Clippers reportedly interested in Thaddeus Young, possible upgrades at center, guard

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Their win over the Lakers on Christmas Day was a reminder that the Clippers are legit title contenders with elite two-way stars — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George — plus a versatile cast around them who can beat teams a variety of ways. This is as good a team as there is in the NBA right now.

Even those Clippers will be looking for upgrades at the trade deadline — with the top teams so tightly bunched, any small advantage gained could be huge in May and June.

Enter this note from Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

Though it is too soon to know whether the Clippers truly have trade intentions, they are sniffing around. NBA sources not authorized to speak publicly believe the Clippers are looking at players like Chicago power forward Thaddeus Young

Rival executives believe the Clippers could be on the hunt for another physical center — a potential Finals matchup with Milwaukee or Philadelphia would demand more size — or another playmaking guard.

The point of Woike’s article is that to get someone like Young, the Clippers would have to surrender Moe Harkless (and a pick, Chicago is young and building), and it’s fair to ask if the upgrade is worth the additional two years of salary? Harkless is in the final year of his contract.

Harkless is a quality, versatile wing defender who can give Leonard and George a break from covering the other team’s best players for a stretch, plus Harkless can hit the three and is popular in the locker room. Young is a solid vet who also would fit the culture, brings and little more size and strength with his strong defense, is a better rebounder and passer, but not as good a shooter from three. Young also is 31 years old with two fully guaranteed years left on his contract after this one.

As for the other positions of interest, there are a lot of teams looking for guards so the price could be high. Another physical center is more likely to be available, likely even on the buyout market.

The Clippers, like the Bucks and Lakers and other contenders, may be checking out moves but will be hesitant to make one because they like what they have. It would need to be a clear upgrade at a position of need. Which most likely means nothing happens, but that will not stop the rumors.