The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off the first blockbuster trade of deadline season by sending Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. Now, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Los Angeles is also pushing to unload DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, according to Woj, looking for packages of young players and draft picks in return. While several NBA teams and playoff contenders are buyers at the trade deadline, the Clippers just might be the league’s biggest seller.
How did we get here?
For years, the Clippers toiled as a playoff team good enough to make the second round but never good enough to get over the hump. Not all of it was their fault: Chris Paul broke his right hand, leading to a premature 2016 exit; then Griffin injured his big toe in the first round in last year’s playoffs.
But the West is no cakewalk, and a trip to the NBA Finals comes with a rocky road. The Clippers have been eliminated by the Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets, Thunder, Blazers and Jazz in the past six seasons. The team both put together and coached by Doc Rivers hasn’t worked out, for one reason or another.
That’s why Steve Ballmer and Clippers leadership demoted Rivers as general manager over the summer and hired Mike Winger, an executive on the rise in Oklahoma City, as his replacement. Now in the first season with Winger at the helm, Los Angeles is beginning to build for the future.
What would teams get in Jordan and Williams?
Jordan is still in his prime and as dominant a shot-blocker and rebounder as they come in the NBA. He’s averaging 12 points, 15 rebounds and a block per game. The Clippers should be able to get a first-round pick and a young player from a playoff team that needs rim protection.
Williams is also enjoying a career season, vaulting himself to the forefront of the Sixth Man of the Year conversation torching nets in Los Angeles. Sweet Lou is posting a career-high 23.5 points per game off the bench for the Clippers. A team that could use a perimeter scoring punch in its back court off the bench would pony up in an instant to land Sweet Lou.
The Clippers could also deal Avery Bradley if they so choose. His $8.8 million contract expires at the end of this season, and he’s a gritty two-way guard who could help several playoff contenders. Bradley is also now eligible to be traded back to the Celtics, according ESPN’s Bobby Marks, and Boston has a deeper stockpile of assets and young players than any other team in the NBA.
Could the Cavaliers be in play?
Cleveland is a team that has free fallen and needs a shot of energy. They have the league’s worst defense and have been suffering from poor point guard play as Isaiah Thomas looks to find his rhythm after sitting seven months with a hip injury.
The Cavaliers are known to be buyers at the trade deadline, and Jordan and Williams address two dire needs that could help transform the team back into championship form. But are they willing to part ways with the coveted Brooklyn pick without assurances LeBron James will re-sign beyond this season?
At some point, it might not matter. The Cavs have fallen to third in the East and are only a game-and-a-half in front of the Heat for fourth. Something needs to be done, and if Cleveland doesn’t swoop down on Los Angeles’ stars, another contender will.
Odds the Clippers trade DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams: 8/10
The Clippers might not end up trading their last two remaining stars. They could hold on and ride it out for the rest of the season.
But judging how quickly Los Angeles pulled the trigger on a Griffin deal, Jordan and Williams should start packing their bags soon. Because odds are Griffin was only the first (and biggest) domino to fall. It’s only a matter of time before more start tilting over.
For that reason, I give the Clippers a 80 percent chance at trading Jordan and Williams. There would be no reason to deal Griffin if Los Angeles wasn’t looking for a complete overhaul. Trading DJ and Sweet Lou would give the Clippers the pieces to move forward with a rebuild.