NBA Trade Rumors: Clippers making ‘exploratory calls’


The Los Angeles Clippers aren’t making any trades yet, but they are making some “exploratory calls” to consider potential options.

Our favorite time of the year is upon us.

No, not Christmas, though that’s a close second. What we’re talking about is NBA trade season. Outside of the early Mario Chalmers-to-Memphis trade, things have been slow on the front, both in action and rumors of hypothetical actions, but surely enough teams are setting feelers out to see what the market may soon be like, with one of those teams being the Los Angeles Clippers, per Fox Sports’ Sam Amico.

Amigo’s words, if correct, mean everything and nothing at the same time. As mentioned above, the actual act of exploratory calls is meaningless in a sense. Every front office likely delves in such, calling and answer calls. The latter, more meaningful — if the front office, aka Doc Rivers, is unsatisfied, as he should be, the Clippers have to make a move.

And even outside of dissatisfaction deriving from a 9-8 start from a supposed contending team, the Clippers’ bench has been bad enough to push the front office into trade mode.

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  • Odds are, a move won’t occur until the Dec. 15 deadline when teams are allowed to trade most free agents signed in the offseason. That includes Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Pablo Prigioni, Luc Mbah a Moute and Cole Aldrich — due to Austin Rivers signing a one-year deal by use of Bird Rights, he technically has a no-trade clause, so unless he’s going into a situation where it’d allow him more minutes and more opportunity to increase his value heading into what’s expected to be a fruitful summer, you won’t have to worry about him getting moved.

    They aren’t alone: outside of the core, the rest of the roster is up for trade, and that includes the always-mentioned-in-trade-rumors Jamal Crawford. Watching this team operate in the last two seasons, it’s a surprise Crawford has yet to be moved in a trade, whether for an actual rotation player or a pick that could lead to such. Of the non-core four, Crawford has the most trade value — around the league, a general manager somewhere believes Crawford and his scoring is what his team needs to be in better position for the playoffs. In the offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat were mentioned in regard to Crawford and a possible trade. A couple of months removed from the offseason, the Cavaliers probably don’t want or need Crawford; Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson, and J.R. Smith can make up (plus more) for whatever Crawford can provide. The Heat? They remain an option, standing 13th in offensive rating, but with Gerald Green, having Crawford seems redundant, though Crawford’s expiring could entice Pat Riley to pull the trigger because of the extra cap space provided for the summer time.

    Outside of that, you’d need inside information to find a team I believe fits what Crawford does, because for the second consecutive season the bad is vastly outweighing the good, and the reality of Crawford-Clippers match is that the Clippers have never needed that type of player, but instead someone who can provide when the shot isn’t falling as well as make timely buckets here and there whenever Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Blake Griffin aren’t on the floor.

    And even outside of dissatisfaction deriving from a 9-8 start from a supposed contending team, the Clippers’ bench has been bad enough to push the front office into trade mode.

    Outside of Crawford, Prigioni, Mbah a Moute, Johnson, and Aldrich come to mind, with the four all being capable of being traded only to be cut by the receiving team. This could lead to the Clippers picking through the buyout market to make up the lost roster spot.

    Lance Stephenson? Can’t see it happening without a sure-fire rotation player coming back in a deal, and that doesn’t seem likely. Plus, the upside outweighs the downside and if things are bad enough his $10 million freed in the offseason is solid compensation for the cap-tied team.

    Paul Pierce? Couldn’t see it happening.

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    Josh Smith? Same, but for reasons tied to his value — at 5.2 points on 38% shooting and 4.5 rebounds, teams won’t be lining up for his services, and if so, could wait until the offseason to try and sign him outright.

    The two young guys in C.J. Wilcox and Branden Dawson? I wouldn’t put it past Rivers given his general managing past, but would say they rank low unless a team believes one, the other, or both helps them now, which seems unlikely.

    Who knows, but it’s hard to argue the Clippers aren’t winning it all unless a group of inconstant, bad players can turn it around, and the odds don’t play in Los Angeles’ favor. And even then, whatever trade they can make with the pieces at hand, the results probably play out the same. But if this Clippers team stays on their current trajectory, Doc’ll have to shape something up.

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    We don’t know when. We don’t know who. But a move will probably be made, so run over to the ESPN Trade Machine and have your fun.