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NBA Trade Rumors: Clippers Targeting Memphis’ 4th Overall Pick, Jaren Jackson

By the time the draft actually happens, the Clippers will have been linked to everyone.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round- Michigan State Spartans vs Syracuse Orange Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the Clippers are among teams to watch as Memphis continues to shop the 4th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. While we’ve previously heard the Clippers rumored to attempt to trade up to target Luka Doncic or Mohamed Bamba, Givony suggests that the Clippers are most interested in Jaren Jackson Jr. from Michigan State.

While the only true consensus is that the Phoenix Suns will take DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick, there seems to be a growing feeling that Marvin Bagley will go to the Kings second overall, with the Hawks reportedly favoring Luka Doncic with the third pick. That leaves the door open for chaos to begin at 4th, where the Grizzlies are considered to be likely to trade their pick. Any number of teams, wanting assurance that their preferred player from the Jaren Jackson/Wendell Carter/Mohamed Bamba/Trae Young/Michael Porter cluster will be available, could make the Grizzlies an offer, while Memphis themselves could be left with an interesting dilemma should they keep the pick: Givony notes that Jackson does not want to be a Grizzly and has refused to work out for the team or provide his medical information.

Givony makes the excellent point that Doncic going off the board at 3 likely reduces the trade value of the 4th pick for the Grizzlies. I’ve talked before about how during this process, draft pick value is contingent upon context. For example, the 17th overall pick is not worth the same every year, depending on the depth of the draft class, but it’s also not worth the same to every team, depending on their individual valuations of prospects.

The 4th overall pick, in this case, is both worth less to the Grizzlies and less to other teams if the Hawks decide to select Luka Doncic 3rd overall—the player who teams are reportedly most eager to target will be gone, and the Grizzlies will lose leverage because every front office in the NBA knows that they preferred Doncic to Jackson and will be weary of selecting a player who has made it clear that he does not want to be drafted by them.

As for the Clippers, we’ll just have to wait and see if the team makes a big move up in the draft. If they do, it may very well be to select a stud prospect who the Spurs like as part of an attempted Kawhi Leonard deal, but it could also simply be a player who they want to keep for themselves. Doncic makes sense as the top target in that scenario, but the price for the Slovenian super-prospect may be too high, at which point Jackson and Bamba appear to be prime contenders.

It’s also worth noting that Givony reports a reluctance on the Clippers’ part to take back Chandler Parsons, who is owed $24.1 million for 2018-19 and $25.1 million for 2019-20, but has failed to live up to his contract after struggling to stay healthy. Last season, Parsons played just 19 minutes per game in 36 games, averaging 7.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while not looking remotely like himself. There’s a chance that Parsons can be a serviceable backup if he can stay on the court, but that’s the best-case scenario. He could also easily just end up being a quarter of the salary cap spent on dead money. The Grizzlies, eager to get him off of their books in order to make one last run with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol (who aren’t getting younger at 30 and 33 years old), are reportedly seeking a team to take on Parsons’ contract by attaching the 4th pick to it.

The Clippers don’t have the cap room or expirings to make such a deal work, but as suggested today by ESPN’s Andrew Han, they could offer the Grizzlies an upgraded injury-prone third star: Danilo Gallinari, who, while struggling to stay in the lineup consistently, will offer a lot more to Memphis’ attack when healthy than Parsons does. In Han’s mock deal, the Clippers also give the Grizzlies the 12th and 13th picks, while acquiring the 4th and 32nd picks.

If the Clippers are unwilling to take on Parsons’ contract, as Givony reports, then the basic framework of a deal would likely be 4 for 12/13 straight up—not a sexy deal for the Grizzlies, but one they might have no choice but to consider if they don’t have a good fit with the 4th overall pick. I think it’s unlikely that many teams will be willing to touch the Parsons deal, as they may be calling Memphis’ bluff and forcing the Grizzlies to make the pick. If the Grizzlies are, in fact, going to end up taking the best deal regardless of what it is, the opportunity to add two players later in the lottery might be a contender. However, it could easily be the case that the Grizzlies get better offers (or prefer to simply make the selection at #4), leaving the Clippers grasping for other deals in the top 10 depending on who falls.