As the Los Angeles Clippers mull over exactly what happened for them to earn a first-round exit from the playoffs this season, eyes begin to turn to the offseason and improvements that can be made. Most notably, rumors have swirled around David West and Kevin Garnett.
Where Garnett is concerned, there have been rumors about the Boston Celtics attempting a radical revamp since Rajon Rondo tore his ACL back in January.
One of the biggest thoughts was sending Garnett to Los Angeles for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Either side dragged their feet and eventually nothing happened.
The latest rumor, according to NESN.com, is that the Celtics and Clippers are at least "talking about" a trade that would send Garnett, Paul Pierce, and even Doc Rivers, to the Clippers for Blake Griffin, Bledsoe, Jordan and Caron Butler.
It sound's completely far-fetched, and it should since the notion is coming from Stephen A. Smith, but it's rumor nonetheless.
The idea here is that West, a former teammate of Chris Paul, would not only serve as a formidable duo, but also convince Paul that Los Angeles is the place to be.
Paul leaving via free agency this summer could absolutely wreck the progress that the Clippers have made over the past few seasons and leave them wondering where to go next.
A deal bringing Garnett to the Clippers would improve them almost immediately (although I don't think the elaborate move involving Pierce and Rivers would be the way to go here) and give Griffin a frontcourt running mate who not only exists as more of an intimidator than Jordan, but can also play crunch-time minutes, as he's not completely useless from the free-throw line.
However, Garnett is a 37-year-old big man who has had troubles with his body for years now and is a threat to retire at any moment.
On the other hand, West is a 32-year-old floor-spacing forward who is not only a much-improved defender since his days in New Orleans, but has also proven to be a successful running mate to Paul.
He's the type of player the Clippers' offense dearly needs in order to open things up. Instead of big guys cramming the middle, a few shooters and Paul doing all the work, West would give them a consistent mid-range threat. Just check out his shot chart from this season:
In essence, West is exactly what the Clippers hoped Lamar Odom could revert to, only useful on defense and miles more effective.
Not only that, there are few players in the NBA who Paul has shown more affection for than West.
Man, that's my guy, that's all I can say. We lost my brother; it's been the hardest day ever. I was emotional in my post-game interview, but that's my guy. Plain and simple.
I told him some people in your life that you meet, you have friends that are closer than family. He's one of those guys for me. It may sound crazy, but I'm hurt just as bad as he is that he can't play.
Here you've got a defensively sound big man who not only completes the Clippers offense, but has a proven history with Chris Paul. What more could the team ask for?
Of course, the only problem here is actually getting West onto the Clippers.
Actually convincing West that Los Angeles would be a better place for him than Indiana would be the hardest part. Many times he's expressed how much he enjoys the team and the group of guys he's playing with, including this quote from NOLA.com:
This is the most together group that I’ve been a part of. We don’t have any egos. We don’t have a bunch of `I’ guys. We have guys who are intent on doing whatever we have to do to go out and win the game.
Apart from prying the big man away from the Midwest, there's the little issue of paying the guy.
After re-signing Paul (which is obviously the only reason West would consider going out to L.A.), Los Angeles is going to be over the salary cap (which will be around $58 million), but under the luxury tax line (which should be just north of $70 million).
That means Los Angeles will have nothing more than the $5 million mid-level exception to offer West, who made $10 million this season.
Asking him to cut his pay in half to play for the Clippers is too much of a sacrifice for such a talented player—that is likely looking for their last big contract—to make.
That would mean a sign-and-trade would be in order for Los Angeles.
It's hard to imagine the Pacers going in on a straight-up swap for Jordan, as they already have a defensively sound center that struggles to consistently produce on offense.
However, bringing another team into the mix and giving up Eric Bledsoe as well would likely be plenty to get the Pacers interested.
There's a lot of work left to be done with this Clippers squad in order to make Chris Paul happy, but there are plenty of options out there.
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