Moore: The Tobias Harris Trade Positions the Clippers to Land a Superstar … If It Works

Feb 07, 2019 08:00 PM EST

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tobias Harris

  • The Tobias Harris trade has set the Los Angeles Clippers up to land a superstar this summer -- if all goes according to plan.
  • Matt Moore breaks down what's next for the Clips in the aftermath of Tuesday's late-night deal.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised it took this long.

There has been a little burbling, a little grumbling, some murmuring since the Clippers broke up Lob City — or had it broken up by Chris Paul, depending on how you look at it — in 2017.

It should have been a time for a downturn, for a long slog back to Clipperdom, a return to the days of failed draft picks and low attendance while still somehow raking in dollars because they play in Los Angeles.

Steve Ballmer, though, is not that kind of cat.

He landed Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the CP3 deal. He retained Blake Griffin. He added Jerry West as a consultant, a man with no intention of helping craft a long rebuild. J.J. Redick was gone.

Then the Clippers traded Blake Griffin out of nowhere, netting good players in Tobias Harris, who only improved, along with Blue Moon Marjanovic (he only appears once every six months for 10 minutes). They swapped out DeAndre Jordan last summer for a cheap deal in Marcin Gortat.

They had built a versatile set of assets, and that was just the on-court work.

Suddenly the Clippers started popping up in conversations as a preferred destination for various superstars. Jimmy Butler. Kawhi Leonard. Anthony Davis. Whether it was Ballmer’s mogul-status influence, West’s championship-building resume or the fact that Lob City and the replacement of Donald Sterling had taken the stink off a franchise in the most favored by players of all NBA locales, something had shifted.

The Clippers cruised on, set up for a future while also competing for a playoff spot.

Then came Tuesday’s late-night trade of Harris, Boban Marjanović and Mike Scott to the Sixers for Landry Shamet (a young wing who can shoot), Wilson Chandler (a veteran on an expiring contract), Mike Muscala (ditto) and two first-rounders including the hyper-coveted Miami 2021 unprotected.

The key with these kinds of moves is to not see them as unilateral objectives.