Trading Blake makes the Clippers Better
There’s already a general consensus amongst NBA talking heads that the Blake trade was a smart move for the Clippers - getting off the nearly $140 million remaining on his contract will dramatically increase their flexibility in building for the future. What makes this deal especially interesting, though, is that I also think it makes this Clippers better, this season.
It’s common wisdom in the NBA that the team getting the best player usually wins the trade… not so here. With the Clippers battling injuries up and down the lineup (Gallinari and Beverly in particular), acquiring Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley gives them two new options who can both space the court and create for themselves as needed.
While losing a star like Griffin is always painful, gaining Harris’s ability to space the court with shooting (40% from 3 this season) and Bradley’s ability to shut down Western Conference point guards moves the needle in a very positive direction.
Now We Get to See if Beal > Wall
Two years ago, or even one season ago, no one would even humor the thought that Bradley Beal might be better than John Wall. Beal’s handle was loose, mid-range bricky, and play-making abilities mostly self-focused. At the same time, Wall has been one of the most dynamic players in the NBA for the last 4 or 5 years, and his performance in last year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs put him in discussion for consideration as the second or third best player in the East.
Since then, Beal has channeled his inner LeBron and methodically re-worked his game, tightening has handle, refining his ability to run the offense, and making his silky jumper even better. With Wall’s reliable playmaking and shot-creation missing for the next 6-8 weeks, it’ll be fascinating to see whether or not Beal is able to take the mantle and serve as the main creator for a Wizards team that’s dying to stay in playoff contention. If he can, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the pecking order in Washington.
Boogie’s a Pelican for Life Now
Tearing an Achilles tendon is no joke for any athlete - much less an athlete who’s 6'11" and weighs 270 pounds. Freshly injured and heading into free agency, guessing what will happen to Demarcus Cousins is going to be the game of the summer. My money is on a max deal with the Pelicans - they simply have too much to lose (aka Anthony Davis) if they aren’t able to improve. While keeping Holiday, Cousins, and Davis on big deals will sharply limit the Pellies' ability to sign additional talent, losing Cousins may be the last straw for AD, who has all the leverage in the world. As such, I expect the Pelicans to open their pocketbooks this off-season and pay Boogie, praying he returns more like Dominique than Kobe.