For a while, it didn’t seem like the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t have a trick up their sleeve, as the clock ticked closer and closer to the 3 PM ET NBA trade deadline. However, the Clippers saved all of their moves with an hour left before the deadline, coming away with the likes of Eric Gordon, Mason Plumlee, and Bones Hyland in exchange for Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, John Wall, and a 2023 first-round pick swap.
Whether those three get the Clippers over the proverbial hump, that remains to be seen. But it’s clear that they were able to fill at least one area of pressing need by acquiring Plumlee to shore up their frontcourt behind Ivica Zubac. It was clear that the Clippers needed to add another interior presence, as they were having difficulties guarding the paint and rebounding the ball without their starting center on the floor.
Meanwhile, Eric Gordon should give the Clippers more dynamism on offense, as the veteran guard has more juice to his game off the bounce than Luke Kennard. Kennard might be a better pure shooter than Gordon, but it’s easy to envision Gordon’s shooting perk up in the Clippers’ more spacious environment.
Moreover, adding Bones Hyland, the 26th overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, for two second-round picks, is a good buy-low deal for the Clippers. Hyland may not be much more than a deep-range chucker at the moment, but he’s only 22; he gives the Clippers’ veteran core an injection of pace and energy and he still has a ton of room to grow.
Even then, the Clippers could very well add to their team still via the buyout market. They lost two point guards in their trade deadline wheeling and dealing, and they could still make additions with the intention of filling the void Reggie Jackson and John Wall left.
Here are three buyout candidates the Clippers could look into pursuing.
Plenty of familiar faces returned to familiar places following the NBA trade deadline frenzy. D’Angelo Russell returned to the Los Angeles Lakers, Spencer Dinwiddie returned to the Brooklyn Nets, and even Eric Gordon returned to the team that drafted him in 2008. Thus, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Beverley headed to a former team of his once he finalizes his buyout with the Orlando Magic.
According to reports, however, the Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be the frontrunners for Beverley’s services. That should not come as a surprise. Beverley has always been expressive of his love for the Timberwolves franchise, which was most apparent during his over-the-top celebration following their play-in triumph last year.
Nonetheless, the Clippers should, at least, give the veteran guard a call to try and convince his mind. The 34-year old guard may have lost a step on defense, and he could sometimes be more of a distraction than the team would want. But the Clippers are familiar with all of that, and they love Beverley all the same.
Moreover, Beverley will have the benefit of not having to acclimate himself to too unfamiliar a place. The Clippers will also definitely find value in having Beverley’s strong personality around in the locker room as they try to get their act together for the stretch run. Adding Beverley will also earn the Clippers the approval of their fanbase, as they add a fan favorite following the departure of their beloved Big Government, Reggie Jackson.
Adding yet another Lakers outcast in Westbrook is the polar opposite of a hypothetical Beverley addition. Clippers fans revile Westbrook, and they don’t want his penchant for taking bad shots and general reckless play anywhere near the team. And after hearing Westbrook refuse to let his former head coach hold him accountable for his mistakes, he too may not be the easiest guy to deal with in the locker room, which is exactly the last thing the Clippers need as they gear up for the stretch run.
But even in his current state, Westbrook is able to get to the paint with ease, something the Clippers sorely need. He may no longer be the athletic beast he was in his past, or even during his solid stint with the Houston Rockets during the 2019-20 campaign, but it’s not too difficult to envision him flourishing on a team with as many capable shooters as the Clippers.
If his former teammate Paul George could convince him to leave his ego at the door and completely buy into what the Clippers are trying to do, then there may not be a more impactful buyout addition the Clippers could make than adding the 2017 NBA MVP.
Speaking of former MVPs, the New York Knicks could soon buy out the contract of Derrick Rose, someone who has fallen out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation. It’s unclear what the 2011 MVP has left in the tank; he hasn’t played since late December.
Even then, Rose should give any prospective team an ounce of shot creation and slashing, and he commands respect in the locker room. The uncertainty regarding his on-court productivity could scare off the Clippers. But for a team looking to improve on the margins, adding a beloved veteran to the locker room could be helpful enough as it is.