Clippers: 3 bench players who should not be traded

5 of 5

Dec 7, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Clippers defeated the Timberwolves 110-106. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

What should the Clippers do?

When considering some of the trade rumors that have emerged recently, it certainly looks like Doc Rivers is (at the very least) considering making a move. Who he’ll send away or who he’ll target is uncertain, but a trade is not out of the question. With that in mind, and the value of the plays discussed here, it seems like trading others would be better for the Clippers.

Primarily, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford are the most disposable players on the bench right now. Rivers has taken a major step forward on defense which can’t be overlooked, but he’s still an inconsistent shooter and he can’t run the half-court offense effectively a lot of the time. As for Crawford, well he’s still only shooting 37.4 percent from the floor and is terrible defensively.

Josh Smith, meanwhile, has been making a difference on defense with 10 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes. Even though his shot selection is often questionable, he’s at least starting to hit some threes (34.7 percent on the season) while dishing out his usual lobs and nifty passes to teammates.

More from Clipperholics

Both Rivers and Crawford, though, especially the latter with his ability to create instant offense, will hold at least some value to teams around the league. To the Clippers, they could be replaced by others in the rotation if Stephenson acquires more ball handling duties, and another backup point guard (who can run pick-and-rolls better than Rivers, hit the odd three and defend) can be brought in.

However, that is if the Clippers make a trade (heavy emphasis on the “if” there). Right now, they don’t really need to. At least, it’s not vital. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games, and yes, the bench still have their struggles, but the defense is far stronger and the team is at least getting results.

It’s important to remember that while a quarter of the season can feel longer if the team is struggling, it’s still only quarter of the season. There’s plenty of time till the February 18 trade deadline to make a move if things get worse.

Next: Western Conference Power Rankings for December

For the time being, the Clippers can improve their success the more Doc improves his rotations and makes the most of the talent he acquired this summer. And if someone is going to be moved, either Rivers or Crawford make the most sense due to their current fit with the team and the ease at which they can be replaced.

We’ll just have to wait and see if Doc has any ideas up his sleeve.