In the 2020-21 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers finally made it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. The team failed to capitalize on the opportunity as they succumbed to a defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.
The team played without one of their two stars in the WCF. Kawhi Leonard injured his knee against the Utah Jazz in game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Initially, many assumed that Leonard would return soon, which was not the case.
Leonard suffered an ACL injury that will keep him out for the 2021-22 NBA season. Keeping that in mind, the Clippers might want to move a few pieces to fill the huge gap left by the former Raptors forward.
Here is the blockbuster trade that Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report suggested:
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Christian Wood and Danuel House
Houston Rockets receive: Keon Johnson, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
Swartz further explained the importance of this trade for both sides.
"The Clippers should be on the playoff fringe assuming Kawhi Leonard misses most (if not all) of the regular season with a partially torn ACL," he wrote. "Trading for Wood gives Paul George a true running mate while Leonard recovers and a legit Big 3 for the postseason—a destination the Clippers are far more likely to reach with Wood en tow."
After arriving in Houston from Detroit, Wood almost instantly had a great impact on the Rockets' team. He nearly averaged a double-double last season as he scored 21.0 points and grabbed 9.6 rebounds per game. The Rockets center could become a pivotal piece for the franchise, while Leonard recovers.
Additionally, the Clippers' current starting center Serge Ibaka is not at 100% yet. He could take a backseat to Wood, while Paul George and Christian Wood lead the team to a decent record in the West.
"For a Rockets team that's now built around 19-year-old Jalen Green, even Wood doesn't fit the timeline, especially with just two years left until he hits unrestricted free agency. Trading Wood now guarantees the best possible return, one that includes a nice package of young(ish) players in Johnson (19), Zubac (24) and Kennard (25, with four years remaining on his deal) and draft picks in each of the next four years," wrote Swartz.
When the Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, it was quite evident that the franchise is getting ready for a rebuilding phase. Although they still have John Wall on the roster, he is not the player he once was due to numerous injuries in his career. He can still play at a good level, but carrying the team to the championship in a tough West might be asking a tad bit too much from him.
Now Wood will soon enter the prime of his career and has already proved that he can be a lethal player without even having a superb support cast. If he gets traded to the Clippers, he will instantly be on a title contender and of course, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent two years down the line, he will have much better options.
All things considered, this blockbuster trade will be great for both teams involved. The Clippers are in urgent need of another star player, while the Rockets are heading towards a rebuild.
Perhaps Wood will become the final piece of the puzzle that'll help the Los Angeles Clippers get to the franchise's first-ever NBA Finals appearance.