Once the Los Angeles Clippers trade talks for New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert stalled, the Clippers did the next best thing – trim the fat.
In two quick moves reported within the remaining 15 minutes of today’s trade deadline, the Clippers traded Antawn Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks and Byron Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers in an effort to save cash and clear roster spots. The Clippers also received the draft rights to Cenk Akoyl from the Hawks and a conditional future second-round draft pick from the 76ers.
With the overall roster down to 12 active players, the need for an additional big man has become even more apparent as the their big-man rotation stands at Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins. Although nothing is official, sources say free-agent forward Ivan Johnson could be an option for the ball-club currently sitting first in the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference.
Despite interest from several NBA teams at the beginning of the season, Johnson signed with the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls with the Chinese Basketball Associated, whose season recently ended in February. His last stint in the NBA was with the Atlanta Hawks where he averaged 6.6 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes of action, appearing in 69 games.
Adding a career 66 percent free-throw shooter might not be what head coach Doc Rivers has in mind as his first option, but Johnson flourished with Atlanta and became one of their more popular forwards with his ability to pound the paint, rebound and defend other NBA bigs, something the Clippers currently lack in backup Ryan Hollins. He would be a welcomed addition to a Clipper team who currently ranks 15th in opponents points per game with an overall defensive rating of 104.9 (currently 11th out of 30 teams). With Blake Griffin’s emergence as the Clippers first offensive weapon, netting 30 points or more in his last six contests, the Clippers have room to add a big that’s more useful on defense.
There’s a high likelihood of Johnson filling that roster spot.