The LA Clippers have been rolling lately, having won 16 of their last 19 games. However, it appears that their front office is still looking to make roster improvements ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
Per NBA insider Marc Stein, LA recently “registered interest” in Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington despite the franchise’s “limited trade optionality.”
Washington has put up solid all-around production. Through 42 games, he is averaging 13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.9 3-pointers per game on 45.2% shooting.
However, the Hornets (10-38, 13th in the Eastern Conference) are in the middle of what is projected to be a lengthy rebuild. So, they may not view Washington as part of their long-term future and could be open to moving him for the right price.
If acquired by LA, the 25-year-old could slot in as a two-way forward next to big man Ivica Zubac in the Clippers’ frontcourt. This would help them fortify their starting five alongside their Big 3 of James Harden, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
However, the Clippers are strapped for trade assets, which begs the question of whether they have the means to pull off a deal for Washington.
Is it possible for LA Clippers to acquire P.J. Washington?
After going all in on their veteran core, the LA Clippers have very little remaining draft capital. They have two incoming 2024 second-round draft picks. However, they don’t have a first-round pick until 2030.
Considering their aging roster, it seems very unlikely that the Clippers would risk trading their 2030 first unless they receive a massive haul in return. Thus, that likely leaves their best offer for P.J. Washington being their two seconds and salary filler to match his $16.8 million salary this season.
LA could use the $18 million salary of veteran shooting guard Norman Powell to match salaries. But, given his value as an instant-offense sixth man, the team would probably prefer to hold onto him.
The two veterans seemingly most likely to be traded for Washington are forward P.J. Tucker ($11 million) and center Mason Plumlee ($5 million).
Tucker hasn’t been part of the Clippers’ rotation and is reportedly looking for a new home. So, the 38-year-old could be shipped to Charlotte and bought out.
Meanwhile, Plumlee could be expendable to LA, as the team has another similar backup big man, Daniel Theis.
A deal involving Tucker and Plumlee and two seconds for Washington would work financially. LA could also include a combination of reserves such as Amir Coffey ($3.7 million), Kobe Brown ($2.4 million) or Bones Hyland ($2.3 million) in Plumlee’s place.
However, it remains to be seen if the Hornets would be interested in such a deal. If not, the Clippers could incorporate the $10.6 million contract of starting shooting guard Terance Mann instead. But, given their desire to win now, they might not want to part ways with the 27-year-old, leaving their trade options extremely limited.