The Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t live up to the hype this year. After boasting for a vast majority of the year, the Clippers are now watching what should’ve been their battle for the their first trip to the NBA Finals. Talent wise, the roster couldn’t of been pieced together any better. The chemistry was the downfall, which was noted by many players throughout the season and in the aftermath of being eliminated.
Now, the Clippers’ front office must sift through an assortment of trades that could provide more cohesiveness than what we saw this year. The positive outlook if the Clippers look to make a move is the enticing amount of role players they could package for a superstar. The challenge is their lack thereof in other areas such as draft picks due to the Paul George trade in the 2019 offseason.
There are many superstars around the league that could be on the move going into the offseason and possibly next season, one in particular would be reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo can’t seem to get over the hump with the Milwaukee Bucks. After being a favorite to win the Eastern Conference and possibly the championship, they were disposed of by a No.4 seed in the Miami Heat in a 4-1 series ending. The opposite has happened for the Bucks in terms of chemistry, as they’ve thrived with less talented pieces surrounding their superstar due to pure chemistry and a phenomenal system ran by head coach Mike Budenholzer.
But it hasn’t led to a higher plateau for the Bucks, losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals this year, the Conference Finals last year, and being bounced in the first round the two years prior to those (2018, 2017). After many failed attempts to be surrounded by a championship-caliber team such as the Kawhi Leonard led-Clippers, we look at ways to help Antetokounmpo — who has struggled in the playoffs — land with the championship-pedigree Leonard.
A straight-up superstar-for-superstar exchange would be ideal for both the Bucks and the Clippers. The Bucks will do everything in their power going into next season to prove to Antetokounmpo that he should stay in Milwaukee on a longer deal next offseason. But if that plan shows early signs of detonating, the Bucks could move on Antetokounmpo and at least get something in return— preferably a superstar.
George averaged 21.5 points per game this season, his lowest in over four seasons. That could easily be attributed to George’s transitioning to a new team and being paired with Leonard. In the 2018-19 season, George averaged 28 points per game in a system that relied on him to take majority of the perimeter shots, which would more than likely be the system he returns to in Milwaukee with very few true shooters on the roster.
In an ideal situation, the Clippers would like to hold onto George, who they traded away a haul of picks for just last year. But in any situation not involving George, it’d be extremely difficult for the Clippers to get any deal done relying on just role players.
Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Marcus Morris Sr.
Where the Clippers thrived in the regular season upon the disjoint chemistry of the Leonard-George duo was with significant role players in Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and even Marcus Morris, Sr. Williams was nothing short of his ordinary sixth-man demeanor during the regular season, averaging 18.2 points and 5.6 assists per contest. Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, provided critical rim protection in the front-court as he averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Morris, Sr. was an absolute sensational acquisition, becoming a reliable piece as a 3-point shooter. In terms of salaries, this would all be contingent on how the offseason for both Harrell and Morris proceed.
Yes, the Clippers have nearly nothing to give in terms of picks, something the Bucks may want in return along with a Paul George and role players in order to secure a deal. With that, the Clippers may have to make a few moves with lower pieces on the roster in order to obtain a few draft picks in return. Trading away a star 25-year old that’s not even in his prime for a 30-year old that’s more than likely hit his ceiling will require more than just George himself. The likes of George along with Morris and a combination of Williams or Harrell and a few picks should be enough to entice the Bucks front office to make a move if the season starts to go awry with said plans for Antetokounmpo and company.