The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the top teams in the Western Conference with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but they've popped up in trade rumors surrounding a player who could push them over the top: Kevin Garnett.
The Clippers' outlook
The Clippers have emerged as a contender in their second year with Paul. They struggled a bit as Paul missed extensive playing time with a knee bruise, putting them four games back of the conference leaders, the San Antonio Spurs, but with Paul healthy, they're a tough out. Paul and Griffin form a monster combination in the pick-and-roll, and Griffin is improving the rest of his already-polished game every time out.
But that could all disappear this offseason if Paul chooses to sign with a team besides the Clippers. The team knows that he's everything to them, and will do whatever they need to ensure he remains in Los Angeles. That includes proving they're legitimately dedicated to building a team capable of not just competing for, but actually winning NBA championships.
One way they can prove they're willing to do that would be acquiring Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics. At 36, Garnett won't be around for much longer, but he could ensure Paul wants to. And despite his age, Garnett would be an improvement on the players the team would give up.
Bringing in KG
The main rumor i DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe going to Boston for Garnett. Although Jordan and Bledsoe are both talented young players, its a deal the Clippers can afford to make. Jordan is a strong defender due to his length, but Garnett's nagging has grown even more ceaseless in his latter years, and he's likely a better option on that end of the floor than Jordan. And his jump shot would stretch the floor for Los Angeles, while Jordan's offensive game is composed of little besides dunks and tips. Bledsoe is an up-and-coming point guard thanks to his speed, but with Chauncey Billups now healthy, he's somewhat superfluous for the Clips.
However, for all the trade deadline talk that goes into salary caps, team needs, and behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing, this trade could come down to the desires of two players: Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett. Some have indicated that Paul wants Garnett, and if he wants Garnett, the Clippers will apparently try to get Garnett, if Paul thinks it will make them more of a contender. But even if both teams agree on the deal, Garnett holds a no-trade clause. Garnett addressed that issue straight on, saying that he "bleeds green", but the Clippers seem to believe that they can convince him to change his mind and waive his no-trade clause.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation broke down whether Garnett is worth the price the Celtics are asking - long story short, yes - while Steve Perrin of Clips Nation said that the main concern should be Garnett's no-trade clause.
What's the gist
If the Clippers make a move at the trade deadline, it will likely be for Garnett, but even then, it will come down to Garnett's desire to play for Los Angeles. If he does, it's a coup for the Clippers: they'll be better in the short-term - he's an upgrade over Jordan - and in the long-term - it would help keep Paul. If not, it's a missed opportunity, although they'll still be one of the top options to contend for a Western Conference title.