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The Clippers Have Few

In: Social Issues

Submitted By 1987munoz
Words 671
Pages 3
Saturday has come and gone, meaning the majority of free agents who signed with new teams over the summer are now trade-eligible. Last week, Grantland took a look at some of the bigger names on that December 15 eligibility list, including Ryan Anderson and Jeremy Lin, but a few other players merit some follow-up now that the deadline has passed. Here's the rundown:
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have a bunch of mid- and low-salaried players who can now be included in deals: Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins, and Willie Green. Chauncey Billups won’t become trade-eligible until January 15. There are three interesting things in play here:
•Health. Billups’s brief comeback is already over, though he’ll presumably return soon. No one knows when Grant Hill will play again, or how effective he’ll be when healthy. Lamar Odom is rebounding better and generally looking almost like an NBA player again, but he’s still shooting 32 percent, including a horrid 4-of-24 from long range, and it’s unclear how much the Clippers will really be able to count on him against good teams in the playoffs.
• Rotation issues. Crawford is essential and isn't going anywhere. Barnes has, in many ways, outplayed Caron Butler, whose contract expires after next season. Barnes is a feisty defender and one of the most intuitive cutters in the league, a skill that fits nicely on a team with two offensive centerpieces that draw so much attention; he’s shooting 64 percent on two-point field goal tries. But he doesn’t have Butler’s ability to space the floor, and with Hill’s uncertain status, the Clippers probably need both Barnes and Butler — especially since being able to play smaller, with one of those two sliding to power forward, could be an important asset against a couple of potential playoff opponents (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, et al.).
The big rotation is always going to be in flux. DeAndre Jordan has fallen off after a hot start, and he’s still below 50 percent from the foul line — an issue that will make it dicey for the Clippers to close games with both Jordan and Blake Griffin on the floor. Odom and Turiaf have surpassed Hollins in the rotation, meaning Hollins could be available on the cheap for a team seeking an additional big man; Boston comes to mind as a potential suitor, since the coaching staff is familiar with Hollins’s game from last season. The Clips’ bench units are absolutely blitzing teams right now, but Odom and Turiaf are limited players, and the team might look around for an upgrade somewhere.
• Eric Bledsoe. The Clippers might be thinking too conventionally with Bledsoe, but within that context, the reality is that Chris Paul is always going to limit Bledsoe from getting the time he deserves. Only about 20 percent of Bledsoe’s minutes have come with Paul on the floor, and the Clippers have outscored the opposition by about 6.5 points per 100 possessions in those minutes — even while giving up points at what amounts to a league-worst rate, per NBA.com’s stats database. (They were fine defensively with those two on the floor last season, though in fewer minutes than they’ve logged already this season.) Those defensive struggles and size issues likely explain Vinny Del Negro’s reluctance to use them together, despite Bledsoe’s super-long arms and general defensive ability.
Bledsoe’s in the top 10 overall in PER, and he's cut his turnover rate from “horrific” to “acceptable.” Paul's a free agent in the offseason, but the Clippers obviously want him back, and his cap hold soaks up their cap room — and their ability to pursue free agents above the mid-level exception. A Bledsoe trade feels almost inevitable, though the Clippers don’t need to do it this season, especially if they can’t find anything that would help their title chances. But teams are going to start calling more often, and the Clippers now have some additional pieces to throw around.

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