The Los Angeles Clippers started as the season’s surprise by being seeded as high as the fourth seed a quarter through the season. Now, they sit barely in the eighth seed above the Sacramento Kings. However, Clippers fans did get a bit of good news. They’re among Anthony Davis’ preferred trade destinations. Would L.A. pull together a deal to get Anthony Davis at the trade deadline?
Why the Clippers need a star
Of course, L.A. already sat out the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes. Butler was traded to Philadelphia, despite his rumored interest in the Clippers since the summer. They didn’t move on Kawhi Leonard even though he’s connected to the team, either. Plus, L.A.C. missed out on Kristaps Porzingis who was traded to the Mavericks last week too. The Clippers reportedly had interest in the young star as well.
L.A. might not get a fourth crack at getting an All-Star so they could make a move for Davis or somebody else at the deadline. Obviously, getting an All-Star now could improve the Clippers’ title chances this season. It gives them an added recruiting pitch in free agency after the season when they can sign a big name free agent like Butler or Leonard too.
Remember, the Clippers said goodbye to All-Stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan all in the same year. They’ve been able to fill that void decently on the court but they have near where near that same star-power or name recognition. That star power is important in Los Angeles since there are two professional teams per major sport. For example, the Clippers hold a better record than the Lakers but most of the national discussion revolves around their Staples Center co-tenants and LeBron James. L.A.C. can gain some awareness by making a blockbuster move for an All-Star at the deadline.
Still, star power doesn’t guarantee rings or banners. Even if the Clippers keep playing well with their veterans and young players, an All-Star player might help them get over-the-top. That’s why the Clippers would only make a deal for a star if it make sense value-wise. Here are a few trades the Clippers should consider making before the NBA deadline.
Obviously, Anthony Davis is the big fish on the trade block. The 25-year-old is a force on both sides of the floor and is always an MVP candidate. There are multiple ways the Clippers could make an offer including this nine-man formula.
Any trade for Davis should include some expiring deals. The Clippers offer expiring contracts like Marcin Gortat, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverly, Mike Scott and Luc Mbah a Moute. They also got two lottery picks from the 2018 draft, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, who would have to go to the Pelicans in a trade for A.D. given that L.A.C’s upcoming first round draft pick is likely to fall to the Celtics.
Otherwise, Lou Willams, Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari are all having great seasons. Williams makes $8 million this season and is on the books for two more seasons. He averages 19.2 points, 3 rebounds and 5.3 assists this season. Harrell is also on a reasonable deal with $6 million owed this year and next. The Clippers reverse averages 15. 6 points and 6.7 rebounds. Both of their deals are more appealing in a trade than Gallinari who is owed over $20 million this year and next year.
Ultimately, offering Harris and Williams with Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson is probably the Clippers best chance to get a trade for A.D. done. It gives the Pelicans two starters on reasonable deals with two young players to develop. Harris is also an expiring contract.
The deal also works if you substitute Harrell for Williams or either of the 2018 draft picks. However, none of those players should be a deal breaker if you get a chance to get the Brow. Davis averages 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists this year.
Further, the Clippers could also offer the Pelicans an out on Jrue Holiday’s long-term contract. Holiday is an L.A. native and he could start for the Clippers especially after the trade. It is currently reported that the Pelicans are not considering deals for A.D. with Holiday but they would be smart to reconsider that since he is on the book for more $20 million each of the next three years.
Thus, the Clippers have a variety of combinations they can offer the Pelicans for A.D. Whatever the cost, Los Angeles would be smart to make a move for a star like the Brow A.S.A.P.
Speaking of All-Stars frequent on the trading block, Kemba Walker is another All-Star the Clippers could consider. Trading for Walker is hard for the Clippers, because L.A. employs plenty of combo guards. Especially since Gilgeous-Alexander shows enough flashes to be considered as starting point guard of the future. He is averaging 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and three assists. Perhaps there is enough there for Charlotte to consider taking Shai along with an expiring contract for Kemba.
The problem is, Kemba been the Hornets No. 1 option for so long that it might take some adjustment on another team. Walker is also Charlotte’s lone All-Star which is why the Hornets maintain they won’t trade him. Kemba is 28 years old, makes $12 million and he’s a free agent after this season. Hence, the Clippers would have to make a better offer unless the Hornets are desperate for compensation for Walker.
Thus, they could put together a better deal that gives the Hornets some more offensive fire power by sending them Harrell and Williams. They could also add a young player or draft pick if necessary.
This is what the trade could look like, with all the moving parts, including salaries.
However, how much does he make you win? Overall, Charlotte is a competitive team fighting for the bottom of the East.
Still, Walker seems like one of the most available All-Stars at the deadline. Walker is Charlotte’s best asset and there were rumors of him getting moved last year. He is averaging 24.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. Walker shoots 36 percent from three point range too. Kemba known for his scoring and leadership. He’d give the Clippers another guy to look to deep in close games.
That makes it a low risk move for the Clippers. Walker might be great as a second or third option for a great team. He would also help the Clippers recruit a star.
The next most likely All-Star to get traded, or not, seems to be Wizards guard Bradley Beal. Wizards owner denied throwing in the towel on his group including Beal but he’s said that before. That didn’t stop Washington from considering the move before, especially since they’re still among the season’s biggest disappointment.
Washington might be desperate to mix it up. They could use some added range in the front court and some playmaking. Lou Williams gives them a great No. 2 scoring option off the bench. Gallinari averages 19 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists this year. He has range to play three or four alongside Michael Porter and Dwight Howard. However, this doesn’t do much in the Wizards’ salary cap relief.
On the other hand, the Clippers could offer something around Tobias’ expiring contract, some point guard depth and a young player like Robinson. Harris is averaging 20.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He gives the Wizards some scoring in the front court while Robinson gives them some hope long-term. They do get the salary relief they’re desperate for in this deal too.
Here’s what that trade would look like.
A shooter like Bradley Beal would be a welcomed addition for the Clippers. Beal averages 24.7 points, 5 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He also makes an attractive No. 2 option in a free agency pitch. Again, Los Angeles could get Beal if the Wizards change their mind about his availability again.
Otherwise, the Clippers quest for a star could travel upstate to Golden State.
Draymond Green and Kevin Durant altercations are well documented for sure. Moreover, Durant’s pending free agency is very real. He and Klay Thompson could both need new contracts after this season. Draymond and Andre Iguodola’s contracts are up the following year. DeMarcus Cousins will also be a free agent after this year too.
The point is, Golden State could move Green to make retaining those other pieces easier. Typically, NBA teams don’t trade within the division. However, the Clippers can offer a slew of talented and selfless veteran players.
Harris makes sense as trade piece. He’s a versatile and consistent piece who should fit into Golden State’s rotation. Harris is a free agent too after this season. He is a nice safety blanket if the Warriors lose one of their key pieces or he is another affordable complimentary piece.
Either way, Draymond would make sense for the Clippers. He’s versatile and won’t take any crap from LeBron. Green averages 6.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.4 assists. The Warriors forward would fit in alongside the defensive mindset of Doc Rivers. He helped the Warriors change their culture and he helped Golden State recruit Durant. The Clippers would hope Draymond improves in an expanded roll and can help them get another star player.
Then of course there’s Thompson. He’s got ties to L.A. but the Clippers will probably make a pitch to him in free agency. They can get a jump on that deal by offering Lou Williams’ three year contract along with some expiring contracts and draft picks. That’s gotta be better than Golden State losing Klay for nothing? Not to mention, Williams is no slouch at the two guard and he is also selfless.
Again, Thompson is a two-way player. He averages 21.8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. The Clippers would also hope he’d benefit in an expanded role and help them recruit a free agent.
Ultimately, L.A. could make a good trade offer for a star if the Warriors need some added flexibility in preparation for the future.
Other names to consider
Don’t forget Kawhi Leonard as a star the Clippers could consider at the deadline. It’s unlikely the Raptors would throw in the towel on keeping him by trading him away. Sure, the Clippers might be a favorite in free agency but Kawhi might not get that far if the Raptors continue on the top of the Eastern Conference.
There is also C.J. McCollum. Every year the Blazers deny rumors that they’re willing to breakup their all-star backcourt of McCollum and Lillard. However, maybe they should do it soon so it doesn’t blow up like Washington.
How about Suns guard Devin Booker or Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins? Are they considered stars? Would their teams cash them in for some assets? Probably unlikely but it might make sense if the Clippers are desperate for a young star to put them over the hump at the deadline.
The Celtics may also look to move a player like Kyrie Irving at the deadline. Yet, they’re already so deep that the Clippers might not have anything worthy in the eyes of the Celtics. Like in many of the instances, Los Angeles carrier an uphill battle to get a star at the deadline.
In the end, the Clippers getting a legit star at the trade deadline is tough because they don’t own their draft pick this year, outright. It is lottery protected but getting a star player to secure a playoff pick gives that pick to Boston. Hence, it is hard to get a true franchise player without a first rounder. Even if New Orleans wanted to deal Anthony Davis, they wouldn’t do it without getting a first rounder.
Therefore, the Clippers might end up staying put. Their veteran players are already playing above their trade value. They’ve already got a ton of cap. Williams and Gallinari are earning their paydays. They’ve got young players like Shai and Jerome Robinson to build around. Harris might play himself into a big, long-term deal as well. L.A. has plenty of expiring deals which will accommodate for that too.
Moreover, the Clippers are playing good team basketball and they rely on depth throughout. Moving too many assets and depth players would put that in jeopardy. Plus, teams don’t have much time to adjust after the deadline. That’s why star players don’t usually move midseason.
Nonetheless, you never know what could happen if the Clippers find themselves at the end of the playoff hunt at the trade deadline. Cashing in some expiring assets and long-term money for a young all-star isn’t a bad idea. It might help them get some recognition too by proving they’re willing to go and get a star.