WEDNESDAY, 7:56am: Rivers denies that he’s reached out to anyone about Stephenson and Smith. The coach/executive addressed the issue in an appearance on “The Fred Roggin Show” on The Beast 980 radio in Los Angeles.
“Not true,” Rivers said of the initial report. “It’s amazing how silly this stuff is. I don’t comment on it much obviously but I can tell you, I think I’m the president of basketball and I’ve yet to have a conversation with any team about anyone right now. These reports come out and there’s nothing you can do about it.
An NBA executive told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that the Clippers indeed placed calls about Stephenson and Smith but that they were exploratory and routine for this time of year (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 8:30am: The Clippers measured the trade market for Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith last month, league sources told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, but they’ve withdrawn from that effort more recently amid a spate of injuries, Spears adds. The team doesn’t have anyone on its injury report currently, but it’s unclear if trade talks will resume. Spears also suggests the Clippers remain open to trading Jamal Crawford, a frequent subject of trade rumors in the offseason, though coach/executive Doc Rivers said in September that he’d be “very surprised” if Crawford doesn’t remain a Clipper throughout the season. Smith becomes eligible for inclusion in trades a week from today, while Stephenson and Crawford are already trade-eligible.
Two NBA executives indicated to Spears that the Clippers probably found a weak market for the pair. One exec suggested that the two are more likely to work buyouts than end up in trades, further speculating that Stephenson ends up back on the Pacers, his original team. The other executive who spoke with Spears alleged that Stephenson and Smith have negatively affected team chemistry in L.A. Smith recently shouted back and forth with assistant coach Mike Woodson following a loss, Spears reports. The second executive also said he believes it’ll be tough for the Clippers to find trade partners for either Smith or Stephenson since few had interest in either before they joined the team, Spears adds.
Still, the Kings, Mavs and Rockets were reportedly interested in signing Smith as a free agent this past summer, when he took a discount and joined the Clippers on a one-year, minimum-salary deal. The Nets apparently talked about trading for Stephenson on two different occasions last season, when he was with the Hornets, and the Heat were apparently among the teams with interest last year, too. It’s unclear if those teams were still eyeing him when the Clippers struck a deal to acquire him in June. He’s making $9MM this season and has a $9.405MM team option for next season.
What teams do you think would be strong fits for Stephenson, Smith and Crawford? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.