A 23-year-old Canadian might be the main cog of whether Rob Hennigan decides to trade for Eric Bledsoe or not. No seriously. Not kidding. The quiet, mild-mannered, defensively frustrating power forward that wears #44 is what stands between Orlando taking a gamble on Chris Paul's backup. Because apparently Arron Afflalo alone now won't be enough to get Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler (or at least his contract). The Clippers apparently covet Andrew Nicholson. It's almost as surprising as finding out they really truly want Arron Afflalo. Hennigan drafting Oklahoma Sooner Romero Osby at #51 on Thursday as either a PF or SF, combined with giving UCF's beloved Keith Clanton a Magic Summer League invite, makes Nicholson available to be shipped out. Nicholson is making a guaranteed (and estimated) $1.5 million in 2013-2014. In a league controlled now more by the salary cap than in previous years, every dollar counts. Why pay for Nicholson when Osby and/or Clanton could produce similar or even better numbers for a lower salary?
There's speculation galore surrounding the Clippers. Doc Rivers wants to hold on to Bledsoe for the 2013-2014 in an effort to have him play along side of 'CP3' with Caron Butler being nothing but a money pit. Butler has $8 million remaining on his contract that expires NEXT summer, but he's no longer capable of being a solid starting shooting guard in this league anymore. Los Angeles can't wait a season, they want to compete out of the gates. Especially when the Lakers are so down in the dumps with Dwight about ready to join the Rockets to hit up those Houston Waffle House chains.
Then you have the Raptors all of a sudden making waves of their own in the rumor pond. The Clippers failed to bring in Kevin Garnett, so now they want Andrea Bargnani? Not likely as a deal is all but done with the Knicks that ships Bargnani off to NYC for as many as 3 draft picks. Hand Masai Ujiri another Executive of the Year award if that happens. Oh, and Toronto is now allegedly competing with Orlando for the services of Bledsoe.
Glen Davis, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle O'Quinn, Tobias Harris, along with Romero Osby and possibly Keith Clanton are all centers or power forwards. Andrew Nicholson was a steal at #19 last year from St. Bonaventure's, but we know his ceiling already. 7.8 points per game on 52.7 FG% is impressive...but he can't rebound and Nicholson is a defensive liability. The per 36 numbers look solid though. Andrew is gaining praise for hitting the weight room hard already this offseason as well as drastically improving his one-on-one defense throughout his rookie campaign. Help defense is still appalling. However, Andrew can and should be coughed up if you can acquire Eric Bledsoe...even if Eric doesn't impress in a Magic uniform. It's worth the experiment even if it signifies letting Bledsoe walk via free agency in summer 2014 and focusing on either drafting a stud point guard (there will be two or 3) or acquiring a veteran on the open market.
If Bledsoe is acquired, it might be worth it to extend his contract right then and there. It may be worth paying him $8 million per season for the next four if you think Hennigan and crew believes Bledsoe will have a studly '13-'14 campaign and not having to fret about other suitors offering $10+ million contracts. I like Andrew and would be ecstatic to still have him on this Magic squad, but the Clippers need a backup PF to Blake Griffin. It makes a lot of sense to guarantee the acquisition of Bledsoe by sweetening up the pot.