Report: Clippers to Push Lakers, Kings for Playoffs Despite Tobias Harris Trade

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 22, 2019

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, left, shoots as Phoenix Suns forward Richaun Holmes defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers traded their leading scorerforward Tobias Harristo the Philadelphia 76ers before the February 7 trade deadline. 

The transaction seemed to signal a look toward the future as opposed to a 2019 playoff push.

However, the Clips still want to go for it, per a report from Sam Amick of The Athletic.

"Sources say Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has let it be known throughout the organization that he wants to keep making this playoff push," Amick wrote. 

The Clips currently hold the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot with a 32-27 record. They are 1.5 games ahead of the Sacramento Kings and 2.5 in front of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Clips have an odd draft-pick scenario tied to whether or not they finish in the top eight, per Amick.

"If they make the playoffs, they have to send their 2019 first-round pick to Boston and, thus, have one less asset to either use for a promising young player orperhapsan Anthony Davis trade package this summer when New Orleans is back to taking bids. If they miss the playoffs, however, they would then send Boston their lottery-protected 2020 first-rounder (it conveys as a 2022 second-rounder if they miss the playoffs again next season)."

With the Davis sweepstakes set to be in full swing this summer, it would oddly behoove the Clippers to miss the playoffs so they can boost their chances for the New Orleans Pelicans superstar with that first-rounder.

On the other hand, a top-eight seed is not only plausible, but likely.

Los Angeles has the eighth-weakest schedule down the stretch, per Tankathon, giving the Clips a sizable edge on the Lakers and their ninth-hardest slate in the playoff race.

The Lakers' closing schedule is brutal, with two games against the 44-14 Milwaukee Bucks standing out. Matchups with the 43-16 Toronto Raptors, 42-16 Golden State Warriors and 39-18 Denver Nuggets also loom.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have a soft schedule down the stretch. Notably, they have two games each against the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, who occupy the final two Eastern Conference spots.

The Kings are the Clippers' biggest competition because of the smaller gap and a similarly easy schedule. But Los Angeles has the cushion there at the moment.

Amick also made good points about other positive factors that a playoff push would bring:

"Waving the white flag for these past seven weeks would be a bad look considering the new framing of their rehabilitated franchise...There’s also a sense from the Clippers that the playoff experience would be good for the young players, too (here’s looking at you, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, [Landry Shamet], Ivica Zubac and Jerome Robinson)."

The Clips play next on Friday at the Memphis Grizzlies.

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