Prior to this year’s trade deadline, rumors swirled regarding the L.A. Clippers’ interest in trading for Boston Celtics forward/center Kevin Garnett. Now that we’re about to head into the offseason, those rumors have resurfaced.
In a piece that ran on ESPN.com Friday, Arash Markazi detailed the likelihood that the Clippers could swing a deal that would not only land them Garnett, but veteran forward Paul Pierce and head coach Doc Rivers, as well.
In return for that trio, L.A. would have to send Boston a bunch of pieces, including DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler and possibly Willie Green. Draft picks could also be sent from the Clippers to Boston.
The deal would be contingent upon several factors, including the Clippers’ willingness to essentially mortgage their future in an attempt to win a championship now, and the Celtics’ interest in blowing things up and starting a full-on rebuilding project.
Rivers, who has three years and $21 million remaining on his deal with the Celtics, has indicated that he wouldn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding effort with the Celtics, and has also expressed interest in the Clips’ head coaching vacancy.
Obviously, L.A.’s top priority this summer is retaining the services of free agent point guard Chris Paul. A report got out Friday that claimed Paul and Lakers center Dwight Howard have been in communication regarding potentially teaming-up together, but a trade for this trio from the Celtics could help convince Paul to re-sign with the Clippers. A move like this would show that the team is dead serious about winning, and winning as soon as possible.
Garnett and Pierce are both in the latter stages of their playing careers, but they both have shown that they still have something left in the tank. The addition of Pierce would give the Clippers something they sorely lacked last year: a competent small forward.
Too many times last season, the Clippers’ offense sputtered in crunch time. Chris Paul was phenomenal, as always, but he was pretty much the only option they had. Jamal Crawford had his moments, and obviously scoring in bunches is the reason he’s in the league, but he’s never been a reliable late-game scorer with the game on the line. And Blake Griffin’s offensive game is still too unpolished and inconsistent to rely upon when you absolutely have to get a bucket.
Pierce is 35, but he’s still shown that he can carry his team offensively through long stretches. He can also help shoot his team out of a drought. Caron Butler does exactly zero of these things.
Garnett’s value comes on the other end of the floor, where he can serve as your defensive anchor. The Clippers obviously like Jordan, but he’s still raw to the point that he can’t seem to avoid picking up dumb fouls and falling for shot fakes in an attempt to get the block. Garnett is infinitely more disciplined than Jordan, and would upgrade that position instantly.
He’s also obviously a far superior offensive talent to Jordan, and the Clippers wouldn’t have to bench him late in games as they did with DeAndre. He can score with his back to the basket, he can step out and hit jumpers, and he’s a 79 percent career free-throw shooter. Jordan is still a big-time work-in-progress on the offensive end.
The hiring of Rivers as head coach needs no explanation. His career got off to a fairly inauspicious start with the Magic, but he’s improved to the point that he’s one of the most well-respected coaches in the league.
He’s gone from being more of motivator to a motivator/tactician. Not sure you can ask for more from your head coach, especially considering Vinny Del Negro was neither of those things at the helm of the Clippers. Del Negro was a lot like Rivers was when he was just getting his start in coaching. He can still improve, of course, but a veteran coach like Rivers is the one the Clippers need if they have realistic hopes and aspirations of championship parades in the Paul-Griffin era.
I love Eric Bledsoe as a player, and he gives you several things Paul doesn’t as a point guard. However, he’s a free agent after the upcoming season, and the Clippers almost certainly won’t be able to retain him if they have Paul on board. Too many other teams will be out there willing to give him big-time dollars and a starting job. So, trading him now, while his value is as high as it’ll ever be, is likely the wise move.
Jordan is a highlight machine, and is a good bud of Griffin’s, but he’s far from an irreplaceable part. In fact, a swap of Jordan for Garnett would not only help the Clippers defensively, but the attitude adjustment that KG would help bring is also probably well worth the price of the younger Jordan.
So, while I wasn’t necessarily a major advocate of a KG trade midseason, throwing Pierce and Rivers into a potential deal is more than enough to get me on board. The title window is pretty small with guys as old as Pierce and Garnett are, but you have to strike while the iron is hot, and that time may well never come with Jordan and Bledsoe.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.