The LA Clippers are having yet another strong season behind the NBA superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They are currently third in the Western Conference behind the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers.
So far, the decision to move on from Doc Rivers and replace him with one of his assistant coaches in Tyronn Lue hasn’t hurt the team. The Clippers have gotten healthier, as the February 19th game against the Utah Jazz marked the first time in almost a month they played together. However, it sounds like the Clippers want to shake some things up on their roster to keep pushing toward a championship.
The Clippers have been looking around to upgrade their backcourt based on NBA trade rumors. It is widely known that Lou Williams has been made available in trades. There is also another person in the front office that is ready to move on from Patrick Beverley, as well.
LA was interested in Derrick Rose before the Detroit Pistons trading him to the New York Knicks. Kyle Lowry has been mentioned as another potential trade target for the Clippers, but the cost for him could be very high. Could Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics be someone they look into acquiring instead?
Walker has had a slow start to the season after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. Slowly but surely, he has begun getting back into a groove, as he has scored in double-figures in five straight games and eight of nine times in February. His minutes per game have also gone up to 31.6 in February from 24.8 in January, another good sign.
While Kemba Walker doesn’t bring the same defensive intensity as Beverley, his scoring prowess is on another level. Walker would help take some pressure off of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the starting five. He would also give Lue an option to rely on to carry the offense in the case Leonard or George need some rest. His shortcomings defensively would be easier to overcome given the Clippers’ strong overall defense.
While Walker has been labeled a scoring guard for most of his career, a lot of that came out of necessity to help keep the Charlotte Hornets in games during his time there. The former UConn product would be an improvement in terms of playmaking for the Clippers. That would also take more pressure off their star duo, as Walker could help get other players involved in the offense.
Landing a player of Walker’s caliber when looking to unload a package revolved around Lou Williams would be about as good as the Clippers could do.
For the Celtics, this trade makes sense as they add depth to their backcourt. Veteran Jeff Teague and rookie Payton Pritchard held down the point guard spot while Walker was sidelined and could do it again.
Beverley would be a solid replacement for Marcus Smart if he is unable to shake his nagging calf injury. Williams gives them a scoring guard off the bench to help complement their young duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, whom they want to build around.
Depending on how they would want to match salaries, the Celtics could also receive some intriguing big man depth with someone such as Mfiondu Kabengele or ask for Ivica Zubac in return.
A deal sending Kemba Walker to the West Coast is one that could help both sides. The Celtics getting out of Walker’s deal would open up some long-term salary cap space that may be better suited elsewhere. The Clippers get a third near All-Star caliber player to add to their two All-NBA stars and retool their roster to make a run at an NBA Championship.