The Clippers didn’t make much noise as last Thursday’s league-wide trade deadline hit, making just a couple of minor moves, sending backup forwards Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens to Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively.
The moves, along with the team’s decision last week not to retain guard Sasha Vujacic beyond his initial 10-day contract, did open up three roster spots, however. Doc Rivers anticipated there would be a good amount of action on the buyout market, and it’s looking like he was right.
Shortly after the deadline, news broke that the Orlando Magic and power forward Glen Davis were working on a buyout that would put the veteran big man on the open market. Two natural suitors, the Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets, immediately emerged.
The Nets had been reportedly looking at Laker forward Jordan Hill prior to the deadline, but were unable to get a deal done. They were looking for frontcourt depth to help ease the burden on guys like Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche. The trade sending Jason Terry and Reggie Evans to Sacramento in exchange for Marcus Thornton also opened up a roster spot. Davis played with Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston, where he was also coached, of course, by Rivers.
Neither Jamison nor Mullens had been playing meaningful minutes for the Clippers lately, so losing them meant nearly nothing aside from shedding a few bucks on the team’s luxury tax bill, which they’re paying for the first time in franchise history. However, by body count alone, the deals left the team extremely thin in the frontcourt, with the only true bigs being Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins. Throw in Hedo Turkoglu if you want, who has been seeing a good amount of time as a stretch-four. Neither Hollins nor Turkoglu has made much of an impact at all.
If you remember early in the season, the Clippers were one of the very worst defensive teams in the league, due in large part to horrific play by the reserves. Jamison didn’t play much until December, but Mullens was an absolute sieve defensively. In fact, lineups with Mullens and Darren Collison on the court together were bottom-five in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. The Clippers entered the year with championship aspirations, but a team running the likes of Hollins, Mullens and Jamison out there for meaningful minutes couldn’t be taken seriously.
So, word came down late Sunday that Davis had verbally agreed to join Rivers and the Clippers instead of KG, Pierce and the Nets. He should sign on Monday, and could be active and in uniform when the Clippers take on the Pelicans in New Orleans. The Clippers were able to offer more money than Brooklyn was, and there’s also likely more playing time available. The Nets already get decent production from their reserve big men, while the Clippers clearly do not. So far this season for the woeful Magic, Davis was averaging about 12 points and six rebounds while shooting 45% from the field.
While this definitely isn’t a move that absolutely puts the Clippers over-the-top, it has the chance to be pretty major. Griffin and Jordan are obviously still going to be eating the lion’s share of the minutes, but now the team will have a guy that can come off-the-bench and provide a bit of an offensive spark. That’s something the Clippers haven’t really had since Jamal Crawford has had to start so many games with J.J. Redick on the shelf. The acquisition of Jared Dudley has been a Dud (HA), and guys like Collison and Turkoglu aren’t really big-time scoring contributors.
Davis is a bit undersized at 6’9″, but his near-300-pound frame helps make up for that. The Clippers’ offensive attack is largely predicated on the pick-and-roll/pop, which is clearly an area in which Davis can provide some punch. He’s struggled this season to finish at the bucket, which is something you can probably chalk-up to his lack of height and explosive athletic ability. Here’s his to-date shot chart:
So, he lives around the 15-foot range offensively, which is something the Clippers’ offense doesn’t really have, currently. Griffin has improved his midrange jumper, but he’s obviously still more adept at finding his way to the basket. Jordan can’t do anything outside of the paint, and Turkoglu may have never taken a two-point shot in his career. Midrange shots aren’t particularly efficient, but oftentimes they’re available with the way present-day NBA defenses are focused on cutting-off the paint and the three-point line.
Defensively, Davis won’t help much more than Mullens or Jamison did, but can he really be any worse? Hollins isn’t a good player, but he can still block a few shots every now-and-then. Plus, it’s not like LA is going to be leaning on him to steer the ship. He just has to come into the game and not sink the ship while Griffin and/or Jordan rest, which is something those other players weren’t able to do.
Frontcourt depth has been the Clippers’ biggest weakness all season long, and the addition of Davis should help to alleviate those woes. It may not be their last strike, of course, as you can be sure the team will be actively scouring the rest of the buyout market, as well.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.