Trade talks between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Clippers are progressing, report Ramona Shelburne, Marc Stein, and Chad Ford of ESPN, and a deal involving L.A. point guard Eric Bledsoe and Magic swingman Arron Afflalo could happen "in conjunction with Thursday's NBA draft." However, a change in L.A.'s front office may affect the likelihood of a potential trade.
The ESPN report says that Doc Rivers, who officially became the Clippers' coach and vice president of basketball operations on Tuesday, likes the young point guard and "has indicated he'd like to keep Bledsoe around if possible."
But ESPN indicates that the "greater likelihood" is that L.A. will need to part with Bledsoe eventually, terming him "a luxury that the Clippers won't be able to afford." The former Kentucky Wildcat has one season remaining on his rookie contract before he's due to become a restricted free agent, and he's sure to command a heavy salary.
Orlando isn't the only team with its eye on Bledsoe: Shelburne, Stein, and Ford say that "a half-dozen teams" have engaged L.A. in trade discussions about him.
One potential trade would bring Bledsoe and veteran swingman Caron Butler to Orlando in exchange for Afflalo, young power forward Andrew Nicholson, and a future first-round Draft choice; Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD first reported the latter two components on Tuesday morning. The ESPN trio says the inclusion of Nicholson and the future pick serves as "compensation" for parting with Bledsoe, a "highly coveted" asset.
The Magic and the Clippers reportedly first began discussing a Bledsoe trade at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
Bledsoe, who is one day younger than Nicholson, owns career averages of 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, three assists, and 1.2 steals in 19.6 minutes. He is regarded as a tenacious defender who is exceptionally athletic for a point guard.