NBA AM: Clippers Preparing For A Busy Summer

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NBA Draft week marks one of the most exciting times for fans as their teams gear up for the future. The week also represents one of the busiest periods of activity for league executives, scouts and player personnel staff members. Careers are made this week. The foundation for titles and potential dynasties are crafted this week. Futures are determined this week.

But immediately after the annual influx of rookies via draft, the league shifts its focus to free agency in early July. While there will likely be a plethora of deals leading up to draft day and on draft night, early July also represents a time for savvy general managers to work the trade market.

The names circulating on the trade market as we approach the draft include All-Star caliber talent; some would argue franchise player type of talent is available on the market. Indiana Pacers forward Paul George and Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler have been the parties frequently mentioned in trade rumors, and each figures to have a multitude of potential suitors.

However, those aren’t the only big names being floated as potentially being available.

According to an ESPN report, the Los Angeles Clippers are gauging the market for All-Star center DeAndre Jordan as the draft and free agency approaches. The report indicates the talks are exploratory in nature only and nothing is imminent, but the Clippers do enter the offseason with numerous questions to address about the long term vision of their roster – and the legitimacy of their publicly stated title aspirations.

According to the source in the report, one of the teams in the discussion were the rebuilding Phoenix Suns. A potential Clippers and Suns deal would involve sending Jordan to Phoenix in exchange for veteran center Tyson Chandler and the team’s No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The Suns are reportedly not high on this proposed deal at the moment.

For the record, Chandler was a former teammate of All-Star point guard Chris Paul in New Orleans. Paul is headed to free agency this summer and the Clippers have stated their priority one is retaining the future Hall of Famer’s services and securing an agreement on a new deal.

The idea of trading an All-Defensive center in his prime for an aging veteran and an unknown commodity at No. 4 is risky business. However, it’s important to note the Clippers recently introduced NBA legend Jerry West as a team consultant.

West, as a reminder, played a key role in constructing championship rosters with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors, and the grizzled veteran hasn’t ever been one to shy away from shaking things up where there’s an opportunity.

The Clippers were one of the oldest teams in the league last season and one of their critical areas of needs is more athleticism on the perimeter. While Chandler wouldn’t fill that void, the No. 4 pick adds immediate youth and could bring in a building block for the future. The Clippers have no picks in this year’s draft and are reportedly looking for an angle to get into the mix.

Jordan, 28, is owed $46 million over the next two seasons with a final year player option.

Chandler, 34, has two years remaining and is owed $34 million over the next two seasons.

Complicating matters for the Clippers is the fact that former All-Star forward Blake Griffin is also headed to unrestricted free agency this summer and will be seeking a max level deal. The close knit friendship between Griffin and Jordan has been well documented. Other Clippers headed to free agency include J.J. Redick, Raymond Felton and Brandon Bass. Veterans Luc Mbah a Moute and Marreese Speights also hold player options for the 2017-18 season and could venture into the land of free agency this summer.

While there isn’t a deal imminent, the Clippers are doing what most teams around the league are doing at the moment – pursuing their due diligence. Ultimately, the Clippers may want to continue building around their core of Griffin, Jordan and Paul, but with two-thirds of the trio set to entertain offers in free agency, it is perfectly understandable why Jordan’s name is being mentioned in trade rumors.