LA Clippers trade beloved Beverley to Memphis; bring back Bledsoe
The LA Clippers recently surprised the basketball world by trading one of their most beloved players earlier this week. Fan-favorite Patrick Beverley was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies alongside Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu, in exchange for former Clipper Eric Bledsoe.
Patrick Beverley, who arrived in Los Angeles during the Summer of 2017 via the Chris Paul trade, immediately became a culture changer for the Clippers. From the moment he stepped on the floor, he brought toughness, energy, passion, physicality, and heart to the locker room. Beverley is widely considered a “dog” kind of player by his peers and fans. A guy that is willing to get dirty, dive for a loose ball, guard the opposing team’s best player, and do anything to get a win.
After four years wearing the Clipper uniform, Beverley’s tenure in LA has come to an end. He was part of many memorable moments in Clipper history including the special 2019 season in which the team came back from 31 points down to beat Golden State. Not to mention the best team in Clipper history, the 2021 team that recently advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, in large part due to Beverley’s defense.
Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu were seldom used as the playoffs went on, so the Clippers aren’t losing too much there. Except some will argue that Rondo’s leadership in the locker room will be missed.
This season, the Clippers face the task of navigating the majority (maybe all) of the season without their best player. Kawhi Leonard, who was diagnosed with a partial ACL tear that kept him out of the entire Western Conference Finals, is set to miss 9 months minimum. This means that the Clippers will have to rely heavily on All-Star Paul George and try to improve the team.
The trade was made due to the fact that with Leonard’s lack of availability this season, the Clippers need availability more than anything. Patrick Beverley hasn’t exactly been the most available player for the Clippers in his four years with the club. In his first season in Los Angeles, he missed 71 games. Then only four the following season, before missing 21 and 35 in the last two seasons. His health or lack of it has been a concern for the Clippers. That’s why they felt the need to bring in a more available player in Eric Bledsoe.
Eric Bledsoe has only missed 16 games in the last three seasons. That’s less than Beverley missed last season alone. In addition to his good health, Bledsoe is a younger and more talented player than Beverley. The concern is that sometimes he thinks he’s better than he is. His most notable role was as starting Point Guard with Milwaukee from 2018-20. They finished first in the East both years with Bledsoe starting. He even made the All-Defensive Teams both years. However, in the playoffs, the Bucks had back-to-back disappointing finishes in large part due to Bledsoe’s poor play. He’s never been a great outside shooter but that didn’t stop him from taking too many jumpers in those games. He also isn’t the best decision-maker in the world. As a result, many people view this as a bad move for the Clippers. Not to mention he had maybe his worst season of them all this past year in New Orleans.
But let me tell you why it’s a good move for LA. Eric Bledsoe has been asked to be a starter on all the teams mentioned above. He was tasked with being a starting Point Guard on a championship contender in Milwaukee and weirdly asked to be a floor-spacing shooting guard for Zion Williamson, Steven Adams, and Lonzo Ball in New Orleans last season. Personally, I think Bledsoe’s best role is the one he thrived in with the Clippers eight years ago. An energizer bunny off the bench that can defend and get to the basket.
The Clippers don’t lack three-point shooting. People might look at Eric Bledsoe’s 34% shooting from deep and think it’s an immediate downgrade. Well, that’s not what the Clippers brought him in for. Last season, the one thing the Clippers lacked was the personnel to beat guys off the dribble and get to the rim. Outside of Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson, Paul George, and at times Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers didn’t get easy baskets around the rim enough. Bledsoe’s speed, despite it not being what it once was, and athleticism will be extremely valuable in giving the Clippers exactly what they need. Someone who will defend and get to the rim.
Will the Clippers miss Beverley’s toughness and passion?? Of course. But we mustn’t forget, this is a homecoming for Eric Bledsoe. After years of scrutiny, he has a chance to make it right and compete where he began his career. I think he will be as motivated as ever being Reggie Jackson’s backup.