Grading 3 Potential trades for LA Clippers to upgrade at center

Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /
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LA Clippers
Isaiah Hartenstein, LA Clippers. Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images /

LA Clippers trade for a center: Isaiah Hartenstein, LA Clippers

Last season the LA Clippers took a flier on Isaiah Hartenstein, a 7-footer who showed some flashes in Cleveland in 2020-21 but saw the writing on the wall with Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Kevin Love soaking up minutes. He went to the Clippers for more playing time and had a breakout season, one that earned him $16 million in free agency this summer.

Unfortunately for Hartenstein, he is now on a New York Knicks team that has a more expensive starter at the 5 (Mitchell Robinson), a developmental big they really like (Jericho Sims) and a pair of power forwards that should probably get some run at center once in a while (Julius Randle and Obi Toppin). Add it all up, and it’s amazing that Hartenstein has averaged the 20.5 minutes per game that he has.

Hartenstein was excellent for the Clippers last season, with a +21 net rating (still a robust +14 this season) and excellent box-score metrics. He was used as a passing hub at times for the Clippers and excelled in that role. If the Knicks view him as expendable and the Clippers would bring him back for a modest asset they could upgrade the center rotation without giving up a first-round pick.

The Knicks here get a second-round pick with upside (any team with Kawhi Leonard is a candidate to have the bottom fall out) and an intriguing wing to try out. They don’t need Hartenstein and open up more minutes for their other bigs. It’s not an earth-shattering move, but it could be a win-win.

Next. Breaking down a proposed Clippers trade with Spurs for Poetl. dark

The Clippers don’t have to upgrade at center and given their limited assets one could argue they need to prioritize point guard and not worry about center given their small-ball options in the postseason. If they do try to raise their regular season floor by buffing up at the 5, these three trades could help them get there.

Grade: A-