Eric Bledsoe returns to face Clippers

Eric Bledsoe was in town to face his former team for the first time since the Clippers traded the guard over the summer to the Phoenix Suns.
There was a chance, though, that Bledsoe could have remained a Clipper, even working alongside Chris Paul. Instead, new coach Doc Rivers weighed the options and sent Bledsoe to Phoenix in a three-team deal that netted the Clippers J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley.
“I really liked him. I thought he fit a lot of stuff that I do, especially defensively,” Rivers said. “But after sitting down and looking at our books — you’ve got to try and look at your value. If you don’t think you’re going to keep a guy, when is his value the highest?
“Then you have to look at your team and figure out what helps your team in the long run? We clearly lost in the playoffs because we lacked shooting, not because we lacked athleticism. All of those things had to go into that very difficult choice.”
Bledsoe, Paul’s understudy, entered the game averaging 18.4 points and 5.9 assists per game in his first year as a starter. Ironically, Darren Collison, now Paul’s backup, gave up a starting role to join the Clippers.
“He was ready to be a starter, there’s no doubt,” Rivers said of Bledsoe. “We really had only one talk, and I talked to his representatives and they made that very clear. And if it wasn’t starting, it was playing a lot of minutes. That could have happened here, I just didn’t know if it was going to happen here, and I don’t know if he would have been happy or not.
“I think he’s a great kid. I think he would have handled it, but it would have been no fun.”
Paul, a close friend, agreed.
“He’s doing it all right now and I think one of the things about Bled too is how hard he works,” Paul said. This summer was a big summer for him when the trade happened. We used to talk about it all the time. He’s said all the time he’s not a backup in this league, he’s a starter and I think he’s proven that so far.”

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