One of the key weaknesses exposed by the Clippers’ postseason collapse was a lack of adequate point guard play. The team’s starting point guard, Patrick Beverley, doesn’t run the offense. Rivers ceded control of his play sheet to Beverley this season — something the Clippers head coach had previously only done with Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul — but Beverley never really acted as a playmaker. Even Beverley’s limited creation ability on the offensive end was hampered by his calf injury during the postseason.
Lou Williams was the de facto backup point guard despite having more of a scoring mindset. He even closed several games at the one to give the team some extra ball-handling, but that opened up a can of worms on the defensive end. Reggie Jackson was brought in to mitigate that problem, and though it worked briefly during the regular season, Jackson was exposed on both ends of the floor during the playoffs.
The lack of a true point guard made it so that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George had to perform a great deal of playmaking, and that responsibility seemed to wear on them. Between carrying the Clippers on offense and guarding the opposing team’s best player on defense, Leonard and George both appeared to run out of gas during the playoffs.
It therefore comes as no surprise that Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that point guard is atop the Clippers’ offseason wish list. Charania wrote, “Rival teams expect the Clippers to work the trade market for a playmaker in the backcourt.”
The free agent market for point guards is headlined by Goran Dragic and Fred VanVleet, each of whom would be tremendous fits in the Clippers system. However, the team doesn’t have the cap space to sign either, and beyond those two, there are slim pickings, though D.J. Augustin is a name to keep an eye on as a veteran who can shoot and who defended well this past season with the Magic. Other than Augustin, a trade makes the most sense.
The Clippers don’t have the resources to go big-game hunting for a new point guard unless they were willing to deal Paul George, but no guard (except for Chris Paul?) would be an upgrade on George. They could make a deal for someone like Spencer Dinwiddie, an L.A. native who might be squeezed out in Brooklyn with a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Dallas always has a glut of point guards, and Trey Burke, Delon Wright, or Jalen Brunson might be available. Perhaps Milwaukee has tired of Eric Bledsoe?
The team has some young players for a trade, including Terance Mann, Landry Shamet, and Mfiondu Kabengele, but a more interesting trade chip is Williams, who is on an expiring contract. With Montrezl Harrell entering free agency as well, there is a chance for the Clippers to dramatically reshape their roster.
Whatever happens, point guard is a need the Clippers to have to address. Who would like to see the team pursue?
More news for Tuesday:
- Jovan Buha answers every possible question you could have about the Clippers’ playoff run and upcoming offseason.
- Kevin O’Connor analyzes how bigs have retained their utility in the modern NBA.
- Baxter Holmes profiles Jaylen Brown at the intersection of sports and this moment in history.
- John Hollinger has some thoughts on the fatigue NBA players are exhibiting in the postseason.