With the NBA trade deadline looming, the Los Angeles Clippers continue to be linked to back-up big men. Sure, Doc Rivers has gone through Ryan Hollins, Byron Mullens and even dusted off Antawn Jamison in the hopes of finding consistency behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. However, I think the Clippers need to focus on a much more prominent position: STARTING SMALL FORWARD.
It didn’t take Doc long to realize that Jared Dudley isn’t starting wing material for a contending team. JD could probably start for the Los Angeles Lakers down the hall, but not these ‘contender Clips’. Matt Barnes, a man born to come off the bench with his energy and attitude, has been starting at the three-spot for the past few weeks. While it has been an improvement, Barnes just isn’t at his best as a starter.
His shooting has gone down in recent games, as has his overall efficiency. NBA coaching is all about getting the most out of your roster. Matt not only plays better coming off the bench, but by starting, this is hurting bench production. Yes, rookie Reggie Bullock will likely inherit the starting SF spot one day, but that isn’t TO-day. LAC needs to worry about RIGHT NOW.
The Clippers need to try and beat the buzzer this Thursday with a deal that nets them a starter at the three-spot. Just look at the Portland Trail Blazers for example. They’re a group without a void in the starting lineup. That consistency to start games has really paid off for them this season.
Some small forward names out there in talks are Luol Deng (Cavaliers), Thaddeus Young (76ers) and Richard Jefferson (Jazz). While the first two names are somewhat pricey, RJ happens to be in the last year of his deal. The Clippers should try and take advantage of his ‘contract year’ production for a nice playoff run.
When the Clippers acquired J.J. Redick (and Dudley) last summer, not much was made of Caron Butler being included in that deal. Boy, Doc Rivers could sure use him now…
Martin Knezevic is a Clippers writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @NBAKnez.