The trade the Portland Trail Blazers recently pulled to send Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers was highly scrutinized by fans and pundits alike. One of the biggest question marks was the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe in return. Once a prolific perimeter defender and slasher at point guard, the veteran has been tagged with the washed label, a condemnation when taken in congruence with his hefty price tag.
It’s now being assumed that Interim General Manager Joe Cronin traded for Bledsoe without the intention of ever having him suit up for the Portland Trail Blazers. The former Clipper could remain on the sidelines until the Blazers can cut bait on his contract in the summer and save themselves over $15 million in salary for next season, as he’s only guaranteed under $4 million if he’s waived according to Spotrac.
An even rosier outcome for the Rose City would be to find a way to flip Bledsoe’s basically expiring contract for useful assets. Cronin will have to target teams that are either in precarious luxury tax situations like the Blazers were or squads wanting to get rid of their own albatross contracts.
Don’t expect the Portland Trail Blazers to trade Eric Bledsoe
There are currently eight teams set to be hit with the luxury tax this season: the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, and Boston Celtics.
Of those eight teams, the Warriors, Clippers, Nets, Bucks, Sixers, and Lakers figure to exceed the luxury cap again next season.
Acquiring Bledsoe’s contract won’t help any of those teams escape the luxury tax bill this season, but shaving any salary can have a tremendous impact on how much a club will be charged in fees.
There are different levels of penalties depending on how far above the cap a team’s salary table is. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype did an excellent job breaking down the specifics.
This should be good news for Portland, however, reading between the lines tells a different story. The Warriors and Clippers are no strangers to the luxury tax and have the benefit of being bankrolled by owners that are willing to shell out for contending teams.
The Nets, Bucks, Sixers, and Lakers all figure to compete for the title this season and the foreseeable future.
Eric Bledsoe’s technical $15 million expiring contract offers no benefit to these teams and most of them don’t have assets in Portland’s range anyways.
Joe Cronin could target teams with hefty, long-term contracts they’d like to shed, but recent news could get in the way of that goal.
That puts a nearly $9 million bump in the salary cap and $11 million increase in the luxury line. This makes it easier for teams near the limits for next season to navigate trades and swallow slightly overpaid contracts, especially figuring in any other additional jumps down the road.
This announcement was made mere hours after the Trail Blazers finalized their trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. There’s a possibility that Cronin wouldn’t have made this deal at all had he known about the $2 million extra he would have had to work with next year. Regardless, he’ll have a harder time finding a suitor for Bledsoe now.