The Los Angeles Clippers have had a tough relationship with NBA Championship contention in recent years. They’ve been so close – yet so far. They possess two of the games’ best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They also possess two of the games’ most injury-riddled stars in Leonard and George. Could they look to make a huge blockbuster trade to get over the hump this offseason, possibly for a player like Brooklyn Nets’ superstar Kyrie Irving?
The Clippers have the stars, they have the roster depth. They have an NBA champion as their head coach, and an owner willing to spend. The only things they don’t have – health, and a starting-quality point guard.
Health is a dice-roll in the NBA. Hopefully, after significant time off, Leonard and George will be ready to take on an entire season together. Finding a starting-quality point guard is a little more straightforward than maintaining health – but even more difficult.
When there are whispers that a star point guard may be on the way out, teams need to prioritize finding a way to get their foot in the door. That is precisely what’s happening in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving – and he could be the missing piece for a Clippers championship.
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Kyrie Irving missed a lot of games this season – 53 to be exact. After refusing to get vaccinated against COVID, Irving played a mere 29 games and strained his relationships in Brooklyn in the process. James Harden left, expressing frustration with Irving’s part-time status. Nets GM Sean Marks recently hinted as issues with Irving as well. In his postseason press conference, Marks said “We’re looking for guys that want to come in here and be part of something bigger than themselves, play selfless, play team basketball, and be available.”
Irving will be available moving forward, thanks to a change in laws allowing him to play. However, his relationship with the Nets is clearly strained. The Clippers would be wise to see if they can swoop in and take Irving for themselves.
The Clippers have a deep, dynamic roster. They have versatile, switchable defenders, they have shooting, and they have two of the games’ brightest stars. The one thing LA has lacked is a point guard who can initiate the offense by getting into the paint and making plays.
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LA has tried Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, even Reggie Jackson in the role, with varying degrees of success. Still, they haven’t found a reliable starter at that position. An addition like Irving would be exactly what they need.
Kyrie Irving is an incredibly dynamic offensive player. He can score with ease from all over the floor, and he can use his scoring threat to set up teammates. His presence would add an element to the Clippers’ offense that teams would be simply unable to handle. An offensive unit spaced by Irving, Leonard, George, Luke Kennard, and Nicholas Batum is a practically unguardable one.
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Defensively, Irving leaves much to be desired, as many star guards do. Still, the Clippers are an ideal destination for him because of their incredible defenders. Irving would be able to hide on defense, and under Tyronn Lue’s coaching the Clippers have enough creativity to cover the gaps.
Irving has a $36 million player option next season, which, should he opt in, would make him difficult to trade for. A deal centered around Norman Powell and Marcus Morris Sr. would work financially, but the Nets would likely want more in return.
If the cost is too high, a deal for Kyrie Irving could be detrimental to LA. They’re a contender without him, certainly. Still, if the price is right, adding Irving would take the Clippers to title-favorites overnight. It’s a move they should look into, and if it’s possible, they should go all-out to get him. Either way, Irving is going to be mentioned in a ton of NBA rumors this offseason.