Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe had a coming-out party during last year's playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. If the beginning of this year's series against the Grizzlies is any indication, it could be the beginning of his farewell party. Well, in Los Angeles anyway. Bledsoe averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds during the regular season last season but those averages spiked to 7.9 points, 2.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds during the playoffs. This season, Bledsoe averaged 8.5 points, 3.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds during the regular season but had 15 points, four assists and six rebounds in Game 1. The 23-year-old point guard is progressively improving and Chris Paul knows it's only a matter of time before he will be forced to play against him instead of alongside of him. "Bled is one of the best guards in our league," Paul said after practice Sunday. "I've said it all season long. I'm enjoying playing with him right now because there's no way he can be here next year because we probably won't have enough money to pay him. He should be a starting point guard in this league next year." Bledsoe is actually under contract for next season at $2.6 million, but Paul's words may be the clearest indication yet that he fully intends to sign the five-year, $108 million contract extension the Clippers plan to offer him in the offseason. He knows as long as he is the Clippers' point guard; there simply is no room for Bledsoe. Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points in Game 1, also said last week that he fully intends to play next season and would like to return to the Clippers. Willie Green, who started 60 games this season at shooting guard, could also return next season as the Clippers hold a team option at just $1.4 million. So with his trade value at an all-time high and the Clippers having a potentially crowded backcourt next season, the team could end up trading Bledsoe to upgrade at another position. Bledsoe was rumored to be included in a package with DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett during the All-Star break, but that never materialized.
Eric Bledsoe rises to the challenge
ESPN | Apr 22