NBA Rumors: Los Angeles Clippers Would Be Smart to Trade for Kevin Garnett

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 24:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics grimaces after coming up with a rebound against the New York Knicks during the game on January 24, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers genuinely believe that they can win an NBA title in 2013, and according to multiple sources, they could be ready to further boost those chances.

As reported by The Sporting News, the Clippers have genuine, serious interest in pursuing Boston Celtics big man Kevin Garnett:

Multiple sources tell Sporting News the Los Angeles Clippers are making a push to acquire center Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics. Team officials have been talking ahead of Sunday's game in Boston.

The crux of an offer for Garnett, according to sources, would be based around second-year guard Eric Bledsoe and veteran wing Caron Butler.

If Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury didn't spell the official end of the Big Three Era in Boston, trading Garnett most certainly would. KG is the heart, soul and mind of the Celtics, and losing him would end a significant chapter in the franchise's storied history.

But it would also start a new chapter in the Clippers' not-so-storied history. Because even though Garnett's skills are slowly waning, he's still capable of pushing Los Angeles over the proverbial edge.

Check out the less-than-expected regression of his PER over the past four seasons:

Year PER
'09-'10 19.51
'10-'11 20.67
'11-'12 20.47
'12-'13 19.28


That his numbers still resemble his recent greatness is one thing, but Garnett's dominance extends far past the box score. Not dissimilar to the way Ray Lewis' return galvanized the Baltimore Ravens, Kevin Garnett is capable of motivating any professional locker room. He's a vocal leader who, even if he can't actually defend quite like he used to, can teach his teammates to defend as such.

The argument against acquiring Garnett, ostensibly, would be centered around having to trade promising point guard Eric Bledsoe. No one (at least I assume no one) would argue that Bledsoe is more valuable than Garnett this season. But losing Bledsoe—whose upside is that of a perennial All-Star—might make any victory the Clippers win this season a Pyrrhic one.

But that argument is (at least a little bit) flawed. The window for serious contention is so small in the NBA, and the Clippers are fully in that position. Even without Garnett in the fold, and even on the heels of poor recent play, the Clippers are 34-15 this season—third in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, and just four games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But the way Kevin Garnett would bolster their defense could make them unbeatable. Already the Clippers allow just 93.6 points per game—imagine how low that number could fall with Garnett roaming the paint.

More importantly than that, though, would be the way Garnett would shape young players like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. KG has a reputation for being the best big-man mentor in basketball—a reputation he did well to deserve. He made Kendrick Perkins a sought-after commodity, for God's sake, and that's really saying something.

A guy like DeAndre Jordan doesn't make a defensive impact because of his fundamentals—he does so in spite of it. His athleticism allows him to protect the rim, but he doesn't know the nuance of rotations, footwork, etc. But under Garnett's tutelage, he could develop into one of the best defenders in basketball.

That sort of improvement serves to counteract Bledsoe's (assumed) departure. Even when Garnett is long-since-retired—violently cursing out waiters for forgetting to take off the pickles—Jordan and Griffin will always be better for having played with him. They'd be losing a potential starting point guard, but they'd be adding two potential all-defensive forces in the middle. And that's on top of what his tangible presence would do for them in the next year or two.

It's hard to condone—nay, suggest—trading a promising young prospect for an aging big man with withered knees. But in this rare case, the Los Angeles Clippers would be wise to do so. Kevin Garnett is not your average 36-year-old, and with him in the equation, the Clips would not be your average third-seed opponent.