Meanwhile, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Clippers are reportedly near cementing the signature of Chris Paul to a five-year maximum deal, meaning that the Clippers could be looking for roster upgrades come draft night.
With the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft, the Clips might not be able to offer too much in terms of future assets. Nevertheless, with young point guard Eric Bledsoe, still-developing center DeAndre Jordan and the expiring contract of Caron Butler all on the books for next season, the Clips have some intriguing bargaining chips.
Given the NBA’s reluctance to allow any Kevin Garnett deal to the Clips, according to the Associated Press (per Yahoo! Sports), LAC’s front office might have to get creative in leveraging their assets and packaging them into a player that can contribute at a high level next season.
Let us explore three potential draft scenarios that the Clips might be wise to consider.
Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe for Arron Afflalo and Pick or Young Talent
Afflalo is only 27 with tremendous upside. He is a career 38.3 percent shooter from downtown, a capable slasher and a solid perimeter defender. Despite being Orlando's main acquisition in its Dwight Howard deal with the Clippers, Afflalo is coming off a down year while playing on a miserable Magic squad.
Expected to become a building block in Orlando, Afflalo averaged 16.5 points on 43.9 percent shooting from the field. His 30.0 percent shooting from three-point land was his worst since his rookie season with the Detroit Pistons.
While much of Afflalo’s down year might be attributed to the lack of options in Orlando, he still underperformed. Nevertheless, a trade for Afflalo would immediately make the UCLA product the starting shooting guard in Lob City.
His numbers should increase playing alongside CP3, a la the Paul bump as well.
Unless Rivers decides to make Bledsoe a shooting guard, like he did to Avery Bradley on the Boston Celtics, then Clippers’ management should deal the young guard upon ensuring Paul’s signature. Rather than have him walk in free agency next summer, the Clips would be smart to acquire something for him this season.
In order to make the deal work, the Clips would likely have to include Caron Butler in the package. Given that Afflalo is under contract through the 2015-16 season, the Magic would have to sweeten their offer in order for the Clips to part with two of their best trading chips.
The No. 2 overall pick would certainly be too much to ask, but perhaps the Clips could leverage their assets and acquire one of the Magic’s young players. Perhaps Lob City will bite on a deal that might include last year's No. 19 overall pick Andrew Nicholson, as reported by ESPN.
Although these players might be coveted by the Magic, this was the same front office that traded Dwight Howard while failing to acquire either Andrew Bynum or Andre Iguodala in the process, the second- and third-best players in the mammoth summer blockbuster.
If Orlando is reluctant to part with some of its budding talent, then perhaps the Clippers could acquire a future first-round pick. Shedding Butler’s contract as part of the deal also opens up small forward options for Lob City.
As such, the Clips could re-sign Matt Barnes to a more lucrative deal or make room to sign Paul Pierce if he is bought out by the end of the month. Although the Celtics have not made a decision on what they will do with Pierce, it is an open secret that the Clips have interest in reuniting the Truth with Rivers in Hollywood.
Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Danny Granger and Miles Plumlee
Mini LeBron would fit in well on the defensive-minded Pacers, and could develop nicely playing in a slower and more system-like offense. His frenetic drives and change-of-pace havoc make him a compelling sixth man candidate or a potential starter alongside George Hill.
With only one year left on Lance Stephenson’s contract, adding Bledsoe would also give the Pacers the option to re-consider their backcourt after next season. With the continued development of Paul George, Granger is dispensable.
Bledsoe's injury history and knee problems should make the Clippers weary. Then again, Los Angeles offered a three-year deal worth over $20 million to Butler following a knee injury that kept him out of the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run in 2010-11.
Butler’s expiring deal gives the Pacers cap flexibility after next season as well. Like the aforementioned Magic deal, the Clips would be offering two of their best trading chips, and should want some compensation in addition to Granger.
The Clippers would also have to offer another contract in order to make the numbers work.
Miles Plumlee could be a decent candidate. He is a young big man who could do well off the bench for the Clippers. More importantly, it gives the Clips another asset to leverage down the road.
DeAndre Jordan and No. 25 pick for Anderson Varejao
Stacking young players, the Cleveland Cavaliers might be interested in acquiring DeAndre Jordan and pairing him alongside a budding core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and whomever the No. 1 overall pick might be.
Anderson Varejao flew under the radar last season, but was forced to sit out all but 25 games for the Cavs after doctors found a life-threatening blood clot. Before he went down, Varejao was unbelievable, averaging 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds.
Those numbers were rather unsustainable, but they did lend credence to Varejao’s potential as a double-double guy.
Should the Clippers part way with either DeAndre Jordan or Eric Bledsoe for any of these players?
Clippers’ physicians would need a long look at Varejao to ensure that the Brazilian would play in more than a handful of games in 2013-14. Additionally, the Cavs might demand the Clips’ No. 25 pick to sweeten the deal, thereby adding another young gun to their precocious roster.
There is no denying Varejao’s talent. When healthy, the big man can play. Putting him alongside Griffin could create a formidable front line in Lob City.
All statistics used from Basketball-Reference.com.