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HomeNBANBA trade rumors: Clippers target Fred VanVleet, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry...

NBA trade rumors: Clippers target Fred VanVleet, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry in pursuit of starting point guard

When the Clippers are looking for a blueprint to turn a drain season into a Finals run, they don’t have to look far. Last season, the Boston Celtics were up 25-24 on January 25th. This season, the Clippers are setting the exact same 25-24 record that comes into play against the Lakers on Tuesday night.

The similarities between these two teams run deep. Two stars at the top of a deep list. The problem for the Clippers is that the quality of that depth hasn’t proven to be as high as most expected. The relegation between a Paul George as their second best player and who you think is their third best player – let’s say Ivica Zubac for example – qualifies as a real divide.

Though the Celtics had already started last season before being traded for Derrick White, his addition was still crucial to their final run. There were times in the postseason when White was Boston’s most influential player for stretches.

The Clippers appear to be looking for a similar upgrade this year, with a starting point guard and backup center their priority, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who brought up four names as potential Clippers targets: point guards Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet and old friend Isaiah Hartenstein who’s with the Knicks now.

Marc Stein reported on the Clippers’ interest in Conley a week ago and indeed Conley would make a lot of sense alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers need a strong offensive organizer who can also act off the ball. Neither Reggie Jackson nor John Wall were up to the task this season. Conley still fits the bill, and he remains a viable 3-point threat to clear the floor for the two LA stars.

That said, it’s VanVleet that would really move the needle. He’s having a bad season of 3, but that can change right away. He’s an elite ball pressure defender who hits above his weight class. The guy’s a thoroughbred, and the best part is that the Raptors might be in a position where they’d be motivated to sell. VanVleet is a free agent this summer. He wants and earns a lot of money. Unless the Raptors make a long-term commitment, moving FVV now would yield a good return.

The Clippers could offer their 2028 first-round pick, which could be quite valuable if and when this Kawhi PG era gets going, as well as a good young player, possibly a Terrence Mann or Luke Kennard. They also have many salary fillers to make the deal work on paper, namely Wall, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris or Jackson.

Regarding the backup center pursuit, O’Connor also noted that the Clippers are interested in Minnesota’s Naz Reid. To me, this is a distant second on the priority list for a point guard. The Clippers will almost certainly play small in their non-Zubac postseason minutes anyway.

Bigger never hurts and you never know when you need to stay big for a matchup or have a cushion for bad problems, but when we talk about moving the championship needle I think we’re talking about VanVleet. or to a lesser extent Conley or a path to a lesser extent Lowry.

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TOI.News Team
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