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Clippers reportedly take part in four-team Jimmy Butler trade, acquire Maurice Harkless and Miami first-round pick

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The Clippers will absorb salary in the form of Maurice Harkless to make the Jimmy Butler trade go through, and they’ll receive a future first-round pick for their help.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers attempted to trade Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade at the start of free agency, but the deal hit some complications when Dallas refused to take on salary from Miami that did not include Goran Dragic.

In order to get the trade done, the Clippers have been looped in as the fourth team along with Portland in place of Dallas, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.

The Blazers had previously been reported to trade Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard to the Heat for Hassan Whiteside. That would not have cleared enough space for Miami to absorb Butler’s maximum salary. Now, per Woj, Harkless is being routed to the Clippers.

As part of compensation for absorbing Harkless’ $11 million contract, the Clippers are also receiving a future first-round pick from the Heat. Recall that LA already owns Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder that was acquired as part of the Tobias Harris trade. That means that the earliest this new pick could be conveyed is in 2023.

The Clippers will still have enough money to sign Kawhi Leonard once the deal goes through, though they may have to waive Tyrone Wallace or Sindarius Thornwell to give Leonard his full max if necessary. This means that JaMychal Green will likely be on his way out should the Clippers get Leonard.

Harkless is a combo forward who doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well (his famous contract bonus for shooting 35% or above from the three-point line has been exploited by Draymond Green in the past). He can defend threes and fours, which gives the Clippers defensive versatility that last year’s roster lacked. He is on an expiring contract, so it’s unclear how he fits into the team’s future, but for this season, he is a good use of cap space to help LA upgrade its frontcourt depth.

UPDATE (2:35 p.m.): Because all teams involved in a multi-team deal have to touch one another, the Sixers will be sending the Clippers the rights to Mathias Lessort, per Keith Pompey. He was their second-round draft pick in 2017, and has not appeared in the NBA.