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Report: Clippers trading Wesley Johnson to Pelicans for Alexis Ajinca

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The Chris PaulBlake GriffinDeAndre Jordan era already ended in L.A.

Now, the Clippers are losing the very last player from their 2016-17 team (just two years ago!) – Wesley Johnson, who’s being shipped to the Pelicans for Alexis Ajinca.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Johnson ($6,134,520) has a slightly higher salary than Ajinca ($5,285,394) with both players in the final year of their contracts. As long the Clippers have to waive a player, they’d rather drop the cheaper one.

The Clippers actually had to shed two players before the regular-season roster deadline. They’re also releasing Jawun Evans, the No. 39 pick last year. The point guard just didn’t acclimate to the NBA quickly enough to beat out Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Wallace. Though waiving Evans was probably the right move now, I wouldn’t write him off entirely.

Ajinca, on the other hand, has no place in a shrinking NBA. The 7-foot-2 30-year-old can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been productive when on the court.

Johnson fell out of favor with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, but the Pelicans desperate for a small forward. Though Johnson wouldn’t be an exciting addition for most teams, he’s worth the low cost – the $849,126 difference between his and Ajinca’s salaries – to New Orleans, where he might actually be a significant addition.

Report: Suns’ top point-guard target is Clippers’ Patrick Beverley

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The Suns were reportedly targeting the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, Pacers’ Cory Joseph and Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie.

One of those point guards apparently stands above the others.

Stadium:

Shams Charania:

I’m told they’re targeting Clippers guard Patrick Beverley. He’s been at the top of their list.

The issue is price, asking price. Phoenix has only been willing to give up second-round picks in all their discussions for a veteran point guard, which they’re trying to acquire. And the Clippers, just like every other team that knows Phoenix needs a point guard, wants a first-round pick.

The Suns trading for Beverley could make sense. Phoenix badly needs a point guard, and Beverley could fit with high-scoring Devin Booker like he did with James Harden. L.A. has plenty of players capable of being lead guards – Beverley, Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, Jawun Evans and Tyrone Wallace – and has already gone toward taking a step back to this season to position for the future.

But a second-rounder if far too little for Beverley. If that’s all the Suns will offer, there’s nothing realistic about this.

On the other hand, an unprotected first-rounder would be too much for Phoenix to surrender.

Perhaps, there’s a middle ground – a protected first-rounder (with Troy Daniels used to match salary). It’s just a matter of negotiating the protections and determining whether there’s common ground.

Clippers pay Cavaliers to take Sam Dekker in trade

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The Clippers agreed to trade Sam Dekker to the Cavaliers a couple days ago. The only question was the exact parameters of the deal.

Now, it’s official.

Cavaliers release:

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired forward Sam Dekker from the Los Angeles Clippers, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. In exchange, Cleveland will send the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko to the Clippers. The Cavaliers will also receive the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis and cash considerations from Los Angeles.

Veremeenko is 34, and Seibutis is 33. Both are extremely unlikely to play in the NBA.

This is just about Cleveland taking a flier on Dekker, who became expendable in L.A. The Clippers must still shed one player with a guaranteed salary – likely Jawun Evans – before the regular season (They’ll keep unguaranteed Patrick Beverley.) But Dekker was the first roster spot cleared, at the cost of some cash to the Cavaliers.

The 24-year-old combo forward regressed in L.A. last season after spending his first two season with the Rockets. He must shoot much better to stick in the NBA. Though he does little things fairly well, he just doesn’t make enough of an impact on the court if he’s not shooting better.

For the Cavs, Dekker – the No. 18 pick in the 2015 draft – is superior to available free agents. Maybe he finds his shooting stroke in Cleveland. If not, he’s on an expiring contract, so there’s no long-term downside.

Reversing reported course, Clippers fully guarantee Milos Teodosic’s salary

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The Clippers reportedly wanted to move on from point guard Milos Teodosic.

Teodosic opted in anyway, guaranteeing $2.1 million of his $6.3 million salary. Why not get as much money as possible on the way out?

But apparently Teodosic isn’t leaving L.A., as his contract became fully guaranteed yesterday.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The Clippers are expected to keep guard Milos Teodosic despite their crowded backcourt, according to an NBA official not authorized to speak publicly.

The Clippers traded guard Austin Rivers for center Marcin Gortat since the initial report, but that hardly ended the backcourt logjam. Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson, C.J. Williams and Jawun Evans remain at guard.

The bigger logjam is with the overall roster, though. The Clippers now have 17 players on standard contracts, two more than the regular-season limit. That doesn’t bode well for Williams, whose salary is unguaranteed. Without another trade, Evans or Sindarius Thornwell could get cut.

Why the change of heart on Teodosic? Perhaps, he’s progressing better than expected medically. The 31-year-old missed 37 games last season with a foot injury, and there was concern about his long-term health. But when on the court, he’s a dazzling passer and long-distance shooter. Being slowed won’t help his already-woeful defense, though.

The Clippers were already over the cap, and they’re in little danger of entering the luxury tax. So, the only costs of guaranteeing Teodosic are owner Steve Ballmer’s real money, a roster spot and him potentially blocking playing time of L.A.’s lottery-pick guards. But the Clippers could even cut Teodosic in the preseason if someone else emerges as more deserving of the roster spot, and Doc Rivers can choose whether to play Teodosic or Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson.

So, the biggest development is the roster spot. Teodosic is now extremely likely to hold it into the season, which means monitoring who gets dripped.

Report: Rockets drop protest of loss to Clippers

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The Rockets protested their loss to the Clippers last month, because what should have been Jawun Evans‘ sixth and disqualifying foul was assigned to Lou Williams. Evans stayed in the game and drew a couple key charges on James Harden.

But the NBA apparently won’t rule whether the final 3:10 of that game should be replayed.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The Rockets have withdrawn their protest of the Dec. 22 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, an individual with knowledge of the decision said

The Rockets paid $10,000 to file that protest. By rule, the money is returned only if the challenge is successful. I’m not sure why they dropped their appeal now.

It was unlikely to be upheld, anyway. The only chance was seemingly if a scorekeeping error gave Williams the foul, and it seems more likely the referees on the court just whistled the wrong player.