The trade deadline is just under a month away (February 7), and trade chatter has been surprisingly quiet this season. This applies to the Clippers, who have been involved in no reliable trade rumors that I can recall. However, trade talks always heat up in the weeks leading into the deadline, and certainly some teams will decide to sell some assets or make a push for the playoffs.
The Clippers are in a tough spot. They are trying to make the playoffs, and haven’t given themselves enough of a cushion to be a lock, but are also trying to keep salary open for this summer, so they are essentially limited to trading for players on expiring deals. If they make a trade, it will probably be for a veteran, and the only real position of need is center, where the Clippers have a cobbled together rotation that has shown cracks at times this season. Even then, however, Montrezl Harrell needs 25+ minutes a game, and Gallinari deserves minutes as the small-ball center, so any stopgap center would likely only receive 20 minutes a game, max.
All that said, here’s my rankings for how likely all 15 Clippers’ roster players are to being traded, organized into tiers. Within each tier, the players are ranked first to last in most to least likely to be traded. Now, let’s get into it.
Might actually get traded:
Milos Teodosic: The veteran Serbian point guard hasn’t played much for the Clippers this season, leading to occasional rumors that he might return to Europe before the year is out. Still, when Teodosic has played, he’s provided his usual value on the offensive end: great passing, sweet shooting, and lots of ball movement. There are teams that could use Milos on their second units, while the Clippers have too many guards already. A trade getting Milos to a team that will play him makes sense for all parties, even if the Clippers only get a 2nd round pick in return.
Could get moved… but for what?:
Marcin Gortat: Marcin has had an up-and-down season, but is still the Clippers’ nominal starting center, and has provided mostly acceptable play for 15-20 minutes a game. The Clippers could certainly find a better stopgap center on the market (Robin Lopez or Dewayne Dedmon come to mind), but they’d have to give up actual assets along with Gortat to make any real trade, and none of the available centers (outside possibly Nikola Vucevic) is worth it. Gortat might be the next most-likely guy besides Milos to get moved, yet I still don’t really see it happening.
Sindarius Thornwell: Sindarius’ playing time has decreased lately as the Clippers have gotten healthier. However, he’s a young, cheap player who’s already a positive defensively, and there’s no real reason for the Clippers to move him. He could be a minor sweetener in deal, but that would obviously require a slightly more complex trade, and as mentioned above, the Clippers don’t exactly have many holes to fill.
Boban Marjanovic: While Boban is not in the Clippers’ rotation for the most part, he’s a phenomenal locker room presence, and a unique weapon Doc Rivers has at the end of his bench. His value is more as an expiring contract that the Clippers could use to get a more “every-game use” type of player, but any small upgrade in player value would probably get offset by the loss in team morale.
Mike Scott: Mike Scott’s shooting has fallen off a cliff since November. That said, he’s a king in plus/minus this season, and the spacing he provides has done wonders for the Clippers’ second unit. He does a bunch of little things, knows where to be on the court, and just generally has fit in well – and that’s with poor shooting for much of the season, which will probably turn around at some point. He’s not essential, but the Clippers are unlikely to upgrade on him in any meaningful fashion, and he’s a nice piece for the second unit.
Luc Mbah a Moute: Luc has barely played this season due to a troublesome knee injury. Not only does that mean he has virtually no trade value, it also means the Clippers haven’t seen him in a healthy, integrated rotation since the start of the year. A healthy Luc could be a balm for the Clippers’ defensive woes, if not a solution, and his shooting would be a nice upgrade over Thornwell and Wallace’s lack of spacing as well. I can’t see the Clippers trading Luc without seeing how he fits in first, and time is ticking on that front.
Avery Bradley: As much as Clippers’ fans might want to see Bradley traded, there’s no indication that he’s being shopped. To be fair, he’s not trade-eligible until January 15, so after that date we might see more rumors about him. The Clippers’ broadcast won’t stop talking about how great a defender he is, which could be read one of two ways. The first, and most likely, is that it’s genuine, and the broadcast praise reflects how the team feels about Bradley. The second is that they’re trying to gas him up for a trade, and all the talk is just designed to make him more attractive. I’m skeptical about the latter.
Pat Beverley: Pat Beverley, along with Montrezl Harrell, is the heart and soul of this Clippers’ team. He’s a leader in the locker room, a fiery presence that always tries hard and never gives up. On top of all the intangibles, he’s played much better over the past month, and his outside shooting in particular has really come around. Now, that does mean his value is higher, and as an expiring contract, the Clippers might try to flip him to get an asset if they don’t to re-sign him this summer. But he’s too important a player to give up for a couple second round picks or a middling prospect, even if it might be the best move to make “asset-wise”.
Jerome Robinson: The Clippers’ “other lottery pick” has only played 40 minutes in the NBA thus far. While that might be seen as an indictment of his NBA-readiness, never a good thing for an upperclassman draft prospect, it’s also a sign of how deep the Clippers’ guard rotation is this season. I wasn’t a fan of the draft selection myself, but he’s played well in the G-League, and it just seems very unlikely that the Clippers would cut bait this early for anything less than a star.
It would take a huge return:
Danilo Gallinari: The Rooster has been the Clippers’ best, most consistent player this season. The cynic would say to trade him now that he’s recouped his value, and before he gets injured again. But the Clippers are hellbent on making the playoffs, and they’re not going to accomplish that if they trade Gallinari, unless he’s the centerpiece of a deal that gets them a star. And, as good as he’s been this season, he’s still 30 years old with a lengthy injury history, so it’s very doubtful the Clippers get a player better than him in return. Again, the wise long-term move might be to move him for picks or young players to another playoff team, but the Clippers have put a premium on making the playoffs, and Gallo is one of the primary engines that will get them there this season.
Ty Wallace: Ty Wallace is good, young, fits a role on the team, and has a cheap contract that extends to next season. If the Clippers do land a superstar or two, the rest of their roster will likely be players making not much more than the minimum, and Ty fits squarely into that ideal setting. There’s no reason whatsoever to trade Ty unless it’s for a legitimately good player who can substantially help the team this season, or is a better piece for the future. Neither of those options seems very likely.
Lou Williams: Sweet Lou is having another fantastic season, and in fact boasts the best net rating of anyone on the team (they’re fairly negative with him off the court, and strongly positive with him on). His injury once again demonstrated his importance to this team as perhaps the player whose skill-set can least be replaced by the rest of the roster. The Clips have him on a steal of a contract, and he’d fit perfectly next to any arriving superstars this summer. The Clippers would need to be getting one hell of a player to trade Lou Williams.
Would be shocked:
Montrezl Harrell: Montrezl Harrell has been a beast this season. His boundless energy and synergy with Lou Williams in the pick and roll have given the Clippers’ a huge boost in countless games, and he’s providing phenomenal overall production, especially considering his salary. His lack of height and defensive weaknesses mean he might never be a starter on a contender, but he’s one of the best bench players in the NBA, and the Clippers would be much, much worse without him. His low salary also means he could stick around next season, even if the Clippers do acquire a couple max-salary players.
Tobias Harris: The Clippers have been promoting Tobias Harris as the star and face of the franchise all season. He’s mostly lived up to expectations, scoring efficiently and pulling down an increased share of rebounds with DeAndre Jordan in Dallas. Despite possibly being slightly less impactful than Gallinari this season, Harris is still having an All-Star level season, and at age 26, is someone the Clippers will certainly have an interest in retaining this summer, even on a max deal. He’s not going to get traded for anything less than a superstar.
Forget about it:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: There are maybe 10-15 players in the NBA for whom the Clippers would trade (or consider trading) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and none of them, aside maybe Anthony Davis, is anywhere close to the trade market. Shai’s going nowhere.