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Clippers Trade Deadline Grades

Eric Gay / AP

We might have just seen the most competitive trade deadline in history, with so many teams trying to improve their chances of competing for a NBA championship. The trade deadline saw two future Hall of Famers in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving traded within a few days of each other. Durant is heading to the Phoenix Suns and Irving to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Los Angeles Lakers tried to revamp their roster around the new all-time leading scorer and first ballot Hall of Famer LeBron James with some savvy acquisitions to complement his talents. A plethora of other teams made moves in order to bolster their chances to compete in the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Clippers are one of those teams who currently sit in the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Clippers and head coach Ty Lue had a rough start to the season with his stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in and out of the lineup recovering from injuries. Leonard and George weren’t the only players who dealt with injuries this season thus far. Lue has had his work cut out for him trying to keep his team in contention until it could get fully healthy. They had a four-game losing streak early in the season and a six game losing streak (longest of Lue’s coaching career) heading into the new year, so it hasn’t been easy. 

Lawrence Frank, the President of Basketball Operations, and coach Lue made some changes they feel can make a difference come playoff time now that the trade deadline has passed. Here are the acquisitions and grades based on the teams needs:


Mason Plumlee, Grade: B+


The addition of another big man was the most glaring need for the Clippers watching this team all season long. Ivica Zubac who has been counted on heavily throughout the season, has had high expectations from everyone on this team and within the organization because of the lack of size on the roster. Zubac had to be a force in the middle each night and had to stay away from foul trouble. The Clippers do have Moses Brown, a 7’2 big man, but he has not been someone who could be counted on come playoff time.

Mason Plumlee should be able to help this team immediately as a savvy nine-year NBA veteran. The 7’0″ center, a former first round selection back in 2013 out of Duke, is averaging career-highs in points (12.2 ppg) and assists (3.7 apg).

Plumlee brings a different element to this team with his passing ability. The Clippers will have a different look out on the floor with Plumlee being such a good passer at his position since he came into the league. Plumlee’s ability to get up and down the floor for his size is underrated. The North Carolina product has a good stride and is a solid defender around the basket and defending the pick-n-roll.

Plumlee’s main flaws will show on the offensive end as a scorer. The center is not someone you can throw the ball into the paint and ask him to score, and struggles from the free-throw line at 60.5% after just 39.2% a season ago. The Clippers didn’t bring him in to score however, they need his basketball IQ, passing acumen and most importantly his size.


Eric Gordon, Grade: B 

Erik Williams / USA TODAY Sports

Eric Gordon returns to Los Angeles after being drafted by the Clippers back in 2008 as the number seventh overall pick out of Indiana. Gordon spent three seasons with the organization and had a career-high in points (22.3 ppg) in his third season. The fourteen-year veteran is now at a career low 13.1 ppg but they won’t need him to put up huge numbers for this team.

The Clippers are looking for him to bring his big-game experience from his time in the playoffs. Gordon went to the Western Conference Finals back in 2018 when the Houston Rockets lost in seven games to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.

Coach Lue will more than likely have him run with the second unit that is ranked number two in scoring in the NBA (42.2/ppg) and led by front-runner for the Sixth Man of Year award Norman Powell. Powell is currently averaging 16.9/ppg off the bench, contributing to a stellar bench for the Clippers.

Luke Kennard was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies after he struggled to make shots consistently this season when given the opportunity, Gordon, a career 37% three-point shooter, is a reliable playmaker and solid on the defensive end. Gordon should be a huge boost to the bench moving forward.  

Bones Hyland, Grade: B-

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Reggie Jackson and John Wall were splitting time at the point guard position for coach Lue and leaned on them heavily up until now. Jackson came in as the starter after being a fan favorite last season, but later was relegated to the second unit for the final seventeen games. Wall, who was supposed to bring a different element to this team they haven’t had in previous years with his speed and pace, only appeared in thirty-four games due to injury and did not play in back-to-backs. Neither guard is still on the roster after Thursday’s trade deadline. 

The Clippers acquired Bones Hyland from the Denver Nuggets, a second year guard from VCU. Hyland was a fan favorite for the top-seeded Nuggets and was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team last year. The sophomore guard has a scoring mindset that will bring a spark to this team off the bench.

Hyland averaged 12.1 ppg in forty-two games and had a career-high 29 points against the Mavericks earlier in the season. The Delaware native struggles the most on the defensive end as an undersized guard at 6’2″ and 169 pounds. Coach Lue expects everyone who steps on the floor to compete on that end, but that will be Hyland’s biggest challenge. Will this affect them come playoff-time? 

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