As we approach next month’s NBA Trade deadline, I’ll be doing a series of posts examining players who the Clippers could be pursuing in trade negotiations. I’ll cover a wide range of potential targets, including players the Clippers have been linked to in rumors, players who I think would make intriguing targets, and players who I have been asked about by readers. Haven’t seen a breakdown for a player you think the Clippers should pursue? Ask me to add him to the list!
Player Name: Dewayne Dedmon
Stats: This season, playing just 13.8 minutes per game in 26 appearances, averaging 4.9 points and 4.0 rebounds and shooting just 40.8% from the field and 21.4% from three. Across the two prior seasons in Atlanta, he played 25.0 minutes per game in a total of 126 games, averaging 10.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 50.7% from the field and 37.2% from deep.
Contract: $13.3M this year and next year, with a non-guaranteed $13.3M salary for 2021-22
Impact on Clippers: Low-Moderate
Dewayne Dedmon has been bad for Sacramento this year. They’re one of the worst teams in the conference, and having him as a major off-season addition hasn’t helped matters. It’s a pretty rough situation when you give a guy $40 million in free agency and he’s out of the rotation by the mid-point of his first season.
A rough situation in Sacramento could be another team’s opportunity to trade for Dedmon when his value is at its lowest—and the Kings would simply be happy to cut their losses:
Kings continue to search for an avenue to unload center Dewayne Dedmon, who's in the first season of a three-year, $40M contract. Dedmon, fined for publicly requesting a trade, is averaging 13.8 minutes in 26 games.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 18, 2020
There’s some reason to be optimistic about a Dedmon resurgence on another team. First of all, he thrived in an up-tempo system in Atlanta, but has struggled in Luke Walton’s inexplicably slow Sacramento offense. Playing fast and free again could do a lot to unlock the same production Dedmon achieved as a Hawk. Even beyond the issue of pace, there’s a lot of reason to think a guy that was both productive and coveted in recent years is worth another shot after a bad couple months with a new team. But even setting his Sacramento struggles aside, Dedmon is not a perfect player, and he peaked on some bad Atlanta Hawks teams. Would he hold up under the scrutiny of playing for an elite team? Would he repeat his Kings drop-off when the games intensify and slow down, meaning the Clippers wouldn't be able to rely on him in late-game or playoff situations?
At his best, Dedmon would be another legit 7-footer for the Clippers’ center rotation, solid defensively and with floor-spacing abilities that the defense would have to respect. But he wouldn’t be an ideal fit playing alongside Montrezl Harrell, meaning the Clippers could end up with three centers who can’t play together. And if he doesn’t bounce back, it would mean that the Clippers were stuck continuing to pay an 8-figure salary to a third-string center next season.
Likeliness of Availability: Guaranteed
As evidenced in the tweet above, the Kings are eager to move Dedmon—and he has even been fined for publicly confirming that he has requested to be traded. His drop-off in production and rather large contract make it so that Sacramento would likely accept basically any deal for him. A Maurice Harkless - Dedmon swap would be ideal for the Kings, who would be able to add a defensive-minded 3/4 to replace the recently-traded Trevor Ariza, avoid taking on any long-term salary, and get rid of their Dedmon issue.
But unless some other things shift for LAC, such a deal wouldn’t be worth it. It’s easy to reduce Harkless to his $11.1M expiring contract, but despite his flaws he is still a good player with plenty of post-season experience. He isn’t someone you want to rely on in a major role due to his questionable shooting, but there are a lot of playoff situations where he could help. Giving him away to add a third center would just unbalance the Clippers’ roster on a relatively low-reward gamble.
Piecing together smaller salaries for Dedmon proves difficult: Jerome Robinson’s contract isn’t quite large enough to pair with, say, Rodney McGruder, and a McGruder/Green package takes away two rotation players for one third option at center.
If the Clippers continue to pursue sharpshooting power forwards, Dedmon’s teammate Nemanja Bjelica could be one name to come up. Bjelica is shooting a career-best 43.4% from three this year on a career-high 4.6 attempts per game, and seems a plausible candidate to be moved by the Kings at 31 years old and with a team-friendly contract (6.8M this year, non-guaranteed 7.2M next year).
With Bjelica potentially coming in on a cheaper deal to move into the starting PF slot, a deal with Harkless going to Sacramento becomes more palatable, and then the Clippers would have a chance to both sweeten the deal for the Kings and buy low on Dedmon in one move. The Clippers could (from a salary perspective) bring in both Kings by sending out Harkless, Jerome Robinson, and Patrick Patterson, offering Sacramento salary relief and a younger, more athletic forward to replace Bjelica. Whether additional draft compensation would have to exchange hands remains to be seen as the markets for these players do (or don’t) develop in the coming weeks.
Check out the other trade targets we’ve broken down: