The Los Angeles Clippers announced they were sellers as soon as they traded their franchise star, Blake Griffin, to the Detroit Pistons. It’s hard to imagine that being the only move they make before the deadline on Thursday.
Lou Williams was considered the impact player most likely to be moved. The 31-year-old former Sixth Man of the Year is, improbably, having a career year. He’s averaging 23 points and five assists while getting to the line over six times a night and making a tidy 38 percent of his outside shots. Williams is about to become a free agent, so the Clippers were expected to shop him around. Instead, reports about advanced negotiations on an extension surfaced on Tuesday. Whether it’s all a ploy to raise his value is unclear. If Williams stays, however, the Clippers could be more motivated to move other players to accelerate their rebuilding process.
The recently acquired Avery Bradley could be one of them. He was having an awful year in Detroit before being packaged for Griffin. It’s possible he’s just not as efficient outside of the Celtics’ system. That might scare off some suitors, but there aren’t a lot of defenders with Bradley’s stellar reputation and the ability to hit above the league average on three-pointers. The Clippers probably want a first rounder back for Bradley. The Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder are reportedly interested, but that might be a hefty price to pay for a veteran 3-and-D wing on an expiring contract. If someone is willing to meet the Clippers’ price, Bradley will be gone.
It’s harder to predict what will happen with DeAndre Jordan. The longest-tenured Clipper is still an All-NBA center. They could hold on to him through their postseason run, but it would be risky. Jordan can opt out of the last year of his contract and is about to turn 30 years old. If he doesn’t pick up his player option, the Clippers could either lose him for nothing in the offseason or be forced to commit big money to him while they rebuild. Whether he’s moved might come down to how desperate for an upgrade his suitors are. If they can get a lottery pick, a young starter on a good deal and a blue chip prospect for him, the Clippers should move him.
There might be movement at the edges of the roster, as well. The Clippers have veteran role players to spare. Milos Teodosic, Wesley Johnson and Montrezl Harrell could draw interest. If they can fetch a draft asset or a young player with years left on his rookie contract, it would be wise to pull the trigger.