MILWAUKEE (AP) — Eric Bledsoe’s disgruntled days are over.
The talented guard is getting a fresh start with the Milwaukee Bucks, who have another proven scorer to take some pressure off All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Bledsoe, who wanted out of Phoenix, was traded to the Bucks on Tuesday in exchange for big man Greg Monroe and two 2018 draft picks.
The 27-year-old Bledsoe had not been with the Suns since Oct. 22, when he posted “I Don’t wanna be here” on Twitter, the same day the Suns fired coach Earl Watson. He had been averaging 15.7 points per game, second behind Devin Booker, and was the team’s on-court leader.
He was sent home by the Suns after the tweet, reducing the team’s leverage because everyone in the league knew Phoenix was trying to trade him. Bledsoe had asked to be traded before the season, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has said. The NBA fined the eight-year NBA veteran $10,000 for the tweet.
Adding Bledsoe will take some of the focus off Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ primary ball-handler. Milwaukee had lost four of its last five games before visiting the Cavaliers, but adding Bledsoe’s scoring ability alongside Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on a team that also includes rising guard Malcolm Brogdon could help.
“We’re excited. Eric’s excited,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said in Cleveland.
Bledsoe will take his physical on Wednesday and is expected to join the Bucks in San Antonio in time for Thursday’s game against the Spurs.
Middleton can’t wait to see what Bledsoe brings.
“He’ll be another great player for us, a guy who can create for others and create for himself on offense,” Middleton said. “I’m excited to play with him. We can do a lot of things. We’ll have more ball-handlers on the court at the same time. He’s going to be a great for us.”
Already a dangerous and up-and-coming team, the Bucks could go to another level with Bledsoe.
“He adds a veteran point guard, a guy who plays with pace and can get into the paint, can make the right play,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “He’s been on the cusp of being an All-Star the last three years. He brings a different dimension to their team. He can shoot the basketball, get in the paint, run pick-and-roll and he’s a good defender also.
“It’s a good pickup for them.”
Bledsoe averaged more than 20 points and six assists per game in each of the last two seasons with the Suns, including career highs in points (21.1) and assists (6.3) last season. Bledsoe spent the past five seasons in Phoenix after his first three years with the Clippers.
The 27-year-old Monroe, who joined the team as a free agent in 2015 after five years in Detroit, has been sidelined recently because of a left calf strain. Over three seasons with the Bucks, he averaged 13.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists over 165 games.
Without him, Milwaukee will likely consolidate the center position and look ahead to early next year, when the front line should get a boost with the return of injured forward Jabari Parker.
The 6-foot-11 Monroe has an expiring contract, which means even more room for a Suns team with loads of cap space. They also could have as many as three first-round picks next season.
“Moose did everything we asked him to help us win, from being a starter to being asked to go to the bench and help us have a stronger bench,” Kidd said. “I wish him the best because he did everything we asked.”
Milwaukee’s first-round pick will belong to the Suns in 2018 if in the range of 11-16 overall; in 2019 if in the range of 4-16; in 2020 if in the range of 8-30; and in 2021 it will be unprotected. The Suns get Milwaukee’s second-round pick next year if in the range of 48-60 overall.
Phoenix, rebuilding with an extremely young roster featuring Booker and T.J. Warren, has not made the playoffs in six years.
AP Sports Writers Bob Baum in Phoenix and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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