While all eyes are on the Lakers, this is the summer where the Clippers can go from feel-good story to Western Conference powerhouse. With great role players, a great front office, lots of money to spend, and a big stage to play on, the Clippers are going to attract stars. The reason the Clippers went from a team destined for mediocrity to a team full of talent is because they traded Chris Paul. The players they got back make up their whole core, and it’s the reason Los Angeles won 48 games in the West. Lou Williams is the best 6th man of all time. Montrezl Harrell is putting up great numbers, and Patrick Beverley is one of the best defenders in the league.
Jerry West has made such good trades and gotten such good value throughout his time as the Clippers consultant. Trading Mike Muscala for Ivica Zubac, a young center full of energy and potential, was brilliant. However, dumping Tobias Harris at the Trade Deadline was the smartest move of the WHOLE Trade Deadline. Here’s why:
- Tobias Harris didn’t elevate the Clippers
- He was a pending free agent who will demand a lot of money
- The 76ers overestimated how much of a difference he would make
If LA had held on to Harris, they still would’ve lost in the 1st round of the playoffs. Instead, West along with Hall of Fame coach Doc Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer have been building for the future. In exchange for 2 months of Tobias Harris, Boban, and Mike Scott, the Clippers got back:
- Landry Shamet
- Mike Muscala (Ended up as Ivica Zubac)
- Philadelphia’s lottery protected 2020 1st rounder
- Miami’s unprotected 2021 1st rounder
- Detroit’s 2021 and 2023 2nd rounders
That’s a very good haul. Those kind of moves are what makes the Clippers the more attractive free agent destination than the Lakers. While the Lakers have the most dysfunctional front office in the league, the Clippers have one of the five best. The Clippers have a team first mentality, which is very similar to the Warriors and Bucks, the two best teams in the NBA.
This offseason the Clippers will have about $60M in room to sign a star, but they can get that number to $82M if/when they dump Danilo Gallinari. If they attach a draft pick, they could send him away. That leaves the Clippers with two max salary slots.
The two best players available are obviously Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. Both of them are linked to the Clippers. Why would Kevin Durant rather play for the New York Knicks, when they also have one of the worst front offices in the league. LA is a huge stage where he can be the #1 guy, it’s warmer, and they are filled with young players and future draft picks. If Kawhi and Durant signed, the Clippers could surely trade for a 3rd star. Or, they could stand pat with their tremendous amount of depth and young talent. Los Angeles would have two of the best forwards in the league. Both are guys that can score from anywhere as well as play great defense.