The Los Angeles Clippers are currently where no NBA team wants to be. Middle of the pack. Currently sitting at 4-2, the Clippers will likely finish with around 40-45 wins and enter April as either the 7th, 8th, or 9th seed in the Western Conference. And none of those seedings are a good position to be in. The seventh and eighth seeds are very unlikely to see even the second round, let alone contend for a championship. As for the ninth seed, although it’s technically a guaranteed lottery pick, it’s very rare for teams (especially the Clippers) to pick up a franchise-altering player. However, there is a way for the Clippers to save themselves from years of mediocrity.
Currently, in the bottom half of the league in terms of salary cap, the Clippers aren’t holding on too many horrendous contracts other than Danilo Gallinari’s two year, 44 million dollar deal. But regardless, trades are a great way to not only tear your team down and clear salary space, but also acquire some draft picks which should later become promising talents. Below are some of the value I feel the Clippers could get for their talent.
Danilo Gallinari – First Round Pick (Protected) and/or some role players
I understand that Danilo Gallinari is a fairly large contract for teams to eat up considering Gallinari has been plagued with injuries throughout his career and even when he did play last season, he was rather inconsistent. But through six games this season, Gallinari has averaged over 18 points per game while shooting over 40% from both the field and behind the arc. And if Gallinari can keep these numbers relatively the same for two or three months, the Clippers should be able to dump him off for a first-round draft pick (likely at least top-five protected) and some low salary role players/benchwarmers.
Tobias Harris – First Round Pick (lottery protected)
As I’ve expressed before, Tobias Harris is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. A consistent scorer and shooter at small forward could benefit many playoffs and championship hopefuls (i.e. Portland Trail Blazers). However, Harris’ contract is expiring after this season which will naturally hinder organizations’ interest. But if a team feels confident enough in their ability to build a relationship with Harris long-term and want to make a deep playoff push this season, Harris could bring at least some value back in addition to making Los Angeles a lot worse.
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Louis Williams – Two First-Round Picks (Unprotected)
At this point in time, Louis Williams is holding more value than ever. Widely considered the best sixth man in the league, Williams is also signed through 2021 on a fairly cheap contract (eight million/year). One team that should be highly considering trading for Williams is the Houston Rockets. the Rockets are currently sitting in their championship window but their lack of depth has already severely hurt them this season. Williams would provide them with great help off the bench as well as being able to some games when the team is struggling on offense. And knowing Daryl Morrey, he is not afraid to go after star players even if it risks some future draft picks.
Honorable Mentions: Marcin Gortat- last year on contract and doesn’t hold much value. Avery Bradley- Last year on contract assuming the Clippers don’t pick up his option for next year. Also hasn’t been the same since Boston.
Tank and Draft
Assuming the Clippers make most or all of the hypothetical trades above, they will be left with a horrendous team. Probably the worst team in the NBA at that point, Los Angeles would then shift their focus to the draft and hope that in a four-year span, they are able to use one of their many draft picks to draft one franchise cornerstone and at least one future all-star to compliment him.
Assuming Los Angeles now obtains two potential-ridden players who have already shown their talents, the Clippers will need to build the rest of their team either through free agency or trades. And considering they’re located in Southern California, free agency should bring them at least a few solid role players and maybe even another all-star to round the team out. And yes, I understand the Clippers play second fiddle to the Lakers, but I’m just going to assume the Lakers have wasted all their salary cap space at this point in an attempt to compensate all their current, young talent.
- Franchise Cornerstone
- Young All-Star
- Old All-Star (2017 or 2018 draft class)
- Role Players (Roster No. 4-8)
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