Do the LA Clippers Need a Trade?

A quarter of the season is gone. The western conference is packed with competition and the eastern conference is deeper than it’s been in recent years. For the LA Clippers, the team is trying to maintain good form in the event that star forward Kawhi Leonard returns. Their top-five defense in the league is currently carrying the Clippers but the offense ranks in the bottom-five. With so much pressure on Paul George, whose usage percentage is at a career-high, the team can use some extra help. But do the Clippers need a trade?

Do the LA Clippers Need a Trade?

Key Need

George’s season is earning much deserved All-NBA consideration. But offensive consistency from the rest of the team haunts them, resulting in persistent pressure on the defense to pick up the slack. Consequently, when George does not shoot well, players like Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, and Luke Kennard are expected to pick up the scoring responsibility. Although they are playing well to a certain degree, the variability of their play makes it difficult to maintain a successful and consistent attack.

The roster has a log jam at the center position and promising young players with potential. Giving the front office a decent hand to work with.

Serge Ibaka does not appear to be in the rotation as Isaiah Hartenstein continues to shine in his role as the backup center. Though the Clippers can use Ibaka’s presence and playoff experience in the future, he can return assets or draft capital if the team desires.

2021 draft picks Keon Johnson, Brandon Boston Jr., and Jason Preston could be used as bargaining chips if the Clippers decide to part with the young pieces for veteran talent. With the combination of vets and promising young talent, the front office has more options to consider working with, in contrast to recent years.

Potential Targets

The Indiana Pacers are on the verge of a potential fire sale following their disappointing start. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Indiana is open to trade talks between Caris LeVert, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. Fortunately, if the Clippers were to pursue a trade for any of the three, salary matching won’t be a major issue. Each of the available Pacers annual contracts ranges from $17M-20M. Meaning the Clippers would not have to give up a huge haul.

A package for any of the players would likely include a combination of Kennard or Morris, two young players, and picks. This would appear the most likely package as the Pacers would look to rebuild with younger players but need salaries to match. There are multiple variations that both teams can work with, but financially, the Indiana trade possibilities are most fiscally friendly.

In terms of fit, Sabonis best fits the mold of what the Clippers’ offense runs. The constant dribble handoffs and actions as the facilitator fit Sabonis’ unselfish game. Add his ability to stretch the floor and score in the post, and the Clippers are looking at an instant upgrade at the offensive end. Though Turner would bolster their defense better than Sabonis, the arsenal that Sabonis could bring would open up the offense and ease George’s load as the primary scorer.

Do the Clippers Need a Trade? Not Necessarily.

The Clippers’ needs are already on their roster. Additional playmaking? Leonard. Additional scoring? Leonard. Another ball-handler? You know where this is going.

The story of the Clippers’ season is not only their consistency on offense but their inability to be completely healthy. There is a possibility that Leonard will not play this year. Morris and Ibaka missed a pretty portion of the season. Nicolas Batum missed multiple games in health and safety protocols. And George recently missed time with an elbow contusion.

The pieces are there, they just have not been put together. Could the offense be improved? Sure. Would adding another high-caliber player help? Absolutely. But this team is in good shape in the middle of the west without one of the best small forwards of all time. Now is not the time to panic and make a move out of impulse.

Sure swinging on certain players can move the needle and can be beneficial. But giving up a significant size of the rotation for the max stars that could be available (Ben Simmons or Kyrie Irving) may not be ideal. Considering that each of those players has not played a single minute all season for their respective teams and the controversy surrounding both, that is a gamble to add to the locker room.

If a beneficial trade is available that does not detriment the team, the Clippers should absolutely pull the trigger. But the team’s current form is nothing to be overly concerned about.

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