NBA Trade Winners: LA Clippers
It wasn’t that long ago that the Clippers were seen as the odds-on favorite to win a championship. But with injuries to stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the emergence of the Denver Nuggets, who often dominate the Clippers, that is no longer the case. They needed something that put them back in title contention, and the Harden deal might be that something.
If he were still the same player who won MVP in 2018, then the Clippers wouldn’t’ have had a shot to land him, but he has seen a drop-off. That is to be expected for a 34-year-old but had he not pouted about not initially making the all-star team last season, he would have still been an all-star.
Acquiring an all-star for two firsts, three expiring’s, and a second is a reasonable risk for a playoff team to level up. While they may not be more talented than the Phoenix Suns or better than the Nuggets, they have enough talent to potentially be a top-3 seed in the West, and depending on how the playoff brackets align, they may not have to play both in the postseason.
Moreover, assuming Kawhi and PG are healthy, both are capable of make any series competitive, with Harden and Westbrook still good enough to swing a couple of games each. This trade increases their chances of making the Western Conference Finals, but how much remains to be seen.