NBA Rumors: 5 Los Angeles Clippers Moves for This Season
At last season's trade deadline, The Clippers parted ways with Baron Davis and his $13 million salary, trading him along with their first round pick in 2011 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.
While no Clippers fan was upset to see the overpaid and out of shape Davis go, the first round pick that the Clips gave away ended up being selected as the No. 1 pick in the lottery.
The thought process behind not making the traded pick protected could be the subject of a whole other article, but the Clippers need to look to the future if they want to make a statement this season.
With the electric duo of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin and promising young players Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers are a move or two away from becoming contenders in the Western Conference.
Here are five moves that the Clippers should consider making this offseason that will put them over the hump.
1. Trade Chris Kaman to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
This deal has been speculated on, and for good reason. This is one of those trades that is financially possible (Kaman and Smith have nearly identical contracts) and makes sense for both teams.
Why the Hawks Would Do It
Al Horford wants to move from center to power forward, and I don't see the Hawks going where they want to go with Zaza Pachulia, Etan Thomas, and Jason Collins splitting time at center.
Kaman is a multi-talented big man who can create for himself on the block. When he's healthy, he scores and rebounds at all-star caliber levels (18.5 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, 49% FG, 74.9% FT in 76 games in 2009-10). He and Horford could be a devastating 1-2 combination down low for the Hawks.
Why the Clippers Would Do It
For the Clippers, it clears the path for freak of nature DeAndre Jordan to start at center and gives them a legitimate small forward for the first time in years.
A starting five of Mo Williams, Eric Gordon, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan would be young, enormous, athletic, and down-right frightening.
The Clippers would immediately become by far the best shot-blocking team in the NBA, and if Mo Williams commits himself on defense end and joins Gordon and Bledsoe as solid perimeter defenders, the Clippers could become one of the very best defensive teams in the league.
2. Sign Jeff Green
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Why It Could Happen
Jeff Green is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Boston Celtics have the opportunity to match any offer made for Green. However, the Celts have bigger fish to catch. Ray Allen is an unrestricted free agent, and Kevin Garnett will be an unrestricted free agent in 2012.
Something tells me the Celtics won't be throwing too much money at Green this offseason.
Why the Clippers Should do it
In the eyes of a value investor, Jeff Green is the perfect target. He's the same player he was a year ago, yet was forgotten after he was traded to the Celtics.
That's a mistake.
Green has the size and athleticism to be a force at small forward. Playing out of position with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was one of the NBA's up and coming stars (16.5 points per game. 6.7 rebounds per game, 44.6% FG, 39% 3PT, 78.8% FT).
One trade later and he's chop liver? Green came into an impossible situation in Boston, replacing everyone's favorite teammate, Kendrick Perkins.
In the aftermath of that trade, players could only muster half-hearted support for Green. Who can blame him for struggling to fit in?
Green, 24, is already a good player, and could easily be an All-Star in a couple years.
This is one of those affordable acquisitions that would definitely make the Clippers a better team overnight and could make them a serious contender.
Eric Gordon, Green, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan would probably be the best young core in the NBA behind the Thunder's Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
As a Clippers fan, I'm rooting hard for this one to happen.
3. Deal Mo Williams to Rockets for Kyle Lowry, Hasheem Thabeet, First-Round Pic
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Why it Could Happen
The Houston Rockets have struggled with their point guard position in recent years, and although they like Kyle Lowry, he's not nearly as talented offensively as Mo Williams.
Houston has one of the worst offenses in the NBA, and this trade allows them to add some offensive firepower and unload Thabeet's contract.
Why the Clippers Should Do it
Mo Williams is a scorer, but the Clippers have enough scoring in their starting five. Lowry is a smart offensive player who will get Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin good looks, and he's a much better defender than Mo Williams.
4. Sign Caron Butler
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Why It's Possible
The Dallas Mavericks lost Caron Butler to season-ending knee surgery and went on to win the NBA Championship.
They don't need him and they don't have the money to re-sign him.
Why the Clippers Should Do It
While the vast majority of NBA teams are looking to get younger, the Clippers should actually be trying to add a little age into the mix.
Caron Butler is a proven NBA veteran, and he'll give the Clippers a consistent 15-20 points every night. On a team of explosive, yet inconsistent, young players, Butler's consistency makes him extremely valuable.
A starting five of Mo Williams, Eric Gordon, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman with DeAndre Jordan, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Eric Bledsoe off the bench gives the Clippers a rotation that could very easily contend for the playoffs this year.
5. Trade Chris Kaman and Ryan Gomes to Celtics for Kevin Garnett
John Sciulli/Getty Images
This is my favorite move of the five.
Why It Could Happen
The Celtics became a title contender largely because of Kevin Garnett. His borderline insane intensity was the catalyst for Boston's success.
With that said, it's time for the Celtics to cut ties with Kevin Garnett. He's 35 years old, and his contract is set to expire in 2012.
Getting Kaman will give the Celtics the true center that they lost when they traded away Kendrick Perkins, and pave the road for them to continue being a contender in the East without KG.
The Celtics could make it a sign-and-trade move by adding Jeff Green to this deal in exchange for a young Clipper like Eric Bledsoe or Al-Farouq Aminu.
Why the Clippers Should Do It
The Clippers have one of the best young cores in the NBA, and they need to inject some experience (as mentioned in the last slide).
Kevin Garnett would make the Clippers better in the short term and the long term.
In the short term, he would provide 30 high quality minutes a game for a Clippers team that needs his defensive abilities and offensive prowess.
In the long term, he would be a huge in the development of this young Clipper team, especially DeAndre Jordan.
In the same way that the horrendous work ethic of Baron Davis noticeably poisoned youngsters like Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu, Kevin Garnett's relentless determination will only have positive effects on this young Clippers core.
Having Kevin Garnett on a team of youngsters is like sending your kids to a ritzy private school with overqualified, amazing teachers.
Garnett's limited minutes would mean plenty of playing time for DeAndre Jordan, and his infectious intensity would be priceless for the development of a player like Jordan, and buddy Blake Griffin as well.