Trade Rumors - Crawford to Clippers Hinges on Gomes

The principles in a rumored deal between the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers have been established for a while now. The two players at the center of the discussion are Jamal Crawford of the Blazers and Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers. The Clippers need more size in their backcourt which Crawford would provide while the Blazers are pretty desperate for a point guard and may see Bledsoe as a potential future solution there. Besides, Crawford hasn't worked out in Portland and will likely be gone after this season, so Portland risks losing him for nothing if they don't deal him by the trade deadline Thursday.

From that point, it becomes a negotiation. Each side is trying to gauge how motivated the other party is to get this deal done. At first Portland was asking for a first round pick, hoping the Clippers were desperate to get backcourt help. It probably took Neil Olshey about two seconds to convince them that that wasn't happening. The fact that the Clippers can't offer a first rounder until 2014 at the earliest helped take that off the table. The Clippers for their part want to rid themselves of Ryan Gomes' contract (one more season at $4MM) as part of the deal, and were hoping that the prospect of losing Crawford for nothing might be enough to entice the Blazers to make the deal. But according to Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge, Gomes is a deal breaker for Portland (no real surprise there).

So that's where we are at present. Bear in mind that there is a lot of brinkmanship involved here -- if either side in this negotiation has really shown their hand with two full days left before the deadline, then they've made a mistake. By the same token, you can't wait too long. Even if the deal for Crawford doesn't happen, the Clippers want and need to make some deal, and if they wait too long on Portland to budge, their other targets could be off the table as well.

Trade restrictions mean that a one for one, Bledsoe for Crawford deal is not an option. Either Gomes or Randy Foye needs to be included for salary matching purposes in order for this deal to happen. Foye becomes more or less expendable if Crawford is a Clipper (though backcourt depth would be hurt if both Bledsoe and Foye depart), but more importantly Foye's deal is expiring. So Portland will be more willing to take Foye back -- but likewise there's really no incentive for the Clippers to part with him. As of now, it seems the Clippers are insistent on including Gomes, and Portland won't make the trade if it means taking on that contract. So we wait and see if either side blinks.

As I mentioned yesterday, Crawford is not exactly an ideal fit for the Clippers, since the team needs defense much more than offense right now. I'm assuming that Olshey will stick to his guns and not trade for Crawford without getting rid of a bad contract in the process. But I've been wrong before.

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