On the eve of the beginning of NBA free agency, several teams are just as focused on the trade market.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the most active teams in speculated trades, as they are trying to build on a promising club that was ousted in the first round of the playoffs this season.
Eric Bledsoe remains the top asset the Clippers are willing to part with, but they are still hunting for the right deal. The latest news pegs the Toronto Raptors as the newest team interested in Bledsoe.
In exchange for the second-year combo-guard, the Clippers would received former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani and shooting guard DeMar Derozan from Toronto, according to ESPN.
The same report insists that new L.A. head coach Doc Rivers would like to keep Bledsoe, and athletic young center DeAndre Jordan, who has been tied to numerous trades over the past year.
If Rivers does manage to get his way and keep Bledsoe, a second possible deal would ship Bargnani to L.A. but instead for forward Caron Butler. Bargnani has been seen as a disappoint since the Raptors made him the top selection in the 2006 draft, but his ability to shoot could help stretch the floor for the Clippers, and Jordan would shore up any of Bargnani's shortcomings on the boards and the defensive end.
Toronto is competing with the Orlando Magic, who are reportedly interested in moving shooting guard Aaron Afflalo and the more than $22 million left on his contract.
Quick with a solid jumper already, Bledsoe would be a starter on many teams. In 20.5 minutes a game last year he averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds. An expanded role should cause those numbers to jump, especially for teams desperate for a young point guard like Orlando and Toronto.
In other news, Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge has recently denied a report by The Oregonian that suggested the two-time all-star wants out of Portland.
Aldridge responded to the report via email to the Oregonian on Saturday.
“I haven’t demanded a trade,” Aldridge said. “I’m looking forward to who we sign in free agency to make us better.”
The Blazers missed the playoffs last season despite a solid career-year from Aldridge and Rookie of the Year point guard Damian Lillard.
Aldridge clearly wants to win now, as evidenced by his mentioning Portland’s moves in free agency. He averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds last season, and has two years and $29 million left on the five year extension he signed back in 2009.
No teams have been tied to Aldridge yet, but considering he is entering his prime, and his diverse skills along the perimeter and in the post, someone could make an offer to Portland.