Whether the Los Angeles Lakers keep or trade Russell Westbrook, they will need a backup, ideally one with extensive NBA experience.
Luckily, there’s a free agent point guard to match right now, and according to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the Lakers could potentially convince him to join their roster on a team-friendly deal.
Of course, that guard is Eric Bledsoe, the former All-NBA defensive first team and All-NBA defensive second team point guard.
“The 32-year-old came unceremoniously onto the open market when the Portland Trail Blazers waived him before his 2022-23 contract was fully guaranteed. He ended up being overpaid for that contract (his full guarantee was $19.3 million), but he could at least be a cheap source of attack point defense, playmaking, and downhill driving. His peak is far behind him, but he could still shine in a reserve role on a minimum contract,” Buckley wrote on July 21.
Bledsoe finished last season averaging 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game while working mostly with second unit, shooting 42.1% from the field and 31.3% from perimeter.
To expect Bledsoe to be just a point-of-attack defender at this point in his career is fair, but it would undercut the advantage he brings to the offensive side of the ball.
Sure, his presence would do nothing to allay the spacing issues that roiled the Lakers last season, but Bledsoe’s ability to deviate from dribbling, apply rim pressure and find the right pass are all valuable tools in a secondary point guard.
Cleaning The Glass tracked Bledsoe’s shooting 59% around the rim and 39% from the middle last season, proving he’s capable of forcing defensive meltdowns and pressuring the rim when he closes -outs attacks. But his presence would mean the Lakers would have to surround him with shooters – much like they have to do for Westbrook this season if they expect to get the best out of him.
Despite their offers, it’s looking increasingly likely that Kyrie Irving will remain with the Brooklyn Nets for the upcoming season. According to a July 25 report by The Atheltic’s Shams Charania on an episode of The Pat McAfee ShowIrving has made the decision to stay with the Nets until his contract expires next summer.
“Kyrie Irving has signed on with full intention of playing as the Brooklyn Net next season. From what I’ve been told, he thinks he’ll be playing in Brooklyn next year – with or without Kevin Durant. Irving agreed, there was an understanding that he would make the best decision for himself and Durant will make his decision as well. From what I’ve been told, Kyrie Irving has stated his intentions, he wants to play in Brooklyn next season and be a full free agent next summer. said Charania.
Los Angeles could still be looking to move away from Westbrook, but with his $47 million contract expiring next summer, they could be tempted to stay pat, bring it back with their big three and their roster after Darvin Ham’s first Reassess the season – and that might not be the worst idea.