The Portland Trail Blazers will waive veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe before his contract becomes fully guaranteed, according to Shams Charania. Bledsoe will now become an unrestricted free agent and is expected to draw interest from multiple teams.
Days before the deadline last season, the Blazers traded Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a future second-round pick. Bledsoe was ruled out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury shortly after his arrival in Portland, however, and never played a game with the team.
The Blazers were in full tank mode at the end of last season, so it was no surprise that they kept Bledsoe on the bench and eventually shut him down. Likewise, with a partial guarantee of just $3.9 million for next season, waiving him this summer was always the expected outcome.
The interesting part now is what comes next for Bledsoe. He’s 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 reserve role. Even later in his career he’s still a dogged defender on the perimeter who can really hassle opposing ball handlers.
In the right situation, Bledsoe could still be a useful player. It’s just that finding one isn’t super easy given some of his weaknesses. Most notably, Bledsoe has never been reliable shooter from the 3-point line — 31.3 percent last season, 33.6 percent for his career — and that issue becomes magnified in certain lineups and even more so come playoff time. Bledsoe has struggled in every postseason appearance of his career, and the Milwaukee Bucks swapping him for Jrue Holiday was a big part of their title run in 2021.
Bledsoe isn’t going to want to play for a rebuilding team at this point in his career, but how much interest he’ll have from contenders given his lack of playoff production remains to be seen. It is definitely possible that some teams will view Bledsoe differently if he isn’t one of their main guys, though. His weaknesses wouldn’t be quite as big of a deal if he was coming off the bench and playing a more limited role.