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Clippers will attempt to continue to stockpile talent by pursuing J.R. Smith

Feb 5, 2012, 3:30 PM EDT

Nuggets guard Smith celebrates a three-point shot in their NBA basketball game against the Timberwolves in Denver

The L.A. Clippers have had maybe the most impressive offseason of any team in the league. Already sitting in second place in the Western Conference standings, and with their latest acquisition, Kenyon Martin, joining the team in Orlando on Sunday, they will look to get even deeper by going after J.R. Smith, reports Brad Turner of the L.A. Times:

The Clippers, still not done dealing after signing Kenyon Martin on Friday, will pursue guard J.R. Smith after the team he plays on in the Chinese Basketball Assn. finishes its season and he becomes eligible to play in the NBA, said a person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Clippers aren’t getting enough production off the bench behind small forward Caron Butler and feel as if Smith can provide the team with a big scoring punch at the position, the person said.

There’s no reason to think that the Clippers wouldn’t be Smith’s first choice of where to sign once he’s freed from his obligation in China. Chauncey Billups and Kenyon Martin played with Smith in Denver, and know exactly how to deal with the sometimes-volatile guard who has been known to shoot the lights out when given the chance.

As the Clips continue their apparent quest to re-form the Denver Nuggets of the first half of last season (that’s a joke, people), it’s worth noting that this sudden frenzy within the organization to trade for and sign talented players at every turn is a pretty big departure from the way the team has operated in the past.

The Clippers are actually being smart about decision-making, and in the short term, it’s paying off.

The Chris Paul trade was a gift from God David Stern, but Blake Griffin is an asset that was earned through one of many seasons of dismal losses and assembling an embarrassingly-poor collection of talent. Billups was a victim of the new amnesty clause, and L.A. was the only team to put in a claim for him, risking the possibility that Billups may be disgruntled and not want to play there after being tossed aside by the Knicks.

Mo Williams was a throw-in in the deal that got rid of Baron Davis‘ albatross of a contract at the trade deadline a season ago, and at the time, many questioned whether the Clippers, who gave up their unprotected 2011 first round draft pick that turned into Kyrie Irving, gave up too much.

Well, Williams is averaging 18.4 points per game off the bench in his last 10, and as good as Irving has been in his rookie season, he’s not needed on a team that’s fortunate enough to have Chris Paul in its starting lineup.

The Clippers haven’t exactly become the New York Yankees of the NBA, but bringing in new talent left and right to surround Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan with has to be satisfying for the small group of fans who have chosen to suffer with this squad over the years. Martin will add some much-needed front court depth (seriously, no contending team should ever be forced to play Brian Cook), and Smith will add yet another strong scoring punch off the bench.

There’s no question that the league began the power shift in Los Angeles by not allowing Paul to go to the Lakers. But the Clippers, by going out and getting as much additional talent as possible, should be credited for doing everything they can to finish the job.

  1. redbullenergydrink - Feb 5, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    As long as they don’t allow his sister to attend his games, JR won’t be a distraction.

  2. tibbs7 - Feb 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    The Bulls could use his immense talent at shooting guard with Rip’s penchant for injury so far, but the knucklehead factor always enters into the equation with J.R.

    • tcclark - Feb 5, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      I wish Ronnie Brewer would do more for you guys. I’ve always liked his game. He plays good defense and has some talent offensively when he decides to show it.

  3. cluelessdufus - Feb 5, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    it probably will cut Billups minutes. my bulls should make a run at him since Rip can’t stay healthy

  4. chitownprincess - Feb 5, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Smith would be a perfect fit for the Bulls only problem would be his attitude. Please make a play for him.

  5. Gordon - Feb 5, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    As a Bulls fan, there’s no way in hell I want him on the Bulls. Besides, there’s too many Chinese people in Chicago. His sister would be getting in fights every day.

    OKC might be a better locale for him & his sister.

  6. sbellare3 - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    LA Nuggets

  7. cdog0o7 - Feb 5, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    Why would Denver let JR get away for the minimum or mini-midlevel? It would strengthen a potential playoff competitor save Denver almost nothing.

    If JR’s going to go anywhere, as a RFA, then its gotta be at a number that Den wouldn’t match. Seems like it would be bad business to let a talented guy go somewhere else (even if you don’t want him) in the same conference for so little.

  8. bighurc89 - Feb 6, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    It’s also possible he wants a starting gig after playing second fiddle constantly to someone else. He’s a much more talented scorer than anyone on the T-Wolves roster at SG. Mahybe he can show Wes Johnson how to utilize his talents finally. How do the Clips take minutes away from Billups & Williams? They’ve helped carry that team so far. Maybe they trade one of them to a contending team? Minny is his best option thouh if he wants minutes.

  9. juanandonly24 - Feb 6, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    I doubt OKC would want him because of the baggage he brings along. Just look at what they did with a pretty talented Nate Robinson and he wouldn’t go to the Bulls because he doesn’t play a lick of defense. He would be a great fit for the Clippers, but it worries me that they have so many people playing out of position. It’s gonna be funny to see the Clippers situation develop in the playoffs because they have the talent to get very far, it’s just their coach is nowhere close to one that can help you win a championship, which is why the Bulls got rid of him.

  10. dbadest1 - Feb 6, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    Looks like the clips r stating to do to much? At some point Vinnie going to get overwhelm and not know how to handle his team…

  11. rooney24 - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    The story assumes that the first round pick would have still gone to the Clips if they hadn’t traded it. If anyone thinks the lottery isn’t rigged and Cleveland wasn’t handed that pick to help appease the loss of LeBron, I would disagree. Stern made sure the Cavs got two high picks. He still holds a grudge against the T-Wolves ownership for the whole Joe Smith deal. How else to explain that the Wolves have never once improved their position in the lottery? It is nearly statistically impossible. There is a reason that they won’t actually show the actually pulling of the numbers on TV.

    • rooney24 - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      Sorry, the first sentence should read “that the pick would have been first overall”.

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