NBA Teams
Chris Haynes, ESPN Staff Writer 10d

Eric Bledsoe happy to join Bucks, says it was 'time for me to move on'

NBA, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks

After four seasons of enduring constant roster instability and postseason absences, point guard Eric Bledsoe told ESPN he is happy to be embarking on a new chapter with the resurging Milwaukee Bucks.

"It means a lot to me," Bledsoe, 27, told ESPN in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I'm in my prime and headed to a competitive situation in the Eastern Conference. This is a great time for me and my family. We're looking forward to getting started in Milwaukee. I had a great time in Phoenix, but I'm excited for what's next."

On Tuesday, the Bucks sent the Phoenix Suns veteran big man Greg Monroe, a 2018 protected first-round draft pick and a 2018 protected second-round pick for Bledsoe. 

Bledsoe met with Suns owner Robert Sarver and general manager Ryan McDonough during the preseason to request a trade. He said it was his decision to go that route.

"I felt like with where the team was headed, it was time for me to move on," he said. "They've got an amazing, young, talented team, and I feel like it was time for me to find a better situation for my career. It had nothing to do with anything the Suns had going on. I made the decision that this was best for me."

Last season, the Suns shut down Bledsoe, their starting point guard, for the final 15 games in hopes of improving their draft chances. Phoenix ended up getting the fourth pick in the 2017 draft and used it to select Josh Jackson out of Kansas.

"I felt like it was time [to leave], especially when they sat me down last year," Bledsoe said. "It gave me a better picture, a more clearer picture of what I needed to do."

At the time, word trickled out that he was dealing with "knee soreness," possibly to justify shutting him down.

"I was 100 percent healthy then, and I'm 100 percent healthy now," Bledsoe said adamantly.

The weeks leading up to the trade were anything but smooth.

Phoenix fired coach Earl Watson after the team got off to a 0-3 start, and an hour before that news broke, Bledsoe tweeted, "I don't wanna be here."

McDonough revealed to local reporters that Bledsoe said his tweet was in reference to not wanting to be at a hair salon. McDonough told the media he didn't believe that to be true and then sent Bledsoe home until the team could consummate a deal.

During radio interviews in the days that followed, McDonough questioned Bledsoe's leadership and continually stated that he was receiving bad advice.

Bledsoe chose not to respond directly to McDonough's comments, but said he wanted to clear his name.

"Not really," he said when asked if he wanted to respond to being perceived as dishonest. "The situation is over with. What's done is done. I can't wait to join the Bucks, but I'm not a liar."

Bledsoe said he has no regrets over how he handled his situation.

"[The trade] got out," he said. "I don't think it was anything we did wrong. It was just time to go our separate ways."

Over the past two seasons, Bledsoe has averaged 20 points, four boards and six assists per game. A seventh-year veteran out of Kentucky, Bledsoe said he has stayed in shape for a little over two weeks by working out at local colleges. He also said he spent his new spare time with his wife and daughter.

Now he'll be spending a lot of time with a budding young star in Giannis Antetokounmpo and playing for one of the best point guards in the history of the game in Bucks coach Jason Kidd.

"You've seen him," Bledsoe said of Antetokounmpo. "I've watched him play like everyone else. He's one of the top 10 players in this league. He's a great player. With my talent, and going over there to help facilitate, score, rebound, defend, I'm going to do what's expected of me and whatever is asked in order for us to win games.

"I'm excited about where the team is headed. I'm excited about how talented they are. I get to learn from a Hall of Fame coach. When I was a free agent, they were a team that really had interest, so that played a big part."

Kidd has long coveted Bledsoe and said he sees him as a game-changing defender who can alter the momentum of games at both ends of the floor. Pairing Bledsoe with second-year sensation Malcolm Brogdon is expected to be seamless -- and a defensive nightmare for the opposition.

Milwaukee has the talent to shoot up the standings, but Bledsoe was careful not to get too ahead of the process. He said he wants to fully embrace his new beginning by putting in the work and allowing the results to play out.

He's ready for the challenge.

"Who knows?" Bledsoe said of how good the Bucks will be. "I'm going to take it one game at a time. You never know. Some teams take a while to jell; some click right away. My job is to just make winning plays when I'm out on the court, and hopefully we're winning. That's all I want. I'm ready to go."

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