February 11, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Boston Celtics center forward Kevin Garnett (5) reacts with a foul call against him during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bobcats win 94-91. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Trade Rumors: Should the Los Angeles Clippers make a move?

With the NBA trade deadline approaching, serious discussions are undoubtedly taking place, along with rumors of trades blowing around the media constantly.

The Clippers, once the topic of speculation regarding a trade for Boston’s Kevin Garnett, are one of the teams with valuable assets – especially one Eric Bledsoe – who experts speculate could be prompted to part with said assets if the right deal should come along.

But should they?

With the original roster now almost completely healthy the Clippers seem to be right back where they left off before Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Jamal Crawford all missed games on their most recent road trip. Indeed, two consecutive wins over quality opponents (the Knicks and Sixers) by double digits has the team humming along nicely.

But is there a deal out there that might tempt the Clippers management to think twice, like landing Kevin Garnett, Josh Smith, Kevin Love, (Dwight Howard!) or some other name that hasn’t surfaced yet?

To answer that question, we must first look at where the Clippers are most in need and go from there. Here are the areas which could use help and who could potentially fill them:

Who could the Clippers potentially trade?

Obviously, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan (Blake’s best friend), and Jamal Crawford are completely untouchable. Right below them, Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill are probably going to remain Clippers until their imminent retirement in 1-2 years. Matt Barnes, a bargain at practically league minimum in salary, isn’t going anywhere. That leaves, Eric Bledsoe, Lamar Odom, Ryan Hollins, Willie Green, Rony Turiaf, and Caron Butler as potential trade chips. The Clippers also have a wealth of 1st round draft picks (though unprotected) all the way through 2017, with 2nd round picks gone (protected picks this year to the Pistons, next year to San Antonio via the Pelicans) through 2016. Because their 1st round picks are unprotected, they will likely be low due to the Clippers expected top four or five finish, but nevertheless, they are valuable.

Obviously, Eric Bledsoe and their draft picks are the jewels any potential trade partner covets, and the Clippers would be foolish to entertain giving them up for anyone who wouldn’t make them instant favorites to upend San Antonio and/or Oklahoma City in a Western Conference Finals match up. The ability to jettison Caron Butler’s large contract (he is in the final year of an 8 million per year contract) may also tempt the team to part with a draft pick as a sweetener. Odom’s time in Dallas would probably discourage any team not playing at Staples Center to bring him on and the rest of the names, quite frankly, just don’t excite anyone. That said, crazier things have happened and until the final days before the deadline who knows what desperate teams will throw out there.

Need #1: Perimeter scoring and 3-point defense.

The Clippers do not have a Thabo Sefolosha type player who can defend the three, rebound, and take on an opponent’s best scorer. All season long, the Clippers have been susceptible to 3-pointers, giving up a ton of them (40-plus percent) and being caught out of position on quick perimeter passes which leave shooters wide open. On the other side, outside of Jamal Crawford, the Clippers don’t have a reliable 3-point shooter of their own if Chauncey Billups continues to be hampered by injuries. Caron Butler can be streaky and Willy Green – forget it. Possible players the Clippers could pursue might be Iman Shumpert, and Jared Dudley’s name has been floating around as well. Shumpert is a playmaking combo guard who is quite versatile and is a definite upgrade over Willie Green. The caveat is that the Clippers – bad 3-point defense and all – are still a top 5 defensive unit, meaning any trade would have only be a tweaking in one area. As for scoring, watching Shaggy P (Nick Young) light them up for almost 30 points in Philadelphia, the Clippers may want someone similar to add outside scoring punch to the starting unit. J.J. Redick comes to mind, though Orlando seems to be backing off their willingness to part with him.

Need #2: Another big man.

This isn’t so much a need as much as a want. The Kevin Garnett scenario, if true, meant that the Clippers were looking to pair another quality/All-star big body alongside Blake Griffin to bolster their chances during the playoffs, especially in anticipation of slower, more methodical contests. A big defender to take the pressure off Jordan and Blake – especially with regard to fouls – would be quite valuable. The problem is that the Clippers have a potential player on the roster now who may yet be that player in Ryan Hollins. Hollins has shown a willingness to mix things up inside, while possessing a nice outside jump shot to keep defenses honest. He has even shown flashes of what-could-be on pick and rolls and does one vital skill very well – free throw shooting. His form is very sound and he makes them over 70% of the time. Denver, Sacramento, and Utah seem to offer the most talent by the inch, with the Utah Jazz carrying four near seven footers (Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, and Brian Butch), Denver perhaps parting with JaVale McGee, or Sacramento finally shipping out the problematic DeMarcus Cousins. Of all the possibilities, Utah would seem to show the most promise, as a package of Bledsoe, Butler, and a draft pick could give them the necessary pieces to make it out of the first round of the playoffs, while at the same time building for a future where Bledsoe could ascend to the helm at point. Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol are intriguing players that seem to always be making the trade rumor rounds, but both are owed a ton of money though next season and it’s doubtful the Clippers would take on those kinds of salaries.

Final Verdict: the Clippers should stand pat and do nothing.

With Chris Paul and the rest of the squad healthy coming up on a nice long All-star rest, the Clippers look primed to make a serious run at a number one or two playoff seeding. They play 17 of their final 28 games at home (one of which is an away game against the Lakers at Staples) and face a slew of beatable teams along the way. With all the chemistry the team has developed since training camp, their ability to hang tough in the face of a plague’s worth of injuries, and a favorable schedule the rest of the way, unless a deal of unimaginable wealth comes knocking, the Clippers should unplug their phones, leave the e-mails unread, and lock their doors tight.

Tags: Blake Griffin Caron Butler Chauncey Billups Chris Paul DeAndre Jordan Eric Bledsoe Grant Hill Injury Jamal Crawford LA Clippers Lamar Odom Lob City Los Angeles Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Clippers Matt Barnes NBA Nba Trade Deadline Nba Trade Rumor Nba Trade Rumors Oklahoma City Thunder Ronny Turiaf San Antonio Spurs Trade Rumors Utah Jazz Vinny Del Negro

  • http://www.facebook.com/WammyGiveaway Alfredo Rodriguez

    The Clippers will need to make some sort of move if they want to reach the Western Conference Finals, and Kevin Garnett can help lead them there. In fact, Garnett is their only hope because their second round opponent will be the Golden State Warriors who crushed the Clippers three times in the regular season. They know all their weaknesses and they also have the rare ability to disrupt a team’s confidence by volcanic 3-point shooting, lock-down defense, and flagrant fouls (see Rockets-Warriors first game). If the Clips were to see the Warriors in the playoffs as is, they will automatically get swept. By having Garnett on the lineup, he’ll be able to give the Warriors a dose of their own medicine with his gritty play, dirty tricks and trash talking. Remember, in order for the Clips to keep Chris Paul, they are forced to win a title or reach the Western Conference Finals.

    If they do cherish chemistry, then they should go after a point guard who knows how to run a half-court offense smoothly like Derek Fisher, Delonte West or Mike Bibby (Crawford is a scorer, Green was only asked to fill in for Billups, and Bledsoe has yet to develop). If they’re looking for a 3-point shooter, however, go after Adam Morrison on a 10-day contract. Morrison was originally going to be a part of this year’s Clippers until Chris Paul, Andy Rosner, Vinny Del Negro and Gary Sacks all agreed to sacrifice 3-point shooting for general defense by signing Matt Barnes. If you recall during Summer League, Morrison didn’t do so hot with the Brooklyn Nets on the first week, but when he was with the Clippers, oh me oh my. Even though there will be a logjam at small forward, you do not have a player with offensive consistency. Butler is only good for the 1st and 3rd quarter of games. Barnes and Hill are mainly used for defensive purposes. Odom’s offensive ability is gone, but his defense, passing and rebounding abilities are still intact, and that’s all the Clippers ask of him anyway. They need a big with offensive production, and Morrison can give them that. However, he must be a starter for this to work.

    • Ian Denchasy

      Oh me, oh MY, is right! Someone’s been smoking the crack pipe again, Alfredo. ;-) Adam Morrison? There’s a reason every other team has passed and the Clippers should be no different.

      And on the Warriors, I’d hardly say they “crushed” us three times; more like one blowout – returned in kind at Staples – and two close contests. The Clippers are FAR more playoff capable (Chris Paul – hello?) and would love nothing more than to see those bunch of thugs and showboats in the postseason. That “volcanic 3-point shooting certainly didn’t help them against the Mavs, Grizzlies, Thunder, and Rockets, did it? I predict 4-1 Clippers advance as a result.

      To your point about Garnett, I agree; but he ain’t going anywhere. He’s got a no-trade clause and wants to remain in Celtic green, so he’s probably going to stay put. The Clippers already have a point guard, the BEST one, in fact, who can run a half court offense in Chris Paul. Bledsoe fits in perfectly for change of pace off the bench. That said, Iman Shumpert would be a nice fit, but he’s going to Phoenix.

      • http://www.facebook.com/WammyGiveaway Alfredo Rodriguez

        Counter-argument: the teams you listed had Golden State as a road team. Thunder, Grizzlies, Mavs and Rockets were only protecting their home court. The only team I see that can truly defeat the Warriors is the Lakers who have beaten them two times, both at The Oracle and at Staples Center. Problem is, they’re under .500 and could miss the playoffs completely.

        If the Clippers are going to stand pat and not trade for any other players, then the only way to defeat the Warriors is to first face their fears. After losing the season series against them, the Clip’s winning confidence was shot and experienced a mental letdown, losing their last 8 of 11 games. I know people will draw the injury card as an excuse, but they must realize that the Dubs are a team who love to intimidate and play dirty. Jarrett Jack purposely bumped into Chris Paul’s knee so they could steal the game, but what it also did was raise the reality that without CP3 running the show, the Clips revert back to their old selves of season’s past. Every player, save for Chauncey Billups, is dependent on Paul creating for them (both on and off the court). When they meet in the playoffs, the Warriors will try to instill that fear into the Clippers, and they’ll do so by any means necessary, including a season-ending injury by way of a flagrant foul. They must also remember that the Warriors are the Grizzlies, Spurs and Thunder combined. Clips can defeat each team separately, but not when they’re rolled into a superior dark horse juggernaut. That’s why I’m afraid of them.

        This is where Mortal Kombat comes in handy. If they can face their enemy, face themselves, and face their worst fear, the Clippers will be able to defeat the Dubs.

        • Ian Denchasy

          “We fear nobody,” said Matt Barnes, following the Clippers win over Memphis back in January.

          As it stands, the Clippers have a great shot to rise to number one or two seed in the standings, with number three as a virtual lock. They now play 18 of their final 28 games at Staples Center (one being an “away” game against the Lakers) and most contests are against sub .500 teams. If everyone stays healthy – a big if for ANY team – I think they can hang with anyone as is. Every squad has weaknesses (Miami lacks size, OKC relies on two players for all their points and Westbrook is a powder keg, San Antonio’s “system” isn’t suitable for playoffs when things break down, etc.) and would love to trade them away.

          As for your Dubs, they are starting to come apart, as many experts predicted during their hot period. Houston just beat them in their house with a hurt James Harden and Bogut is now spouting off about their terrible defense of late. They definitely rely on that 3-ball WAY too much and there seems to be doubts creeping in as they head into the All-star break on a five game losing streak. In fact, they are now almost certain to finish behind Denver in the 6th spot, meaning they’d meet the Clippers if the season ended this way today! The Dubs really need to be careful that Houston and Utah don’t make a push and bump them down further. The Clippers survived Memphis in the first round last year and I believe they’d take out the Warriors in five games if they see them in the first round.

  • $43517978

    I pretty much agree with the author of this article. The idea of bringing in Kevin Garnett is obviously intriguing and would surely make the Clippers’ starting unit better. I also think there’s something to be said for doing everything to win a championship RIGHT NOW as opposed to planning for the future. The Clippers have never won anything, and now could finally be the time. But I just fear that Bledsoe and/or Jordan are too much to give up for Garnett at the end of his career. These are two young players with huge potential who are making significant contributions to this team right now. The Clippers have a number of really old guys on the roster, and Garnett would be just one more to add to the list. So I tend to agree that unless an offer “too good to refuse” comes up in the next two day, the Clips should just stand pat and get ready to make a playoff run for the ages with their current roster.

    Once the Clippers sign CP3 to a long-term deal this summer, then I think they will be in a good position to move Bledsoe and address whatever their greatest need is. This will be good for Bledsoe because he’ll be a starter on his new team. And it will be good for the Clippers because Bledsoe won’t be a necessity for the future with CP3 under contract. As for Jordan, he needs to continue working hard on his game. If he continues to improve, he may be the center of the future for the Clippers. If not, then he is a valuable trade asset.