Kiki's NBA cuts: Clips, OKC battle for No. 1 spot

Kiki's NBA cuts: Clips, OKC battle for No. 1 spot

Published Jan. 22, 2013 6:26 a.m. ET

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder meet Tuesday at Staples Center. Both teams are coming off losses. The Thunder was beaten in Denver on Sunday, the Clippers lost to the Golden State Warriors yesterday.

These teams have been fighting for the number one position in the West all season.

The Thunder has great stars in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and a great bunch of role players. The Clippers also have two great stars in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and perhaps the best bench in basketball.

They are very evenly matched but the Clippers should have the advantage playing at home.

Tonight we will get to see who the best in the West really is.

Gasol back on the bench
The Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni put one of the best big men in the game, Pau Gasol, on the bench again for the Lakers’ game against the Chicago Bulls. He has questioned the ability of Gasol’s play with Dwight Howard, stating his preference for a quicker, faster, smaller lineup. Coach D'Antoni is looking for an identity for his team.

The efficiency rating of Gasol and Howard together has been very low this year. While playing separately, their efficiency has gone up dramatically. Certainly the underachieving Lakers' record would dictate a change in the lineup.

This is a gutsy decision and opens up all types of potential for trade rumors. Pau Gasol is not happy with the decision but has stopped short of a trade request.

If D'Antoni continues to keep Gasol as a reserve, Laker GM Mitch Kupchak can expect a deluge of trade calls are before this year's trade deadline.

Trade Partners
Making trades, within the confines of today's NBA collective bargaining agreement is very difficult. The players’ salaries must match up within approximately 25 percent and the financial penalties are so great for luxury tax teams.

When looking for a trade partner, you tend to look for a team headed in the opposite direction as yourself. For example, if you are a struggling young team, who is out of the playoffs, look for a playoff bound team missing that one extra piece. If you are a playoff bound team, look for an underachieving team hoping to unload a good player’s salary.