Clippers Trade Rumors: L.A. need to target Darrell Arthur

Mar 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur (00) during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur (00) during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA trade rumors saying the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in Rudy Gay persist, but another player they need to pursue is Darrell Arthur of the Denver Nuggets.

NBA trade rumors continue to intensify as the February 18 deadline draws closer and closer. The Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly shown some interest in Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne and are still interested in trading for Rudy Gay. The rumors aren’t going anywhere with the deadline right around the corner; even for a team with so few trade assets like the Clippers.

While acquiring Gay would be a great addition as yet another talented scorer who can create his own shot and rebound at a far higher rate than any of the Clippers’ other wing players, he shouldn’t be Doc Rivers’ priority.

Not just because Lance Stephenson’s $9 million team option for 2016-17 is their best asset to offer the Sacramento Kings, but because the Clippers still have a gap in their frontcourt rotation.

With Josh Smith back in Houston, his absence creates another hole in the roster even if he hardly got on the floor anyway. With Blake Griffin out for an extra 4-6 weeks after breaking his hand (you’ve probably heard how), an extra power forward is needed even more. Plus, behind DeAndre Jordan, there really isn’t another big on the bench except for Cole Aldrich. Who, despite showcasing real value as a surprisingly successful energizer and typical presence at center, still faces a lot of pressure as one backup.

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This is where someone like Denver Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur should enter the Clippers’ thoughts, as he can secure their frontcourt rotation once and for all.

At 6’9″ with a current average of 6.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, Arthur isn’t going to be an authoritative force in the paint. That isn’t the strength of his game, although he can still hold his own far better in that regard than Paul Pierce can as a stretch four. Players only shoot 47.5 percent at the rim against Arthur and as he forces opponents to shoot 8.4 percent lower than normal within six feet of the basket (per, he’s still a much better interior defender than Pierce.

If Arthur gets any time as a starter during Griffin’s absence (this obviously won’t happen until he at least grows accustomed to playing with the Clippers) or serves as the primary backup big along with Aldrich, he’s a notable defensive upgrade in the paint over any wing that Doc tries to use at power forward.

Improved defense and rebounding isn’t the only reason the Clippers need to target Arthur, though.

As a stretch four with a quick release, he’s an incredibly reliable option from anywhere inside the arc. From 10-16 feet he’s shooting 41.2 percent and from 16-24 feet he’s shooting an exceptional 47 percent. Which, seeing as he takes 54.4 percent of all his field goal attempts from these ranges, is highly impressive; especially for a power forward.

This gives the Clippers’ bench another option besides guards like Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers who often try to find success by creating their own basket. Instead, with Arthur, Pablo Prigioni has a new reliable pick-and-pop option, which adds another dynamic besides his pick-and-roll game with Aldrich. Even though Arthur won’t be a top offensive option and he’ll likely receive just 10-15 minutes per game, he could be a perfect fit in L.A.’s offense.

It doesn’t matter he only makes 0.7 threes per 36 minutes at a 36 percent rate, because inside the arc he’s almost automatic and he’s a clear defensive upgrade over the ageing and undersized Pierce at the four. And he won’t jack up threes like Smith, so that’s always a nice bonus, too.

So, how could the Clippers actually pull off a trade for Arthur?

This is where things get tricky for a team like the Clippers who have so few trade assets, but this potential deal shouldn’t be out of reach. The Nuggets already have several young big men they favor over Arthur, such as Kenneth Faried, Nikola JokicJusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne. Even Danilo Gallinari receives a share of his minutes at power forward.

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With this in mind, it’s clear Arthur isn’t too vital for their future plans that they won’t listen to offers, and they certainly aren’t competing for the playoffs this season. If they want to improve their standing in free agency this summer, though, the Clippers can help. With Stephenson’s team option for 2016-17, the Nuggets can waive him if he doesn’t work out and create an extra $9 million in cap space.

However, others will need to be involved to make the salaries work as Arthur only makes $2.8 million. Perhaps if the Clippers push for a good deal to include someone like C.J. Wilcox to receive J.J. Hickson as well (who often sits for the Nuggets and has received 27 DNPs this season), they can make a deal happen. Of course, this leaves less depth in the Nuggets’ frontcourt, so it’s up to Doc to make offers and see what he can work out with other deals if necessary.

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This is just one possibility and there’s no saying that Denver will definitely accept. Although, seeing as Arthur isn’t too important, they may be willing to part with him to experiment with Stephenson and if all fails, they just give themselves more money to play with in the highly anticipated free agency of 2016.