Clipper fans are used to disappointment at the trade deadline.
Remember that one time we were supposed to get Allen Iverson? Remember refreshing that ESPN Insider trade rumors page over and over and over again until you knew conclusively that it wasn't happening? Remember thinking, "I guess I'm glad we didn't trade Shaun Livingston. There's no scenario I could imagine that could possibly prevent him from being our point guard for the next ten years."
That Iverson rumor was about as exciting as February got in the Elgin Baylor war room (actually I think that rumor came earlier, but you get the point). Historically, most of our trade deadline activity involved sending off the flotsam and jetsam of a dysfunctional roster for the slightly cheaper flotsam and jetsam of another team's dysfunctional roster. On a related note, my authentic reversible Sebastian Telfair Clipper jersey is still available on eBay, for any of you that are interested.
Sure, the very underrated Olshey era brought us one glorious half-season of pre-Iggy Swaggy P. But that's the only successful "going for it" move the team has been able to execute since Chris Paul arrived and "going for it" no longer meant renewing Earl Boykins' 10-day. (As a courtesy, I've embedded the Swaggy clip below for those who still need to get the taste of that brutal Memphis home loss out of their mouth. Who needs Zoloft when you have this?)
Still, even though we're used to inactivity, this trade deadline was a particular bummer. Yes, we knew going into it the only tradeable assets we had left were Jamal, a second rounder from 2045, and Clipper Darryl's expiring endorsement deal with Men's Warehouse. But roughly 7,000 NBA players were traded last week, just shy of Major League Baseball's daily average. It was pure, unbridled, joyful NBA chaos. Miami picked up rhyming brothers, for Christ's sake. It just would have been nice to be included in the fun. You're telling me a combination of Ekpe Udoh and Mike Smith couldn't have fetched something from Philly?
Thinking Creatively: Upgrading The Wing Post-Deadline
But fear not, Clipper faithful! Don't dismay that every other playoff team in the Western Conference seems to have added a perfectly complementary piece...or Rajon Rondo! Don't fret that Doc keeps giving Jason Powell the "hey, you think you can give me 5 minutes at point?" look while Chris Paul grabs for his fourth quarter oxygen mask!
Because even though the trade deadline may have passed, there are still plenty of options for upgrading the roster if you think creatively enough. Yes, we're still hamstrung with the Fukushima-esque fallout from those Bledsoe-Dudley trades. Forgive the cliche, but all that means is we just have to think that much more outside the box.
Below you'll find a few post-deadline possibilities for improving that pesky wing position that has dogged the Clippers all season (no disrespect to Matt Barnes, who may be losing it defensively but ironically has played as well as anyone could hope on offense).
Some of the list involves the buyout market, some involve more creative personnel maneuvering, and all fit within our cap constraints. Most importantly, all the options are tailored to Doc's shopping tastes.
Without further ado.
Option 1: A Scarecrow That Kind of Looks Like Paul Pierce
When Paul Pierce hit the free agent market last summer, many thought the Clippers were the leading candidate to land the grizzled but still vaguely effective veteran. Pierce after all had won a championship under Doc, went to Inglewood High, and seemed a perfect cost-fit for the Clippers' mid-level exception.But Pierce ultimately signed with the Wizards, and the Clippers ultimately used their mid-level on Spencer Hawes.
What if I told you we could atone for that mistake, and all it took was some hay, a couple trips to Michaels, and some good ol-fashioned elbow grease?
The "scarecrow that kind of looks like Paul Pierce" is good for at least two to three possessions per game. Here's how it works. Let's say the Clippers have possession and are down by two, with about 15 seconds left to play against Memphis. After a timeout, the Clippers roll out Chris, JJ, Blake (when he's back), and DeAndre. The opposing team's small forward scours the court for Jamal Crawford (who plays crunch time offense), but he's nowhere to be found. Neither are Matt Barnes or Hedo. Jeff Green is now panicked, wondering where the hell his assignment went.
Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Jeff Green spots what looks like Paul Pierce wide open in the corner. Triggering some deep-seated "I can't leave Paul Pierce open in the corner" neuron in his brain, Green darts to cover Pierce. Only, as he approaches, he realizes Pierce is not really Pierce--it's just a scarecrow that kind of looks like Paul Pierce.
By then the damage is done. Jamal, who has been hiding behind a squatting Big Baby the entire time on the sidelines, suddenly sprints onto the court and receives the inbound pass at the top of the arc. Buckets.
You may be wondering, "well, if we have the scarecrow materials available, why not build a Lebron scarecrow? Wouldn't that be an even more effective distraction?"
I thought of that. But apparently there's copyright issues involved, as EGOT-seeking Lebron is voicing an animated scarecrow in the next Tyler Perry vehicle.
(It's Kevin Hart as Toto, if you're wondering).
Option 2: Lantz Stephenson
No, not Lance. LanTZ!
Did you know Lance Stephenson has a younger brother named Lantz Stephenson? Sure, he's not even in high school yet, but that shouldn't prevent us from at least exploring the option.
I know Dahntay Jones has been great for team chemistry and all, but don't you think adorable little Lantz could do just as good a job waving a towel, overreacting to dunks, and being slightly less annoying, all while spelling Barnes at the 3? Also, gun to your head, who would you rather have taking a fourth quarter three: Lantz or Austin Rivers?
Option 3: My Boy Ken
You know that legendary Penny Hardaway workout that led the Magic to trade Chris Webber for him in the1993 draft? Well, I've never seen tape of what Penny did. But the show my boy Ken put on last week can't be that far off.
THREE AND D:
Ken "The Machine" Mashinchi averaged a 12-5-2 for Division II CSU Stanislaus. Sources close to Mashinchi say he'd be willing to accept the league minimum for a chance to play for a title contender. Let's be sure to pick him up before Oklahoma City or the And 1 Mixtape Tour swoop in.
Option 4: Build A Time Machine, Undo The Bledsoe/Dudley Trades
The more I think about it, the more I believe this is really the only option we have left. At this point we don't even have to go back for Bledsoe, apparently we just needed to give Jared Dudley the right Yoga groupon. We could also take care of that Farmar signing too.
A Quick Digression: Doc's Front Office
Veritable mountains of ink have been spilled about Doc's competence as GM. But is anyone else worried about the sheer logistics of managing two highly-demanding positions? Here's how I imagine things went down the morning of the deadline.
The Scene: Doc is in the Clippers' practice facility in Playa Vista, overseeing some team defensive drills. An injured Blake Griffin sits on the sidelines, filming on his phone. Suddenly a call comes in from Tom Thibodeau, Doc's former assistant in Boston.
Doc: Tibs? Long time no talk, man. What can I do for you?
Thibodeau: Hey, Doc. Quick question. I just saw a Vine Blake posted of Hawes. Pretty interesting...
Doc: Really? You interested at all in him? I've heard some rumors that you'd be willing to part with Taj Gibson if you got the right package in return.
Thibodeau: No no no no no. God no. I was just wondering how you get Vine to do that time-lapse thing. It was pretty epic.
Doc: What are you talking about?
Thibodeau: You can literally see the sun set and rise again in the background before Hawes enters the frame as the help defender. It's amazing looking...
A pause. Doc checks the video Blake posted.
Doc: It's in real time.
Thibodeau: I'm sorry.
Doc: So am I.
Thibodeau: Aright, gotta go. It's 12:30 out here in Chicago, which means Pau has four more up and downs around the stadium to go if he thinks he deserves to eat before tip-off. I'll talk to ya later.
(In retrospect, this might have been a sign....)
Doc hangs up. Another call comes in. This time it's Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly.
Connelly: Hey Doc, it's Tim Connelly from Denver. I wanted to see whether we could work something out around Wilson Chandler.
Doc: Yes, yes, yes! I'm definitely interested. Actually, big favor Tim, could I call you back on another line first?
Connelly: Umm, yeah sure. Do you mind if I ask why?
Doc: I actually have two phones, one for my GM duties and one for coaching. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I submit my expenses for reimbursement, it saves our accounting people a TON of time.
Connelly; Ok, yeah that's fine. Just call me back ASAP, obviously time is of the essence here.
Doc: Will do.
Connelly hangs up. About ten minutes transpire without a call. Frustrated, he dials Doc again.
Connelly: Hey Doc, Tim Connelly again. Just wondering about that Wilson Chandler chat...
Doc: Oh God, Tim, I'm so sorry. Right after you called, I got a text on my coaching line from Big Baby saying he somehow got himself stuck in a dumb waiter at Benihana's. So I'm driving there now...
Connelly: Maybe now is not the best time.
Doc: No no no, I can talk! Go ahead Danny.
Connelly: It's Tim.
Doc: Shit, sorry. Bad habit. Ok, go ahead Tim.
Connelly: Ok, so we're prepared to deal Wilson in a three team deal involving you and Phoenix. While I was waiting for you to call I emailed you an outline of the deal, as well as a spreadsheet with all the salary-matching and cap implications. Are you able to take a look?
Doc: Sure thing, opening my inbox now.
Doc: I don't see it.
Connelly: Really? I sent it like eight minutes ago, you should have it. The spreadsheet is not that big a file.
Doc: Nope, not here.
Connelly: Weird. Ok, I'll resend it. In the meantime I'll just tell you...
Doc: This has been happening a lot lately. I wonder if it's an MSN thing. Although I would never tell Ballmer that.
Connelly: Could be, could be. Anyway, Phoenix would send...
Doc: Wait a minute. Wait...a...minute! I know where this probably is! I completely forgot, I had Ballmer's people set up a filter for me like six months ago for all GM-related email. I was just getting flooded with too many emails and needed a way to organize my inbox. So now all my Living Social deals go in one folder, all of my emails begging Alvin Gentry to come back go in another. Really makes life easier.
Connelly: I see. So do you have the email?
Doc: I should. Give me one second, I just need to find the folder, it's been a little while. Here it....oh my God.
Doc: Um, Tim? How many unread emails do you have in your inbox?
Connelly: Meh, I'm pretty responsive to people. I'd say 20-30, max.
Doc: So 11,000 is a lot then?
Connelly: Ok Doc, I'm going to have to call you back later, we're getting interest from Portland on another player.
Doc, not paying attention: Wait, we could have had Lebron AND Anthony Davis????
(*Note: Apologies to Nuggets fans for making Connelly my competent straight man.)
And as always, a huge thank you to the early Toronto Vince Carter of photoshop (although he and I both know Steve Francis' performance was super underrated that year), Connor Carroll.
You can follow me on the tweets at @MHellerReports.