LA Clippers: Mid-season moves could be in jest if season gets canceled

LA Clippers, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA Clippers, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers made some savvy mid-season moves to add to their already-deep roster for the upcoming playoff run. Those moves could all be for nothing should the NBA season be canceled.

Like all smart teams looking to make a deep playoff run, the LA Clippers added a few key pieces to their roster with mid-season trades and signings. The team added toughness, versatility, shooting, and depth by trading for Marcus Morris and signing Reggie Jackson. They bolstered their depth chart at the center position when they picked up former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah on a 10-day contract.

And if the NBA season is eventually canceled these moves could all be in jest.

Morris is on the final year of his contract, earning a career-high $15 million salary. Jackson is on a minimum contract with the Clippers for the rest of the year, after being bought out of his contract with the Detroit Pistons. He was previously earning a salary of $17.2 million for the year.

Additions like this are typically one-year player rentals for playoff-bound teams looking to add depth in hopes to make a deep run toward the championship. That’s exactly what they were for the Clippers, although now there’s a very real chance they might not get the opportunity to do so.

We’ve already discussed in detail how re-signing Montrezl Harrell should be the Clippers number one priority this offseason. That will certainly be at a much higher price-point than the current $6 million Harrell is earning this season, putting the Clippers in a tough position to make offers to Morris and Jackson as well.

Without the pair taking extremely team-friendly contracts in order to run it back for a chance to win a ring in Los Angeles, the Clippers may lose these two vital pieces. Losing them would mean also losing perhaps the deepest roster they’ll have in their current championship window.

Jackson’s signing came with little to no risk, as he was a buyout market steal coming in on a minimum contract. The same can be said for Joakim Noah, who signed with the team to help bolster their center position after not playing at all so far this season.

The addition of Morris came at a bit of a higher price. The forward was acquired from the New York Knicks in a three-team trade also involving the Washington Wizards. The Clippers had to send Maurice Harkless, a 2020 first-round pick, the rights to swap first-round picks in 2021, and a 2021 second-round pick (via Detroit) to New York. Los Angeles also sent Jerome Robinson for the Wizards and in exchange took back Isaiah Thomas (really, took on the obligation to buy out his contract.)

The price was high, but not outrageous for a player like Morris. A fair trade to add toughness, shooting, and a veteran presence for the stretch run. Harkless’ contract was set to expire at the end of this season and Robinson has yet to make a major mark since being drafted 13th overall by the Clippers in the 2018 Draft.

The draft pick will fall at the tail end of this year’s first-round but for a team that has already given up major future draft assets in other trades it stings to potentially lose the pick in exchange for just 12 games of action from Morris.

Next. LA Clippers: Evaluating players with 2020 expiring contracts. dark

A cancelled 2020 NBA season wouldn’t prove disastrous for the Clippers or their currently wide-open window to win an NBA championship. They still have a deep and versatile roster holding strong in the number one position of ESPN’s Future Power Rankings list. It would, however, waste these savvy moves to strengthen the team’s current position, which could be hard to replicate in future seasons.

The buyout and trade deadline markets usually provide teams with great options to shore up their rosters for the stretch run. This year, it certainly seemed, the right pieces with the perfect fit fell to the Clippers at the perfect time.

And we hope that doesn’t end up getting wasted.