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Wizards/Clippers: All Upside

In a span of 365 days the Jerry West regime in Los Angeles washed away nearly all remnants of the “Roc Divers” era, leaving just its head coach. 25-year-old shooting guard Austin Rivers was swapped with 34-year-old center Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards in a pretty simplistic deal that’ll also have serious team-building ramifications for Los Angeles and probably raises the ceiling for the Wizards significantly.

The parade of bottom of the barrel guards tasked with keeping the team’s offense afloat while primary creators John Wall and Bradley Beal simultaneously hit the bench more than failed. Brandon Jennings, Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks are the laughingstock of the NBA. Rivers at least provides a scorer off the catch and shoot, averaging 39.3% on C&S on a Clippers team with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin; 36.1% in a season with constant roster upheaval. Rivers is an average starter likely to play the reserve role and should thrive when Wall is on the bench if Scottie Brooks staggers him with Beal as the offense has more flow without such a ball-dominate Wall on the floor.

If LeBron leaves the conference the Wizards can get away with playing Otto Porter at the power forward spot and Markieff Morris at center the conference will be so small at the wing besides Boston. If fallen for this before. The Wizards have made me pay for trusting them in the past and I’m about to make the same mistake.


As for the Clippers this all but assures DeAndre Jordan his days in Los Angeles are numbered. Gortat is older, but still a starter in this league and comes at a cheaper price. Jordan’s trade value is also noticeably hirer despite being on the back nine of his career and is a traditional center in a league that makes a living running them off the floor. Ironically, Washington is the best home for Jordan as Wall is begging his team to upgrade the center spot for someone more athletic.

This frees up the rotation for younger guards like lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, returning players like the veteran Patrick Beverly and prospects Jawun Evans and Tyrone Wallace. I don’t count Milos Teodosic because it seems the team doesn’t want him and will either look to offload him for at least a second-rounder or just buy him out. Either way, having Rivers is just a roadblock for players the team is better off playing.

Their roster is made up of mainly solid players that can lead them to 39 to 43 wins, likely not enough for a playoff appearance in the west. However, if they can trade Jordan for Harrison Barnes or one more above-average starting forward then my projections of them have changed. But that’s not what their trying to do. In some ways they’re at a crossroads, they’re too talented to tank and the coach doesn’t want to.

Overall this is a solid transaction for both sides. No one got fleeced. No one got one over on the other. It’s a fair 50/50 deal. Not many times you can say that.

Grades:
Clippers: B-
Wizards: B+



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