NBA AM: L.A. Clippers Trading for Garnett?
If the Boston Celtics decide that it’s time to part ways with Kevin Garnett, there will be at least one team interested in acquiring the 36-year-old. The Los Angeles Clippers have been in contact with the Celtics and inquired about Garnett’s availability, according to a report by Sporting News. The Clippers are reportedly offering a package that includes Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler in exchange for Garnett.
The Clippers want to contend for a championship this season and Garnett would certainly improve the team’s chances. Garnett has lost a step, but he’s still a dominant force, particularly on the defensive end. This season, the future Hall of Famer is averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, one block and one steal for the Celtics, as well as leading the team in Player Efficiency Rating (19.28). He also has plenty of postseason experience, with a championship ring and 125 playoff games on his resume.
It’s no surprise that the Clippers are looking to add a veteran big man to bolster their roster for a playoff run. Earlier this year, L.A. was linked to Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Varejao is out for the remainder of the season after developing a blood clot in his lung following surgery to repair a quad injury. With Varejao sidelined, the Clippers are exploring other options, including Garnett.
This season, the Clippers have gotten off their best start in franchise history and emerged as an elite team in the Western Conference. They currently hold the third seed with a 34-15 record. At times, the Clippers have looked unstoppable this year, including during their 17-game winning streak in December.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are deciding whether or not to rebuild after Rajon Rondo’s season came to an end after he tore his ACL last week. Boston also lost Jared Sullinger for the season after the rookie big man had to undergo back surgery to repair a lumbar disk.
Paul Pierce’s name has come up much more frequently than Garnett’s in trade rumors, but that’s because Pierce’s 2013-14 salary of $15,333,334 is only partially guaranteed. Pierce is essentially an expiring contract since only $5 million of next year’s salary is guaranteed. Garnett, on the other hand, is owed $12,433,735 next season and it’s not until 2014-15 that his deal is partially guaranteed ($6 million).
Also, trading for Garnett isn’t as easy as trading for Pierce, mainly because Garnett’s contract includes a no-trade clause. One of the ways that Boston convinced Garnett to delay his retirement was offering him the power to waive any trade. Garnett returned because he wanted to play in Boston and make one last run with Pierce, Rondo and Doc Rivers. Now, Garnett can veto any trade. Would he veto a trade to stay in Boston or would he welcome a trade that puts him on a contender such as the Clippers?
These are definitely two teams to watch as the Feb. 21 trade deadline approaches.
The Clippers seem to be searching for a veteran big man and they may have the assets to acquire a notable player. However, will they be willing to trade a young player who’s part of the team’s long-term plan such as Eric Bledsoe or DeAndre Jordan, who have been included in these rumors?
The Celtics, on the other hand, are another team that should be active in the coming weeks either to retool or rebuild their roster. Boston is currently on a four-game winning streak so drastic changes may not be necessary. However, if Danny Ainge wants to cash in his veterans and start building for the future, now may be the perfect time after years of delaying the inevitable.
Speights Enjoying Change of Scenery
Marreese Speights didn’t have to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before the Memphis Grizzlies were able to complete their cap-clearing trade with the Cavaliers, they had to run the deal by Speights. The 25-year-old had the right to veto any trade this season because of the Bird rights clause.
However, Speights didn’t have a tough decision to make. He had always wanted to play in Cleveland, dating all the way back to the 2008 NBA Draft. Speights thought he was going to be drafted by the Cavaliers at No. 19, but the Philadelphia 76ers selected him three picks before Cleveland would go on the clock.
“A lot of people don’t know that I’m the one who signed off on getting traded,” Speights said. “I came here because I knew they had a young team, great city and great fans. I always wanted to be here.”
It certainly seems like Speights is enjoying the change of scenery. He has scored in double-digits in every game with the Cavaliers. This is an opportunity for him to show that he can be a primary option on offense and a difference maker when given the minutes. Yesterday, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that’s exactly what Speights did. The Cavaliers were able to beat the Thunder, in large part because of Speights’ 21 points on 10-15 shooting from the field and 10 rebounds.
“He played extremely well,” Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott said of Speights. “He hit shots when we really needed it. He got some key defensive rebounds as well. I didn’t know he was that fiery. I didn’t know he communicated that way on the floor. I didn’t know he played this style of basketball.
“From what I saw from him in Philly, he was primarily a catch-and-shoot big guy that can kind of stretch the floor, but I saw from the first game we had him here, he was much more than that. He was a guy that can go in the post as well and is a very good communicator on the defensive end. So I know a lot more about him than I knew when we got him, and I love what I see. He’s a great kid around these guys, very vocal and that’s something that we need, plus his experience – he’s been in the league for a while.”
Speights has been in the league for four years, but he still has plenty of untapped potential, which means he’ll have an easy time fitting in with Cleveland’s young core. Speights was an excellent acquisition for the Cavaliers and he should be able to help the team now and for years to come.
Will the Lakers Make the Playoffs?
Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs this season? The thought of this star-studded squad missing the postseason would’ve seemed crazy several months ago, but it’s a legitimate question now. The Lakers are currently 22-26 and sitting in the Western Conference’s 10th seed. This season has been full of losses, drama and injuries for the Lakers. To say that the team has failed to live up to expectations is a huge understatement. This was supposed to be the team to beat, but that’s far from the case now.
Every Sunday afternoon, HOOPSWORLD’s writers answer an NBA-related question in a weekly column called the “Sunday Topic.” Yesterday, we discussed whether or not the Lakers will make the playoffs.
Despite the team’s early-season struggles, HOOPSWORLD’s writers are confident that the Lakers will find their rhythm and qualify for the postseason. Every writer that was asked – Yannis Koutroupis, Bill Ingram, Tommy Beer, Derek Page and myself – believed that L.A. would find a way to make the postseason, beating out the Houston Rockets or Portland Trail Blazers for one of the final seeds in the West. This team has too much talent to be lottery-bound, right? Right?