There is, of course, the old adage that titles are not won in July (the Heat in 2010 being the clear exception) but several moves were made on Tuesday that could quietly alter the regular season standings out west next season. We’ve also seen shooters get large contracts this week like, it seems, never before. Those are the main two storylines from the July 2, but there’s a whole lot to get to before we all take a nice break for the holiday weekend.
Clippers space out in three-way trade
Lob City sells tickets and does well during the regular season, but the L.A. Clippers very clearly subscribed to Miami’s “stars and spacers” program with its trade with Milwaukee and Phoenix on Tuesday. J.J. Redick, who signed a four-year, $27 million contract as part of the deal, averaged a career high 14.1 points on 36.6 shooting from three last season, and should get a ton of open looks with Los Angeles with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin attracting a ton of defensive attention.
Jared Dudley is an ideal spacer for this new Clippers offense. He shot 39.1 percent from three last season with the Suns and 46.8 percent shooting from the field. He’s always been an above average player and should really thrive with the Clips. Los Angeles shot 30.4 percent from three during the playoffs (14th best of the 16 teams) and 35.8 percent during the regular season, exactly in the middle of the pack. With Paul running the point and Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as the big men, having Redick and Dudley on the wings will turn the Clips’ offense into a Miami-esque machine.
Bledsoe could lead to the rise of the Suns
Phoenix was able to get Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler out of this deal, while only surrendering Dudley and a second-round pick. This is a win for the Suns just for getting Paul’s understudy last season. We obviously don’t know if Bledsoe’s numbers from last season will translate with increased minutes, but his per-36 minute numbers from last season are impressive: 14.9 points, 5.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game on 44.5 percent shooting and 39.7 percent from three with a really strong 17.5 PER.
In 12 starts for an injured Paul last season, Bledsoe had 14.2 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 boards per game in 34.1 minutes per contest. His field goal percentage went down to 40.5 percent overall, but spiked to 43.8 percent from three. In other words, the Suns acquired themselves a potential star in the making and someone they can build around.
Milwaukee remains incomplete
The Bucks weren’t going to get back Redick, so they at least saved face by getting a pair of second-round picks. But this is still a team that could go in a ton of directions with a very malleable roster right now in terms of who can stay and go. Milwaukee clearly would like to keep Brandon Jennings in the fold, and will probably lose Monta Ellis. Ellis’ replacement could be one of many players, including J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver (who may have been offered an obscenely large contract by the team) or Jeff Teague, who’s a favorite of new head coach Larry Drew.
Grizzlies stay defensive
Memphis keeping Tony Allen, who was such a huge part of Memphis’ success last season was a move they needed to make. On Tuesday, they kept Allen for a bargain at four years and $20 million (I’d much rather have Allen on my team, all things being equal, than Redick). Allen led all guards in defensive rating last season with a 98.4 and was second among guards to teammate Mike Conley in defensive win shares.
With the Clippers clearly improving on Tuesday, it was imperative for the Grizzlies to keep its defensively elite core intact. And doing so at a good price is even better.
Pacers get even better
With Brooklyn getting a pair of future Hall of Famers, it was up for Indiana to keep, um, well, pace, this offseason. While the Knicks regressed this week, Indiana brought back David West on a very fair three-year deal worth $36 million and upgraded at backup point guard with C.J. Watson on a two-year pact. West tied for seventh in the league in both defensive win shares and defensive rating and was 18th in total win shares last season. That’s a valuable player right there. With Danny Granger back next season, Indiana will be an even better team that the outfit that just took Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.