The Los Angeles Clippers have the Miami Heat's Kyle Lowry and Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet on their radar ahead of the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.
NBA insider Marc Stein previously reported on Jan. 16 that the Clippers were targeting the Utah Jazz's Mike Conley. O'Connor wrote the level of interest in Conley around the league led L.A. to examine other point guard options.
He reported the team has shown interest in a reunion with New York Knicks backup center Isaiah Hartenstein as well, which would address a lack of depth behind Ivica Zubac.
The Clippers figure to swing at least one trade of note before the deadline. At 25-24, they're sixth in the Western Conference, but having a healthy Kawhi Leonard leaves room for optimism regarding their championship hopes with improvements to the roster.
In eight games this month, Leonard is averaging 26.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 17-of-34 from beyond the arc. The five-time All-Star is hitting the level Los Angeles needs to be a title contender.
However, the Clippers have two glaring weaknesses at point guard and center.
Terence Mann isn't a natural point guard, but he is now the starter at that position with John Wall out injured and Reggie Jackson getting bumped from the first unit.
The situation is even more dire at center. Whenever Zubac isn't on the floor, head coach Tyronn Lue is basically forced to go super small with Nicolas Batum or Robert Covington at the 5.
Lowry or VanVleet would be a much better fit than Mann as a floor general. Lowry, who turns 37 in March, isn't the same player he was a few years ago, but he's still dishing out 5.4 assists per game. VanVleet is scoring 19.1 points night to go along with 6.3 assists but is shooting only 34.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Hartenstein would not only provide much-needed size to the frontcourt, but he also averaged 6.4 assists per 100 possessions as a backup for the Clippers last season, per Basketball Reference.
Swinging a big trade might be tricky for L.A. The front office doesn't have a wealth of assets to offer, and Stein reported Monday that the Clippers "continue to swat away external interest" in Mann.
But general manager Michael Winger and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank can't afford to stand pat, lest they waste another season of Leonard and Paul George.