Lakers, Clippers Vie for Trade Grade





Beating 28 other teams for an NBA championship no longer is enough for the Los Angeles Lakers. Beating their Staples Center roommates, the Los Angeles Clippers, is of utmost importance now, too, in a way that it never was prior to the Clippers’ big intra-arena triumph in the Chris Paul Sweepstakes back in December.

So every opportunity for the two franchises to joust on the same battleground provides a chance to assess winners and losers. Or in the case of Thursday’s moves and non-moves: Which L.A. team won on NBA trade deadline day?

The Clippers, as third team in on the Denver-Washington deal that swapped Nene and JaVale McGee, acquired Wizards shooting guard Nick Young. Long considered to be a conscienceless gunner whose greatest fame came earlier this month when he hoisted a layup attempt completely over the backboard, Young was dumped by Washington in its attempt to appear more serious. But he could end up starting for the Clippers and he came at a bargain price (Brian Cook and a second-round pick). Here’s a snipped of what Helene Elliott wrote for the Los Angeles Times:

“You’re not going to replace a Chauncey Billups, his experience and his leadership and what he brings to the court,” Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I think Nick will give us another explosive scorer out there.”

The deal wasn’t finalized until two hours before the Clippers squandered a 17-point lead over the Steve Nash-less Phoenix Suns in a 91-87 loss at Staples Center that left them 9-11 since Billups exited the lineup. Young, who averaged 16.6 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting for the woeful Wizards, isn’t expected to make his Clippers debut until Tuesday.

That delay postpones the thorny decision on how Del Negro will handle an even bigger glut of guards alongside Paul. “A good problem to have,” [GM Neil] Olshey said. For now, it looks like Young will start and Randy Foye will go back to the bench.

“Of course that’s the biggest issue, managing the personnel, managing the minutes and trying to make it all work in terms of chemistry,” Del Negro said. “And this group is just getting together. We’ll see how it all comes together. I’m not sure there’s a perfect game plan now.”

The Lakers, meanwhile, added guard Ramon Sessions, dumped veteran Derek Fisher and failed to do anything else capable of moving their needle, be it trading Pau Gasol for something flashy or taking a chance on Michael Beasley’s potential. Sessions is a young, athletic player who has been available pretty much constantly, and Fisher is a sentimental fan’s favorite for his long service and clutch shooting who is closing in on his 38th birthday.

L.A. moved Fisher to Houston with a first-round pick for backup big man Jordan Hill, and they sent out Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and a 2012 first-round pick to the Cavaliers for Sessions and guard Christian Eyenga. Not all that exciting, done as much to dump salary (Fisher is due $3.4 million next season, Walton more than $6 million) and minimize luxury-tax liabilities.

But Sessions is expected to fit well in coach Mike Brown’s pick-and-roll sets and, within a narrow range of options, can create scoring plays for himself. Hill could provide some help up front. And there’s one more thing to consider before giving the Clippers the better trade grade from Thursday.

After getting singed by the Phoenix Suns Thursday night, blowing a 17-point lead in the process, the Clippers had a closed-door meeting that lasted more than an hour. There was speculation about an altercation between guard Mo Williams and Del Negro, and L.A. Times beat writer Broderick Turner wrote:

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who finally had one of his better games (11 points, nine rebounds) for a change, was sarcastic with the media after the meeting, saying they were “waiting” for the media to enter, which finally happened at 11:05 p.m. Thursday.

Kenyon Martin joked about the NCAA tournament.

What wasn’t a joke was the Clippers blowing a 17-point lead to a Suns team that didn’t play starters Steve Nash or Grant Hill because Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry wanted to rest his stars because the team was playing the second of back-to-back-to-back games.

“It was very productive,” Blake Griffin said about the meeting. “And it wasn’t a point-the-finger-at-somebody meeting. It was good. … But it wasn’t about guys trying to get their feelings hurt, guys trying to hurt people’s feelings. It was about this is real. We’ve got a good team and we’ve got to do better.”

The glut of guards, the chemistry questions and Del Negro’s own history from his time in Chicago (he had an altercation with Bulls VP John Paxson two years ago) make it hard, then, to stamp “winners” on the Clippers. Even in the L.A. competition, even just on trade day.

15 Comments

  1. The Clippers are really playing some great basketball, it’s fun to watch the games. The players have energy that can be seen on and off the floor in a positive light. Now the Clippers have added Nick Young which was a great move on their part!

  2. Lakers R Us says:

    I would sit back and wait to see what happens with the Laker team first! Maybe they will be OK as is; or maybe not! Right now, after the Sessions trade, the deadline is up! And they have a new PG! Maybe offers were made for Rondo or Williams already, maybe they were’nt! Since you are pushing for an answer, I would be happy right now because nothing can be done at all until free agency in the summer! And I don’t think the Lakers have the money! And I would keep Bynum and Pau right now! They would be the only tradeable pieces. So my answer to you is I wouldn’t try to get them now! I would stay with what they have!

  3. the clippers definitely came out on top this week..nick young is a solid player who gets the opportunity to play for a contender in his hometown..hell be productive from the get go.. i summarized some of the trades on my blog mindofmattman.blogspot.com

  4. Lakers R Us says:

    @sshameless! The Lakers acquired Chris Paul in a deal that was vetoed by Stern! So why would it be so impossible for them to acquire Rondo or Williams? I just believe in going for the gold! Even if it takes time, and a lot of effort! That’s what it’s all about! Anyway, I watched Sessions in his Laker debut and I’m pleasantly surprised! He’s pretty good!

    • sshameless says:

      You didn’t answer the question. Specifically, who would you trade for Rondo or Williams? Let’s take a look at some reality. The Lakers traded Gasol for Chris Paul. Most likely, Kupchak offered Gasol for Williams, and it’s obvious New Jersey declined. Same w/ Boston.

      So, the original questioh remains unanswered by you. What would you do to acquire Rondo or Williams?

  5. melvin says:

    sessions is good and I think he will be fitted to KB as another gunner and scorer for the team.

  6. Lakers R Us says:

    Sessions isn’t bad! I hope I am wrong when I say this, but I think he is overrated! The Lakers needed a point guard badly, and I think they settled for less! They should have waited and tried to go for the gold! i e: Deron Williams or Rondo! Only then can you build a championship team for the future! I’m glad they kept Pau though! He still has a few good playing years ahead of him!

  7. jonski22 says:

    agreed nick young is a good pick up by the clippers. but they should traded mowilliams, he is doesnt want to play back up to cp3, and clips has like 4 pg’s.

    • Belizeboy says:

      Yes that would make a lot of sense to trade their best player coming off the bench…If he didn’t want to play backup he wouldn’t be producing the numbers he does. Besides I think he’d rather play backup on a team with playoff potential, than be the leader of a sub .500 team.

  8. The Petition
    Clipper Nation,

    General Manager Neil Olshey has done an amazing job providing the Los Angeles Clippers with a roster that can legitimately contend for a Championship.

    Unfortunately, our head coach Vinny Del Negro has shown that he is either incapable or unwilling to provide the leadership, motivation, or implementation of the defensive or offensive strategy required to make the most out of our lineup – causing us to consistently lose to teams with far less talent and ability.

    Please let the Los Angeles Clippers Management know that you desire to have Vinny Del Negro replaced as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, by signing this petition.

    Respectfully,
    A devoted Clipper fan and Season Ticket Holder

    Sign this Petition to tell Clips Management to fire VDN: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lacmustfirevdn/
    Share Via FB: http://www.facebook.com/pages/LACmustFireVDN/384963974855553
    Go Clips!

  9. Jay343 says:

    The clippers always have been (and continue to still be) the joke of the league found a perfect player to add in nick young to make this team even more of a clown show

  10. Belizeboy says:

    I’m a big Clipper fan and think Young is a really good addition to this team, but….WE NEED BETTER DEFENSE. I hope they can bring in a good defensive minded coach. Not saying the need to get rid of Vinnie but put someone on the staff that will have these guys working harder out there. Right now they stand around half the time and wait for the other team to make a move, rather than putting pressure on the ball. Anyhow hope to see Young do well with them.

  11. charles says:

    Nick Young is not just a guard. He is 6’7″ and has a wingspan of 7 feet. He can play small forward as well. So with his addition they found a backup small forward for Caron Butler and a starting shooting guard. Furthermore, Washington does not have the leadership to keep a guy like Nick Young in check. With current all stars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as well as exceptional players like Butler, Kenyong Martin, and yes even Chauncy (he’s injured but involved) they have a solid chance of helping Nick Young to focused on something he hasn’t been able to focus on all his career: Winning a championship.

  12. xStephenx says:

    Unless by some miracle the Clippers win a title this year, Del Negro is getting canned. There are too many good free agent coaches out there that can do way better with the talent the Clippers have. All he has them do is run pick and rolls for 20 seconds, and for as great as Chris Paul is, its just not going to work often enough to be a serious contender.