Why Darius Garland is an intriguing Clippers' trade candidate

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Clippers
Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Clippers / Harry How/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Clippers are no longer the team getting dissected by the national media. 

On Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost their series to the Boston Celtics in five games. Even without Donovan Mitchell, questions about the franchise's direction started to amplify. President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman deserves immense praise for rebuilding a club in ruins once LeBron James left for Tinseltown in 2018. The problem is that the talent across the roster can't overcompensate for how clunky they work together. 

Playing Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen simultaneously is archaic in a league obsessed with sprinting down the floor and hurling triples. Mitchell and his backcourt counterpart, Darius Garland, are undersized guards who struggle defensively and do their best work with the ball in their hands. The team has no identity and seems stuck in mediocrity.

It wasn't surprising that the Athletic's Shams Charania released a "hit piece" on the organization just moments after their season ended. Coach JB Bickerstaff became the scapegoat for failing to manage the team's failures, but the uncertainty surrounding Darius Garland's future with Cleveland raised the most eyebrows. 

"Furthermore, rival executives believe the Cavs will have to seriously evaluate the fit of Mitchell and Garland and ultimately may have to choose one or the other," Shams said. "Should Mitchell decide to stay long-term, sources briefed on the matter say Garland's representation, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, would have a conversation with Cavs officials on potentially finding a new home for the one-time All-Star."

The Clippers should target a disgruntled Darius Garland

The Clips can't bank on retaining their top expiring contracts. James Harden had moments of brilliance throughout his tenure, but he routinely falters when needed the most. Paul George is coming off a phenomenal campaign that'll see him get All-NBA votes. He should be the priority, but what if neither wants to stay with the disjointed Clippers?

Steve Balmer is infatuated with star power and will never let this group bottom out. With a weaker free agency pool, turning to the trade market would be the prime avenue to retool the roster. The best targets? Young and disgruntled stars. 

Garland's stock has taken a hit since Mitchell arrived in Cleveland in 2022. Mitchell took over the responsibility of being the main offensive hub, ruining his point guard's stats and confidence in the process. In a new environment, Garland could excel. 

The 24-year-old is a dazzling passer who uses hesitation and cupcakes to create separation. Letting Garland direct the offense could help improve flow and the team shot selection. Cleveland is in dire need of a wing, and if George wants to depart, this could be a viable destination where he can play next to another established stud. Here's what a potential trade could look like:

Potential Trade

Garland provides the upside the franchise needs with a contract that gives flexibility and the chance to add a third star in the near future. It's risky, but it's a move management should be willing to make.