The Los Angeles Clippers are interested in making a potential trade for Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, per Marc Stein. Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer added that the front office’s interest stems back as far as this summer at least, before John Wall secured a buyout with the Houston Rockets and subsequently signed.
The Clippers’ Mike Conley interest dates back to at least this summer, when Los Angeles was weighing point guard options before John Wall headed to Staples Center after securing his buyout from the Rockets. https://t.co/BwrSQG5tSR— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) January 16, 2023
The 35-year-old is in the last year of guaranteed money, making over $22 million on his current deal in Salt Lake City. His current employers are expected to be big sellers at the deadline, as they continue with what has so far been an intriguing rebuilding phase – in which they started the season as the hottest team out West before reverting to closer to their expected level.
Despite being one of the more recognisable names on the Jazz roster, Conley’s numbers have taken a hit this season. He’s averaging 10.2 points on shooting splits of 39/35/75, though his assists have jumped up to a career-high 7.5 as things stand. Perhaps that is what entices the Clippers most as they continue what has been a drawn-out search to find the perfect playmaking point guard that brings the best out of their stars.
Wall was purported to be that player, but Stein referenced his recent abdominal injury as a possible reason that they may look to further strengthen their backcourt. The problem is that area of the team doesn’t need more reinforcement. Eight of their 14-man roster are currently recognised as guards, so if anything, the front office should be looking to streamline that side of the rotation considering the mouthwatering possibilities currently being served up by their ‘Wingstop’ lineups.
Fans like those lineups because they offer the Clippers a great deal of length and are tough to break down on the defensive end, providing the right amount of shooting on the offensive end to allow Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to eat. Bringing in yet another guard and possibly shipping out one of those wing players would give up some of that size and see the ball being out of our star duo’s hands more.
There’s a salary cap. If Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are to make >40Ms a year, then acquiring a point guard good enough to take the ball out of KL and P’s hands is simply not happening.— Justin W. (@LAClippersFilm) January 16, 2023
Your high usg wings have to do the heavy lifting, there is no point guard coming to rescue. https://t.co/3RyUOBssP2
The positives that Conley would bring – solid shooting, defending and playmaking – don’t feel like attributes that this squad are in desperate need of. Instead, the eye test when watching the team would suggest that they’re still short of a backup big to take some of the load off Ivica Zubac and some more athleticism in the wing positions. Thus news of another small guard to add into a rotation already too centered around them would not exactly be welcomed by fans.
Unless Conley ends up being the salary filler in a deal for a Walker Kessler or Jarred Vanderbilt, this is not a trade rumor that would get a big thumbs up from Clipper Nation.