The upcoming season may be a bigger question mark for the Los Angeles Clippers than any in recent memory. With the team’s top player, Kawhi Leonard, out indefinitely as he recovers from knee surgery, many fans and analysts alike are wondering how Ty Lue and company are going to compensate for the team’s top scorer being out what will likely be the entire season.
Leonard averaged 34.1 minutes a game last year, scoring 24.8 points while also hauling in 6.5 rebounds and dishing out a career-high 5.2 assists. The Clippers will run through Paul George this coming season, though, and one analyst thinks he has found the perfect complement to PG via trade.
BR Proposes Christian Wood Trade
Bleacher Report’s Greg Schwartz thinks he has found a way for the Clips to remain a force even with Kawhi gone, but it involves sending multiple future picks and several players on L.A.’s current roster to the Houston Rockets for center Christian Wood.
Here’s the trade Schwartz proposes in his September 15 column:
- Los Angeles Clippers Receive: C Christian Wood, F Danuel House
- Houston Rockets Receive: SG Keon Johnson, C Ivica Zubac, G/F Luke Kennard, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
According to Schwartz, it would behoove Los Angeles to go get Wood, who he thinks helps their chances to not only get to the playoffs, but to dominate if/when they get there:
The Clippers should be on the playoff fringe assuming Kawhi Leonard misses most (if not all) of the regular season with a partially torn ACL. Trading for Wood gives Paul George a true running mate while Leonard recovers and a legit Big 3 for the postseason—a destination the Clippers are far more likely to reach with Wood en tow. Last year’s starting center Serge Ibaka picked up his $9.7 million player option to return to L.A., but the 31-year-old big man had back surgery in June. Leaning on Ibaka to play a full, healthy season is unrealistic given what he’s returning from. With Wood as the starting 5 and Ibaka as a reserve, it’s far more likely the three-time All-Defensive team member will hold up throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Would Wood & House Be Good Fits in L.A.?
The trade proposed by Schwartz is intriguing, but it also has the Clippers giving up a decent amount of players and future picks for two bigs who may or may not mesh well with PG and the crew.
Wood averaged 32.3 minutes last year, playing in 41 games. He racked up 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks with Houston last year, hitting 37.4% of his shots from downtown. House, who is entering his sixth season, played 25.9 minutes a game last season, scoring 8.8 points, and he also grabbed 3.7 boards and handed out 1.9 assists.
Wood could also help fill the defensive void left by Kawhi, according to Schwartz:
“House provides more wing defense with Leonard out. For a Rockets team that’s now built around 19-year-old Jalen Green, even Wood (who turns 26 later this month) doesn’t fit the timeline, especially with just two years left until he hits unrestricted free agency. Trading Wood now guarantees the best possible return, one that includes a nice package of young(ish) players in Johnson (19), Zubac (24) and Kennard (25, with four years remaining on his deal) and draft picks in each of the next four years.”
It’s an interesting proposal that Houston would very likely benefit from more — but the additions of both Wood and House in exchange for Ivica Zubac and Luke Kennard would give the Clippers an upgrade in the paint, and it would also give them a proven big man, because, as Schwartz noted, the 32-year-old Serge Ibaka can’t be counted on to be a full-time presence and contributor anymore.
Plus, imagine the possibilities when Kawhi makes his eventual return. Leonard, George and Wood would be a formidable big three few teams in the West could compete with. It’s just a proposal, but it would be a solid trade for both the Clips and the Rockets.