming from a Clipper perspective--add some picks or youngsters, Orlando--which is probably why we haven't seen a deal done yet. Still, you would guess similar basic parameters would be involved with a potential sign-and-trade of Redick: the Bucks take on Butler's salary (who would also likely be the Bucks' starting small forward) and help the Clippers get around their lack of cap space by signing and trading Redick to Los Angeles, with Bledsoe being the king's ransom for Milwaukee.
All of that sounds a bit too good to be true, so you can bet part of L.A.'s motivation in any conversations with the Bucks is to tempt Orlando into sweetening their offer, either with young players or picks. The Bucks don't have as many assets to offer up--presumably Larry Sanders and John Henson would be off-limits--though Ekpe Udoh, Luc Mbah a Moute and future picks could be used to make it work. But bottom line: I wouldn't expect a package of Redick alone to be enough for Bledsoe and Butler. And where all this leaves Brandon Jennings? Well that's anyone's guess, but Milwaukee would have considerable latitude to move Jennings elsewhere should they add a player of Bledsoe's abilities.