Doc Rivers believes his Clippers are close to threatening Golden State atop the West (or San Antonio, or Oklahoma City, who also are better than Los Angeles). He was not going to trade Blake Griffin at the deadline; he wanted to bring in some help on the wing and make one more good run at it.
That’s what he tried to do with this trade — bringing in the talented but erratic Jeff Green from Memphis. Green played for Rivers in Boston, and you know how Doc loves people who have played for him before. The cost was Lance Stephenson, who was largely out of Rivers’ rotation anyway, and a 2019 first-round pick (one heavily protected, but still a first round pick). Dan Woike of the Orange County Register and Zach Lowe of ESPN broke the story.
Green is athletic, is averaging 12.2 points a game and shooting just 30 percent from three, and is this season (as he has been most of his career) a replacement level or slightly below average player. He’s pretty good at everything but great at nothing. He has the athletic gifts to make you think he should be much better than that, but he only plays like that guy one out of every five nights.
That is an upgrade over what the Clippers got out of Lance Stephenson — 4.7 points a game, turning the ball over on 21.1 percent of possessions used, and a PER below 10. Stephenson (like Josh Smith, the other big summer move for Doc Rivers) had fallen out of favor and the rotation. The Clippers wanted him gone.
Why did Memphis do it? They didn’t think they could re-sign Green this summer (he’s a free agent) and they got a first-round pick in 2019 to do it (that pick is at least lottery protected, maybe more).
The Clippers and Grizzlies could meet in the first round of the playoffs, this trade makes that more interesting.
As for interesting, that could be the Grizzlies the rest of the season.