1. Does Jeff Green change the Clippers’ ceiling this year?
Fred Katz (@FredKatz): How could he? The Clips are still miles away from the Spurs and Warriors. You could argue giving up a lottery-protected 2019 pick is worth it because the Clippers wouldn’t have been able to sign Green this summer (they wouldn’t have enough cap room), and now because his Bird rights transfer over, they can. But Green is an inconsistent player who Memphis was actively trying to dump. He might make the Clips a tad better, but L.A. is still the reasonable underdogs against San Antonio and Golden State in a possible round two. Nothing changes in that aspect, and that makes giving up another first-round pick suspect.
Brandon Tomyoy (@dingyu): The way Golden State and San Antonio have been playing? Not really. They were a team with a small percentage chance of getting further than the second round, and they still are. Sure, it helps that they now have upgraded the Small Forward position, and maybe playing with a pass-first floor general like Chris Paul will indeed give his percentages the bump that CP3 seems to imbue on all his teammates. But giving up the 2019 pick is worrisome, lottery protected or not, as there is no guarantee of what sort of team the Clippers look like three seasons from now, especially considering not one of their big three is currently signed beyond 2018.
Kaveh Jam (@KavehsRoom): I can’t see a scenario where Jeff Green drastically improves the Clippers fortunes this season. It will take much more than an inefficient shooter — if you even want to call him that — to penetrate the West mountain top of Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City. The move for Green isn’t entirely surprising if you choose to look at it from ‘Doc the GM’ perspective. He’s been a longtime fan of Green stemming largely from their Boston days. Green’s ability to play the 4 may end up bolstering the Clipper frontline — particularly once Blake Griffin returns. But it could end up being irrelevant because what is the benefit in surrendering a 2019 first round pick if we’re ultimately just debating whether the Clippers are now the third best team in their conference?
2. What’s the ripple effect from today’s league-wide moves for the Clippers?
Katz: I’m not sure there is one. Aside from a little bit of role player reshuffling and some salary- or luxury tax-related moves, teams stayed relatively inactive, probably because it’s far from a secret that no squad is one or even two moves away from catching the Spurs, Warriors, Thunder or—in the East—Cavaliers. The Clippers are probably in the same spot they were before Thursday: The fourth-best team in the West.
Tomyoy: The Grizzlies were already to be expected to get worse considering the loss of Marc Gasol, and this doesn’t change that. Trades in general were likely affected by the increase in cap going into next season, and a trade large enough to put any team on the level of a Golden State or San Antonio would have been incredibly difficult to pull off. It’s not exactly status quo for the Clippers after the trade, but again, this isn’t the sort of acquisition that will significantly tip the scales.
Jam: A pivotal NBA story — at least off-the court — has to be the explosion in salary cap that is expected to effectively change the way franchises view contracts. At it’s core, it will alter the way deals are made. Although it will be felt almost instantly, it probably won’t be until we’re a few seasons deep until the ripple effects of this change begin to materialize. In light of virtually every team now able to exercise this cap space during the summer, trades that could shift the playoff landscape this season were predictably unlikely to occur.
3. Anybody want to say a few words to Lance on his way out?
Katz: I can’t wait to see what a team with personalities like those of Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes and Lance looks like. Lance never got a fair shot with the Clippers, so maybe it’s a good thing L.A. traded him, since there was no way the Clippers front office was picking up his player option this summer. He’s had one of the weirdest careers we’ve seen in a long time and somehow, he’s still only 25. He could do anything from dominate to become completely irrelevant in Memphis, and it wouldn’t surprise me.
Tomyoy: As unsustainable as it probably was, the last month of Lance has been quite the joy to watch. The dunk over Julius Randle remains one of the best highlight plays of this Clippers season. Considering the slow curve he was on in learning the team’s plays and schemes, it’s fair to wonder if he was ready enough (no pun intended) to see major minutes in this crucial stretch of games the team has ahead of them. The effort put in to get there, as little as many may have seen of it, is nonetheless commendable.
Jam: On paper, Lance to the Clippers made complete sense and somehow it turned out to be anything but. To be fair, he never fully got an opportunity to let loose and be the defensive disruptor we saw in Indiana. His minutes were completely unpredictable and his place in the lineup from game-to-game was really anyone’s guess. As has been his career thus far, it’s unclear which Lance will emerge in Memphis. He’s headed to a team that is chock-full of personalities of their own which means it’s a perfect match or another recipe for disaster.