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Preview: Kings at Clippers

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THE CLIPPERS TRADE RECAP

HighTops put this together to illustrate the Clippers' trades"

The Clippers moved Marcus Camby’s expiring contract for backup PG Steve Blake and SF Travis Outlaw from Portland.   Then they acquired Drew Gooden in a 3-team deal with Washington and Cleveland, sending Al Thorton to Washington and Sebastian Telfair to the Cav’s.   To finalize the Portland deals, the Clippers waived Ricky Davis.

Clippers General Manager Mike Dunleavy had this to say about the trades:

"Basically we started to look at the opportunities to clear out cap space for this summer. In the mean time we looked to acquire assets that we also liked. The last two days we were able to do that. Yesterday we traded Marcus Camby for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw. A one player for two-player transaction. Today we sent two players away-Sebastian Telfair and Al Thorton for Drew Goodon. We replaced all the positioning. A point guard, a wing player and a power player. In the meantime we were able to create more cap space for this summer that gives us the flexibility to go into many different directions."

THE SCOUTING REPORT

And of course, per usual, HighTops put together an awesome scouting report on the game.

The Clippers are 21-33 for the season and 14-12 at home.   But, they are only 2-11 in their last 13 games, with their only wins coming on the road in Chicago and Washington. Only 3 of their last 13 games were at home, and those home losses came against 3 quality teams the Spurs, Hawks, and the Jazz.  

Their starters are: Chris Kaman 7-0 265 lb. Center, who has always dominated the Kings bigs, so expect him to outperform his 17.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.1 blks on 49% shooting.  Baron Davis 6-3 215 lb. Guard, who is shooting below his season averages of 15.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, and 7.8 apg, but that may be due to a back problem that caused him to miss Wednesdays game against Atlanta and still has him listed as Day to Day on the injury report.   Eric Gordon 6-3 222 lb. Guard, who is averaging 17.2 ppg and 3.2 rpg on 46% from the field and 35.7% from 3-point range.  Rasual Butler the 6-7 205 lb 7yr pro, who is averaging 12.5 ppg and 2.7 rpg on 43% from the field and 38% from 3-point range.

Thornton's inconsistent perimeter shooting lost him the starting SF spot to off-season acquisition Rasual Butler. The addition of Travis Outlaw, who came over from Portland in the Camby deal, made Thornton expendable.   But, Outlaw is still on the injured list after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot on Nov. 18th, and isn’t expected to be back until Mid-March, leaving very little depth at SF for now.   The Clips helped themselves by acquiring Blake to backup at PG, but the loss of Camby and his 7.7 ppg and 12.1 rpg and replacing him with Gooden’s 8.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg has got to be considered a downgrade.   Camby has a PER’s of 20.47 to Gooden’s 12.37.   So, the Clips look to be worse off now then before the trade deadline.

With Griffin and Outlaw injured, the Clippers will dress 12.  Four are guards 6-3 or shorter (Eric Gordon, Bobby Brown, Baron Davis, & Steve Blake).   Their SF is 6-7 Rasual Butler and their final wing is 6-6 Mardy Collins.  Their other 6 are all PF’s & Centers; Kaman and Camby had been their starters with 6-7 Craig Smith their 1st big off the bench averaging 21.3mpg.   Leaving limited minutes for the remaining bigs 6-10 Steve Novak 6.6mpg, 6-9 Brian Skinner 9.4mpg and 6-11 DeAndre Jordan 16.6mpg.  

With Camby gone I expect 6-10 Drew Gooden to move into the starting PF spot and it might be time for DeAndre Jordan to step up his game and show the potential that was expected of him.   If he can’t contribute more at the center spot then when Kaman and Butler come out of the game the Clipper will have to go very small with 3 smallish guards, 6-7 Smith at PF and 6-10 Gooden at Center.

The Kings traded Martin and moved the 3 players who didn’t suit up for the GSW game (Sergio, Hilton, & K9).   So, which players suit up and which sit in the stands?   Well, Larry Hughes and his $13.6M contract are back east recovering from an injured finger and may never play for the Kings if they can buy out his contract.   Dominic McGuire was only acquired so that Washington could get under the Luxury Tax, by paying the Kings $800K to take him for the remainder of the season.   So, that leaves the remaining spot in the stands to our other recent acquisition Joey Dorsey or possibly Sean May who averages the fewest minutes per game (9.7) of any of the players remaining from before the trade deadline.

According to a post by Aykis16, PW said in a radio interview that he was planning to start JT at center, Landry at PF, Omri at SF, Cisco at SG and Tyreke at PG in this game.   Which leaves us with an acceptable bench of Spencer, Beno, Donte, Noc, his Brockness, and Ime.  Tyreke has looked and said that he’s been tired, dare we say Rookie Wall.   Cisco is back early from his injury and is surely not in game shape.   So, I expect to see plenty of Beno and Ime at the 1 & 2.   If JT can’t stay out of foul trouble against Kaman and depending on how well Landry adapts to the Kings offensive scheme, we may see a lot of Spencer and Donte in the game also.

Without Camby at the 4 & 5 and without Thornton to backup Butler at the 3, it’s uncertain what type of rotations the Clippers will use either.   But, since over half their team is under 6-7, it’s certain that we’ll see at least some small ball especially after the way we played at GS.   It should be a very interesting game to watch, seeing how the new players fit in with the offense and defense, and how the coaches use their players and try to out maneuver each other.  But, in the grand scheme of things it’s still only a battle between two teams for the 3rd or 4th worst record in the Western Conference.

THE KEY BATTLE

Jason Thompson vs. Chris Kaman. Thompson's first test as Landry's big man partner is a good one: the quasi-All Star Chris "Captain Caveman" Kaman. (I say quasi-All Star because it took so many injuries to get him on the team. And if Tyreke Evans had been named as the third injury replacement, you can guarantee "quasi" would not be in my lexicon.) Kaman is a so-called load, and a player Brad Miller and Spencer Hawes typically have trouble with. The key is in making Kaman shot 10 feet plus jumpers, or making him put the ball on the floor. On the other end, just attack. In my book, he's an iffy defender, despite his reputation. He will swallow up lay-ups if Thompson lollygags too much, but J.T. should have the quickness to get the ball into the bucket when opportunities arise.

I might also add that I'm terrified of DeAndre Jordan, Kaman's No. 2.

BOLD PROCLAMATION

If Baron Davis and Tyreke Evans would have been involved in a shoot-out a la Rondo/Durant at H.O.R.S.E., it would have ended within 30 seconds. "Clank!"

BOLD BROCKLAMATION

Ladies, gentlemen: Jon Brockman did not travel with the team due a knee injury suffered in Friday's practice. The mere spectre of Joey Dorsey has let the wild rumpus start.

DETAILS

It's a late 7:30 PM PT start for the Kings and Clippers. Two Saturday night game threads (7:30 and 8:45) and a post-gamer (10:15). (If anyone's interested, Kevin Martin makes his Houston debut at 5:30 PM PT against Indiana.)