The Los Angeles Clippers are in a good place right now to start the 2020-21 campaign. After last season’s playoff meltdown, superstar Paul George is back to playing at a high-level and posting MVP-like numbers. The same goes for Kawhi Leonard, who arguably is still the best two-way player in the league today.
Their free-agent acquisitions Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum are also fitting in nicely as well.
Still, it’s quite the surprise that the Clippers currently hold a 10-4 slate in the West, considering how underwhelming their bench has been so far. Their second unit has been the bane of their team’s success since last season. By the early looks of it, that matter still hasn’t been resolved.
Per the latest metrics from NBA Advanced Stats, the Clippers’ bench is getting outscored by 0.9 points per 100 possessions, which ranks 18th in the league. That’s a huge disparity to their starting five, who are outscoring opponents by 7.6 points per 100 possessions (4th).
Luckily for LA, they still have a lot of time to address this alarming concern. Let’s have a look at three trades that the Clippers can make before the deadline to boost their anemic bench.
PJ Tucker – Houston Rockets
Following that blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Nets, PJ Tucker is expected to be the next man out of H-Town. The 6-foot-5 forward is reportedly a hot commodity among contenders, so the Clips might need to act soon.
His versatility to play multiple positions would be a great asset for coach Tyronn Lue’s second unit, while that reliable corner 3-point shooting skills is an added bonus as well. Plus, Tucker’s prowess on the other end would further bolster LA’s already intimidating defense.
Tucker is norming 5.5 points on 44.1 percent shooting from deep, along with 4.8 rebounds, 1.6. assists and 1.1 steals in 12 games for Houston. His low scoring output may jump out at you, but his value on the floor is unquestioned in other areas.
His addition will give the Clips another playoff-tested veteran who can lead their youthful reserves. Sending Lou Williams to Clutch City in a straight-up trade for Tucker does the trick salary-wise. However, the Rockets do have a backcourt log jam at the moment, unless they can also unload Eric Gordon as well. The Clips might have to get creative on this one to bring Tucker to the fold.
Derrick Rose – Detroit Pistons
D-Rose has been pegged as the possible savior for the Clips’ point guard woes for quite some time now. While the youngest MVP in league history does offer great scoring at that position, it’s his playmaking that intrigues the Clips the most.
In 10 games for the Pistons this season, Rose is pitching in all-around numbers of 15.5 points, 5.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists in just around 23.7 minutes per game. His expiring $7 million contract is indeed one of the most enticing deals for teams out there.
This is the perfect scenario for the Clippers, considering they really don’t much cap room since their money is tied up with their two superstars. Another straight up-deal for Lou Williams will once again be their best bet, but Detroit will likely want additional future draft picks for their sought-after guard.
Thaddeus Young – Chicago Bulls
In the event that the Clippers miss out on either Tucker or Rose, they can also set up a deal with the Bulls for Thaddeus Young. While the 32-year-old forward has been considered a role player for his entire NBA career, no doubt he’s been a consistent two-way contributor for all the teams he has played for.
The 32-year-old forward can play both forward positions and would be a nice option off the bench when Leonard and George take a breather. His length and versatility would even allow coach Lue to explore some small ball opportunities.
Despite now being an afterthought in Chicago’s deep frontline, Young is still putting up 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 10 games this season. He still has two years left on his $43 million deal.
For this to work, the Clippers can offer Patrick Beverley and Terrence Mann. If the Bulls prove to be a tough sell, then LA can also add a future second-rounder in the deal.