The LA Clippers should have never traded away Luke Kennard

Robert Covington, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Covington, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

Here’s a thought for the LA Clippers: don’t trade away the league’s most efficient three-point scorer for basically nothing.

But that’s exactly what they did: last February, the Clippers dealt away Luke Kennard, John Wall and what would become the 20th pick. All of that for a 34-year-old Eric Gordon and the 30th pick in what I consider the Clippers’ most boneheaded deal in the Paul George-Kawhi Leonard era.

Let me explain.

Lawrence Frank and the Clippers have been pretty good with acquiring the right pieces for the tandem of George and Leonard. Norman Powell, Russell Westbrook and now Kenyon Martin Jr. — there are plenty of experiments and trades that propelled or will propel the team closer to winning.

Then…there is this empty-headed deal.

Prior to the trade, Kennard was primarily used as a scoring option off the bench. After shooting the ball at a league-best 44.9 percent clip from deep in the 2021-22 season, the Duke product was expected to be a key contributor off the bench, alongside Terance Mann and Norman Powell.

But despite his continued success from long range, the sharpshooter saw his minutes and usage drop noticeably this season — it badly interfering with the return of Kawhi Leonard and the abundance of guards. Still, in his 35 games before being traded, Kennard averaged 7.8 points on 44.7 percent shooting from downtown.

Luke Kennard was more than a three-point shooter for the LA Clippers.

Numbers alone didn’t capture Luke Kennard’s on-court brilliance for the LA Clippers, however. The 27-year-old shooting guard is more than just the league’s most efficient three-point shooter. Not only did he improve the Clippers’ spacing, but he also didn’t need to be ball-dominant to impact the game. He, as such, was the perfect complement to the team’s ball-dominant megastar duo and iso-fond veterans like Marcus Morris Sr. and John Wall.

And the final flourish — there are moments in which Kennard just can’t miss, regardless of how many hands are in his face or what quarter it is. The Middletown, Ohio native led the Clippers’ 35-point comeback against the Washinton Wizards in September 2022; his crowd-shushing four-point play sealed the NBA’s second-biggest comeback.

Yet, of course, the Clippers had to give away Kennard and god-kissed left hand for a 27-game rental of Gordon. Sure, Gordon certainly offers more experience and defense than Kennard. But he can’t — I mean, nor can most players — quite light it up from deep the way the Duke product effortlessly does. (Shortly after being traded, Kennard made headlines after draining 10 three-pointers en route to a 30-point showing.)

My case doesn’t just end with Kennard, though.

This trade also stole an undeniable talent in Cam Whitmore (20th pick) away from the Clippers. And the Clips are instead stuck with Kobe Brown (30th pick). Again, for a 27-game rental for a wrinkled-up, worn-out Gordon.

Next. 3 remaining FA's that would shine for the Clips'. dark

I am no basketball guru, but trading away a proven lethal shooter and valuable assets to acquire a player for a brief, unaffecting stay isn’t the best of ideas. Especially if that player is an aging, fruitless role player.