The Orlando Magic, perhaps unconvinced about using the No. 2 pick on Trey Burke of Michigan in June’s NBA Draft, are said to be exploring another option in regards to addressing their long-range plans at point guard.
ESPN’s Chad Ford reports the Magic are interested in acquiring the Los Angeles Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe in a trade that could involve shooting guard Arron Afflalo, Orlando’s leading scorer this past season. The 23-year-old Bledsoe has primarily served as a backup to All-Star Chris Paul, but averaged more than 14 points and five assists in the 12 games he started while Paul was hurt.
Bledsoe’s athleticism – he’s one of the top players in steals per minute and one of the best guards when it comes to offensive rebounds and blocked shots – would make him a radical departure from 31-year-old Jameer Nelson and free-agent-to-be Beno Udrih. It’s unclear where Bledsoe’s future lies on a team which captured its first division championship ever but fired coach Vinny Del Negro after failing to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.
Afflalo is a native of Los Angeles who turned in perhaps his best game in a Magic uniform during a January victory over the Clippers, scoring 30 points. He will make more than $7.7 million next season, which is almost three times what Bledsoe – the 18th overall pick three years ago – is scheduled to earn. To make the trade work, one suggestion has the Clippers throwing in the expiring contract of small forward Caron Butler, although the Magic would then need to include a draft pick or another player with Afflalo.
If a Bledsoe-Afflalo trade is pulled off, the Magic can create a situation where either Ben McLemore of Kansas or Victor Oladipo of Indiana will receive more minutes at shooting guard. The two of them are regarded as the top draft prospects at that position. Burke is a point guard with 3-point shooting range similar to that of Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the seventh pick in 2009.