Clippers Rumors: Reviewing Latest Trade Chatter Before 2021 Deadline Day

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2021

Clippers Rumors: Reviewing Latest Trade Chatter Before 2021 Deadline Day

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    At 28-16, the Los Angeles Clippers sit fourth in the Western Conference and just a handful of games ahead of the ninth-place Golden State Warriors. If Los Angeles wants to lock in a top seed and contend, the team needs to make some adjustments. 

    Having dealt forward Mfiondu Kabengele to the Sacramento Kings, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Los Angeles seems intent on a move. The trade opens up a roster spot and clears $2.6 million in cap space.

    And it seems that the Clips have keyed in on their intended area for improvement: their point-guard rotation. The top-seeded Utah Jazz have Mike Conley, the second-seeded Phoenix Suns have Chris Paul and the third-seeded Los Angeles Lakers retooled this past offseason, bringing in Dennis Schroder to accompany LeBron James.

    The Clippers? They've got a rotation of Patrick Beverley and...Reggie Jackson (and, more of a combo guard, Lou Williams). No one really moves the playmaking needle, and Los Angeles appears aware, as The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that the front office is aggressively looking at trade targets.

    Among those options, the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry and New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball are clear favorites. But, unlikely to pull off a deal for either, the Clips are reportedly inquiring about the Oklahoma City Thunder's George Hill and Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio. All options are capable of boosting L.A.'s ball-handling rotation.

The Big Fish: Hoping for Lowry and Lonzo

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Beverley is renowned for his defensive grittiness and spot production on the offensive end, but few regard him as a dangerous playmaker. Jackson, conversely, is best known for spotty, streaky offensive output. The Clippers front office, and the organization's fans, would love some more playmaking out of the traditional position. 

    Together, Beverley and Jackson average 6.8 assists per game. Williams outpaces both, with 5.6, but he's still more of a shoot-first combo guard. The case for Lowry or Ball is self-evident—the former averages 7.4 assists and the latter, 5.6.

    As O'Connor noted, the Clips "have interest” in both respected point guards. But they're unlikely to have the assets required for either coveted floor general. Los Angeles wants a playmaking point who can stabilize what has continued to be an inconsistent offense, and the front office appears willing to look further down the totem pole.

Plan B: The Case for Ricky Rubio

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Rubio's shooting has always been a question mark, but his playmaking and defense have become widely recognized. Averaging 6.7 assists and taking on tough defensive assignments, Rubio is a rare bright spot on a rebuilding Timberwolves squad that holds a league-worst 10-33 record. 

    At 30 years old and in the second year of his three-year, $51 million contract, Rubio should be available in trade talks. Los Angeles will need to move some assets around, even after the Kabengele trade, to make the money work—but the trade deadline has often proved an essential truth: where there's a will, there's a way.

    And, with O'Connor reporting that the Clips "have had trade talks" with Minnesota and Oklahoma City, there seems to be a will.

Plan C: George Hill, Underutilized by OKC

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    While Hill wasn't an earth-mover for the Milwaukee Bucks' playoff runs, he has, time and again, proved to be a stabilizing force on both ends of the floor. Not quite the defender or facilitator that Rubio is, Hill nonetheless keeps the ball moving on offense and can stop the ball on defense.

    Although he's only played 14 games for a future-facing Thunder organization, Hill has demonstrated his shooting touch remains sharp. Shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from deep, the veteran point guard would bring immediate spacing alongside playmaking and defense. 

    At 34 years old and in the second year of a three-year, $28.7 million deal, Hill is much more easily acquired than Rubio (let alone Lowry and Ball). As far as a Plan C goes, Hill could be an excellent stabilizing force.