If you believe Doc Rivers, the Clippers aren’t doing a damn thing before the trade deadline.
“I got a feeling it’ll be the same,” the Clippers coach said about what his roster would look like before Wednesday's game against the Heat and after Thursday's NBA trade deadline. “But you just never know.”
No, you don’t. Not in a league where everyone has sources and trade rumors fly faster than the Clippers launched 3-pointers against Heat. So buy what Rivers, a former front office executive, was selling at your own risk since we’ve officially entered the NBA’s silly season of information and innuendo ahead of the 3 p.m. ET deadline.
The craziness was on full display at Staples Center when news dropped that Andre Iguodala—a potential target of the Clippers—was reportedly going from Memphis to Miami for a package headlined by injured forward Justise Winslow. Writers, reporters, and media personalities on hand to cover Clippers-Heat scrambled to confirm reports, get quotes, and land additional scoops before celebrated news breakers Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania could beat them to the punch.
"It caught me off guard since Justise isn’t with us right now. I can only imagine how he feels, how it transpired to him, kind of how somebody had to tell him.” — Bam Adebayo
News of Iguodala’s deal—broken nearly simultaneously by Wojnarowski and Charania—caught many by surprise since the Heat hadn’t been heavily linked to the Grizzlies forward. An hour and a half before tip, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about the deal but declined comment since it was “all rumor.” Like the rest of us, Heat players kept checking their phones to get updates while processing the loss of a “brother” who was once considered the future of the franchise.
“It just shows this league is a business,” Heat forward Bam Adebayo said after the game. “It’s weird. It caught me off guard since Justise isn’t with us right now. I can only imagine how he feels, how it transpired to him, kind of how somebody had to tell him.”
Shock turned to contemplation as the Heat quickly began thinking about what the addition of Iguodala would mean for a team that has exceeded expectations through its first 50 games.
“We need to embrace him,” Heat guard Goran Dragic said. “Everybody needs to give him information and talk to him so he adapts as soon as possible. He knows how to play basketball so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. We have a good group of guys here, veteran players. I feel like we got even better.”
Miami, a surprising 34-16, played like nothing was going on behind the scenes in the first half, taking a 3-point lead into halftime. That changed in the third quarter when the Clippers blew the Heat's doors off on their way to a 128-111 victory in front of 19,068 in downtown Los Angeles. The Clippers hit a franchise-record 24 3-pointers. Eight Clippers finished in double figures. Landry Shamet, a potential trade chip, had 23 points and 6 assists.
New #Heat forward @andre talks about his trade to Miami with @TheUndefeated. Learn more about the veteran’s power move soon in @TheUndefeated and @espn I. A wide-ranging interview. #NBA pic.twitter.com/AggL4emYsC— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) February 6, 2020
Iguodala’s move to Miami took a big target off the board for Los Angeles. The future Hall of Famer (yeah, I said it) was the second potential addition the Clippers lost out on in less than 24 hours after Robert Covington was dealt in that massive four-team deal Tuesday night. Whether it’s prudent for the Clippers to stand pat or get ultra-aggressive before the deadline is debatable. The Clippers, 36-15, are currently the second-best team in the Western Conference behind the Lakers. They already have a deep roster built for the postseason and are led by generational talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
But every team in the NBA can get better—Miami just did—and the Clippers could use an impact big, another ball-handler, and a wing who can defend and hit threes.
So despite what Rivers said pre-game, is it realistic to expect one of the most aggressive teams at the deadline the past two seasons to not do anything this year? The Clippers are in championship-mode. Their window to win the team’s first title—hell, make the team’s first conference finals—is really only open for one more season after this one since Leonard has an opt-out following the 2020-21 season.
Their recent track record tells you the Clippers will end up doing something. In 2018, the team dealt Blake Griffin to the Pistons and in 2019 Los Angeles sent Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanović for a package of picks and players that included Shamet and a 2021 first-round selection that was eventually used to acquire George.
Los Angeles most likely would dangle versatile forward Moe Harkless (and his expiring contract) and their first-round pick in June’s draft, but the market for their idea of a difference-maker shrunk over the last two days and the price of acquiring one will likely only go up. While a source within the Clippers organization told Complex Sports LA was unlikely to make a move Wednesday night in the immediate aftermath of the Iguodala deal, Thursday would be a new day.
Potentially bringing in a new player (or two) and shipping out a key contributor (or two) could screw with the continuity the Clippers have desperately tried to establish more than halfway through the season. LA has played less than a handful of games with a healthy roster while Leonard and George have only played 21 games together. Despite Rivers’ reservations, you would think the Clippers would make a move for a veteran like Knicks forward Marcus Morris. According to The Atheltic, the Clippers have had discussions with the Knicks. Or maybe the coach prefers not to tip his team’s hand about a trade they’ve low-key been working on.
“If it is it is…but I can’t see that happening,” Rivers said.