NBA Trade Rumors: How Marco Belinelli Would Help the Clippers Contend in 2012-13

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 09:  Marco Belinelli #8 of the New Orleans Hornets looks on as he awaits a free throw against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Hornets defeated the Nuggets 94-81. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

According to John Reid of The Times Picayune, the Los Angeles Clippers have been in hot pursuit of Hornets swingman Marco Belinelli, a move that would gave them stability at a position (shooting guard) where they've recently had none.

The proposed sign-and-trade deal would likely somehow include Ryan Gomes' contract, although the specifics are still being worked out.

After Nick Young departed for the greener pastures of Philadelphia this offseason, the Clippers were left with a gaping hole at shooting guard for the second straight summer. They have a preponderance of point guards with Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe, but nobody to play off of them.

Billups and Bledsoe have given serviceable minutes at the 2, but they can't play there for extended time without getting burned by bigger guards. The underrated Belinelli would help stabilize that position once and for all.

Here's how else he would help:

Familiarity with Chris Paul

Belinelli spent one year with Chris Paul in New Orleans, finishing third on the team in scoring, and shooting a career-best 41 percent from beyond the arc.

In April, Belinelli doted upon his former teammate, telling (h/t BallinEurope), "Obviously, [Chris Paul] is the best [point guard] in the league, a true star. Playing with him has made me grow a lot, made me discover aspects of my game and my capacities."

Belinelli was only starting to scratch his potential playing off of CP3, whose game is a perfect complement to Marco's. Paul is at his best when he's probing the lane, looking for open shooters, and Belinelli is at his best spotting up and waiting for somebody to find him.

Should Marco come to Los Angeles, Clipper fans could be seeing a whole lot more of this.

Gradual Improvement

If you discount his one-season stint with Toronto, Marco Belinelli has gotten better just about every year he's been in the league.

He set a career-high for points and rebounds-per-game this past season, finishing with roughly 12-and-3 a night. Although his three-point percentage took a noticeable slide (from 41 percent to 37 percent), that could be easily attributed to the change from Chris Paul to Jarrett Jack.

Still only 26 years old, Belinelli is entering his physical prime, and with 148 career starts under his belt, he'll be one of the most qualified bench players in the league.

He's Not Nick Young

Nick Young is a fine player who did a serviceable job upon arriving in Los Angeles last season. But in the country's most ego-driven sport, and the country's most ego-driven city (sorry, Angelenos), you need a guy like Belinelli, not a guy like @NickSwagyPYoung.

Belinelli is humble, unassuming and hard-working. He shouldn't get too distracted by the bright lights in L.A., and shows up prepared to play every evening.

Nick Young can play, but he's a wild card; Belinelli is a constant.


Belinelli has never been forced to play out of position, but he's always been forced to play out of role.

He's an off-scorer, not a lead-scorer. He's been the focal point of offenses too many times in his young career, and it's limited his effectiveness.

In Los Angeles, he could finally start playing the role he was destined to play: spark-plug swingman on a contending team.

He wouldn't finish third on the team in scoring––hell, he probably won't even finish sixth––but he'd be a vital piece and a welcome addition nonetheless.