I know I called for a "Summer of Nothing" from the Suns just this week, but I happen to love Ryan McDonough's first trade. Let me count the ways.
1) Caron Butler's contract expires after one year. Jared Dudley's doesn't. Lottery picks and cap space, that's how you rebuild in the NBA. Sure, you'll pay Butler $8 million this season, but he comes off the books in time for the more important 2014 offseason.
2) Jared Dudley is in a better place. I know he's a fan favorite, but if you love something you set it free. In Dudley's own words, "I believe I can make a good team great and a great team a champion." By that logic, he can make a bad team mediocre. And who wants to be mediocre? The Clippers believe they can win now, and Dudley and J.J. Redick give the team two solid complimentary pieces. Win-Win.
3) Eric Bledsoe needs playing time. Bledsoe is an incredible basketball talent who's been playing out of position or behind a superstar for his entire career. Remember, this is a guy the Magic considered taking as a key piece of a Dwight Howard deal not long ago. With the rebuilding Suns, Bledsoe is going to get PT, probably at both the one and the two. Head coach Jeff Hornacek will now have the luxury of experimenting with Bledsoe to find the right fit for him moving forward. Is it with Dragic in the same backcourt? Or perhaps instead of Dragic at the point, freeing the team to trade Dragic for another piece? And even if Bledsoe turns out to be a bust, you benefited from this trade even for no other reason than you traded Dudley's two-year deal for Butler's one-year deal.
4) Only four to go. As I wrote earlier this week, the next year for the Suns is not about winning, it's about freeing cap space before the 2014 offseason. Dudley was one of those multi-year contracts that needed to be moved. That leaves Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Channing Frye. Beasley will be next to impossible to trade, Frye will have to prove he's healthy before a team would be interested, and Scola should be easy to move between now and the deadline. That leaves Dragic, and the Suns will likely decide his future with the team based upon what happens with Bledsoe's development.
If this trade is an example of what new GM Ryan McDonough is going to bring to the table for the Suns, then he gets it. Can't wait to see what he does next.