Just when it started to feel like the 2021 NBA offseason was cooling down, news broke on a four-player trade involving the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the details.
"The LA Clippers are trading Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Eric Bledsoe," Wojnarowski wrote. "The deal saves the Clippers $30 million in luxury tax and creates an $8.3 million traded-player exception that they will have a year to use."
While this is far from a blockbuster, and neither team figures to contend for a title this season, the move could have an effect on the Western Conference in 2022-23, when Kawhi Leonard will hope to be back and Bledsoe is still under contract.
In the short term, though, there are plenty of winners and losers here. So, let's break down who falls on either side of that line.
Winner: Eric Bledsoe
The 2020-21 season couldn't have gone much worse for Bledsoe.
After a move to the New Orleans Pelicans, his former team won the championship while he posted the worst box plus/minus (BPM is "...a basketball box score-based metric that estimates a basketball player’s contribution to the team when that player is on the court," according to Basketball Reference) of his career and his first below-average mark since 2011-12.
His fit with New Orleans, a team in desperate need of shooting with which to surround Zion Williamson, was terrible. And the point-of-attack defense that made him so effective for the Milwaukee Bucks mostly disappeared.
In L.A., where his career started over a decade ago, he'll have a chance at a career reboot. The Clippers shot a league-best 41.1 percent from three this season. The amount of attention that kind of shooting demands outside should open up driving lanes for Bledsoe.
And if that restores his Milwaukee-era shot distribution (his number of attempts at the rim fell off a cliff in New Orleans), Bledsoe's efficiency should tick up.
Assuming that's enough for L.A. to fully guarantee the last year of Bledsoe's deal in 2022-23, he'd then get a chance to compete for a title alongside Kawhi and Paul George.
The path to contention would've been far more difficult for him with the Pelicans or Grizzlies.
Loser: Rajon Rondo
Rondo has been in the hired-gun portion of his career for over half a decade. This trade to the Grizzlies might move him into journeyman territory.
He's now had a below-average BPM in each of his last five seasons, and he hasn't had an above-average effective field-goal percentage since 2012-13.
He helped the Los Angeles Lakers win a title in 2019-20, but the more he ages and such statistics pile up, the more difficult it may become to escape situations like the one he's in now.
At this point in his career, the 35-year-old two-time champion may not be keen on a spot with a playoff contender (although he signed with the Atlanta Hawks last season), but there may not be many suitors knocking down his door should he broker a buyout.