Clippers aiming to trade players to create Paul Pierce’s salary


Apr 24, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) celebrates with fans while leaving the court after the Wizards

The Los Angeles Clippers and Doc Rivers are in full rebuild mode with the 2015 NBA draft just around the corner. Now, it’s been reported that the Clippers may trade some of their bench players in order to create enough cap space to sign Paul Pierce.

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As has been announced by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Clippers are offering some of the few role players they have in order to gain the trade exception that they could need to deal with Pierce’s salary — as well as allowing themselves to preserve their mini mid-level exception. Although, considering their lack of depth and tradable assets, the Clippers are very limited with who they can offer.

Jamal Crawford is the most likely candidate to headline any potential Clippers’ trade, as he’s already been associated with a potential deal that would send him and C.J. Wilcox to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for small forward Wilson Chandler (read the full story here).

If the Clippers do offer some of their bench players (aka Crawford) in a trade, it would at least allow them to use a trade exception so they can sign Pierce (if they would need to exceed the salary cap to do so). Judging by the indications of the Clippers’ offseason so far, and potential trade rumors that have surrounded the team, it seems as though Doc Rivers is willing to trade Crawford.

As Arash Markazi of ESPN has reported, Doc has said that “we have to add a couple more, three or four more players, in my opinion, to our roster.” With that being the case, and the strong attachments that Pierce has to both Doc and the city of Los Angeles, the possibility of The Truth joining the Clippers is looking more and more likely. Especially as The Washington Post already reported a few days ago that he’s expected to choose between only two teams this summer: his current team, the Washington Wizards, and the Clippers.

The contract that Pierce could receive with the Clippers is uncertain at this stage, and whilst it could well begin from around $3.4 million, the maximum amount that L.A. could offer him is yet to be seen — now that Wojnarowski has reported a trade exception may be necessary.

May 8, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) rallies the crowd against the Houston Rockets during the second half in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If Pierce joins the Clippers he can reunite with his championship winning coach, and provide the kind of clutch shooting and veteran leadership that they need to truly contend in the playoffs. He can still make shots with games on the line (as he proved with his buzzer beater to win game three against the Atlanta Hawks) and that’s something that the Clippers can’t get from Crawford on a consistent basis. And no matter how much offensive energy he can bring at times when his shots start to fall, his 24.3 percent three point shooting in the playoffs this year emphasized his streaky nature.

The Clippers have an extremely limited bench as it is, and the only real players they can afford to trade are Wilcox and possibly some of their other wing players who contribute minimal minutes, such as Jordan Hamilton or Dahntay Jones.

However, clearing Crawford’s $5.4 million contract would significantly help Doc Rivers if he genuinely wants to sign Pierce. Now, we’ll simply have to wait and see whether or not the Clippers and their 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year part ways. But by looking at the rate L.A. have moved already this offseason by trading for Lance Stephenson so quickly, we may not have to wait too long.

Next: Clippers 2015 NBA Draft Targets: PF Christian Wood