The Los Angeles Clippers were shorthanded all season long, and despite fighting hard, they fell in the play-in tournament in an embarrassing fashion, first losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves, then suffering a setback to the New Orleans Pelicans, blowing double-digit fourth-quarter leads in both contests.
Pelicans hold off the Clippers despite blowing 16-point lead 🔥 pic.twitter.com/FpOYwuiKzh
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 16, 2022
Still, the Clippers have plenty to look forward to next season.
Their best player, Kawhi Leonard, is expected back after missing all of this season with a knee injury.
But it appears that they are missing one piece that could help them attain something that has eluded them going back to their days as the Buffalo Braves in the 1970s: the NBA championship.
The Clippers Need A True Floor General
This season, L.A.’s starting point guard was Reggie Jackson, who seemed like a solid option at that position when they signed him prior to last season.
He averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the regular season, which are certainly respectable numbers.
However, he shot just 39.2 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from 3-point range, both of which are very poor rates.
Jackson is clearly not capable of being a starting point guard or floor general for a championship team.
Behind him is Eric Bledsoe, who is certainly a good option as a backup, but not as a starter.
It’s clear that the Clippers need a legitimate starting-level point guard if they are to seriously contend for the world title.
The lack of such a player has hindered them for the last couple of years.
The Clippers have lacked a clear identity since Leonard and Paul George came to town two seasons ago.
They sure aren’t a fast-break team, but they also haven’t fully committed to playing slowdown basketball and forcing opponents to do the same and win playing 48 minutes of hand-to-hand combat, a la the Miami Heat.
Having the right high-quality point guard helps give a team an identity, tempo and style of play that it can hang its hat on every single game.
Just look at what Kyle Lowry has done to take the Heat to the top seed in the Eastern Conference after finishing sixth and fifth in the conference the past two seasons.
Can The Clippers Acquire That Final Piece This Offseason?
It looks like the Clippers will have to swing a trade in order to get their point guard.
They lack draft capital, but they could perhaps package a few of their players to nab the floor general they need.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been rumored to be looking into trading Damian Lillard for a while.
Damian Lillard says he wants to stay in Portland but wouldn’t ‘fight’ a trade
“If they came to me and they wanted to trade me—I'm not going to fight them on wanting to trade me. I don't want to be anywhere I'm not wanted. But I don't think that's the case.”
(Via CNBC) pic.twitter.com/iVBxxUh5M0
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 15, 2022
Would they be open to sending him to the Clippers, a team he could put over the top?
Other than that, the pickings may be slim.
Could Dennis Schroder be open to taking another modest contract in order to play for the Clippers?
Schroder may not be a top-flight point guard, but he is a speedy guard who is a good point-of-attack defender, and his chippy, tough demeanor would fit in well with the ethos the Clippers have been trying to live up to the last couple of years.