At 34-15, the Clippers are second in the Western Conference and just about on target for the kind of season they expected when they acquired Paul George and Kawhi Leonard last summer.
But they’re not quite satisfied with their roster and their chemistry has been called into question. L.A. has been investigating different lineup upgrades as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches.
Tops among them might be Timberwolves forward Robert Covington. While the Wolves are still nailing down the market on Covington—even as they push for a D’Angelo Russell trade from Golden State—the Clippers are among the teams that still have interest in him, according to league sources. To varying extents, the Bucks, Rockets, Mavericks, Sixers and Lakers have also engaged the Wolves on Covington.
Dallas’ interest is said to have cooled. Milwaukee, meanwhile, might remain focused on the buyout market at the deadline. The Lakers, contemplating Kyle Kuzma trades, have Covington lower on their wish list.
That could open a door for the Clippers. Covington is not the only player the team has had interest in. But as the deadline nears, he could be the most serious trade possibility.
Robert Covington, Timberwolves
Covington is signed for two years after this one, which might make the Clippers more willing to shake free some assets to bring him in—they can either keep him if the fit is good or re-trade him next season. He is an outstanding defender who is a streaky shooter and when he is on, he is a fearsome 3-point threat. He would be useful in guarding the big wings the Clippers are sure to see in the playoffs, like LeBron James and, if all goes well for the Clippers, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Harkless, the 2020 pick and a player like Robinson or Terence Mann might be enough to land Covington.
Andre Iguodala, Grizzlies
Despite some amped-up rhetoric about sitting out the season, the presumption heading into the final few days before the trade deadline has been that the Grizzlies could pull the trigger on a deal with Dallas if they so chose—a trade centered on Courtney Lee’s expiring contract and the Warriors’ second-round pick this year. The Grizzlies want a first-round pick, though, and the Clippers have the ability to trade theirs in 2020. If they really want Iguodala, they could put together the best realistic package—this year’s pick, Mo Harkless’ expiring contract and second-year guard Jerome Robinson. It’s a lot to give up for a 36-year-old who has not played all season, though, and the Clippers have been exploring other possibilities.
Aron Baynes, Suns
Baynes has been connected to the Clippers in rumors, as L.A. worries about its center combo of Ivica Zubac, who is not very mobile in getting to the perimeter, and Montrezl Harrell, who is only 6-7. Baynes would give L.A. what it needs from the position, a guy who can defend 5s both bulky and agile, and can help offensively with perimeter shooting and floor spacing. He makes $5.4 million this season, an easy salary to match. The Clippers could give up some combination of young assets (Robinson, Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele, the 2020 pick) to get Baynes into the red-and-blue.
D.J. Augustin, Magic
The Clippers are a possible landing spot for Darren Collison should he decide to come out of retirement. But they’re looking for another playmaker and there’s no telling where Collison will wind up. Pulling off a deal for Augustin would fill a hole for the Clippers. They could do a straight trade for Augustin or take on Orlando center Khem Birch, too, sending back either Robinson, Mann or Kabegele.