Clippers trade rumors have included Blake Griffin a lot, but he may not be the star player dealt. Many LA Clippers trade rumors have come about since Griffin punched an equipment manager, breaking his hand and dealing the franchise a huge blow in the public relations department. Though Griffin likely won’t get dealt before the NBA trade deadline, two other star players could be on the move very soon. A report from CBS Sports states that the Clippers could look to move Jamal Crawford and Lance Stephenson if the right offer comes along.
The Clippers have a lot of money in salaries committed to the 2016-17 NBA season already. Guaranteed salaries already amount to about $79.6 million, and that doesn’t even include Jamal Crawford or Lance Stephenson. Crawford is set to become a free agent during the NBA offseason, and Stephenson has a team option worth about $9.4 million. Having both players under contract, as well as rookies selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, would put the Clippers at risk for a very large luxury tax bill. It is for this reason that many LA Clippers trade rumors now include one or both players.
Recently, Crawford and Stephenson have seen increased minutes as the Clippers play on without Blake Griffin. The team has found a lot of success in his absence, but coach Doc Rivers doesn’t feel it indicates the Clippers would be better without him. What it may do, though, is increase the trade value for both reserves, showing other contenders their value before the NBA trade deadline. Moving one or both players would also be seen as a long-term move for the team.
Lance Stephenson is on the books for $9 million this season and then about $9.4 million next season. He has career averages of 8.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Mostly, Stephenson has been known for his defense, though he has had several high-scoring games in his career. Another team could see him as a player who can provide defensive energy off the bench, but the Clippers may not accept anything less than a first-round pick if it means sacrificing depth on the roster.
The LA Clippers trade rumors indicate that Jamal Crawford would be less expensive for a contender to attain. He provides double-digit scoring off the bench and has been a key contributor for the Clippers since the 2012-13 NBA season. While the Clippers aren’t just going to give him away, he has been shopped around for several seasons. Moving him before the NBA trade deadline would not come as a surprise to analysts, especially if another team offers a young player or good draft pick to do it.
There are going to continue to be more Blake Griffin trade rumors until the NBA deadline on February 18. It is just too easy for NBA analysts to talk about how the Clippers could trade him for another star player and alleviate the franchise of the headache he has created. The reality is that Griffin was having one of his best seasons in the league until the injuries derailed his success. The front office may be hoping that he can return and provide enough momentum to finally get the team to an NBA Finals.
Though dealing a player like Jamal Crawford or Lance Stephenson may not be as flashy as a trade involving Griffin, it could certainly help the long-term outlook for the franchise. Crawford will likely be lost in free agency, and the team is unlikely to pick up the option that Stephenson has for next season. With those facts in hand, the front office of the LA Clippers has to weigh the short-term value of keeping them on the roster against the long-term value of adding picks or younger players before the deadline.
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