Having covered several of the more momentous Clippers’ moves of the summer, including the trade for Paul George and the signing of Kawhi Leonard, the Clips Nation roundable series now moves on to smaller moves. Up today, the Clippers’ trade for Blazers’ forward Moe Harkless and a 1st round pick.
Davey Bales: A
This trade for Moe Harkless is the kind of move that a savvy front office makes. Given that a majority of the team’s available cap space was put on ice until Kawhi Leonard made his decision, the Clippers were in a position to act as a facilitator for other teams scrambling to make deals early in free agency as the cap walls closed in. Not only did they receive a future protected first round pick from the Heat (later flipped for Paul George) as a thank you for helping them acquire Jimmy Butler, they also added a versatile, young(ish) player who should soften the blow of the inevitable load management games for both Leonard and George. He doesn’t stand out on the offensive end of the floor, but he offers a ton of defensive versatility as an athletic, 6-foot-9 wing, and while he won’t add the same level of veteran leadership, I’d imagine the Clippers’ brass is hoping he can fill a similar role to that which they had envisioned for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute last year. It can’t be overstated how shrewd this move was, as it gave the Clippers another bargaining chip for potential Kawhi running mates while adding a productive player on a low-risk deal that only has this year remaining. I’m calling this one a home run by Lawrence Frank and Co.
Shapan Debnath: A
This trade wasn’t the most inspiring at the time, since there was some fear that the Clippers big offseason acquisition might end up being Moe Harkless, but this was a shrewd move that brought not just a switchy, capable defender who’s an expiring contract, but a crucial first rounder that would shortly be flipped for PG13. Basically, this was another huge domino in the Clippers’ eventually fantastic summer. Harkless himself is kind of an underrated piece too, especially when you consider that the Clippers may rest their big stars when they have the opportunity.
Chris Murch: B+
Jerry West and our front office continue to play teams like fiddles. The Clippers joined the Jimmy Butler trade to the Miami Heat that included the Portland Trail Blazers, and got Harkless and a protected first-round pick while giving up NOTHING. So, not only did the Clippers get a player who is on an expiring contract, fresh off starting for a team that went to the Western Conference Finals, they preserved cap space to get Kawhi and PG and obtained another first-round pick. Again, the Clips gave away nothing to get him. Harkless will be a key 2nd unit piece for the Clips this season, widely regarded as a great wing defender who can switch onto bigs because of his length, a competent outside shooter, and an all-around glue guy with grit. Sounds perfect for the Clips this season.
Thomas Wood: A
Solid wing with remaining upside. One year remaining on his contract for reasonable money. GOT PAID TO TAKE HIM. What more could you want?
Robert Flom: A-
I won’t say much that hasn’t already been said. Moe Harkless is a very solid wing player on a reasonable contract, and the Clippers got paid a 1st round pick to take him on in a multi-team deal with the Blazers and Heat. That pick being used in the Paul George trade is nice, but not all that essential — it’s not a great pick, and the Clippers could have found a similar asset somewhere else. The reason this grade isn’t a full “A” is that Harkless, while a nice fit with the Clippers, probably isn’t the absolute best use of $11.5 million, and taking on that contract took the Clippers out of the running for other players. Still, this was a great move that will help the Clips next year — Harkless can guard multiple positions, is at least a threat from deep, and is yet another strong locker room guy. While not a vital piece, Harkless will fill an important role on the Clips as a forward who can fill in for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, or JaMychal Green, and play large minutes if needed. He was a good addition at excellent value.
Sabreena Merchant: A
The Clippers got a starting-caliber wing defender, something they didn’t have last year with all due respect to Patrick Beverley, and added another premium first-round pick to their war chest. All of this came at no cost, other than cap space. Given that the team still had enough cap room to sign Kawhi Leonard, that was of no consequence. Essentially, the Clippers got two free assets to help facilitate a trade that actively makes a Western Conference rival (Portland) worse. That’s an A.
Eric Patten: A-
The Moe Harkless trade is emblematic of how savvy the Clippers’ front office has become. In previous regimes, making a trade to take on the salary of a player who can contribute and acquire an extra draft pick would have been unthinkable. They would either be capped out, too shrewd, or straight up too cheap to even be in that position. On its face the trade is not a landmark move, but it helped pave the way for the Paul George trade by pulling extra assets and, oh, by the way brought in a guy who can defend 3-4 positions, fits in culturally, and is on a tradeable expiring deal. Well, done.