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Quentin Richardson’s Third Trade of the Summer: Clippers Swap With Timberwolves

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ESPN reports the Los Angeles Clippers have traded swingman Quentin Richardson to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Sebastian Telfair, Mark Madsen and Craig Smith.  That is to say the Clippers traded an expiring contract for a back-up point guard and two expiring contracts.  Poor Quentin Richardson must feel like a musician on day 80 of a concert tour.  He may not know what city he’s in.  He ended the season in New York, got traded to Memphis, got traded to LA (Clippers) and now is traded to Minneapolis.  Methinks this falls under the category of “rent, don’t buy.”

On the Minnesota side of things, if they can coax Ricky Rubio out of his European contract, you know Jonny Flynn and Rubio are going to suck up all the minutes at the point, so clearing out Telfair makes sense.  Assuming Al Jefferson is in one piece, it isn’t like you need a ton of minutes at power forward.  If Richardson is healthy (unfortunately, this has been a fairly serious question in recent years), you can pencil him in as starting shooting guard and his contract goes away next year.

The T-Wolves roster/rotation would tentatively look something like this:

C: Jefferson; Etan Thomas; Oleksiy Pecherov
PF: Love; Darius Songalia; Henk Norel
SF: Ryan Gomes; Corey Brewer; Brian Cardinal
SG: Richardson; Wayne Ellington
PG: Flynn/Rubio; Bobby Brown

Depending on the health of Richardson and Jefferson, and how rookie point guards come around, this isn’t a completely embarrassing starting line-up, but the bench is thin.  The Wolves might compete in the East, but not the West.  If Flynn lives up to summer league hype and/or Rubio turns out to be what was advertised, the Wolves could have long term solutions at 4 positions.  You might want to eventually get a bit bigger at center and you need to plug in a long term shooting guard, but you can sort of see where David Kahn is going with this.  Expect him to be shopping hard for a two-guard next off-season with the cap space from Richardson’s expiring contract.  Assuming Richardson’s hot potato streak is over and he isn’t traded again, that is.

As to the Clippers, Telfair is now the back-up for Baron Davis.  While Telfair is definitely not a first-tier starter, he’d probably be one of the better back-ups in the league.  Except this is the Clippers, so you don’t know what you’re going to get.  (Point in case, Baron Davis falling apart last season.)  If Craig Smith and Mark Madsen thought they were having trouble getting minutes behind Jefferson and Love, they haven’t seen anything yet.  They’re going to really need to impress somebody to crack the proposed Blake Griffin/Marcus Camby/Chris Kamen rotation at the 4/5.

So the Clippers roster/rotation ought to look something like this:

C: Camby; Kamen; DeAndre Jordon
PF: Griffin; Camby; Smith; Madsen
SF: Al Thornton; Ricky Davis
SG: Eric Gordon; Mardy Collins
PG: Baron Davis; Telfair; Mike Taylor

On paper, this looks like a good team.  You might want a little more scoring off the bench, but Ricky Davis has never been shy about shooting.  Assuming Griffin is solid and can give them a little more of the low post scoring threat at power forward that left when Elton Brand snuck out to Philly, there’s no reason to think the Clippers couldn’t have a pretty good season.  Except that the Clippers never seem to.  The key in my mind is getting Baron Davis actively engaged, which is to say how was playing in Golden State.  If Davis has his head in the game, the Clippers could have a shot at the 8th seed.  History cautions you again putting money on that, though.

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