The Clippers have had absolutely NO size at the shooting guard position since the beginning of the shortened 2011-2012 season. But they would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for Chauncey's freak Achilles injury on the 4th of February. I remember that game all too well. About half way through the fourth quarter, Billups stepped into a 3 pointer just as he received a crisp pass from Chris Paul with a few seconds left on the shot clock. He faked a shot as the defender flew by, leaving him with an open three-pointer. After his shot and subsequent backpedal to defense, the ball clanked off the back iron and was then tapped by fellow teammate DeAndre to the very spot that Billups had shot moments earlier. Upon switching gears from backpedal to full forward sprint to beat Jameer Nelson to the ball, Billups ruptured his Achilles tendon, as well as the Clippers hopes of playoff contention.
The fact that they had no size was masked by Chauncey quite well. Defensively, he's not going to get you flashy numbers in the steals category, but what he does do is move his feet properly to stay in front of his man and get his hands up to disrupt many shot attempts. Offensively, the numbers speak for themselves. This is where Billups shined. He made 15 points per game, 2.4 three-pointers per game (2nd in the league), 89.5% of his free throws, and dished out 4 assists per game. His on-court plus-minus is +6.3, when he's off the court it's -1.3, which brings his net to +7.6. The Clippers are a .500 team without Billups, as demonstrates by their 6-6 record in the 12 games he has missed thus far.
Chauncey will now instead play a much needed inspirational role on the bench as a mentor. He is out for the rest of the season, and it is clear that his unique talent cannot be replaced. In other words, the Clippers can't just plug in Mo Williams or Randy Foye at the 2 spot and try to replicate their winning formula as if it was Billups. Mo Williams is undersized for a point guard, let alone a shooting guard, and Randy Foye still hasn't learned the NBA game quite yet. He has glimpses of brilliance that are often marred by bad shot selection and what can only be described as tired defense. I'm not sure where the problem lies with Foye. Maybe he lacks confidence, maybe the game hasn't "slowed down" for him yet, maybe he's not decisive enough on offense, or maybe he doesn't take the time to properly scout his opponent's tendencies. The bottom line is Billups plays with the poise, decisiveness, and determination of a champion that cannot be remanufactured at the shooting guard position with our current roster. It is evident that a trade for a shooting guard is crucial in order to keep hopes of deep playoff contention afloat.
Potential Trade Ins:
Ray Allen is a consummate professional, knock-down shooter, solid team defender, and most importantly NBA champion. The statistical benefit of having him in a Clippers uniform would be too obvious to discuss. In many ways, he would be the most fitting replacement to the injured Billups. He would, however, be the priciest of all the aforementioned guards.
Brandon Rush possesses a deadeye shot from behind the three-point line. He also has excellent size for the 2 spot, long arms, runs the floor well, and get above the rim with ease. Possibly the most "bang for the buck" of all the possible acquisitions, as he would come cheap. He can play a solid 25 minutes a game.
Nick Young is a product of California. If he was traded to Los Angeles, I think it would be safe to say Nick Young would give that extra effort to reinvent his game. He has a knack for scoring the rock, he has 3-point range, and an excellent mid-range game. His long wingspan and great athleticism give him all the physical tools necessary to be a defensive stopper, he just needs to give that extra effort.
I would like to have Tony Allen here, mostly because I believe he's a top five perimeter defender in the NBA. The problem is, Memphis seems to be in love with him. Not to worry, Tony Allen happens to be splitting minutes with a potential All-Star that the Clippers can get for a better bargain, considering his upside. Explosive scorer, crafty ball handler, and gifted athlete are just a few ways to describe the former child prodigy OJ Mayo. All he might need is a change of scenery. Few players can give you 40 minutes a game for 82 games. And let's not forget that he averaged 18 ppg in his first two seasons in the NBA, or that he's only 24 years old.
Courtney Lee is another option. I'm not crazy about him, but he would be a cheap fix. Provides team mentality, solid defense, good work ethic, and an efficient shot from both mid-range and three-point land.
Rudy Fernandez is an exciting player, no doubt. He's an athletic playmaker, a great slasher, a creative ball handler, and moves well without the ball (à la Rip Hamilton). However, on defense he tends to overplay passing lanes and not fight through picks. Though he is an improvement, he might not be the best option for the Clippers, as they have enough trouble with their defense as it is.
Potential Trade Outs:
Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Chauncey Billups, and Kenyon Martin cannot be traded due to the new NBA collective bargaining agreement regulations. However, I wouldn't trade these players either way, except for DeAndre - aka JaVale McGee 2.0.
Blake Griffin and Mo Williams are integral to the core game plan, with Blake being the first option of the starting five and 'Instant' Mo "holding down the fort" while the starters rest and recuperate. In my opinion these two are untouchable - though Blake is clearly more untouchable.
Bobby Simmons didn't really have the lateral quickness to defend shooting guards during his first stint with the Clippers, so I'll just assume he still can't seven years later - though he looks to be in better physical shape. That being said he is a great acquisition to serve as second string small forward. Simmons is a well-rounded player that I'd like to see on the Clippers payroll by the end of the season.
Randy Foye is clearly the most valuable of tradable assets because of both the depth he can add to a back court and his expiring contract. I feel that the Randy Foye experiment in Lob City has run its course, both the Clippers and Foye need a fresh start.
Eric Bledsoe just turned 21 years old. As it is, he is a serviceable backup point guard and definitely has the prospective to be a starter in this league. I would love for the Clippers to keep him but it just doesn't make sense when they have two great point guards and such a giant hole at the shooting guard position.
Ryan Gomes is living an absolute nightmare. Not only is he having the worst year of his professional career, but he will probably continue to do so... in a Clipper uniform. I don't know if he'll get traded, considering he has another year left on his contract, but I sure hope he does.
Brian Cook's contract comes off the books this year. He's a big that can knock down the three-pointers - although not recently. He's a classic trade bait player.
Trey Thompkins and Travis Lesie have limited potential and 500k contracts a piece. I doubt any organization values either player, Clippers included.
Here are some trade proposals accompanied by reasoning.
Ray Allen for Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, and Brian Cook
Let's face it, Ray Allen is 36 years old and in the final year of his contract. How good of an offer do you think other teams are proposing for him? Foye is a serviceable combo guard with an expiring contract, Brian Cook is another expiring contract, and you have a prospect in Bledsoe locked up for three years. Very convenient for a team that's looking for both cap space and a young core to build around. Also, There have been talks of moving Rondo again - all the more reason to accept this deal.
Brandon Rush for Eric Bledsoe and Brian Cook
This is a bit of a desperate trade on the part of the Clippers. Bledsoe is the only one of the three players with clear upside. Stephen Curry has had a history of health issues, and the Warriors have no reliable backup point guard - as history has shown, teams eventually get fed up with the Nate Robinson show. Brandon Rush is unnecessary on the Warriors as they have Ellis, D.Wright, Thompson, and McGuire all ready to pick up his minutes without missing a beat. As an added bonus, the Clippers get to keep Randy Foye as backup two.
Nick Young for Eric Bledsoe, Brian Cook, and a 2nd round draft pick
John Wall is the motor that runs the Wizards. If he breaks, they break. John Wall doesn't play basketball for 37 minutes a game, he sprints for 37 minutes a game. As you might expect, he could use some time to rest his legs on the bench. Well... it's a little hard to relax when your backup is a rookie that was drafted in the second round. Pairing John Wall with Brian Cook would also be a smart move by the Wizards from time to time. Seeing as how Cook can spread the floor, giving John Wall more space to finish around the basket. Also, Nick Young has been eclipsed recently by Jordan Crawford, who will soon take his starting job permanently. This fact could definitely deter Young from resigning with the Wizards when he becomes an unrestricted free agent by the end of this season, and I'm sure the Wizards are well aware of that.
OJ Mayo for Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, and a 2nd round draft pick
For much the same reason as it was for John Wall and the Wizards, Memphis would likely agree to this trade. Tony Allen's defensive prowess has trumped OJ Mayo's offensive talent. Mayo's skills are very much wasted in the Memphis rotation. If there aren't enough shots to go around now, imagine what it will be like with Zach Randolph back in the rotation. Bledsoe would provide a reliable backup behind Conley, and Foye could spot minutes for either Mike Conley or Tony Allen as a combo guard.
Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams for Randy Foye
Rockets are flooded with swingmen and Terrence Williams has another full year left on his contract, whereas Foye's is expiring this year.
Rudy Fernandez for Eric Bledsoe
Andre Miller's contract is expiring this year, and he's turning 36. He is most likely going to a contending team as a backup point guard playing roughly 15-20 minutes a game. As such, the Nuggets would be smart to accept this deal for Bledsoe, locking up a solid backup point guard to Ty Lawson for the foreseeable future. Aaron Afflalo and Jordan Hamilton can share the spare minutes in Rudy's absence. The soon returning Gallinari will go back to his role as starting small forward confidently knowing that Brewer is more than capable of playing behind him (as he has shown with his great play recently). As an added bonus, the Clippers get to keep Randy Foye as backup two.
The Clippers going 6-6 in the last 12 games since the absence of Billups is not a good sign for the ball club. Mind you, this is the same team that is composed of two 2012 Western Conference All-Star starters, and three past All-Stars. This is a clear indication that there is a glaring problem with the makeup of the team. The Clippers have absolutely NO size at the shooting guard position, and Chauncey isn't around to bail them out. The front office needs to take action and trade for a shooting guard in order to salvage this season, without one they will have no chance of deep playoff contention.