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Get ready to give up one thing almost definitely: Chris Kaman and his 12.7 million dollar expiring contract. New Orleans or Orlando will want the cap room, and Kaman is the only current contract big enough to make the salaries match. DeAndre [Jordan] might get close, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Be ready to give up this as well: Minnesota’s 2012 unprotected first round pick. If Carmelo Anthony took a first round pick and two second rounders, you can pretty much kiss Minnesota’s pick goodbye in any blockbuster trade. I’ll have to double-check this, but the Clippers should be unable to trade their own 2013 first round pick due to the Stepien Rule. Since Boston holds the rights to the Clippers 2012 pick (top 10 protected), the Clippers shouldn’t be able to deal away their 2013 selection since that would make back-to-back years with traded first rounders. The soonest available first round pick of their own available for trade should be their 2014 pick. It’s also worth noting that the Clippers have traded (with strict stipulations) their second round picks until 2017. Long story short: That Minnesota pick would have to be gone.
Now for the Dwight Howard-to-Los Angeles rumors. And we’re not talking about the Lakers.
Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported on Monday that the Los Angeles Clippers are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire Howard (and Chris Paul for that matter). The lone stipulation is that the Clippers won’t trade Blake Griffin to make room for Howard. And that makes sense, given that for Los Angeles to be an attractive destination for Howard, Griffin needs to be on the roster.
Casual fans may scoff at the idea that Howard would consider the Clippers, given that they are the red-headed stepchild of the Lakers and that, you know, they’re the Clippers. But let’s not get it twisted. Griffin is a game-changer. The problem is that Donald Sterling is the owner. Sterling is notorious for not only being cheap (caring more about earning a profit than winning) but also for allegedly being racist towards players.
As tantalizing a trade package involving a likely top-five pick in a loaded 2012 NBA Draft may be, not to mention acquiring a young blossoming player like Eric Gordon among other assets, it comes down to whether or not Howard would be willing to commit long-term to Los Angeles despite the Sterling factor. Sure, general manager Otis Smith could trade Howard to the Clippers regardless if he commits to them or not.
However, it would ultimately fall on Los Angeles to make the decision to risk trading for Howard without a guarantee he re-signs. If the Clippers decide to take that chance (like the Nets did with Deron Williams), then Smith would have a trade partner. More importantly, with news of New Jersey’s interest in Howard, Smith also would have leverage and the ability to drive up the price for the big fella in a trade. And needless to say, if the Orlando Magic make the choice to trade Howard away, ownership needs to make sure that they get as much in return as possible.
The last thing the franchise needs is a repeat of 1996.