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Clips Nation Roundtable: Grading the Clippers Trade Deadline Moves

The Clips Nation staff got together to give grades and thoughts on the moves the Clippers made before the NBA deadline.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers made a bunch of moves before the trade deadline, trading away Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott, and Avery Bradley, cutting Marcin Gortat and Milos Teodosic, and adding Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green, and Ivica Zubac as well as a handful of draft picks. These deals add up to a lot of roster turnover, with six players gone and five players incoming, and the Clips Nation staff is here to give their opinions on the overall set of moves.

Lucas Hann: A

The Clippers somehow got landslide value wins in each of their trades (I understand Philly’s logic in overpaying, but Memphis and the Lakers both really should have been able to do better). With a depleted roster post-Tobias, they turned Avery Bradley into a SF and a PF, both of whom are better than him, while actually shedding a couple million in guaranteed money for next year. But the real shocker is the Lakers gifting the Clippers Zubac—who figures to be a day-one upgrade at starting center (and potentially a long-term cost-controlled solution)—in exchange for eating a small expiring deal and sending them the very mediocre Mike Muscala.

If you told me about the Tobias trade before it happened, I’d say “I don’t think Philly will give that much... it hurts to lose him, but for that value you probably have to do it.” If you had told me about the others, I would have laughed at you. Today, I guess that means we’re laughing at the Grizzlies and Lakers.

Farbod Esnaashari: A

It’s unfortunate to lose Tobias, but the Clippers got way more than expected for a player that was most likely going to leave anyway. The organization has put itself in the position to sign a max player (potentially two), and trade for a max player. It’ll always be a gamble on whether or not someone actually signs, or if they pull a Paul George. The ability to go to the playoffs is still possible, but unlikely. Even then, it doesn’t really matter that much if they ended up the 8th seed. This is probably the best position the franchise has been in, other than signing Chris Paul, in its history.

Chris Murch: A

This is the smartest the Clippers have been in their entire existence, and Jerry West is a miracle worker. The assets acquired for shipping off dead weight in Avery Bradley and a soon-to-be expensive Tobias Harris (although i’m going to miss him) were almost unfair to the rest of the league. These moves put the Clippers in position to both make a small run at a 7th or 8th seed this season, and also prepare for the future. The Clippers obtained a future sparkplug off the bench in Shamet and a possible starting big man in Ivica Zubac, as well as a bundle of picks. Along with the vets acquired, this move sticks with the Clippers current mantra of, “We can make the playoffs this year, but if not it’s still ok.” The Clips are now firmly in the driver’s seat to pick up one or two superstars FA’s this offseason, and this was the plan all along.

Michelle Uzeta: A+

The Clippers won the trade deadline, hands down. The stealth moves made by the front office ensure future growth and competitiveness, while not tanking in the present. Not an easy task. The franchise took advantage of teams that are desperate to compete now (Philly) and teams with holes to fill (Lakers with shooters), while simultaneously ridding itself of dead weight and expiring contracts, clearing additional cap space and collecting draft picks to guarantee a long term build will be successful. Moreover, they filled their immediate gap in the paint with the addition of former Laker Ivica Zubac, so that they remain competitive this season and - fingers crossed - get at least some playoff experience for their younger players. The Clippers are now in an incredible position to land 1-2 superstars in the offseason, and have built a fantastic team culture in the City of Angels. A very strong draw for the host of All-Stars entering free agency. The future is bright Clipper Nation! #InJerryWeTrust

Robert Flom: A

The Clippers didn’t pull off a trade for a superstar, or guarantee a championship with a crucial addition, but they did just finish one of the best trade deadlines I can recall over the last few years. On an individual basis, they sold high on Tobias Harris, turning him into a young player, expirings, and an incredible four draft picks, with one being a particularly juicy asset. While losing Tobias hurt, the return for him can’t be denied. Then, with a gaping hole on the roster at wing and forward, the Clippers flipped Avery Bradley for two better players in Temple and Green who slide neatly into the missing roles. Finally, a fringe rotation player in Mike Muscala somehow became Ivica Zubac, a young, promising center who could be a cheap-ish rotation player for years to come. All fantastic deals.

Where the moves really shone, however, is in the big picture. They painted the portrait of a team that knows exactly what it wants (superstars in free agency), and has a plan to get them (clearing space and acquiring assets). They cleared more room this summer, made their team younger (additions of Shamet and Zubac), and opened up minutes for their other youngsters who need playing time to show their mettle. Really, short of getting a superstar point-blank period, the Clippers did about as well as possible with their moves, on an individual and group basis. Bravo.

Max Jeffrey: A+

I feel a bit guilty grading the Clippers’ series of deadline moves so highly because it meant the departure of their best player, Tobias Harris. Harris was the team’s leading scorer, a great two-way player, and an excellent locker room presence; he’s improved every season he’s been in the NBA, and is one of the most efficient players in the game today. But the Clippers’ front office knew that it would be smarter to sell high on his value, rather than gambling on retaining his bird rights only for the possibility that he walks in free agency. Joined by best friend and fan-favorite Boban Marjanovic, as well as Mike Scott, Harris will be a huge contributor for the contending Sixers, and Philadelphia was a great landing spot for all three. For the Clippers, the trade with the Sixers alone has made them extremely well-positioned for the free agency extravaganza that will ensue this summer. They’ll have the cap space to pursue top-tier free agents like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. They also have the draft pick value needed to compete with other Anthony Davis suitors, as well as the 2019-20 salary and desirable young long-term talent to match. And even if they don’t partake in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, sharp-shooting Landry Shamet and the four draft picks, including a pair of back-to-back 1st-rounders (2021 Miami unprotected 1st!), will allow them to stay young and build inexpensively around a contending roster to-be.

Avery Bradley, who had been resoundingly frustrating to watch during his months spent in the starting unit for the Clippers, seemed to have an immovable combination of salary and skill from a trade perspective. And yet, the Clippers brass managed to turn Bradley into JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple from the Grizzlies, massive upgrades especially given the glut of guards in the Clippers’ rotation. And then, they rightfully waived Marcin Gortat and Milos Teodosic, neither of whom moved the needle for the Clippers now or in the future. And uncharacteristically, they were able to complete a trade with the cross-hall rival Lakers in a move that further upgraded their roster while getting younger. In exchange for Mike Muscala (via the Clippers’ trade with the Sixers), a one-dimensional shooter at best, the Clippers received Michael Beasley (likely to be waived) and Ivica Zubac, a 21 year-old center with a great offensive touch and the size needed to match up against other starting centers. Zubac, by the way, is also a restricted free agent, meaning there’s a solid chance they can retain him and continue to develop with him for a very favorable price tag. Wilson Chandler, also received in the Sixers exchange, will be able to contribute this season for the Clippers in just a few weeks when he’s expected to return at full health, a great option at forward and a long-time friend of former Nuggets teammate Danilo Gallinari.

Whether the Clippers stay in the postseason picture or end up in lottery territory, they are well-equipped for whatever happens next.