All-Star weekend has come to an end, and the second half of the 2020-21 NBA season officially begins on Wednesday.
The March 25 trade deadline looms just over the horizon. Some NBA teams, such as the Brooklyn Nets, have made additions to the roster following the signing of Blake Griffin. Other buyout candidates–like Andre Drummond–could significantly bolster title hopes for certain contenders. But the trade market has been somewhat unclear.
Will any top stars be on the move? Some names have been tossed about in the rumor mill, but time will tell whether teams can make a splash and land a big name.
There are two names (and two destinations) with the influence to possibly change the complexion of the NBA title picture.
Kyle Lowry heads to L.A.
The Los Angeles Clippers already have plenty backcourt depth.
Lou Williams got off to an incredibly slow start, but the three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year has put it back together a bit. Patrick Beverley provides energy and perimeter shooting at the point guard spot, with Reggie Jackson spelling some minutes at both guard spots. Luke Kennard gives L.A. plenty of shooting off the bench.
Yet, it still feels as though the Clippers could use a more established scorer and playmaker, especially as it pertains to the point guard spot. Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry might be the perfect target in this regard.
Lowry is having a terrific season for the Raptors. The six-time NBA All-Star is averaging 18.0 points, 7.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds through 29 games. He is shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc on 7.1 attempts per game,
The 34-year-old would give the Clippers more in the way of playmaking and ball handling at the point guard spot while still being capable of knocking down perimeter jumpers. Lowry’s ability to get into the painted area and either kick to shooters, finish at the rim or set up bigs could unlock a new element of L.A.’s offense.
Beverley is good in his role, but he is not quite the shot-creator type. Lowry is better on the ball, and would take some of the offensive onus off Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The argument could be made the Clippers would be better off adding a big like Drummond or Nikola Vucevic to help provide rebounding and more of an interior presence.
But last year’s playoff failures seemed indicative of L.A. needing more scoring and playmaking depth in the backcourt. Lowry’s tenacity and diverse skill set would make him an interesting third star alongside Leonard and George.
The Celtics shake things up
Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics are in an interesting position heading into the second half of the NBA season.
The Celtics are fresh off an Eastern Conference Finals berth. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both made the All-Star team. Still, Boston is just 19-17 and fourth in the East.
Kemba Walker has put up inconsistent shooting numbers. Marcus Smart has not played since the end of January. More importantly, the Celtics lack impact pieces in the frontcourt.
Danel Theis and Tristan Thompson are fine for what they provide. But neither of those guys can really create consistent offense. Drummond would be an interesting option for the C’s, but a paint-bound center might not be the option.
Instead, the Celtics could pay the large price for Vucevic.
The 30-year-old made his second NBA All-Star team this season. Vucevic is averaging 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest. He is shooting 41.2 percent from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per contest. Perhaps more impressively, Vucevic has put up these numbers on an injury-riddled Orlando Magic team without too many scoring options.
Boston could use a stretch-big also capable of operating on the low block. Vucevic is excellent in pick-and-roll, sometimes diving to the rim for jump-hooks or popping for open threes. He can finish with both hands inside, and is tremendous at filling space appropriately.
Vucevic is a good screener with inside-out ability. He would surely make guys like Walker, Brown and Tatum all the more dangerous while also giving the Celtics more of an interior presence. He’d almost be a more dangerous Al Horford, who excelled in Boston as someone who the C’s could run the offense through and make plays for teammates.
Boston might need to do something drastic to shake up the East. Acquiring Vucevic might be that big splash.