Somewhat surprisingly, the Clippers have been receiving some flack for not making a move at the trade deadline. With Chris Paul’s future still up in the air, fans and pundits alike wanted to see a trade that increased the likelihood of Paul’s return even further.
While such thinking does make sense, it’s not as if Los Angeles had the opportunity to pull off a coup at the deadline. The Clippers’ pursuit of Kevin Garnett proved fruitless and outside of him, no one was available or attainable who was worth breaking the team up over. That includes Trevor Ariza.
Per David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Clippers vetoed a deal that would have sent Caron Butler to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Ariza:
The Clips stood pat, but not by their basketball people’s choice. L.A. and Washington had a done deal Wednesday night that would have sent forward Trevor Ariza to the Clippers in exchange for Caron Butler, giving L.A. a long, defensive-oriented body to throw at the likes of Kevin Durant in the playoffs.
But sources indicated that Clippers owner Donald Sterling nixed the deal Thursday morning, not wanting to gamble on the team’s chemistry being affected in any way down the stretch. My interpretation: we don’t want to do anything that could, in any way, be held against us by assistant general manager Chris Paul this summer if we don’t get far in the postseason.
We’re not talking about missing out on Garnett or Paul Pierce, we’re talking about Ariza. Defensively savvy though Ariza may be, is he really worth disrupting the team’s chemistry over? The Clippers have the third-best record in the Western Conference and are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Why mess with that?
As for the notion that they would love a defensive oriented small forward to throw at Kevin Durant in the playoffs, they’re not alone. But while I’m not saying guarding Durant in general is pointless, he manhandles the most deft of defenders.
For those wondering, Durant’s actually averaging 25.4 points on 45 percent shooting against Ariza for his career. Against Butler, he’s posting 28.4 points on 48.6 percent shooting.
Yes, I get it, Ariza holds him to roughly three points less, but Butler has also dropped 15.6 points against Durant to Ariza’s 11. That actually gives him the edge in plus/minus. So let’s not pretend Ariza would have made a world of difference.
If the Clippers were to take a risk at the deadline, a marquee name would have been a must. Ariza isn’t a marque name, nor is he guaranteed to work out. Los Angeles is already one of two teams (the San Antonio Spurs) in the top seven of both offensive and defensive efficiency. It’s not like the Clippers are desperate for Ariza the way they would be for a Garnett.
To proclaim that they’re going to win a title or even beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs is a bold and premature assertion. But they do have a shot, and Ariza wouldn’t have swayed such a reality in either direction.
Remember, the Clippers have to tip-toe around Paul for the remainder of the season. Anything that could potentially hinder the team’s chemistry or be used as justification behind his departure must be avoided; anything that he doesn’t personally endorse must be averted.
Like the Ariza trade.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.