Clippers

Will The Clippers Pursue Risk or Realist Trade Approach?

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With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Los Angeles Clippers need to make a move.

Time is running out in the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era. The West is wide open, and the Clips need to swing for the fences. The two most significant weaknesses the Clippers need to address are their point-guard and backup-center spots.

POINT-GUARD PROBLEMS

To put it bluntly, Reggie Jackson has lost his starting job, and the John Wall experiment has been a failure.

Instead of sulking about the comeback year for Wall that could’ve been, the Clippers need to move on.

Terance Mann at point guard has been excellent, but he is only the point guard on defense. The offensive point-guard duties are in the hands of the team’s two best players, George and Leonard. Yes you want the best players on your team to have the ball a lot, but a “true” point guard would benefit the team.

THE RISKY OPTION

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell has been circling in trade rumors.

DLo would fit seamlessly on this Clippers squad. The risk here has more to do with what they would have to surrender to get him.

Russell is sublime offensively. He is a great passer who can complement PG and Kawhi very well. He also provides shot creation which can help bail the Clips out of some late-shot-clock scenarios.

The Clippers would likely have to give up Mann in a potential deal, leaving them without their best player to defend guards. Kawhi and PG remain great defenders but no longer having a player like Mann who will play hard defense for an entire game is something they will surely miss.

Upgrading with Russell will do wonders, especially for their late-game offense, which is sometimes clunky. This is a risk that is certainly worth the effort, however, especially if the Clippers bolster their back line.

THE REALISTIC OPTION

What if we told you there was a point guard who was a dog on defense, can play on and off-ball, and has won a championship with Kawhi in the past?

That’s Fred VanVleet.

Acquiring VanVleet would allow the Clips to maintain their defensive identity while boosting their offense in the same regard.

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While Fred has been having a down year, he will undoubtedly appreciate playing in the Clippers’ five-out offense as opposed to the suboptimal spacing of the Raptors.

Fred can help alleviate the ball-handling duties of PG and Kawhi when needed. He has executed those duties in the past. His years with Kyle Lowry have prepared him to do whatever the team needs to win.

The Clippers are built for the playoffs, and Fred has championship DNA.

THE OLD GUY

It might be unfair to subject Mike Conley to the Clippers’ Curse— but he would certainly be an excellent fit.

He can play on and off ball, while providing swarming on-ball defense and knockdown shooting. Conley is also a great passer and floor general that can bring some much-needed organization to the Clips’ offense.

The problem with Conley is he is old and injury prone. The idea of the Clippers acquiring a small point guard with hamstring issues may be a sore subject for some of the older fans.

Depending on the asking price of the available point guards, Conley may provide a great option at a low cost that the Clippers should entertain.

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WHY SHOULD THEY GET A BACKUP CENTER?

Part of the Clippers’ WCF run in 2021 was due to their small-ball lineup. However, they should still acquire a backup center as it will create options. Having to guard players bigger and stronger than you every night is rough on bodies.

At worst, adding a decent backup center will alleviate stress for players during the regular season. Some options that suit them are Naz Reid, Jarred Vanderbilt and John Collins.

Reid is rumored to be offered an extension by the T-Wolves however, his name is still circulating in trade rumors. He has been great as a backup in Minnesota. His skills as an athletic somewhat floor spacing five would certainly benefit the Clippers. If the T-Wolves are willing to part with him, Reid would provide an affordable low-risk option for the Clips backup position.

Vanderbilt is a more unique case– he’s not really a center. He can certainly do center-like things, plus in the modern NBA what even is a center?

After the Jazz got off to an electrifying start to the season, they find themselves falling down the ranks. This means Vanderbilt may be one of the more-available players this deadline.

While Vanderbilt is undersized for the center position, no one in the NBA tries harder to secure rebounds. What he lacks in size he makes up for in hustle and heart.

Imagine all the offensive rebounds the Clips would get with him and Terance Mann on the floor.

Although Collins has been struggling this year, he has the most individual talent of the players discussed. Collins is an elite lob threat who can stretch the floor. He also flashes post skills he can use to take advantage of smaller defenders.

Collins is also likely to be featured in a ton of highlight-reel dunks from forced turnovers. The 25-year-old is questionable on the defensive end of the court. He has improved a lot over the years but has still not reached the same level as many of the Clips’ other options. While the Clippers won’t be asking him to anchor a defense, can he stay in front of his man?

Teams will hunt Collins on defense at the end of playoff games, but the offensive upside might just be worth it.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

We had a good thing, a great thing even— it’s a shame it didn’t work out.

We’re talking about Isaiah Hartenstein of course.

The Knicks are using Hartenstein incorrectly and the Clippers need a backup center. Let’s help each other out.

The Clippers also have no questions or reservations about Hartenstein’s fit on the team. The sample size for Hartenstein fitting on the Clippers is the whole 2021-22 season. The Clips have also showed that they are willing to give Hartenstein more offensive freedom than the Knicks.

Not only did Hartenstein fit with the Clips back up unit last year, he also had phenomenal chemistry with a variety of different Clippers players. Other options may have more upside, but Hartenstein is the closest the Clips can get to a sure thing.

Whatever happens this deadline happens. But the Clippers need to make a splash— the clock is ticking and it’s time to go all in.

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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