The NBA trade deadline is approaching soon on Jan. 6, and it seems likely that the Clippers will make a move.
Under its current front office regime led by Lawrence Frank, the team has made big moves before each of the last two trade deadlines, trading away Blake Griffin and Tobias Harris for heaps of future assets.
The Clippers used most of those future assets to acquire Paul George this summer (and by extension, Kawhi Leonard), but they have two prime trade chips left to play with: a 2020 first-round draft pick and the expiring contract of Moe Harkless. Those assets can only be used by the Clippers at this upcoming trade deadline, which is why Zach Lowe of ESPN is almost certain that the Clippers will make a deal.
"I think the Clippers are a lock to make some kind of trade," Lowe said on a recent episode of his podcast "The Lowe Post". "But I don't they're going to be big-game hunting. I think they're good enough that they're like a smaller player away, like a Marcus Morris level player away — they're already a serious team — from being really, really serious."
The Clippers regularly use a 10-man rotation, and the identity of those 10 players has fluctuated among all 13 non-rookies on the roster throughout the season. It remains to be seen how the Clippers will consolidate their minutes once they get to full health, though that endpoint looks further and further away. George didn't even travel to New Orleans with the team for the first leg of the road trip, and per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the team doesn't know if and when he will rejoin the Clippers on the road.
At full strength, it doesn't appear that the Clippers have many holes. Lowe seems to have settled in a large wing who can bring some size to the closing lineup. Even though the Clippers haven't been mentioned in many trade rumors to this point, Lowe thinks that's a reflection of their stealth tactics rather than a desire to stand pat.
"I'm shocked at how little Clippers trade buzz there is right now, maybe I shouldn't be considering they came like off the top rope from nowhere over the summer with Kawhi and PG," Lowe said. "They have these assets that are just burning a hole in their pocket and have to be used.
"I would be shocked if they got through the deadline and didn't make a trade, [because] they are all in. They are as all in as you can get given what they gave up for PG and Kawhi. By the way, those guys are free agents in like 18 months. They're all in. They have to be all in."
The Clippers currently sit in second place in the Western Conference at 30-13. It's fascinating to think about what an improved roster could even look like.
All quotes via "The Lowe Post", which you can find here.