Kevin Garnett to the L.A. Clippers Makes No Sense for Youthful Title Contenders
No matter how outlandish they may sound, there's typically some elements of truth behind every major trade rumor to hit the national scene.
So when reports linked the youthful Los Angeles Clippers (34-16) to 36-year-old Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett (via Sean Deveney of the Sporting News), the basketball world was left scratching its head like a shampoo commercial audition. The Clippers needed frontcourt depth and all, but where exactly was Garnett going to fit?
Part of what has helped transform coach Vinny Del Negro's team from not-so-lovable losers into championship contenders is the explosive, intimidating front line of Blake Griffin (23 years old) and DeAndre Jordan (24).
Griffin is the more marketable of the two, thanks in no small part to his nightly aerial assaults that leave fans at a loss for words—and NBA rims in need of counseling.
But make no mistake, Jordan is highly valued within the organization. His combination of size (6'11", 265 pounds) and freakish athleticism proved convincing enough for the franchise to match a four-year, $43 million offer sheet the then-restricted free agent had signed with the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2011-12 season.
After Griffin and Jordan, things do get a bit sketchy.
Lamar Odom has put forth his second straight forgettable season since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers (3.8 points per game, 39.0 field-goal percentage). Ronny Turiaf (2.1 points per game) and Ryan Hollins (2.4) have done nothing to inspire confidence in their abilities to handle more than the limited number of minutes Del Negro has thrown their way (Turiaf averages 11.7 minutes per game, Hollins just 8.8).
But would the Clippers actually expect the future Hall of Famer Garnett to accept a supporting role off the bench? Considering that Jamal Crawford (16.9 points per game) has cemented himself in the Sixth Man of the Year award voting, Garnett would not even be the first option among the reserves.
Should they be tabbing Garnett for a starting role, the Clippers would sacrifice their intimidating size on the frontcourt and stymie Jordan's development. Their league-leading 9.96 steals per game would also be at risk, as a Garnett-Griffin pairing offers nowhere near the rim protection that a Griffin-Jordan combo brings.
What really makes this reported deal (which has since been denied by multiple outlets, including Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times) so completely void of logic, though, is the inclusion of a blossoming floor general, 23-year-old Eric Bledsoe.
In Bledsoe, the Clippers hold one of the most coveted trade chips heading into the Feb. 21 trade deadline. The fact that the team would be willing to cash in on his trade value at this stage of the season appears slightly far fetched. The fact they'd do so for a past-his-prime Garnett would be like the Memphis Grizzlies cutting ties with Rudy Gay for nothing more than Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye. (Too soon?)
Should the Clippers trade Bledsoe?
More than just trade value, though, Bledsoe brings this club insurance should Chris Paul opt for new surroundings over the summer. The only other point guard on the roster, Chauncey Billups, has appeared in just three games this season. He's also 35 years old and, like Paul, is set to hit the free-agent market following this season.
Bledsoe is an explosive force on the hardwood, capable of posterizing players or preventing them from creating their own. But what makes him such a captivating prospect is the fact that he's had both Paul and Billups there to help him refine his skills. Anything that Bledsoe has picked up from his veteran peers will prove nothing but valuable over the coming seasons.
The Clippers may feel as if they're showing a commitment to winning now to Paul by chasing veteran contributors like Garnett.
But a championship this season lacks the same kind of pull for Paul that a realistic chance at competing for the crown in the coming seasons would have.
Players like Jordan and Bledsoe are integral parts of the Clippers' future success.
Adding Garnett to the fold might be a surefire way to keep those future goals from ever being realized.
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