Clippers Trade Rumors: Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson on the block


New Los Angeles Clippers trade rumors have emerged: Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson are on the block.

No one knows when, who, or how, but giving the state of the Los Angeles Clippers as of December 7, 2015, it’s pretty obvious there’s something brewing that’ll thrust the franchise into trade mode as the team hopes to have themselves correct and steady come playoff time.

It was reported last week via Sam Amico of Fox Sports that the front office made preliminary phone calls throughout the league to see what was available. Now, we’ve names floated around, as Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports the Clippers have ‘gauged interest’ in off-season acquisitions Josh Smith, who signed with the team via free agency, and Lance Stephenson, who the team acquired from the Charlotte Hornets via trade.

"The Los Angeles Clippers gauged trade interest in Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith last month, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

As with making calls throughout the league to see who’s available, gauging interest isn’t uncommon, and given how the Clippers’ roster outside of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick have performed, it’s a surprise all players haven’t popped up in the same situation.

But like non-core-4 players, the odds of Smith and Stephenson having a high trade value around the NBA is slim to none.

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  • One thing clear with Josh Smith, is that he’s a better player than the one-year veteran minimum deal signed this off-season. At 5.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, it seems fair to say Smith hasn’t received a big enough leash from Doc Rivers to be an impact player, even if that impact comes at an inconsistent rate. The shooting percentages are awful outside of the paint but as the small-ball center whenever DeAndre Jordan is off the floor, he’s done an excellent job as rim protector, forcing opponents into shooting 42.9% at the rim. No other Clipper with meaningful playing minutes comes close to that mark, including max contact center in DJ who’s rim protection percentage, per SportsVU, currently stands at 47.9%.

    Could a team find value in that? With many teams around the NBA attempting to emulate Golden State’s small-ball lineup of death which features Draymond Green at center, you could see a team hope Smith can be what he is for the Clippers elsewhere, but better, with the latter possibly coming with more instilled confidence and minutes played.

    With Stephenson, in regards to value, he’s likely in the same boat as Smith. Like Smith, the numbers are pretty, as Lance is averaging 5.4 points on 42% shooting and 3.2 rebounds per game, and recently, has looked closer to the version we grew familiar with in Indiana than the one seen in Charlotte last season. If Lance could be that player more, the Clippers would be better off for it as he, in theory, fits the description of the wing player the Clippers need to take the next step as a supposed championship contender.

     “They are talented, but when you add people like that it does affect the chemistry of their team. I don’t think they will be traded. It’s a tough thing to do because they didn’t have a lot of takers beforehand.”

    Where the difference lies in the two is Stephenson comes pre-loaded with a $9 million expiring contract. In years past teams have made an exception when acquiring talent due to the expiring salary, and Stephenson could fall in line with that, especially as front offices prepare for the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant is a free agent.

    Per one executive mentioned in Spears’ piece, he believes there to be no trade market for the two former stars.”There is not much of a market for them,” the executive said. “They are buyout candidates. Maybe Lance goes back to Indiana, you never know. You won’t get back much for them.”

    Given all that has gone on, it should be noted that the one fantastic off-season Doc Rivers was tabbed for having is turning sour outside of re-signing DeAndre Jordan and Austin RiversPaul Pierce is playing the worst basketball of his career, and the worst of any rotation player this season; Cole Aldrich doesn’t play; Pablo Prigioni has been a negative when on the floor; Wes Johnson, Stephenson, and Smith have been decent, but haven’t received the backing and playing time needed for role players to consistently impact the game. And if Stephenson and Smith are traded, let alone for players who don’t alter the trajectory and ceiling of this team, summer of 2015 will join the long list of awful moves Doc has made since becoming a front office employee in 2013.

    Next: Los Angeles Clippers: What's in a rotation?

    As of now, Stephenson is the only player that can be traded between himself and Smith, with Smith being available for trade after Dec. 15, as will all other free agents signed. And then, you can leap into any hypothetical trade machine offer that comes to mind.