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NBA Daily: It’s Time For The Clippers To Trade DeAndre Jordan

All good things come to an end. Chris Paul realized it. It’s time for the Clippers front office to.

Moke Hamilton

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All good things come to an end, but just as Doc Rivers had trouble recognizing when the end had arrived for the Boston Celtics, he may also need some help seeing that the end has arrived for his Los Angeles Clippers.

With respect to professional athletes—individuals who both enjoy a limited existence and know that everything can change for them in an instant—there’s only so many times that one can wait until next year.

Ray Allen figured it out, then Kevin Durant did and so did Chris Paul.

From the moment Paul communicated to Rivers his desire to try something new in Houston, the Clippers’ days as a contender were over. While the players returned in exchange for Paul included some talented pieces, even with the acquisition of Danilo Gallinari, nobody thought that the Clippers had what it takes to challenge even Paul’s new team in the Houston Rockets, much less the mighty Golden State Warriors.

Although one shouldn’t blame Rivers for his defiance, at this point, it’s become abundantly clear that the team has run its course.

Here and now, it’s finally time to trade DeAndre Jordan.

* * * * * *

Since being selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Jordan has become one of the NBA’s more dominant centers. In the era marked by open floors, pick and rolls and three point shots, Jordan possesses a rare combination of traits. He’s a true seven footer who both has the ability to dominate games on the interior while guarding smaller, more nimble players on the perimeter. Sure, he can’t make free throws worth a lick, but on the right team, in the right situation, he can impact a game and be the final piece of some team’s championship puzzle.

That’s why the Clippers have to trade him.

A fringe contender at best, the Clippers will have an important decision to make on Jordan this summer. In a way, they face a worse predicament than the New York Knicks did with Carmelo Anthony back when the club signed him to a a five-year, $124 million contract back in July 2014. With the re-signed Anthony, the Knicks were able to convince themselves that with another piece or two, they’d be able to contend with the contenders in the weaker Eastern Conference.

Back then, at his best, Anthony still had the ability to elevate an entire team.

The same can’t be said for Jordan.

Despite his wishes to be considered more of a lynchpin, the truth of the matter is that Jordan’s limitations on the offensive end—and his historically poor free throw shooting—limits him from ever becoming the day-in, day-out primary post option that Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal ever were.

Without being flanked by a true superstar—a player like Chris Paul, LeBron James or even Giannis Antetokounmpo—Jordan will become a big fish in a small pond. He’ll become a player whose championship caliber potential will never be realized because he both lacks the traits necessary to become one himself and won’t have one beside him.

Sure, Blake Griffin has some incredible talents, but his failure to develop a sound back-to-basket game and his over reliance on his athleticism limits his maximum effectiveness. The best thing Griffin has done in his career was jump over a Kia. The second-best thing he’s ever done was figure out new ways to get hurt.

The thought of a Griffin-Jordan duo bringing the Clippers to contention is a joke that’s even funnier than the thought of Blake lasting a full 82 games.

Let’s take a step back and be honest about something, though. Generally, as a culture, we are too quick to advocate for a team to “tear it down” and start all over. Legal scholars and sociologists for years have yielded studies that provide substantial evidence that most people only have the ability to remember examples and situations that help the point they’re trying to make.

In other words, if you’re advocating that a team should sell off its assets and rebuild, you’re likely to reference teams like the Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers as teams that did so and ended up with franchise-caliber talents.

While that is generally true, pointing to the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are good reasons to pull the plug on a fringe contender simply wreaks of selective memory. For every Curry, there are at least 1,000 players who never amount to anything. For every Joel Embiid, there are at least 100 Nerlens Noels.

Noel, in all fairness, is a very useful player, but nobody—not even the woeful Dallas Mavericks—are willing to bet the farm on his becoming a franchise cornerstone.

Rebuilding is difficult. It’s a long process that requires luck, patience, endurance and keen decision making. There are some front offices that are totally content with building a roster that it knows will win 50 games every season and, at best, win one playoff series. In fact, one could make the argument that this will be the fate for 95 percent of the NBA’s teams.

Without LeBron, Durant, Curry or a player like Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving, there simply isn’t much opportunity to win everything.

Jordan isn’t in that class of player, and honestly, neither is Griffin.

At this point in time, what the Clippers would be wise to do is what most other NBA teams stuck in the middle do—hope to find a diamond in the draft and build around him.

Of course, if the Clippers get lucky, they could walk away from the 2018 draft with a franchise-caliber player, but the problem is simple: Jordan is playing in the final year of his contract and could sign with another team this summer. In all likelihood, at 29 years old, he will end up taking his talents to the highest bidder.

With Griffin on the books for an average of $35 million per year over each of the next four and Danilo Gallinari and Austin Rivers sitting on $55 million of guaranteed money over the next two years, signing Jordan to a maximum contract would sentence the Clippers to mediocrity for the next several years.

While mediocrity isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, Jordan leaving the club for nothing would be. Another important factor to be considered is this: as a part of the agreement between the Clippers and the Boston Celtics that saw the Celtics release Doc Rivers from his contract to sign on in Los Angeles, the Clippers agreed to give the Celtics a future first round pick.

If the Clippers fail to make the playoffs in the 2018-19 season and the 2019-20 season, they’ll get to keep each of the lottery picks that will result. In such a scenario, they’d send their 2022 second round pick to the Celtics to complete the transaction.

If, on the other hand, the Clippers do qualify for the playoffs in either 2019 or 2020, they’ll have to surrender their first rounder to the Celtics.

In the end, re-signing Jordan could make all the difference in the world—he could help make the Clippers just good enough to not fully reap the benefits of being a bad team. He could also cost them a first round pick in the process.

* * * * * *

In the end, even a blind man can see that it’s time for the Clippers to embrace rebuilding. The team owns its own pick in this year’s draft and could easily acquire another first round pick from either the Cavaliers or the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Jordan.

Without Jordan, it’s likely that the Clips miss the playoffs for each of the next two seasons, meaning that the team could very well have four first round picks in the next three drafts, and that doesn’t count what they might be able to get in return for trading Blake Griffin.

Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to Blake, also, but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

All good things come to an end. Chris Paul realized it, and it’s time for Doc Rivers to follow suit.

No, DeAndre Jordan isn’t the problem with the Clippers—it’s everyone around him.

Still, that doesn’t mean that he can’t help to be a part of the solution.

Let’s just hope that the team’s brass and Doc Rivers—who still plays a major role in the team’s day-to-day decisions—realize that, too.

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NBA Daily: Trade Watch Northwest Division

David Yapkowitz identifies and breaks down the potential trade candidates in the Northwest Division.

David Yapkowitz

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We kick off a new series this week at Basketball Insiders. With the Jimmy Butler saga finally over, we’re taking a look at other players in each division who are possible trade candidates.

Some teams have holes in their respective rosters that they need to patch up. Others have contracts that are expiring or just don’t make sense for the team anymore. Some players and teams just need to move on at this point for a variety of reasons. Here’s a look at some of those situations, starting with the Northwest Division.

1. Tyus Jones – Minnesota Timberwolves

There’s an argument to be made that when he actually receives regular playing time, Tyus Jones is the best overall point guard on the Timberwolves’ roster. He’s been the primary backup for Minnesota for the time being with Jeff Teague out with an injury.

However, with Derrick Rose’s reemergence this season, it remains to be seen what happens once Teague returns. It’s no secret that Tom Thibodeau has his preference for veteran guys and Jones has often found himself as the odd man out. The Phoenix Suns, desperate for a point guard, have been rumored to have interest in him.

Jones was apparently close with Butler, if that means anything, and it just seems like his future is elsewhere. If the Timberwolves aren’t going to use him properly, then maybe a split is necessary. Should Minnesota really look to deal him, they probably won’t have any shortage of suitors.

2. Gorgui Dieng – Minnesota Timberwolves

A few years ago, Gorgui Dieng looked like an up and coming prize for Minnesota. He ended up being rewarded with a big contract based off of that. But since then, he’s seen both his playing time and production decrease.

The Timberwolves reportedly tried to include Dieng in possible deals for Butler in order to offload his contract. Obviously that didn’t happen, and Minnesota is locked into his contract for two more seasons after this one.

Backup big man Anthony Tolliver has surpassed Dieng in the rotation at this point as he’s a better fit as a stretch big man in today’s NBA. It’s hard to imagine any team trading for Dieng straight up with that contract but the Timberwolves could try and include him any potential Jones deal.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder – In Need of Outside Shooting

The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have any bad contracts per se, nor do they have any players that they’re aggressively looking to move on from. They do, however, have a glaring need and that is three-point shooting.

Currently, they’re shooting 30.1 percent from the three-point line as a team. That’s not going to get it done in today’s league if they truly want to be among the Western Conference’s elite. They do have Patrick Patterson reemerging as one of the better stretch fours in the league (38.6 percent), but after that everyone just kind of drops off a bit.

The Thunder could certainly use the addition of another outside shooter as the season goes on. Kyle Korver is rumored to be available although he’s been linked to Philadelphia recently. Perhaps they could put in an inquiry with the Miami HEAT about Wayne Ellington if the HEAT continues to struggle. Either way, unless the guys they already have step up, perimeter shooting will need to be addressed.

4. Meyers Leonard – Portland Trail Blazers

It’s not that Meyers Leonard has been bad for Portland, he’s actually been decent so far this season. But with the contract he has, Portland isn’t getting the value they expected when they entered that deal.

Instead, Zach Collins has supplanted him in the rotation, and Caleb Swanigan is close to doing so as well. Leonard has been mentioned in trade rumors for some time, so perhaps this season is the one where he and the Blazers part ways. His contract is expiring next season so that might be enticing to some teams.

He isn’t a bad player, and there might be a team out there willing to take a chance on an athletic big man who can run the floor and even stretch defenses out to the three-point line. At any rate, it might be time for both parties to go their separate ways.

5. Tyler Lydon – Denver Nuggets

The writing was on the wall when the Nuggets declined Tyler Lydon’s third-year option prior to the start of the season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

He suffered an unfortunate injury early in his career and just hasn’t been given an opportunity to prove his worth as an NBA player. He played well in the G-League last season and has promise as a stretch big man. It’s just obvious that it won’t be realized in Denver.

He’s worth taking chance on for a team looking to add intriguing, youngish talent – especially since it shouldn’t cost too much to acquire him in a deal.

As the season progresses, there will be other situations around the division that might emerge on the trade front. But, as of now, these are arguably some of the most active situations to keep an eye on.

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Tip-ins and Treys from Around the NBA

Basketball Insiders

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The Butler Has Arrived in Philly

If you’re a Sixers fan you have to be thrilled that their perennial number one picks, borne of spectacular franchise failure, are finally bearing fruit. Joel Embiid has more than lived up to his lofty billing and is averaging over 28 points per game this season while Ben Simmons is emerging as a young superstar in his own right. Although the jury is still out on Markelle Fultz, it appears that he is beginning to assimilate and trying to contribute to his team’s fortunes. But this group of young guns needed a bona fide All-Star veteran to add a maturity component that the team has been missing and they found the perfect complement in Jimmy Butler.

As we all know, Butler was a disgruntled member of the Minnesota Timberwolves and, at age 29, saw his window to compete for a championship in his prime dwindling by the day. Minnesota understood they had two chances of signing Butler after this season, slim and none, and Slim just left town. Although he has been called everything from feisty to irascible, Butler brings a passion that either turns teammates off or makes them better. It’s a fair assumption that his brand of swagger will have a positive effect on younger players which is why the Philly brass believes he will bring a championship conclusion to The Process.

Of course, it was regrettable that the 76ers had to deal young talent in Robert Covington and Dario Saric but if Philadelphia can lock up Butler to a long-term deal then it will be worth trade. However, if the four-time All-Star decides that the City of Brotherly Love is not his favorite place then it will be a costly one-year rental. Nevertheless, Butler brings the Sixers closer to the NBA Finals if the young blood buys into who he is and what he brings to the table. That question will begin to be answered when he dons a 76ers jersey for the first time on Wednesday night in Orlando.

Sun Setting on Melo in Houston

Carmelo Anthony was brought to Houston as an experienced veteran with enough gas left in the tank to serve in a capacity that is foreign to the 10-time NBA All-Star – role player. But the Houston Rockets have underperformed and underachieved this season as they sit in mid-November as a sub .500 club, a monumental fall from grace after a 65-win campaign last year. After a dismal 1-of-11 shooting night from the field that garnered all of two points in Houston’s 98-80 loss to Oklahoma City, Melo has been a DNP the last two games and it appears that this marriage is headed for an early divorce.

Anthony’s reps are reportedly reaching out to other clubs to see if there will be a taker for the 34-year-old’s services but as of this point, no one is answering the phone. The wheels have come off the wagon and the dynamic in the Western Conference is changing as the best online sportsbooks are dealing the surging Denver Nuggets as 4 ½ point home favorites over the Rockets on Tuesday night. To highlight how far the mighty have fallen, last February these teams met in Mile High and it was Houston that was favored by four and they did not disappoint their backers as they covered the number in a 119-114 victory.

Perhaps it’s just early season jitters for the Rockets and no one would be surprised if James Harden and the boys went on a prolonged winning streak. But right now they are just another struggling group looking to get on the right side of the standings. Whether Carmelo Anthony will be part of that resurgence, if it does indeed occur, is anyone’s guess.

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NBA Daily: A Little Bit Of Trouble In Paradise

Even with all their success, the Warriors’ most recent incident may suggest that there’s something ugly going on internally, writes Matt John.

Matt John

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It’s tragic to see an all-time team crumble from within.

When an empire falls because of its own hubris, it’s dead forever. Teams like the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers are a prime example of a fallen empire because of such. As the Lakers won titles year after year, the tension between the two of them became so palpable that their egos surpassed their talent, infecting their play on the court.

It was a shame that the dysfunction came to a head in 2004 because the Lakers had arguably their most talented team in the Shaq/Kobe era that year. Even with all the drama behind the scenes, they still made the NBA finals. We’ll never know for sure what could have been with the 2003-04 Lakers. What we do know was that everything blew up after that season because their superstars couldn’t stand each other anymore.

Nearly a decade-and-a-half later, we must now ask ourselves: Are we seeing the same thing happen to the Golden State Warriors?

If we’re basing this entirely off the incident that happened both during and after the Warriors and the Clippers squared off on Monday night, then absolutely not.

For those of you who don’t know, multiple Warriors – including Kevin Durant – got heated at Draymond Green after his attempt to be the hero at the end of regulation led to him losing the basketball as time expired. This forced the game into overtime, where the Warriors eventually lost. It was a rather questionable decision on Green’s part because, with all due respect to the three-time NBA All-Star, he had more reliable closers in both Durant and Klay Thompson to pass the ball to and he neglected them.

One thing should be made clear: Occurrences like these are pretty common. Teammates get in fights all the time, and not necessarily because they hate the others’ guts. They get into these little confrontations usually for the love of the game. Emotions understandably ran high after Green tried and failed to be the man as time expired. Certain things were brought up that are definitely worth going over, but this could easily be swept under the rug in a matter of weeks.

However, rumors of a potential Warriors’ self-combustion go all the way back to last June. After Golden State won its second consecutive title and third in the last four years, David West had this to say that caught our attention.

Perhaps not everything was peachy in the Bay Area. West was calling it quits, so there was no need for him to hold anything back. Still, since he wouldn’t elaborate, all he said at that time could be dismissed as mere gossip.

What we had then was smoke. Now we have fire.

Something that’s also got people’s ears burning has been Durant’s caginess surrounding his upcoming free agency this summer. We can’t take that as proof of discord because it doesn’t prove a thing. Everything surrounding Durant’s silence in regards to his future is purely speculative.

Or, it was.

As Durant and Green had their confrontation in the locker room, Green reportedly brought up Durant’s impending free agency this summer. That is very telling of what might be on the Warriors’ minds, or at the very least, Green’s. It’s bothering him that he does not know what Durant plans are this summer. While Green may not be the most likable player in the league, his concerns are understandable. The uncertainty of a team’s long-term future can easily rattle any players’ mind. Just ask Cleveland.

Green could have made a better case for himself had he not reportedly called Durant an expletive name repeatedly. No matter what conclusions you may draw from this, the fact also remains that -after they got all the dirty laundry out – Green was suspended for one game.

Before all of this happened, all of the talks about the Warriors’ possible breakup was a bunch of hot air. Now, we have confirmation that things have gotten a little uneasy.

It’s also a possibility that this one little quarrel is as bad as it gets. Perhaps Green just had to get his concerns about Durant out in the open, and the two of them will cleanly resolve their issues. If this winds up being the height of the tension in Golden State, then this entire matter will be irrelevant as the Warriors pursue their third consecutive championship.

It also sounds impossible that a team that talented that has experienced that much success in the last several years would get sick of playing together. Some may think that what happened with O’Neal and Bryant was just an anomaly, but in recent years, we’ve seen a few elite players opt to leave their original teams in spite of their success.

Just a few months ago, Kawhi Leonard decided he didn’t want to be the face of arguably the league’s most well-run franchise anymore. The year before that, Kyrie Irving was fed up with being the Robin to LeBron James’ Batman despite a championship and two other finals appearances. Should it be mentioned that King James himself left his two previous teams after making the NBA Finals four consecutive times with both of them? Maybe what we’re seeing from this is that success does not always breed happiness and/or loyalty.

Getting back to the Warriors, say this is the first in a long line of public incidents that will compel Durant to leave. That doesn’t mean the end for Golden State. They still have the Splash Brothers, as well as Green. Managing the team without Durant wouldn’t be easy, but they won over 70 games without him three years ago. They’d probably still be a good enough team that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he left.

That is, of course, going off the notion that Durant is leaving this summer, which is by no means set in stone. As cliche as it sounds, we can only wait to see if things get worse from here for the Warriors.

But if things are actually as rocky as they appear, imagine what they could be like when DeMarcus Cousins comes back.

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