Clippers winning after the trade deadline

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
2:53
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The NBA trade deadline came and went without much action from the Clippers last week. The only real drama occurred on the team charter in the hours leading up to the deadline as players reloaded the Twitter on their phones while the flight was delayed due to weather conditions.

The delay allowed enough time for the Clippers to unload Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens off the plan and off the roster and about a week later, their spots on the team and on the plane have been taken by Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Danny Granger.

There wasn’t much fanfare involved when the Clippers traded Jamison to the Atlanta Hawks for the draft rights to Cenk Akyol or Mullens to the Philadelphia 76ers for a conditional second round draft pick but those deals represented so much more.

In essence, the Clippers traded Jamison and Mullen for Davis and Granger without taking on any added salary. If grading the trade deadline were extended eight days, the Clippers would be big winners.

They had come close to trading Matt Barnes and Darren Collison to the New York Knicks for Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton at the deadline but pulled back when Shumpert suffered a sprained MCL just before the deadline. Shumpert is out indefinitely. Days later, Felton was charged with two counts of criminal weapon possession in New York.

The Clippers haven’t always been blessed with good fortune around trades, but things have broken their way of late. They were, of course, the beneficiary of Chris Paul's vetoed trade to the Lakers in 2011, and also have benefited from the league disallowing a trade of DeAndre Jordan to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett as a side deal to acquiring Doc Rivers as their head coach.

While Garnett, 37, is averaging a career-worst 6.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per night, Jordan, 25, is having a career year, leading the league in field goal percentage (.669) and rebounds (14.0), is fourth in blocks (2.43) and is averaging a career-best 10.2 points per game.

Jamison and Mullens were nonfactors when they were traded but the Clippers are hoping that Davis and Granger can fill two major holes on this team.

The biggest weakness for the Clippers heading into the deadline was depth in the frontcourt. The combination of Mullens, Jamison and Ryan Hollins averaged a combined 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. By contrast, Davis alone averaged 12.1 points, 6.3 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game with Orlando.

Davis was also shooting 45.3 percent from the field and is a solid mid-range option, which was non-existent from the frontcourt players on the bench before. He also gives the Clippers a player with championship experience (he’s the only player on the roster with a ring) and someone who thrives under pressure (he averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the playoffs two years ago).

The Clippers were also hoping to upgrade at their small forward position and did just that with Granger, who is an upgrade offensively and defensively to Barnes and Jared Dudley and could actually become the starter this season.

Granger has been in just 34 games since 2011-2012 after knee surgery but says he is healthy this season and is averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 29 games so far. The Clippers don’t necessarily need him to be the All-Star he was in 2009 when he was averaging 25.8 points per game. They just need him to help spread the floor by hitting the long ball when he’s open (he is a career 38.2 percent shooter from the arc) and be a pest defensively. His signing also comes at an opportune time with Jamal Crawford sidelined a couple of games with a strained left calf and J.J. Redick sidelined indefinitely with a bulging disk in his lower back.

The addition of Granger and Davis might not vault the Clippers into championship favorite status but both players will certainly be a bigger factor down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs than Mullens or Jamison were. The Clippers might still be one piece away from being a championship team but they’re closer one week after the trade deadline than they were before.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Blake Griffin
PTS AST STL MIN
23.2 4.2 0.7 35.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Jordan 13.1
AssistsC. Paul 9.9
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.4