Los Angeles Lakers kicked off trade season on Monday Acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards For Kendrick Nunn and three second-rounders, this could be the first of many moves ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
Only 5.5 games separate the No. 3 seed Sacramento Kings from the No. 13 seed Portland Trail Blazers, so nearly the entire conference remains a playoff hunt. The Lakers feel they can run if Anthony Davis is healthy. There is certainty.
The rival Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, face no such dilemma. They now need to go all-in to win the championship. why? I have no other choice. Now is the time as future draft picks are secured and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could become free agents in 2024.
After a difficult start to the season for Leonard, he’s been improving and now looks like he did before his injury. In his last seven games, he has averaged 29.9 points, elite efficiency, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals.Sure, it’s a small sample and he’s still at risk of getting hurt again. borderline all star levelit’s clear why the Clippers are coveting this year’s Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The story around the NBA is that the Clippers are actively looking for Reggie Jackson upgrades at point guard and a backup big man behind Ivica Zubak. Without it, the Clippers look like a bogus contender to make the playoffs unless they improve.
Jackson didn’t help much beyond the 2021 playoffs, and John Wall was a worthy bet in the offseason. much better interviewee than basketball players in 2023
Marc Stein reported on Substack Clippers interested in Jazz point guard Mike Conley He will be traded to the Clippers before the season. The Jazz are hanging out at playoff racesbut they’re first-round fodder, and it’s better to move the rest of the veterans so they can fall into the lottery from the play-ins they were meant to be in first place. Whatever move he makes, Conley, 35, will likely be moved to a team where he has a better chance of winning his first title.
Conley is a good fit for the Clippers offense as he is a consistent playmaker who can succeed off the ball as a shooter and cutter. And while he’s declined defense, there have been some lockdown moments this season when he’s more like his bare self.
In the final minute of a close game against the Pelicans last month, Conley stabbed two inbound passes aimed at CJ McCallum before going through three screens to stop McCallum’s scoring attempt. It showed a level of speed and awareness the Clippers had never seen from Wall or Jackson.
But other teams will pursue Conley as well. That means the Jazz will hold out for the best possible offer until the deadline approaches. So LA needs to scrutinize the rest of the league. The Clippers are also interested in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, league sources say.
Lowry makes $28.3 million a year, and his downfall with the Heat has been more evident this season than Conley’s with the Jazz. Conley ranks his 84th. Top 100 NBA Player Rankingsmeanwhile, Lowry completely dropped out in the latest update.
Number one VanVleet. He’s only 28 and relentlessly on-ball Considering he’s a defender and was an All-Star last season, overall he’s 76 and a prime target for the Clippers.
League sources doubt the Raptors will move Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby unless the returns are huge — a couple of unprotected first-round picks or roughly equivalent talent. Think young players – but VanVleet or Gary Trent Jr. are more likely to move. They had no talent and could be free agents this summer, so they moved.
Leonard and VanVleet won the championship together in Toronto, and with FVV’s off-the-ball and solid run-point prowess, they could be in action again in Los Angeles. VanVleet should be the Clippers’ number one target, but even if they get him, they’ll need to add size before the playoffs.
Zubak posted All-Defensive numbers early in the season, he sure is worn out Because he played the most hours of his career. LA was in the top five in ERA in the first 30 games of the season, but fell to the bottom five in the last 20 or so games. Aside from Zubak, the only his 7-footer they have is Moses Brown, who offers nothing on the defensive end.
hoop hypeMichael Scott reported on monday Timberwolves center Nas Reed has attracted interest from the Clippers and Nuggets. There will be competition for , but the price of the next free agent won’t matter.
The Clippers are likely keeping prices down by acquiring big men like Pacers’ Myles Turner and Hawks’ John Collins.A cheaper option would be Mo Bamba at the Magic Center.
The Clippers are also interested in former backup center Isiah Hartenstein, who is now with the Knicks, league executives said.
LA tried to re-sign Hartenstein last summer, but he went to New York for more money. he felt wanted thereUnfortunately, not all free agency decisions turn out the way they first envisioned.
Knicks blatantly abused Hartenstein His previous role with the Clippers is more of a rim roller than a playmaker. His assist percentage with the Clippers was 20.5, while with the Knicks he was just 5.1%. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t know how to get the most out of him, but Tai Lu has already proven he can. Getting back together might be in everyone’s best interest .
The Clippers don’t have many high-value assets to trade. But just like the Lakers were able to acquire Hachimura over other teams, they can make deals at affordable prices. Cripps only has his 2028 first-round pick, but he still owns all of his future second-round picks except for 2027. Former second-round picks Jason Preston and Brandon Boston are both active in his G League. Preston has shown consistent shot making and Boston seems to be the go-to. Both are worth reflecting high to moderate second rounders.
Stein says The Clippers have “wiped out outside interest” on Terrance Mann. No wonder teams want him. Mann has established himself as a winger in a solid rotation, but he’s still only 26 years old, in the final year of his rookie contract, and next season he’ll be on his two-year $22 million mark. An extension contract is signed. Amir Coffey has a team-friendly long-term deal that could benefit any offer. But neither has the star-level upside.
The Clippers will also likely take advantage of and mix various salaries to do just about any contract work. Wall ($6.5 million) and Jackson ($11.2 million) gave the Clippers two expiring contracts, while Marcus Morris ($16.4 million), Luke Kennard ($13.7 million) and Robert Covington ($12.3 million) gave his could become a free agent in 2024.
For VanVleet, the Clippers could offer something along the lines of Kennard, Mann, Boston, a future first-round pick, and a second-round pick or two. Depending on the number of players involved, the Clippers may be able to bring back players like Juancho Hernangomez or push three-way to get a backup center.
As currently built, the Clippers are nothing like their competitors.The point guard and center positions are too weak for the team to survive a competitive playoff series.
They can’t rely on Leonard to keep them healthy, but they won’t have first-round picks until 2027 and have no choice but to bet on Leonard’s best-case scenario. We’re looking at that best-case scenario now.He looks like West Coast Michael Jordan again.George is a happy second choice and there are plenty of other good players on the team. There are weaknesses that must be addressed.
The Lakers made their first move, but probably not their last. Other western competitors are also scouring the market for upgrades. But few teams feel as much pressure as the Clippers. They have invested heavily in this core and both Leonard and George have the potential to become free agents next summer.