The Clippers have two open roster spots, and the most glaring hole on their roster after the trade deadline is at center. Sure, Ivica Zubac and Serge Ibaka are going to be the only guys getting minutes in the playoffs (outside of small ball), but the third-string center is Patrick Patterson, and he’s just not playable defensively. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Clippers have meetings scheduled with two of the biggest center names on the market, Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge. Other teams in contention are the Heat, Lakers, and Nets (Aldridge), and Knicks, Lakers, Celtics, and Hornets (Drummond).
Drummond, 27, is a two-time All Star who has spent nearly the entirety of his career until the past calendar year with the Detroit Pistons. A historically good rebounder, Drummond doesn’t offer a ton else at this point in his career – his defense has always been shaky outside of flashy blocks, and his seemingly impressive scoring numbers are undercut by his inefficiency and awful turnover rate. Still, being big and athletic has value, and there’s little question Drummond could provide serviceable minutes in the playoffs if called upon.
Aldridge, 35, is a shakier option. An All-Star just two seasons ago, LMA fell off hard last season, and completely fell off the cliff this year. The raw numbers don’t look bad, especially the three-point shooting (36% on 3.6 attempts per game), but the defense and rebounding is just nowhere close to where it used to be. Still, Aldridge is an extremely savvy veteran with 72 games of playoff experience, and he could probably make midrange jumpers over opponents until he’s into his 40s. The lack of a clear standout skill like Drummond’s rebounding probably marks him a little below Andre, but he’s also a much better decision-maker on offense so maybe it’s a wash.
Unfortunately, while either Aldridge or Drummond would be awesome as backup centers for the Clippers the competition for them will be stiff. The Clippers, as mentioned above, do not have room for either guy in their rotation barring injury, making them extremely overqualified 3rd stringers. Drummond is still in his prime, and he’s looking for a long-term deal, hence his inclusion of mostly non-contending teams. Aldridge is pursuing a championship as he nears retirement, but the Nets and Heat in particular can offer him more minutes than the Clippers can.
While the Clippers haven’t been linked to him yet, another veteran center option became available today when the Grizzlies waived Gorgui Dieng. Dieng is 31, but has actually been really good for the Grizzlies – their waiving him says more about their depth and quantity of young prospects than it does Dieng. Honestly, I think Gorgui is better than Drummond or Aldridge, and the Clippers should also pursue a meeting with him immediately.
In short, the Clippers are after a veteran backup center, and already have meetings with Aldridge and Drummond scheduled, with a potential pursuit of Dieng looming. Hopefully the Clippers can land at least one of them to shore up their depth for the postseason.