We don’t know what’s in the cards for the draft tonight, but we can take some educated guesses and narrow a few things down. I’ll do both the asking and the answering of the questions here, because I’m weird and anti-social like that.
Q: What are the chances the Clippers buy a pick in the first round? Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Chicago have all been rumored to want to sell their pick.
A: Given the Clippers current financial situation, trading for a late first round pick would make a lot of sense. The Clippers have plenty of roster spaces to fill, and the depth in this draft is pretty incredible at every position but point guard — the one spot the Clippers don’t need.
Here’s the problem. To my knowledge, the Clippers have never once purchased a first round pick under Donald Sterling. If there were a precedent for this, maybe it would be different, but I doubt the first time Sterling signs off on buying a pick will be when he has no GM in place. More to that point, which guy in the room has the chutzpah to even ask for that? Del Negro’s saving grace is that he has Sterling in his corner — I doubt he’ll jeopardize that by asking Sterling to fork over a big pile of cash for a player he probably won’t want to play anyway.
Back to the money for a second. After pick 24, the salary scale for a rookie is less than 1 million a year. If you just find a useful rotation player, that’s a fantastic value contract.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this is kind of the trickle effect of having Sterling as an owner. The Clippers don’t buy picks. The Clippers also don’t have a GM, mainly because they weren’t proactive enough to keep the last one. The Clippers also have a coach on a one year deal who really can’t afford to play a rookie since he’s coaching for his life again (see Thompkins, Trey). The Clippers could lean on their scouting department for the draft, but that may or may not be one guy (Gary Sacks) who knows the job can probably be his so long as the month-to-month thing is cool and he keeps a bobblehead like composure when Mr. Sterling talks.
With all that said, I’d be shocked if the Clippers bought a pick or traded an asset like Mo Williams for a pick unless they were getting it in addition to a proven player. It doesn’t make sense for Del Negro to treat this thing any other way than as if the world was ending next summer, and he’s probably the biggest voice in the draft room now.
Q: Jeez, thanks for depressing me unnecessarily, jerk. What about the Lamar Odom situation? Could that happen tomorrow?
A: The clock is ticking for Dallas if they can’t negotiate an extension with Odom on the buyout date. If Odom balks at moving that date back, Dallas will have to do something before Friday. The last thing Dallas wants is to be on the hook for Odom’s full contract. They’ll either extend the date, buy him out themselves, or trade him before Friday. That’s a certainty.
The Clippers should be happy with just about every scenario outside of a contender trading for Odom. That’s the worst possible scenario, and probably the least likely as well. If the buyout date gets extended, the Clippers can see if Mo Williams really will opt-in, and as a bonus, it will buy them some more time in their search for a GM to navigate the deal.
Side story: I don’t want to be hypocritical, because the only thing I said I wanted when Olshey left was for the Clippers to do their due diligence and interview multiple guys before deciding. I think it’s great they’re doing that. Here’s my worry. When I was younger, I had a dog “run away.” Every night we’d go out looking for him, and my older siblings would tell me stories about how they saw him running around with other dogs like a real life Homeward Bound type deal. It made little me happy that my dog was on an adventure. Such a rebel!
Of course, years later, I would find out my dog had actually died, and that my family was lying to me all along as to not hurt my feelings.
That’s what this all kind of feels like to me. The longer this search goes on, the more I think it’s just for show so no one gets bent out of shape. Maybe I’m just traumatized though. It’s very possible I’m traumatized.
Where were we? Oh, yes. Lamar Odom. It’s very possible Dallas trades Odom tomorrow night to a team and essentially pays them to file the buyout paperwork for them. Of course, no team is just going to do a Dallas a solid like that for free — they need to be compensated. Maybe Dallas throws in a future draft pick, a few extra 100 thousand dollar bills with Mark Cuban’s face on them, or an asset in the form of a player. I imagine the whole thing working out just like Shark Tank does.
To me, this scenario makes the most sense — Dallas pays someone to get rid of their Odom problem, and takes no salary back in return and no buyout hit. Cap space is critical for them right now.
Want a crazy idea? How about this? The Clippers buy the 25th pick from Memphis for something in the 1-1.5 million dollar range. Memphis loves it because they’re in a weird owner flux. Then this happens:
Clippers get: Lamar Odom, 17th pick via Dallas, 1 million cash
Lakers get: Mo Williams, future 2nd round pick
Mavericks get: 25th pick via LA Clippers via Memphis
The Mavericks drop from 17 (a spot I don’t think they’re in love with) to 25th in this year’s draft and don’t have to spend any cash, cap or future asset to get rid of Odom — just a simple drop in the draft and they’re ready to amnesty Brendan Haywood and offer Deron Williams that max deal.
The Lakers get Mo Williams, which we’ve described as a logical landing point for him, using their big trade exception. Maybe the Mavs throw in Roddy Beaubois or someone tosses them a future 2nd round pick or something to sweeten the deal for the Lakers.
The Clippers get the guy they want in Odom, resolve the Mo issue, and get the 17th pick, which Dallas essentially pays them to take.
I’m sure there are a million rules I just broke to do that, but that doesn’t look half bad, right? Lemme just sprinkle a few tea leaves here…(from Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLA)
“Many of the top agents are based in Los Angeles, meaning the Clippers have gone to private workouts for Perry Jones, Arnett Moultrie, Terrence Ross, Jeff Taylor, Terrence Jones, Fab Melo, Tony Wroten.“
Q: I stopped reading when you started talking about your dead dog. What about Eric Bledsoe? Is he a trade piece?
A: From that same Ramona Shelburne post at ESPNLA.com:
“Third-year point guard Eric Bledsoe has drawn widespread interest from around the league, but according to sources with knowledge of the Clippers thinking, someone would have to knock the Clippers socks off to get them to part with Bledsoe.”
For reasons stated earlier, I don’t think Bledsoe would be moved for a draft pick. It kind of defies logic. As Jordan Heimer said on ClipperBlogLive, in the draft, you look for a young player with potential who can make an impact and perform in the playoffs. Welp, that’s Eric Bledsoe.
It sounds like the current front office has a good grasp on Bledsoe’s value. Although I could conceivably see him getting moved for a veteran at some point, I don’t think now is that time.
Q: I know you hate making predictions, but that’s the only way we can end this. Who are the Clippers taking at $53?
A: I think Vinny Del Negro wants shooters wherever he can find them. There are quite a few long-distance threats crowded in the end of the first/early second range, so it’s tough to say which one falls. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think the Clippers end up with Kim English, SG, Missouri. I think the combination of his age (23) and so-so athletic ability could scare off teams looking to hit a homerun in the second round. For the Clippers, he could step in as a smart, sweet shooting role player with size (6-foot-6) and give you valuable minutes right away. He’s more Randy Foye than Nick Young, if you’re looking for comparisons. English is also a Leon Rose, CAA guy (Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe’s agent), so there’s a connection there with Sacks. I doubt he gets to #53, but if he does, I don’t see the Clippers passing him up.