All bets are off now that Dunleavy has stepped down as coach to focus his attention on front office responsibilities. The only players on the Clippers’ roster who I’d think are “untouchable” are Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin. Those are the young guys Dunleavy wisely built cap space around and they’re the ones who are going to have to be part of this thing if it’s going to turn around next year.
With that in mind, here are a couple of trade ideas that could make the Clippers more competitive this year and more financially flexible in the future.
Clippers trade Chris Kaman and trade exception of Zach Randolph to Dallas Mavericks for Josh Howard and Tim Thomas.
Why it makes sense for the Clippers: The Clippers unload Chris Kaman and the three years remaining on his contract at the height of his productivity. Kaman has been among the main guys mentioned as an All-Star snub and he’s averaging 20 and 9 right now. They’re never going to get better value for him. The addition of Howard gives them a guy who can play multiple positions and who can run the floor in the Kim Hughes-inspired up-tempo offense I’m hoping for. Thomas gives them a big who can come off the bench and matches up well with most other bigs. The fact that they both have deals that are set to expire this summer is an added bonus, as they’ll be playing for big-money contracts this year. Or at least Howard will be, Thomas will just be playing for a contract.
Why it makes sense for the Mavericks: The Mavs have decided, for better or worse, that they’re going to be a team that prefers to play in half-court sets and they currently lack the big man with offensive game enough to let that style suit them. They’re not averse to spending money and have to feel like Jason Kidd’s window to be a championship-caliber point guard is getting smaller each year. They can make a serious run if they could add a big who’s able to score from outside the paint and one who can move the ball effectively.
Why it won’t happen: It may be too little to get in return for Kaman, who’s going to be a valuable chip until the deadline and then again this summer if he continues the season at his current pace. If they were to do this deal and saw the main benefit as being cap space for this summer, they’d have to be extremely confident in their ability to lure a big-name free agent to L.A. this summer. Not sure even Dunleavy is that delusional. By the way, I think the Mavs make this deal in a heartbeat.