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People around the NBA are ‘scared’ of the Clippers in the trade market

“They’re shaping into the big, bad contender that a lot of people predicted to win the championship this year.”

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank cooking.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer has claimed that people around the NBA are “scared” of the Los Angeles Clippers being buyers in the trade market, due to the resources they have and the fact that they’re quietly going about their business.

The team is currently on a five-game losing streak sitting in the play-in places, but the mood being created by a couple of rough performances on the court doesn’t seem to be translating to boardroom level across the league.

During an appearance on Seth Partnow’s podcast ‘Callin Shots’, the host asked Fischer what he makes of the franchise’s current situation and what they might look to do with the trade pieces they possess, earmarking them as a possible “hub of activity” for trades.

Fischer responded:

“People are scared of the Clippers, man. People are scared. They think that they’re shaping into the big, bad contender that a lot of people predicted to win the championship this year, right? So I definitely think they will – acting as that sleeping giant, which are not so sleeping with what Steve Ballmer has – they’re definitely going to be buyers.”

The franchise still has one roster spot to play with, having made it to the halfway point of the season with Ivica Zubac as the only recognised big man on the main roster, and a few poor performances this season have left fans crying out for reinforcements at the five position.

With little to no noise coming out of the franchise about future moves they could make, fans have been left to try and fill in the gaps about possible trades and free agent pickups. Fischer confirmed that the franchise were in the market for a backup big and even revealed the kind of player they’d likely be looking out for.

He said:

“The obvious, and what I’ve heard pretty consistently, is that they’re looking for a switchable backup big, so that they don’t necessarily need to just go directly small if Zubac is not the answer at center. I don’t know who that would be at this point.

“If you remember, Isaiah Hartenstein played a ton of reserve minutes for them last year. I don’t think he’s the exact archetype, but I’m saying they don’t necessarily need to just have a super athletic, pogo stick, switchy guy. If you’re just a big who can do well and handle your own on a switch and still bring size at the rim, I think that’s someone that they’re looking at.”

Hartenstein departed for New York in the offseason after the Clippers decided to give their taxpayers’ mid-level exception to John Wall, with the German confirming he needed to go somewhere that he felt valued. Though he has struggled during his time with the Knicks causing some fans this side of Los Angeles to float rumors of a return, it’s unlikely a move could be made that would suit both parties.

So who else does that leave? Partnow pointed out that the Dallas Mavericks’ Dwight Powell would be the type of player they’d be looking for in terms of on-court ability, but he was quickly written off as possible due to his salary and his ability to be a needle-mover on a championship roster. Gorgui Dieng is another name that has popped up having recently been waived by the San Antonio Spurs and given his stretchability on offense, though he doesn’t necessarily match Fischer’s description of a switchable big on the defensive side of the ball.

It’s likely that the Clippers will have a number of targets in mind given that they signed Moses Brown to a two-way contract, a move surely designed to give them the flexibility to either bring somebody in or simply guarantee him or the rookie Moussa Diabate, depending on who excels more.

Who is that player? Well, as Fischer said, that still remains to be seen. Perhaps as the trade deadline nears, teams may be more willing to speak to Lawrence Frank about getting themselves a portion of those resources his employers possess.