It could be a very telling week for the Los Angeles Clippers, who are in the thick of a six-game road trip and are, no doubt, riding a high after beating the Houston Rockets, 105-103, in overtime on Sunday.
But this is not about the Clippers being 2-1 on their current stretch or living up to their “Lob City” hype with the Chris Paul-to-Blake Griffin connection. Instead, with 10 days left until the clock expires on the NBA trade deadline, the Clippers are the one team in the Western Conference whose name surfaces most often about adding another piece to their already interesting puzzle.
Considering Chauncey Billups is lost for the season and even Mo Williams is a bit banged up after suffering a thigh bruise against the Rockets, the Clippers are reportedly in the market for a scoring swing guard.
And what a wish list they have: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Jamal Crawford have all been linked to the Clippers over the last few days.
It was just last week when Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was believed to be on the go, but with Danny Ainge stepping up and proclaiming Rondo is not going anywhere, apparently not the same can be said about Allen or Pierce.
If that is the case, Los Angeles’ front office has to like what they read from Boston’s boxscore in the Celtics’ 115-111 Sunday win over the New York Knicks. Pierce, the 10-time All-Star scored 24 of his 34 points came in the second half and after lingering in a shooting slump of late, has finally busted out in Boston’s last two wins (as part of their modest four-game win streak). In the last two games, Pierce is shooting 62% from the field and averaging 30.5 points per game.
As for Allen, he returned to the starting lineup after missing Friday’s win over New Jersey with a norovirus and being hospitalized. His 12 points did not make as much noise as Pierce and Rondo’s amazing triple-double performance, but Allen continues to show his ability to shoot makes him a sought after commodity for teams around the league.
The Clippers happen to be one of those teams, with Allen’s $10 million expiring contract equally holding much appeal.
Pierce’s situation: he has two years remaining on his contract after this season and if he doesn’t finish his career in Boston, heading home to Los Angeles might be a back-up-plan Pierce could be comfortable with.
And then there is Jamal Crawford.
Crawford’s $5 million contract is easily moveable if the Portland Trail Blazers decide to go that route, particularly if the Blazers feel Crawford will not exercise the player option on his contract and return to Portland.
Knowing the struggles going on in Portland and the uncertainty of everything from the front office, to head coach Nate McMillan being on the hot seat, to a roster quickly falling apart, the Blazers would be wise to move Crawford before they lose him this summer. What they would receive in return will obviously make or break the deal, but it is clear Crawford — who is averaging 14.8 points and 3.9 assists per game — has his suitors.
If the Clippers can make a deal for Allen, Pierce or Crawford, expect to hear Eric Bledsoe’s name thrown out as part of a return package that could also include Randy Foye and/or Brian Cook. Since Los Angeles is without a first round pick this year, these are the most likely options to be moved unless the Clippers plan to involve a third team to make a deal happen.
Either way, it’s clear the Clippers are shopping and set on getting their man.
Will we find out who that man is within the next ten days?