What was the goal for the Los Angeles Clippers after trading their star, Blake Griffin, to the Detroit Pistons? Perhaps it is landing LeBron James.
The front office is clearly trying to clear as much cap space as possible to make room for available free agents this offseason including James, a four-time NBA MVP, as well as All-Star forward Paul George.
Others who may hit the market include DeMarcus Cousins, though he is now recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. The next tier of talent will include emerging players like Clint Capela and Aaron Gordon.
It’s possible they could be interested in Isaiah Thomas, though it’s to be determined what his value will look like with his recent hip injury and poor play since returning.
Tim Bontemps writes that the team, which will have plenty of money available, should be considered the favorites in 2019 for superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler when they become free agents (via Washington Post):
“It will be awfully intriguing for free agents to look at a team located in Los Angeles with no money on its books — and with Jerry West involved in recruiting — and begin constructing rosters among themselves before hitting free agency. By trading Griffin for this package, the Clippers are all but screaming that this is their intention.”
Even before Los Angeles potentially makes any more deals, they already have two potential lottery picks in the 2018 NBA draft. Those can be used as either young players (with cheap contracts) to develop moving forward or as trade assets in future deals.
Meanwhile, here is what the future likely holds with the rest of the players on the roster for the Clippers.
Wojnarowski reported that the Clippers will continue to pursue offers for Jordan, specifically packages that include young players and picks. While the reports indicate they plan to rebuild on the fly, they also do not intend to “gut” their roster.
Chris Mannix confirmed this report, noting that the team isn’t shooting for poor performance (via Yahoo Sports):
“Ownership has no interest in a Sixers-like rebuild, a team source told Yahoo Sports, but it’s hard to see L.A. as anything but middle of the pack. The Clippers were 8-8 without Griffin this season. Bradley is one of the NBA’s most underrated players, and Harris, at 25, is having his best season.”
From a forward-facing standpoint, this makes sense, as anything involving a fire sale will likely diminish the value of a player like Jordan. Los Angeles will have to make it seem like they will only take the best possible options for the big man.
Meanwhile, reports indicate he is “not close” to a contract extension with Los Angeles. The organization would presumably rather receive assets for him than let him walk away for nothing.
Other teams around the league including the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers have been linked to the 29-year-old. Our own Frank Urbina listed several trade packages in this article.
Williams, 31, is someone who would provide help to any team in the league. However, he is no longer on the same timeline as the Clippers given his age and the fact that they are clearly no longer in “win-now” mode. Because of this, they would presumably prefer to trade him for significant assets. In Woj’s tweet about the Clippers pursuing offers for Jordan, he mentioned Williams being available in exchange for young players and picks as well.
Especially now that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be without Andre Roberson, they will have plenty of reason to target someone playing as well as Williams. He would also do serious damage offensively for a team like the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards or Philadelphia 76ers.
It would be foolish to forget that the Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly looking to bolster their roster, though it’s unclear what kind of assets they could send back to Los Angeles in a potential deal.
Kevin O’Connor wrote about a potential deal for Williams invlving Danilo Gallinari (via The Ringer):
“League sources say that the Clippers are still pursuing deals involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Packaging an unsavory contract (e.g., Austin Rivers or Danilo Gallinari) along with Williams’s bargain of an expiring deal is a possibility.”
The most ideal situation, it seems, would be to package him with someone like Gallinari. The front office signed the forward this past offseason with the idea of competing now, but instead will owe him far too much money over the next few seasons.
The 25-year-old has a contract that actually declines in value as he gets older, which is fantastic for his financial value to any team. Given his performance, he is on a relatively cheap deal and the franchise would be very wise to keep him in their core moving forward.
Harris rarely turns the ball over (5.6 percent) and is a useful scorer in various different offensive play types. Last season, he was the fifth-most efficient player on post-up plays (1.03 PPP) among those with as many opportunities and sixth-most efficient player (1.58 PP) compared to those with as many possessions. His efficiency when he was in a transition offense (1.30 PPP) ranked Top 10 with the same qualifications.
This year, only two players in the league have scored more points on spot-up plays than Harris.
He has a career-high in shot attempts from long distance (38.9 percent) this season. Only five forwards have scored more three-pointers than Harris and his accuracy has surprisingly been higher than sharpshooters like Carmelo Anthony and JJ Redick.
Bradley has an effective field goal percentage (64.8 percent) that ranks No. 7 overall among those with as many opportunities.
He was one of the Top 10 most efficient players in the league when cutting to the basket (1.42 points per possession) and when shooting off screens (1.01 PPP) among those with as many opportunities for both categories last year.
During the season before that, Bradley was one of the Top 15 most efficient players in transition opportunities (1.13 PPP) among those who had as many possessions.
He is still a valuable defender and has unique potential moving forward with Los Angeles. It’s worth noting that he previously played for Doc Rivers in Boston and can be a locker room leader for the team as they search for a new identity.
If they don’t keep him, perhaps they’ll use him as another trade chip and move him to a team like Cleveland or Oklahoma City that’s looking to win now. Alternatively, they can decide to let his contract expire at the end of the season, which would free up cap space for a run at star free agents like James or George.
Ultimately, however, a player of his caliber may be part of their long-term plan. He is just 27 years old and is a two-way player who Rivers enjoyed coaching, so re-signing him this summer may be a real possibility.
DunkWire, Top, Avery Bradley, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Lou Williams, Paul George, Tobias Harris, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers