I liked Zach Lowe when he wrote for Sports Illustrated. I like him even more now that he's over at Grantland. He seems more focused on day-to-day basketball, and more free, perhaps, to write what he likes.
He's a very modern guy in that he likes to focus on stats, but he also watches the games. (I don't think you ever have the sense that someone like John Hollinger actually watches or even enjoys watching games. It might be the flaw in Hollinger's approach.)
Anyway, yesterday, Lowe spent a little time focusing on who might be available or tradeable on the Clippers roster. While his conclusions were that because of age and injury the Clippers don't really have a lot of spare parts (his biggest suggestion is that Ryan Hollins might be available) his overall assessment seems pretty worthwhile. Here's the link, it's certainly worth a read. Some excerpts:
"Lamar Odom is rebounding better and generally looking almost like an NBA player again, but he's still shooting 32 percent, including a horrid 4-of-24 from long range... it's unclear how much the Clippers will really be able to count on him against good teams in the playoffs."
On the surface this seems a good note but if you've seen the Clippers last half-a-dozen games you know that while Odom isn't quite the old Odom, he's damn close, and the only thing he's really lacking is that offensive game. But the Clips don't rely on Odom for his offense... they get enough elsewhere on their second unit. But Lowe, correctly, wonders how much the Clippers will be able to rely on a poor-three-throw-shooting DeAndre Jordan in crunch time and in the playoffs. Will Odom be able to pick up the slack? It's a good question.
I did like Lowe's assessment of the Clips potentially crowded small forward spot:
"(Matt) Barnes has in many ways outplayed Caron Butler... Barnes is a feisty defender and one of the most intuitive cutters in the league, a skill that fits nicely on a team with two offensive centerpieces that draw so much attention... But he doesn't have Butler's ability to space the floor, and with (Grant) Hill's uncertain status, the Clippers probably need both Barnes and Butler - especially since being able to play smaller... could be an important asset against a couple of potential playoff opponents (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, et al.)."
Finally Lowe takes on the most talked-about potential trade piece the Clippers possess... Eric Bledsoe:
"The Clippers might be thinking too conventionally with Bledsoe, but within that context, the reality is that Chris Paul is always going to limit Bledsoe from getting the time he deserves. Only about 20 percent of Bledsoe's minutes have come with Paul on the floor, and the Clippers have outscored the opposition by about 6.5 points per 100 possessions in those minutes - even while giving up points at what amounts to a league-worst rate, per NBA.com's stats database. (They were fine defensively with those two on the floor last season, though in fewer minutes than they've logged already this season.) Those defensive struggles and size issues likely explain Vinny Del Negro's reluctance to use them together, despite Bledsoe's super-long arms and general defensive ability."
I appreciate Lowe's approach here, since it's been suggested that the ideal solution for Bledsoe's dearth of minutes would be starting him next to Chris Paul, rather than as Paul's replacement. Lowe concludes with this:
"Paul's a free agent in the offseason, but the Clippers obviously want him back, and his cap hold soaks up their cap room - and their ability to pursue free agents above the mid-level exception. A Bledsoe trade feels almost inevitable, though the Clippers don't need to do it this season, especially if they can't find anything that would help their title chances."