October 4, 2022
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The Portland Trail Blazers will relinquish veteran points guard Eric Bledsoe before his contract is fully guaranteed, According to Shams Al Shaaraniyah. Bledsoe will now be an unrestricted free agent and is expected to attract the interest of multiple teams.

Days before last season’s deadline, the Blazers replaced Norman Powell and Robert Covington with the Los Angeles Clippers versus Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a future second-round selection. Bledsoe was disqualified for the season due to an Achilles tendon injury shortly after arriving in Portland, however, and never played a game for the team.

The Blazers were in full tank mode at the end of last season, so it came as no surprise that they kept Bledsoe off the bench and eventually shut him down. Likewise, with only a partial guarantee of $3.9 million for next season, waiving him this summer has always been the expected outcome.

The interesting part now is what comes next for Bledsoe. He is not a bad player. Last season he averaged 9.9 points, 4.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game for the Clippers in what was largely a backup role. Even later in his career, he’s still a stubborn defender on the periphery who can truly annoy rival ballplayers.

In the right position, Bledsoe is still a useful player. Just finding someone is not very easy considering some of their weaknesses. Notably, Bledsoe has never been a reliable three-point streak shooter — 31.3 percent last season, 33.6 percent for his career — and this problem is magnified in some lineups until it comes time for the playoffs. Bledsoe has struggled in every post-season appearance of his career, and the Milwaukee Bucks who replaced him at Jrue Holiday was a big part of their title in 2021.

Bledsoe won’t want to play for a rebuilding team at this point in his career, but how much attention he’ll get from competitors due to his lack of breakout production remains unknown. It’s certainly possible that some teams would view Bledsoe differently if he wasn’t one of the key players. His weaknesses wouldn’t be so great if he were to come off the bench and play a more limited role.

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