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Rumor: Clippers Interested in Paul Pierce, Wilson Chandler

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According to Arash Markazi of ESPN.com, the Clippers are still pursuing their starting small forward after acquiring Lance Stephenson, and two of their targets are Paul Pierce and Wilson Chandler.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In his piece today on ESPN.com, Arash Markazi mostly discussed Lance Stephenson and his new role on the Clippers, which, according to Doc Rivers, will most likely not be as the starting small forward, but as a utility player off of the bench where he will be able to facilitate the offense instead of playing off the ball alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.  That's all well and good, but it begs the question: if not Lance, then who?  The Clippers still need to pursue a starting small forward in order to complete their starting lineup, and Markazi lists two popular options that are rumored: Paul Pierce and Wilson Chandler.

Pierce, who has a player option for next season, could opt out to come join Doc Rivers and the Clippers in a homecoming farewell tour.  Markazi only considers the taxpayer mid-level exception as an option for the Clippers to bring him on, but there's also a chance that he would take the league minimum, as well as a chance that he could opt into his contract with Washington and find his way to LA via a Jamal Crawford trade.  Pierce, who will turn 38 before the season starts, was still highly efficient last season and made clutch shots in the playoffs, but it's hard to compete in this league once you start getting closer to 40, and anyone of his age is liable to severely decline.  Maybe Pierce can come to LA, hit big shots, and shoot 45% from the floor and 40% from deep.  But no matter what, he won't really bring what the club needs defensively and his ability to start 82 games is questionable at best.  Pierce still has a lot to give to an NBA team, but with the Clippers desperately needing an athletic, defensive-minded small forward, the fit is questionable and he's probably a better bet as a backup than in the starting role.

Chandler, on the other hand, isn't as well-rounded or famed a player as Pierce, but having just turned 28, he brings more energy and athleticism to the lineup.  He's only an average shooter at around 34% from deep, but he rebounds well (6.9 p36 last season) and brings length defensively where he will hopefully have upside and be a younger, better Matt Barnes.  Barnes, for all his shortcomings, was the perfect fit with this starting lineup--getting someone similar to him to slide into his role would be ideal.  Chandler also has the size, at 6'8", to play small-ball power forward in limited situations, allowing the Clippers to be athletic and quick.  In order to acquire Chandler, the Clippers would have to orchestrate a Jamal Crawford trade with the Denver Nuggets, who might be skeptical of such a deal when they could possibly get a better package.  The advantage for Denver would be that, with their new front office regime, they would have a chance to waive Crawford's partially-guaranteed deal and gain immediate cap relief this summer.  Is that more enticing than other packages they're being offered?  We'll just have to wait and see.

Overall, the Clippers' two biggest holes left are their starting SF and backup C, and with Jamal Crawford's contract and the taxpayer mid-level, they have two tools to fill those holes before filling out the remainder of the roster with minimum contracts.  It's up to Doc Rivers to find the right deals to maximize those two tools.