Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
If I have learned anything as a fan of the Lakers over the years it is that it is never, I repeat NEVER, too early to take a trip to the magical land of the NBA Trade Machine. This fascinating algorithmic system, created by ESPN, is the perfect stop for any NBA fan that wants to play GM for the day. You can get lost making all of the ludicrous trades your heart desires.
The NBA trade deadline is still months away (February 20th, 2014) but we have seen enough from the Lakers and Clippers to understand what their needs and future goals are. The Lakers are, most likely, a lottery team and would like to clear as much salary off the roster as possible, while potentially adding more picks and/or cheap young talent. The Clippers are destined to be a Top 4 seed in the Western Conference and are gunning for an NBA Finals appearance this season.
Let’s begin our Trade Machine experience by examining the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clips are a good enough team right now to make the Western Conference Finals; however, they probably don’t have enough big men to make it past the Thunder or Spurs.
There is a reason the Clippers are a great front running team and have struggled in close games against the Western Conference elite. Playing Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in crunch time situations is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because of their free throw shooting. Both Griffin and Jordan are less than stellar free throw shooters and hamper the Clippers ability to close out games in the final minutes.
Also, Jordan tends to clog the lane and doesn’t provide the spacing necessary to find good shots in the closing moments. The Clippers have more than enough shooting; however, they are in desperate need of a rim protector who can also shoot free throws and space the floor. Whom should they target?
Why Spencer Hawes? Despite the fact that he isn’t a great rim protector, Hawes is an effective scorer from all over the court who is a 69% career FT shooter. While the 76ers may want to keep Hawes for the long term, he is on the last year of his deal and Philly may want to get something in return for him while they can. The Clippers don’t need Jamal Crawford once J.J. Redick comes back and Bullock could be a nice young piece for the 76ers. The Clippers would have to throw in a first round pick but Hawes is the type of player that could put the Clippers over the top.
Anderson Varejao would be a fantastic compliment to the Clippers because he is a decent free throw shooter (70% in 2013), a rim protector and would make up for the loss in rebounding due to sitting Jordan in crunch time situations. Again, the Clippers don’t need Crawford. Bullock and Collision are thrown into this trade for financial reasons. The Cavs would get a great short term replacement for Dion Waiters, who clearly doesn’t want to play with Kyrie Irving and would probably net them a first round pick from the Grizzlies. Memphis would love to add a young shooter with the potential of Waiters. This seems like a win-win for all parties.
As for the Lakers, the only true trade chip they have is Pau Gasol, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. While giving up Gasol would irritate the fan base and Kobe Bryant, it would be smart to get some value for him before he most likely leaves at the end of the season. If the Lakers are really trying to build the team for 2014 and beyond it would be in their best interest to acquire a player who would be a better fit within the Mike D’Antoni system and get another 1st round draft pick in the 2014 draft.
Luol Deng is a fantastic two-way player who would be free to roam the court and attack the basket in D’Antoni’s system. He will be a free agent after the season but he is the type of player that would fit well with D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant for the next couple of seasons. The kicker in this trade would be a 1st round pick going back to the Lakers. Is this even feasible? Maybe. It depends on how valuable the Bulls consider Gasol to be and how likely Gasol would be to re-sign with the Bulls. It’s a risky trade for both side but one I think they should both consider.
The NBA Trade Machine is the greatest machine ever invented for NBA fans. Who doesn’t want to play GM for a couple of hours? It’s exciting and invigorating! Go ahead, test the waters. Make any trade your heart desires! Send your most ridiculous Laker and Clipper trades to us @LA_SportsHub. Happy Holidays!