Grading LA Clippers' Trade Deadline Performance

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIFebruary 22, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22:  Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles in front of Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a 109-97 Thunder win at Staples Center on January 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the Los Angeles Clippers have the same guys on the roster that they sported opening night. 

With all of the rumors swirling around the Clips' young guns Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan, Lob City decided to stand pat, put some faith in team chemistry and ride out the rest of the season.

So who did the Clippers not reel in?

Boston’s Kevin Garnett and Utah’s Paul Millsap were the two targets most linked to Lob City (via Yahoo! Sports and, respectively).

Both players would have provided the Clippers with added talent on the frontline, something that this team desperately needs to complement Blake Griffin in the post.

Although Garnett is 36 years old, he is still one of the best defensive-minded big men in basketball, a true competitor capable of elevating the entire team's defense and rebounding prowess. It does not hurt that Garnett is also a willing distributor and a solid low-post option.

Ultimately however, the Boston Celtics’ asking price of a package including both Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan was too much to stomach.

A deal for Paul Millsap was a bit more realistic, but never gained the traction necessary to be executed.

Millsap’s numbers have dropped off a bit over the last two seasons, but the Jazz big man is still putting up a respectable 15.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with a 20.56 PER. The Louisiana Tech product’s expiring deal would have also been beneficial for LAC, allowing the team to not take on any long-term money and retain its financial flexibility moving forward.

Nevertheless, either trade involving Eric Bledsoe would have been a calculated risk for a maligned franchise.

Chris Paul is set to become a free agent this summer, and while all indications point to him staying in Los Angeles for the long haul, the small chance that he leaves would derail much of the foundation that the Chris Paul era Clips have embarked on.

The team’s record with Paul in the lineup speaks for itself.

With the All-NBA point guard sidelined, the Clippers are a pedestrian 6-6. With CP3 on the court, the Clips are a sterling 33-11.

That .750 winning percentage is better than that of the Oklahoma City Thunder (.722) and just below that of the San Antonio Spurs (.782) for tops in the league.

For a team that saw franchise building block Elton Brand walk out just five seasons ago, Clippers management was right to take a cautious approach to a deadline blockbuster.

Would Garnett or Millsap have even pushed the Clippers over the top?

Garnett would have likely had a more immediate impact, but even the Big Ticket has lost a step. Although Garnett is a great defender, containing the likes of Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant and/or Tim Duncan for consecutive playoff series would absolutely take its toll on the future Hall of Famer.

A Paul-Griffin-Garnett Big 3 was certainly a scintillating idea, but even that would not make the Clippers a lock to reach the conference finals.

Like Garnett, Millsap would have created a devastating big man rotation for the Clips, alongside Griffin, Jordan and Lamar Odom.

However, one of the Clippers’ main struggles is on the glass, where they have an assuming defensive rebounding percentage.

LAC’s defensive rebounding percentage is a mediocre 72.9, 11th-worst in the league, per

Compellingly, the Clippers are sandwiched between the Thunder and the Chicago Bulls, two teams that have proven to be contenders despite their poor defensive rebounding percentages.

With regards to rebounding, Paul Millsap would not have been the best upgrade for the Clippers.

His 20.0 defensive rebounding percentage is ranked just 56th out of all eligible players that play more than 15 minutes a game, per

Currently, the Clippers are built to compete for a title now and in the future, presuming Paul re-signs.

This team’s undefeated December was no aberration. Los Angeles has won its first two regular season matchups against the Spurs, knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies twice, beat the Los Angeles Lakers three times and routed the Miami Heat at home.

While the Clippers have dropped both contests to the Thunder this season, the only one they lost with Paul healthy was on the road and in overtime.

Still, teams earn their stripes in the postseason, and the Clippers’ second-round sweep at the hands of the Spurs last May is an indication that they still might be a step behind San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles still has the deepest bench in basketball and one of the most formidable one-two punches in Paul and Griffin. With the addition of a healthy Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, this team will be dangerous in April.

The future is plenty bright in Lob City, and the Clippers' prudence at the deadline is a testament to the development of this franchise.

If Chris Paul re-signs, then Eric Bledsoe will have to be traded eventually. His upside is too good to be playing 20 minutes a night behind the best point guard in the world.

This summer the Clips will have the luxury of weighing all of their options in order to build a team that can contend year in and year out.

Sometimes the best move is the one that is not made.

Clippers’ Grade at the Trade Deadline: A

Statistics used in this article were accurate as of February 20th, 2012.


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