Just like that, the NBA Trade Deadline has passed, and the Los Angeles Clippers were doing deals right down to the wire. The headliners were the arrivals of Bones Hyland, Eric Gordon and Mason Plumlee, while Luke Kennard, John Wall and Reggie Jackson are on the way out the door, with the team giving up three second-round picks (and also, weirdly, getting back three second-round picks).
I’ll do a bigger goodbye to Reggie in the coming days — after all, he deserves that and more — but here are three takeaways from the three trades that punctuated deadline day for the Clippers.
What’s in the bag of Bones?
When I first saw this trade, I really liked it for both sides. Nah’Shon (Bones Hyland’s actual first name) and the Denver Nuggets are going their separate ways after weeks of discontent at his role (or lack thereof) in the rotation, and the organization got some draft capital in exchange for getting an unhappy player off their good vibes train as the one-seed in the West.
For the Clippers, they get a guy with lots of potential upside for some change from the couch cushions. Though some fans have their reservations about Bones’s play — especially on the defensive side of the ball — it’s clear he didn’t feel that he was in a situation that was able to make the most out of his talents.
Bones Hyland putting Marvin Gaye on his own mix won me over even more pic.twitter.com/2KzVTcpdt7— Courtside Clippers (@Courtside_Clips) February 9, 2023
Whether The Crypt will be his home to hone in on his potential remains to be seen, but he’ll bring youth and energy and Tyronn Lue’s team didn’t have enough of either just a few hours ago.
Cool hand waves goodbye
Ah man, this one stung. You can’t help but feel like the Clippers just never found a way to properly utilize Kennard’s talent, despite Lue making multiple public pleas for him to be more aggressive multiple times and getting little back from his guard. He could shoot the lights out and that made for some huge moments on the team, but this one will feel a little like one that got away unless what we get in return can fill the void.
What we got in return was a familiar face, at least. I’ll be honest, Gordon’s wasn’t a name that excited me too much on first impression. A slightly worse shooter from deep than Luke, but a slightly better defender? It felt a bit sideways for my taste, initially at least.
However, when you dig a little deeper there is some stuff to get behind, not least the fact that Eric averages more drives per game than both Kennard and Wall.
Eric Gordon averages 8.9 drives per game, which is slightly more than John Wall (8.6) and significantly more than Luke Kennard (2.3).— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 9, 2023
Although he's older, there's *one* of the reasons he's coming back to the Clippers.
He's been a much better finisher than Wall, too.
Let’s talk about that latter guy, then. Even though this felt like it had been brewing for a little while now, I still like the fact that the Clippers were a part of his comeback story because I still believe that John is a good guy. The Houston Rockets won’t be his home (again) for much longer, but I hope he does find that cultural and on-court fit. He truly deserves it.
Reggie! Reggie? Reggie…
If seeing Luke go stung, this one flat-out hurt. As mentioned at the top, we’ll go more in-depth on the loss of Jackson in the days to come, but this man just meant so much to this era of the organization. I hope he lands in a situation that works for him and gets the smile back on his face because honestly, despite everything this season has thrown up, the period of sad Reggie may have just been the toughest period.
Let’s try our best to ditch the sentiment momentarily, though. This felt like a win of a trade for the Clippers because Mason Plumlee is basically a hybrid between Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein, and there’s actually a very good argument that he’s a big improvement on the latter. In the past three seasons, he has averaged 3.4 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game, all while being a near double-digit scorer on great efficiency at 64.2% from the field.
There are some tough goodbyes to get through, but overall the organization got some of what it needed and some of what it didn’t. The real results of today will become more obvious over time, and perhaps the objectivity of it all will feel more natural by then too. For now, what we lost is still a little raw to me.
On a day that feels akin to being on Wall Street during a financial crash, it’s important to remember these are human beings, not stocks, whose lives were uprooted for our entertainment today. And man, did some of those human beings entertain us. More to come soon, then…