It was another Woj bomb that marked the upcoming trade deadline. And in true Clippers front office-fashion, this one blindsided all of us. The addition of Norman Powell and Robert Covington — two proven, quality, two-way players — continues to boost a roster full of talented wings. Most notably, the acquisition of Powell’s contract through 2026 seems to be an indication that the front office is investing into the future of the team, and perhaps proceeding with the expectation that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George may not return this year after all. This trade, however, does promise some immediate effects on the team right now.
For one, the departure of Eric Bledsoe and Justise Winslow, both players that have assumed ball-handling and playmaking responsibilities for the Clippers second unit, opens a few more holes. Perhaps most glaring is the lack of a true back-up point guard. Is this a sign of yet another trade on the horizon? Or is this an experiment and investment in the development of a younger players such as Terance Mann or Luke Kennard, who have both shown flashes of promise in this department as well.
This seems to be the case, as, at least for this next game against the Bucks, Lue seemed to indicate that “T Mann’s the backup point guard!”.
When: Sunday, February 6 at 6 p.m. PT
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
How to watch/listen: NBA TV, Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Brew Hoop
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Terance Mann, Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka
Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis
Clippers: Ivica Zubac - QUESTIONABLE Paul George, Keon Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston — OUT
Sunday’s game against the Bucks also opens one of the Clippers toughest stretches of games of the season (including seeing the Bucks, Grizzlies, Mavericks twice, Warriors, and Suns in their next six games).
The Bucks, currently sitting at 4th in the Eastern Conference with a 32-21 record, are ranked top 10 in offensive, defensive, and net ratings, as well as in rebounding percentage, pace, and effective field goal percentage. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, the Bucks prove to be an all around challenge to contain. They play hard, they play smart, and most importantly, they play well. Oh, and they’re also the defending champs.
Lue will have his hands full. He’s been given a fluid and evolving roster and tossed in the fire. But the strongest steel has to go through the hottest fire. And when the LA Clippers come out the other side, regardless what they look like, they will be stronger because of it. And Lue has proved it again and again, there is no coach better at adjusting on the fly.
To that front, perhaps Lawrence Frank and the front office still have a few tricks up their sleeve. Perhaps this plethora of talented wings and forwards will be lightened within the next few weeks. But then again, perhaps this is just the Clippers commitment to a position-less future with a rotating set of small-ball pieces that Lue can experiment away with.
One thing is for sure, this Clippers team, from front office all the way down to the role players, is committed to battling back from adversity and putting in a winning effort.