Realistic mid-season trades for the Clippers

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: Louis Williams
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: Louis Williams /
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LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 10:  (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 10:  (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Draft assets

Per Real GM, the Clippers have the following picks in the not-too-distant future tied up through protection:

  • 2019 and 2020 first round picks (Boston via Memphis)
  • 2018 second round pick (Philadelphia/New York)

It is also worth noting that under the Stepien rule, the Clippers are prohibited from trading away their 2018 first round pick. Under this rule, teams are unable to trade away first round picks in consecutive years. That is unless the Clippers receive a 2018 first in a return package for a trade in a pick swap. I know, unnecessarily complicated right?

Essentially, the Clippers have the following draft assets to offer:

  • 2021 and 2023 first round picks
  • 2019, 2020 (LAC), 2020 (CLE), 2021 and 2023 second round picks

Player assets

Who would, realistically, be likely to be on the trading block? Right off the top, the following players should be considered untouchable:

  • Blake Griffin
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Danilo Gallinari
  • Austin Rivers
  • Patrick Beverley

Blake and DeAndre are the Clippers franchise. No argument there. Unless DeAndre says he intends to leave in free agency they will remain in LA. Gallinari just arrived and should not be on the block regardless of how unlikely it is that another team would be interested (or have the cap space). Austin is only improving (regardless of what many fans think), and Pat is on one of the most team-friendly deals in the league. Look, he actually costs less as time goes on.

Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker are likely not untouchable, but are important pieces for the Clippers and should only be aggregated in trades that are ‘too good to refuse’. Several others are unlikely to be traded as they have been recently signed to short term deals (see Willie Reed, Milos Teodosic etc).

As far as expiring deals go, the Clippers have two. DeAndre Liggins (who many assumed would be waived) and Lou Williams. Left over are Wesley Johnson and those on their rookie deals.

So who is immediately considered as trade-able?

Wesley Johnson is owed $5.8 million this year and has a player option for $6.1 million. You can bet your house that he will be opting in as he even may struggle to even find a minimum deal on the open market at this stage of his career. While this isn’t an exorbitant salary, cap space is a premium around the league in the current climate, with the salary cap not spiking as much as anticipated. The cost of dumping bad salary generally involves picks of some description depending on the amount of salary. It is likely that to move on from Wesley, the Clippers would have to part with one or more second round picks.

Lou Williams is owed $7 million this year. This is reasonably team friendly when you compare him with someone like Jamal Crawford, who the Clippers paid $13.2 million last season. Lou was a good addition to the Rockets last year in a mid-season trade and there’s no reason he wouldn’t make sense to a lot of playoff teams as a scoring option off the bench. While Lou could be an important factor for the Clippers, it wouldn’t be too difficult to come away as a victor in a trade involving Lou.