Do the Clippers need to make a move at the trade deadline?
The Los Angeles Clippers still look to be a piece away from supplanting the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs for the class of the conference, and should be looking to make a splash at the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, the Clippers are cash strapped and cannot afford to take on much salary given the new collective bargaining agreement. Although they have a $2.6 million trade exception from the Eric Bledsoe trade, the Clips have limited options.
They certainly have valuable trading chips in guys like Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes and rookie Reggie Bullock. Nevertheless, given the injuries to guys like J.J. Redick and Chris Paul this season, it would be surprising to see the Clips shake it up and deal one of their integral rotation players.
DeAndre Jordan likely would have been on the block in years past, but his improved play appears to have "Lob City" set at the center position. Dudley and Bullock are the most likely to be dealt.
What might the Clips decide to do at the deadline? Will they make a move at all or wait for a veteran to be bought out of his contract?
We will take a look at the two positions that the Clips could use an upgrade at, and then provide three potential trade scenarios.
Byron Mullens has been unproductive this season.
Heading into the season, there were concerns about the Clips’ interior depth, and the pedestrian play from backups Ryan Hollins and Byron Mullens have done nothing to ease those doubts.
On the season, Hollins is logging just 8.5 minutes per game, the second-lowest mark of his career. The UCLA product sets hard screens and crashes the boards, but he is not a serviceable third big on an aspiring contender.
Hollins has shown some improvement on defense, however. Specifically, the human foul machine is averaging 6.0 fouls per 36 minutes, incredibly high, but 1.2 fouls less than his mark last season.
Mullens has been downright atrocious.
The former Charlotte Bobcat has the worst plus-minus of active players on the team at minus-1.9. Thankfully, Mullens only appears in blowouts now.
In November, the big man averaged 8.8 minutes per game. Given his poor play, that number dipped to just 3.7 during the month of January.
Big man Antawn Jamison only sees limited action, appearing in just 21 games this season. As such, the Clips really have a hole behind their frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Jordan.
They could use a fresh face off the bench for a final playoff push.
Matt Barnes is having an off year.
By re-signing Barnes and acquiring Dudley this offseason, the Clips believed that they had the right versatility to fill in at small forward.
Unfortunately, both Barnes and Dudley have struggled this season.
Barnes is averaging just 7.1 points per contest, three less than last season. His 37 percent field-goal shooting is the worst of his career.
The UCLA standout missed time battling a hamstring injury and recovering from an eye injury, stymieing his integration into coach Doc Rivers’ offensive and defensive schemes. He is yet to look like the ultimate utility guy that he played like last season.
Dudley has been even more disappointing.
A career 39.9 percent three-point shooter, the swingman is shooting 36.3 percent from long range. His 8.9 PER is by far the lowest of his career.
Playing alongside Paul, Redick and Griffin, Dudley has plenty of open looks. He has battled some serious knee tendinitis and is yet to get in a groove this season.
Dudley eventually saw his demotion from the starting lineup during the Grammy trip.
In theory, Dudley and Barnes are still the right complements alongside Paul and Redick. However, the Clips would be smart to look at other role players to fill their need on the wing.
Could the Clippers bring Elton Brand back to Los Angeles?
Clippers get: Elton Brand and DeMarre Carroll
Hawks get: Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock
Breakdown: Despite sitting at No. 3 in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks are just a handful of games over .500.
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Atlanta has found success in an awful Eastern Conference. With the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat on a collision course for the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks will surely be playoff roadkill should they make the big dance.
A season-ending injury to big man Al Horford will only make Atlanta less competitive as the season goes on.
Searching for a big man, the Clips might be smart to engineer a reunion with the franchise player that spurned them for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2007.
Elton Brand is nothing close to the player that he was once on the Clips, but he is still a capable backup big man. Brand is averaging a career-low 4.0 rebounds per game, but could find greater success back in Hollywood with so much attention given to either Griffin or Jordan.
DeMarre Carroll is having a career year, averaging over 10 points per game. His 57.1 true shooting percentage is also the highest of his career.
Should the Clips lose patience with Dudley on the wing, then the Hawks provide a realistic trade option. Lob City would likely have to include promising rookie Bullock as a sweetener, but another big man could be key in jockeying for playoff position.
Could Brandon Bass find success under Doc Rivers in LA?
Clippers get: Brandon Bass
Celtics get: Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock
Breakdown: Brandon Bass would be the ideal big man to fill the void off the bench for the Clips.
The 6’8” big man is playoff tested and spent years playing under Doc Rivers in Boston. He can stretch the floor with his mid-range game and is an effective rebounder, averaging 7.7 per 36 minutes.
Two years under Rivers in Boston makes him well versed in the Clips’ Thibodeausian strong-side defensive scheme.
The Celtics are tanking this season and could sell off their power forward to get some more ping-pong balls in the lottery. Unfortunately, Bass’s asking price might be too high.
Still, the Clips could offer the young talent of Bullock and the veteran savvy of Dudley in a deal for the big man.
Do the Clippers have enough to make a play for Evan Turner?
Clippers get: Evan Turner
Sixers get: Jared Dudley and Reggie Bullock
Breakdown: The last of the deals involving forwards Bullock and Dudley could see the Clips nab the former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner for a midseason rental.
Like the Celtics, the Sixers are also in tank mode and could sell off more assets for better draft positioning. Turner could certainly provide some firepower for the Clips behind Matt Barnes.
The Ohio State stud is averaging a career-best 18.1 points per game. He would have far less responsibility in Los Angeles, and could add some much needed athleticism that Dudley lacks.
In exchange for Turner, the Sixers get another young three-and-D guy in Bullock and a glue guy capable of holding the locker room together in Dudley. Given Turner’s improved game this season, the Clips might have to throw in a future draft pick or bring in another team to help facilitate the deal.