The surprising Clippers, who are in eighth place in the Western Conference, on Tuesday night agreed to trade leading scorer Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers in a blockbuster deal, according to a league source.
The Clippers will deal Harris, who made a game-winning shot to cap a comeback win in Charlotte just a few hours before the trade, center Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott to Philadephia in exchange for forwards Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, rookie guard Landry Shamet, two first-round picks (one lottery protected) and two second-round picks. Terms of the deal were first reported by ESPN.
The move comes less than 48 hours before the league’s Thursday noon PT trade deadline. The Clippers had not been considered aggressive buyers or sellers in recent days, but they found a championship-hungry partner in the 76ers, who will send them first-round picks in 2020 (lottery protected) and 2021 (unprotected, via Miami). The second-round picks are in 2021 and 2023 (via Detroit), according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The most coveted piece the Clippers receive is the 2021 first-round pick from Miami, which is currently 25-27, 1½ games ahead of Detroit for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Barring a major turnaround next season, the Heat’s pick could wind up being a lottery selection.
If the Clippers, who are 30-25, miss the playoffs this season, they will retain their own first-round pick in the upcoming draft, which is lottery protected. If they make the playoffs, that pick transfers to Boston.
It’s the fifth time Harris, 26, has been traded in eight seasons. On the last year of his current contract, the forward is earning $14.8 million and enjoying his best season yet, averaging career highs in points per game (20.9), as well as field-goal percentage (49.6 percent), 3-point percentage (43.3 percent) and free-throw percentage (91.1 percent). He’s also averaging 7.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
On Tuesday night, Harris scored 34 points to lead the Clippers back from a 20-point deficit in a 117-115 victory in Charlotte, recording his fourth game this season with 20-plus points, five-plus rebounds and five-plus assists.
Harris declined an $80 million contract extension from the Clippers last summer with his sights set on a larger deal as an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. While the Clippers considered Harris, 26, close to a max-level contract player, that would be difficult for them to pay given their lofty free agent goals.
Expected to have salary-cap space for two max-level contracts, they’re expected to pursue several premier free agents this offseason, when players such as Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler are expected to be available. Many believe the Clippers are Leonard’s preferred destination.
The Clippers pushed for Harris to make the All-Star roster this season, and though he was left off the team, Philadelphia receives an All-Star-caliber talent to add to a roster that already includes three players with All-Star credentials in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Butler, who they acquired from Minnesota earlier this season.
Forward Danilo Gallinari, who is expected to return as soon as Thursday from back spasms that have kept him out of the past nine games, will be reunited with Chandler, someone he played alongside in New York and Denver.
Marjanovic, a fan favorite, was averaging a career-high 6.7 points and 10.4 minutes per game – and co-starred with Harris in the Clippers’ series of silly video shorts, titled the “Bobi + Tobi Show.” The pair was traded to the Clippers, along with Avery Bradley, last January in the deal that sent Blake Griffin to Detroit.
Scott played sporadically this season, his first with the Clippers after signing as a free agent last summer. He was averaging 4.8 points per game and shooting 39.1 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
Chandler, 31, is averaging 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game this season. Shamet, 21, is averaging 8.3 points in 20.5 minutes. Muscala, 27, was posting 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes.
Chandler and Muscala have expiring contracts. Shamet is earning $1.7 million this season with a guaranteed contract of nearly $2 million next season; the last two years of his contract are team options.
Removing Harris from the Clippers’ roster certainly hurts the team’s playoff hopes. The Clippers, Lakers, Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings are all separated by only a few games in a battle for the last few spots in the Western Conference playoff mix.
However, missing the playoffs would have a silver lining for the Clippers, since retaining that lottery-protected first-round pick instead of seeing it transfer to Boston this spring could prove a savvy strategic move. The Celtics are reportedly trying to convince the New Orleans Pelicans to wait until the offseason to trade big man Anthony Davis, and seeing a potential mid-round 2019 first-round pick from the Clippers evolve into a 2020 pick that could be in the latter third of the first round instead is a potential downgrade of Boston’s stockpile of assets.
From the moment Davis informed the Pelicans he wanted to be traded it has been presumed he would try to force his way to the Lakers or New York Knicks, but reports this week indicated that Davis, who intends to opt out of his existing contract in July of 2020, regardless, would also consider the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks as teams he’d consider re-signing with long-term.
New Orleans could have interest in the Clippers’ assets prior to Thursday’s trade deadline, or perhaps again in the offseason if Davis remains on the Pelicans’ roster.
Can confirm, the #Clippers are trading the Bobi + Tobi show and Mike Scott for Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and four draft picks, per league source.
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) February 6, 2019
Damnnnnn crazy news!!! NBA people !
— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) February 6, 2019
Powered by WPeMatico