With less than three weeks remaining before the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Clippers could have several options when it comes to upgrading their roster in hopes of a championship run. As a new report suggests, these options may include a few of the league’s better centers, including Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In an article from Bleacher Report published on Saturday, Eric Pincus looked at multiple trade scenarios that could help the Clippers address their perceived weaknesses. While the team has gotten solid numbers from Montrezl Harrell, Pincus cited a number of former league executives, who believe that at 6-feet-7-inches, the reserve center/forward isn’t tall enough to be effective on defense. The 25-year-old’s lack of outside shooting was also mentioned as another concern that might make him expendable ahead of the trade deadline.
After discussing the possibility of acquiring big men such as Marcus Morris, Dewayne Dedmon, and Aron Baynes to offset Harrell’s weakness beyond the arc, Pincus moved on to a pair of traditional centers, starting with Andre Drummond. But with one former executive pointing out that the Pistons star lacks postseason experience and needs to unlearn a lot of “bad habits,” the Bleacher Report writer suggested that Adams — another staple of trade rumors since the start of the 2019-20 season — could be another option for the Clippers.
“That makes a lot more sense,” said one of Pincus’ sources. “He’s everything the Clippers would need for the playoffs. If the Thunder got Harrell, they’d still be competitive.”
????????????????????Point center Steven Adams finds Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pic.twitter.com/tDV3kQqP2p— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 19, 2020
Considering how Adams is set to earn a lucrative $25.8 million this season, Pincus suggested that Los Angeles could acquire him by trading Harrell, reserve forward Maurice Harkless, and either one of two other reserves — power forward JaMychal Green or shooting guard Rodney McGruder. This, he stressed, would allow the Clippers to match salaries and theoretically make a deal with a team they have a “strong working relationship” with.
“The Clippers already have a strong working relationship with the Thunder. L.A. general manager Michael Winger previously worked in Oklahoma City under top executive Sam Presti, which was a significant factor in why the talks surrounding the [Paul] George trade were kept so successfully under the radar.”
In addition, it was explained that Adams’ contract — which has him locked in until the summer of 2021 — is another reason why he may be a better target than prospective 2020 free agent Drummond.
Talking about how the Clippers could benefit from Adams’ presence, Pincus posited that the New Zealand big man would give the team “formidable” size alongside current starting center Ivica Zubac, which would come in handy against their potential playoff opponents. While Harrell’s scoring may be missed, the hypothetical deal could help Los Angeles improve on defense while allowing Green — if he stays with the team — to earn more minutes as a small-ball center.
Adams is not the first rival center that has been linked to the Clippers this week. On Friday’s edition of The Ringer‘s NBA Show podcast, co-host Justin Verrier suggested a trade that would allow the team to acquire Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Harrell, Harkless, combo guard Landry Shamet, and a 2020 first-round pick.