The search for Doc Rivers‘ coveted stretch-four never ends.
Per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Clippers have discussed acquiring New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson.
"The Los Angeles Clippers have inquired about trading for Ryan Anderson, but the New Orleans Pelicans aren’t making him available, according to sources close to the process."
Goodman’s reporting that Anderson is unavailable conflicts with the reporting from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski who informed all that Anderson–and Austin Rivers–had been placed upon the trading block.
It should be noted that Wojnarowski’s tweet came three hours prior to Goodman’s. With the acquisition of Omer Asik, Anderson may be expendable, especially with the Hornets pushing the salary cap mark thanks to the contracts of Anderosn, Asik, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Tyreke Evans, all of whom ill make $8 million+ in 2014-15.
Regardless of the intricate details of Anderson’s availability, if the Clippers are truly interested in the forward it makes sense due to Rivers’ desperate want for a stretch power forward. Each player brought along last season in the role (Turkoglu, Davis, Jamison, Mullens) were moot and the Clippers failed to address the need in the draft making free agency and trade the two ways Rivers can get what he wants.
Ryan is perfect for the role. Throughout his career, Anderson has made a living stretching the floor and crashing the boards, two traits that aren’t often found in one role player. You’ve either your Steve Novak‘s of the NBA who can knock down threes and do nothing else or Reggie Evans who can rebound and provide nothing on offense. In the last two season for the New Orleans Pelicans, Anderson averaged 16.9 points (38% from three) and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s an underrated post scorer and would fit in perfectly as the third best big man in Rivers’ system.
There are some issues with Anderson though.
Last season, Anderson only appeared in 26 of 82 games due to several injuries, one being a herniated disc which ended his 2013-14 campaign extremely early. At $8 million per for the following two seasons, acquiring Anderson would mean his injury history checks out with the Clippers doctors. Was the fractured foot and herniated disc in his neck fluke injuries? Based on his past injury history, those injuries don’t seem to be recurrent. Just scanning throughout the list, Anderson has been a bit fickle since the 2011 season where his season was ended because of a sore left calf, and the big man suffered a minor right ankle injury in 2012, so it’ll be up to professionals to decide if Anderson would be worth the risk.
How would the Clippers be able to acquire Anderson though? With the 2014 NBA draft in the past, that’s one less asset the Clippers have in stock. The Boston Celtics are the owners of the 2015 Clippers pick which means another loss asset. Are the Pelicans interested in Jamal Crawford–or Crawford’s non-guaranteed contract? In ESPN’s trade machine, Jared Dudley, Reggie Bullock, and Willie Green (non-guaranteed) works for Anderson, but it’s difficult seeing the Pelicans being interested in this package. Bullock adds a shooter to the roster, Green clears space, but Dudley’s contract is on the books until 2015-16 (early-termination) option. And surely enough, there are teams around the league who could offer much more to New Orleans.
Odds are the Clippers strikes out on a deal or Anderson would be in Los Angeles by now. But what Doc Rivers’ hail mary attempt does show us is who he may have his eye on in free agency (think stretch four that can actually play, not Byron Mullens) and that if the team can improve the team without having to unload an asset, ultimately taking themselves out of the LeBron chase, he’ll do it.