Cleat Geeks

Los Angeles Clippers Making Huge Statement In The NBA Trade Deadline

General Manager Michael Winger, VP of Basketball operations Frank Lawrence and consultant Jerry West of the Los Angeles Clippers had a busy week and a half worth of trade talk going into the NBA trade deadline. The Clippers were at the center of the NBA trade talk with multiple players including C DeAndre Jordan and SG Lou Williams right in the middle of the trade pool. Los Angeles did make a huge trade but it involved their franchise player in PF Blake Griffin, who signed a contract extension for a 5-year, $173 million dollar contract last Summer. On January 29th, the Clippers made their first transition by moving 5-time NBA All-Star in Griffin, C Willie Reed, and PF Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons. In return, the Clippers received SF Tobias Harris, SG Avery Bradley, C Boban Marjanovic, and a 1st round selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Clippers had a week to make a decision on C DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent through the player-option on his contract at the end of the season. Los Angeles also had a decision to make on Lou Williams, who is likely a 6th man player of the year this season and Avery Bradley, who they just acquired in the Blake Griffin trade. Both Williams and Bradley were unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Instead of doing what was expected before the trade deadlines, the Clippers did the exact opposite for many reasons. Instead of trading DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley for a potential of Draft picks and younger players, Los Angeles decided to keep them and make a decision after the season. As for Lou Williams, he signed a 3-year extension worth $24 million. There were multiple options for moving Jordan, Williams, and Bradley but not a lot that matched the vision of the Clippers’ new goal after they traded Blake Griffin. Keeping Jordan, Williams, and Bradley not only showed that the Clippers want to win now but they want to win later in the future.

 

Keeping DeAndre Jordan shows the Clippers are not willing to accept mediocrity

For years now, the Los Angeles Clippers have been known to take an incredibly talented roster of superstars and underachieve in the playoffs. Many thought that perspective would change when they agreed to trade PG Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for a great selection of players. That viewpoint didn’t go away with Blake Griffin still on the roster, so they traded him as well for a great selection of players and a 1st round pick. C Andre Jordan is one of the last pieces of that old viewpoint but they didn’t trade him because they didn’t have an attractive enough offer for Clippers to accept. The leading rumor was that the Cleveland Cavaliers were offering SG Iman Shumpert, PF/C Tristian Thompson, and their 1st round pick in return for DeAndre. The Clippers quickly turned down the deal because they didn’t want the “unwanted money” of Shumpert and Thompson, who were signed to unnecessarily expensive contracts that don’t match their performance on the court. This is despite the reports that the Clippers were looking to acquire more 1st round picks to continue the rebuilding process they started after trading Blake Griffin.

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There were more reports that the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Wizards were wanting to acquire DeAndre Jordan in a trade before the deadline last Wednesday. None of these teams had enough potential for Los Angeles to make a move. The Clippers wanted to acquire the Cavaliers’ 1st round pick was originally the Brooklyn Nets’ pick. That pick is likely to be either in the top 5 or near the 5th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, depending on the lottery of the Nets selection coming around Draft time. The Clippers were not willing to accept a less attractive offer of two role players with expensive contracts and a 1st round pick that will likely be at the end of the 1st round (depending on the Cavs’ performance in the playoffs). It might have been smarter for Los Angeles to hold on to DeAndre Jordan and generate from his impact on the court. The Clippers would risk losing DeAndre for nothing rather than acquiring role players like Shumpert and Thompson and poorly handle their expensive contracts.

 

Danilo Gallinari, Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, and Lou Williams now lead an underrated Clippers team

With the loss of Griffin through the trade to Detroit and Chris Paul in the offseason, the Clippers are left without a solid superstar on their team. Despite the huge impact and performance of DeAndre Jordan, he doesn’t acquire much attention as do other big men in the league like New Orleans’ PF/C Anthony Davis and Golden State’s PF Draymond Green. Still, Jordan is a huge asset for the Clippers’ defense by accounting for 15.1 rebounds per game. Currently, the Los Angeles Clippers have multiple equivalents of two great role players for the price of one superstar (such as Griffin and Paul). With the exception of Blake Griffin from the team stats this season, the Clippers have 6 players on their team that has accounted for 10 or more points. One of those players is PG Patrick Beverley, who is out for the season after 15 starts with a knee injury. This season, once again, the Clippers have been hammered by injuries. Los Angeles has had 25 different starting lineups (most in the NBA) as well as had 18 different starters.

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One of the biggest surprises of this season is SG Lou Williams, who is the Clippers most trusted player coming off the bench. This season, Williams has played exceptionally well, especially from the 3-point line. Williams has averaged a team-high 23.2 points per game on a .442 field goal percentage and a .381% from the 3-point perimeter. Resigning Lou Williams to a 3-year deal is extremely important with the Clippers trying to add to the dynamic fast tempo he brings as well as rebuilding with more overall talent. The lack of a scoring wing from the Forward position has been one of the biggest issues for the Clippers for the past 5 seasons. This season though, not only do the Clippers have a reliable scoring wing in Danilo Gallinari but they also acquired another one from the Detroit Pistons in SF Tobias Harris.

Gallinari has only started and played in 16 games for Los Angeles due to a glute injury and before then was a little inconsistent. Since his return from his long injury against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 30th, Gallinari has been very efficient in his shooting especially from behind the arc. Gallinari has scored 15 or more points in each of the 6 games he had played in since he returned from his glute injury. Tobias Harris has been one of the most underrated players for the Detroit Pistons outside of C Andre Drummond within the past couple of seasons. This season before the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, Harris was accounting for 18.1 points per game (his best in his NBA career). At 25 years old and under a long-term contract, Harris is already making a big statement with the Los Angeles Clippers as a key franchise playmaker. Thus making the trading of Griffin to Detroit a solid decision in terms of reliability and productivity from Harris as well as SG Avery Bradley.

 

The rebuilding process has already started and will take some time

The Los Angeles Clippers are currently fighting for the 8th spot in the Western Conference standings. As of Monday night, the Clippers are 29-26 all while dealing with major injuries and the trading of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. While the Clippers will always be grateful for the impact of Griffin and Chris Paul, it is time for the Clippers to move on and remain in the competitive spotlight of the playoffs. This will be a crucial time for the Clippers as the main players that brought success to Los Angeles is now no longer with the organization. The front office believes that this roster full of talented underrated players can be the many faces of the franchise that will bring in profit and consistent wins.

The Los Angeles Clippers want to have C DeAndre Jordan remaining on the team for this next season. Jordan can choose to leave at the end of this season due to his player-option deal on his contract. If he chooses to stay, he will receive $24,119,000 million in his last year of his contract that he signed just before he signed with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2015 free agency. If Jordan decides to test free agency this offseason, the Clippers will likely use one of their two 1st round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft to draft a reliable rim defender/rebounder. This 2018 NBA Draft class is rich with talent at the Center position. Texas A&M Aggies C Robert Williams is a player that has been compared to DeAndre Jordan in terms of style of play and physical attributes. This could be a player that Los Angeles could use with one of their 1st round picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

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In the past couple of seasons with Head Coach Doc Rivers also as the president of Basketball Operations, the main focus was building around core three with Paul, Griffin, and Jordan. This meant the constant trading of 1st round picks to secure players that could play around them. Since Doc Rivers was VP of basketball operations in 2013 then promoted to president in 2014, the Clippers have had only three 1st round draft picks. SF Reggie Bullock (2013 draft) only lasted two seasons, SG C.J. Wilcox (2014) only averaged 2.5 points per game in two seasons with L.A., and F Brice Johnson (2016) only played in 12 NBA games before he was a player to send to Detroit in the Blake Griffin trade. Not only does Los Angeles want to keep Draft picks but they also want to draft smarter with players with essential talent rather than filling in a specific role.

Now Michael Winger is the GM, Frank Lawrence is the executive VP of basketball operations, and Jerry West is one of the team’s main consultants. The Clippers are looking to rebuild but on a level where they will remain competitive in the playoff hunt as well as getting younger with more draft picks. This involves remaining smart with avoiding potential franchise damaging moves such as acquiring the expensive contracts of Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert and Tristian Thompson. If that means that DeAndre Jordan will depart from Los Angeles at the end of the season, the Clippers will still be looking to remain competitively vigilant to acquire talent rather than simply filling in a particular system.

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