Feb 17, 2013, 11:01 AM EDT
The Los Angeles Clippers remain hesitant to deal young guard Eric Bledsoe — he’s a valuable part of the “tribe called bench” that has been a big part of Los Angeles’ success, plus he is their insurance at the point should Chris Paul unexpectedly decide to sign elsewhere this summer.
But as the offers get better and better near the deadline, it may be hard to keep saying no.
Like this report from Marc Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that they are talking with the Jazz about Paul Millsap.
Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com late Saturday there is a level of mutual interest between the Clippers and Utah Jazz in exploring a deal that would feature Bledsoe as the headliner in a trade package for Jazz forward Paul Millsap….
The appeal of Millsap, by contrast, is he’d conceivably help the Clippers in the frontcourt immediately, as well as in the future because of his age (28). Utah’s interest in finding a good young point guard, meanwhile, is an open secret around the league that has led to longstanding speculation that either Millsap or Al Jefferson would be moved by the deadline, given that both are scheduled to become free agents such as Paul in July.
The report goes on to say that rival executives are saying that the Clippers don’t seem eager to move Bledsoe at the deadline and that may make any deal unlikely.
Plus, the Bledsoe and Millsap salaries are about $8 million apart so the Clippers would need to ad a player or players (someone like Caron Butler would work) to make the numbers match. But then the front office would really be messing with a roster they like. As a team executive said over the weekend, there is a lot of talent on the Clippers roster and it will be up to the coach to figure out how to win with it — the front office is putting the pressure on Vinny Del Negro.
For the Jazz, who desperately want a point guard, this kind of deal makes a lot of sense. They almost certainly will move Millsap or Jefferson before the deadline.
It also makes some basketball sense for the Clippers — if they are not going to trust DeAndre Jordan at the end of games (Lamar Odom has gotten some of his run) then Millsap would be an upgrade. Of course, he’s going to get a big pay raise this summer and there are questions about whether the Clippers would want to pay that and a max offer for CP3.
As for the Clippers reported idea of moving Bledsoe as part of a package for Kevin Garnett, both the Clippers have denied it and Garnett said he will use his no trade clause to block a move. So maybe we should all move on from that one.