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LA Clippers: Why Two Draft Picks Isn't Nothing

Clippers in a Quandary: Why Two Draft Picks isn't Nothing


According to Adrian Wojnarowski it looks like a Doc Rivers/Kevin Garnett deal might happen if the Clippers agree to package DeAndre Jordan and two future picks and send them Boston's way. So that's it, right? What's two picks? Especially since the Clippers will likely be contenders next year and picking late in the draft, even later than this year's #25 pick.

But not so fast, let's think about this. By consensus this year's draft is lousy, though there are those that believe that it's shallow at the front end but plateaus in the later rounds... in other words, the Clips might be able to pick up a useful eventual-rotation player (hopefully a shooter) at 25. Next year's draft is supposedly much richer. Might there be another rotation player late in the draft (between 25 and 30)?

Let's remember how we got here. A key trading chip for the Clips this year is Eric Bledsoe, who was drafted three years ago as the eighteenth pick. Bledsoe's value has, of coursed, soared, and even though his future might not be with the Clippers, his value as a trading chip is clearly high. With the new salary cap rules, and the crazy luxury tax penalties, finding, signing, and developiing cheap players on long term deals is critical (see San Antonio). It's not just important for the Clippers to become a desirable destination for free agents, it's important for them to identify and develop long term talent. First round rookie contracts, locked in for cheap money for four years is a critical path to long term NBA success.

Okay, so what if the Clips give away their first round picks but keep their second round picks. If you're good at identifying good players in the 2nd round they're just as valuable as the first rounders right? Wrong. Not only have the Clippers not been successful at finding quality second rounders (DeAndre Jordan is the one and only), those contracts are not locked down. If you do find a quality piece, you have to identify that player as someone you want to hold onto and you have to pay them after only three years. Jordan's a perfect example of this. Had he been picked in the first round, the Clippers would have had one more year to see if he developed, instead of paying him after three years.

So those first round picks, even as late as they are, shouldn't be casually tossed into a deal. They're value is greater than it initially seems. Would it be better for the Clippers to take on salary in the persons of Courtney Lee or Jason Terry and deny the Celtics the picks? Could either Lee or Terry be valuable for the Clips or turned into other trade assets?

Personally, I hate the idea of the Clips taking on salary, but if you trust your scouting staff and feel like you can find value in the late first round. If you don't trust your scouting staff or don't think you can develop good pieces, shouldn't you get better staff?