The trade deadline is five weeks away, and the Clippers front office assuredly isn't sitting on its hands as it tries to assemble a championship-caliber team.
The Clippers have made deadline deals each of the last two seasons, and their team has come up in rumors regarding potentially available point guard and center targets.
Technically, the Clippers don't have a traditional point guard outside of Derrick Walton Jr. Both Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams are more combo guards on offense, and the team has often tasked Moe Harkless with defending the opposing team's point guard.
One of the top veteran guards on the market last year was supposed to be Darren Collison, but he ended up retiring. Now, the former Clipper is considering a comeback, and he wants to stay home with either of the two Los Angeles teams.
Collison, a Southern California native who played college basketball at UCLA, spent one season with the Clippers in 2013-14. That was also Doc Rivers' first season as head coach in Los Angeles. Collison started 35 of his 80 games and averaged 11.4 points and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 50.1% on 2-pointers and 37.6% on 3-pointers.
He had one memorable playoff moment, scoring 10 points in the final three minutes in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against OKC to help the Clippers tie the series.
Collison is clearly a superior shooter to Beverley, but it's unclear how he fits into the Clippers backcourt rotation. He is not the same caliber defender as Beverley or Rodney McGruder, and he isn't as willing or feared of a shooter as Landry Shamet.
The primary impetus to signing Collison would be to keep him away from the Los Angeles Lakers, who clearly need another ball handler. Otherwise, it's not entirely obvious how Collison would be an upgrade over the current Clippers guards.
The Clippers are also believed to be targeting Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes, per a report from Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus. Baynes makes natural sense within the roster as a burly rim protector with shooting range to space the floor around the team's bevy of pick-and-roll combinations.
However, the construct of a trade would have to send Ivica Zubac to the Suns for Baynes, and the Clippers might be loath to part with their young center who is under contract for three more years for a one-year rental. Furthermore, as Pincus notes, Phoenix would have little interest in multiple years of Zubac when they drafted Deandre Ayton at no. 1 in 2018.
Baynes also doesn't really provide a roll threat to the basket like Zubac since he prefers to pop. Furthermore, he less durable than Zubac and doesn't rate as well defensively, though that could be a consequence of playing in a much weaker defensive ecosystem in Phoenix.
The Clippers have been vocal in their support of Zubac this season after a rough playoff debut for the 22-year-old last year. Rivers added to that chorus of praise after the team's loss to Utah when he said, "Like I say every night, I’m very happy with the way Zub is playing for us."
The Clippers essentially have the profile of a title-winning team when their whole roster is healthy, though there's nothing wrong with considering adjustments on the margins. However, the team should probably aim higher than the two names they've been linked to thus far.