The Los Angeles Clippers are struggling and still seem a tier below the Golden State Warriors. Here are five trades the Clippers could do to give the team a chance to contend for a title.
When Kevin Durant elected to sign with the Golden State Warriors this past summer, the rest of the NBA knew they were in for a long season. Durant, coupled with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is perhaps the best nucleus to ever start for a team. So far, the Warriors have proved everyone right. They currently sit at 44-8 and are in prime position to contend for another title. This have left teams scurrying to add pieces to their roster. Even LeBron James has pressured his front office for further assistance.
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One team that was supposed to be a threat to the Warriors, was the Los Angeles Clippers. But, injuries, plus three losses to the Warriors have hindered those aspirations. Their second loss was a 144-98 embarrassment as Curry went off for 43 and drained nine 3-pointers. So, it’s apparent if the 32-21 Clippers want to truly compete with the Warriors, extra firepower is needed.
The NBA trade deadline is slowly but surely approaching, but who could be the best fit for the Clippers? Which players need to be dealt and who needs to stay? Obviously, the Clippers have rightfully been reluctant on trading Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. But, those three alone may benefit from one more core piece. Here, are some suggestions of trade options for the Clippers.
5. DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson, and Henry Ellenson
DeAndre Jordan has come a long way in his NBA career. Originally just a player good enough to start but not good enough to be a featured player, Jordan has blossomed on the defensive end under head coach Doc Rivers since his arrival in 2013. Since his arrival, he’s never averaged under 1.7 blocks and 13.6 rebounds per game. His scoring improved, too, averaging 11.7 points on 69.7 percent shooting. But, more scoring is what the Clippers need in order to compete. Detroit Pistons star Andre Drummond could be a candidate to supply that.
Drummond is a similar player to Jordan offensively, although not quite the defensive player. Drummond could flourish for a Clippers team with the talent the starters and the bench have. Griffin, Paul, J.J. Reddick and Jamal Crawford could all stretch the floor and leave Drummond by his lonesome getting easy baskets. Theoretically he could benefit from the group around him and perhaps be even more productive than Jordan
While Jordan would be the highest profile name here, Stanley Johnson could be key. The Clippers have struggled to get production from the small forward position and Johnson has potential to provide help both offensively and defensively. He’s a project but he fits a huge need.
February 1, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) dribbles the basketball against Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Hornets 126-111. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
4. J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson to the Charlotte Hornets for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
This trade could work for two reasons. First, J.J. Reddick is a great scorer, but defense isn’t a strong suit. Second, Kidd-Gilchrist has potential to be a good scorer, but defense is his strong area. Because Kidd-Gilchrist is younger by nearly ten years, the Clippers get an offensive project but a much-needed defensive ace.
The Clippers need a Bruce Bowen, Tony Allen type player that isn’t afraid to get down and dirty on defense. Kidd-Gilchrist is that player. Not known for his stats, Kidd-Gilchrist has gained a reputation around the league as an elite on-ball defender. If he joins the Clippers, he can matchup with the Kevin Durants and Kawhi Leonards of the world.
But the Clippers should also understand, that if they do execute this trade, it’s a high risk. Redick has proven he can be a valid third option, never averaging less than 15.2 points per game as a Clippers member. But, his scoring output has yet to get the Clippers over the hump. The Clippers have plenty of scoring power, but it hasn’t registered them much success in the postseason. A change in direction needs to be made. Going defense on the perimeter is a swift, but needed direction.
Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) smiles as he warms up before playing against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. The Suns beat the Raptors 115-103. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
3. J.J. Redick, Mo Speights and Wesley Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger and Fred Van Fleet
Wesley Johnson could perhaps by now be seen as expendable for the Clippers. Johnson, a rotation player, only averages 3.2 points per game while playing in 13.2 minutes. So that, coupled with his age (29), the Clippers won’t be missing much. Besides, blunders like this aren’t needed in L.A.
Redick and Mo Speights would gift a team such as the Toronto Raptors, a scorer who is also a 3-point specialist and a worthy, veteran big man. But what the Raptors would give up in this situation would benefit the Clippers more. In this scenario, for Johnson, Redick and Speights, the Raptors would send Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger and Fred Van Fleet.
Sullinger is a big man who won’t be expected to contribute much, and Van Vleet has long term potential as a back-up point guard. But in this case, Ross will contribut. Ross with his skillset provides great perimeter shooting while also being a key player on fastbreak finishes. He could theoretically provide some of Redick’s offense but do it from the Clippers’ hole at small forward, with Redick and Austin Rivers picking up the rest of Redick’s scoring.
Jan 31, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts to a call during the second half at an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors won 108-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
2. Blake Griffin to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis and a first round draft pick
Okay, here it could get interesting.
If you compare the two, Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis are somewhat similar. They both are long, athletic power forwards who can score at will. They both rebound proficiently and are able to stretch the floor. But, it could be safe to argue that Davis became what Blake Griffin should have been. Davis has been on a tear this season, averaging 27.6 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Griffin, although hampered by injuries, is having a solid season, too. Griffin is averaging 21.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
The first round pick would compensate for Griffin and his repeated injuries in his career, as well as the fact that he’s four years older than Davis. Both players are effective so the plausibility of this trade rests mostly on the idea of both teams wanting to shake up their chemistry and inertia.
With Davis, the Clippers have a scoring dynamo that’s younger, more explosive and more effective defensively. Also, Davis could form a lethal 1-2 defensive punch with DeAndre Jordan. With both players as elite rim protectors and aggressive rebounders, the Clippers will go from just a high-flying team with a presence in the middle, to a team with two forces in the paint. Offensively, Davis would stretch the floor and also be a member of lob city. Defensively, he could turn the Clippers into a defense-first team out west. To have any chance against the Warriors and their talent, strong defense, coupled with a strong offense is a necessity.
Jan 9, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts after being ejected during the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
1. Jamal Crawford, Redick, Diamond Stone and Brice Johnson and a first round pick to the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony
In the words of Jalen Rose, “You got to give the people, what they want”. This is the likely scenario the media has played, so let’s delve into it.
It wouldn’t be wise for the Clippers to trade any of their core players such as Paul, Jordan and Griffin for Anthony. Anthony, although an all-time great and still scoring, isn’t the explosive player from the past. For the Clippers, he could be a legit second or third threat and be the spark they need in tough stretches.
But the one asset that makes Anthony great probably won’t fly with Doc Rivers. Anthony craves iso-motion basketball and the Clippers do a lot of passing and moving. But, with a point guard who can pass and score, and a power forward who is explosive, Anthony will create mismatches and make the defense choose between his hot shooting or Paul and his lobs to Griffin or Jordan.
Anthony won’t become a defensive ace if he goes to Los Angeles, so we know his defense will still be a liability. Still, it will give him a chance to become the Clyde Drexler of this era. Drexler became an integral part of the Houston Rockers 1995 NBA title run after being traded there by the Portland Trailblazers. Anthony, already stuck in a bad situation in New York, has a chance to change his season like Drexler did. Whether or not this or the aforementioned trade situations will occur, we will have to see around the trade deadline.