Clippers acquire Luke Kennard by trading Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder
Two months after seeing what was considered to be one of the NBA’s deepest rosters fail to match postseason expectations, the Clippers took their first steps toward reshaping their lineup during Wednesday’s draft with moves that included adding Luke Kennard from Detroit.
A former lottery pick guard who is entering his fourth season, Kennard was acquired as part of a three-team trade that also included Brooklyn, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed.
The Clippers are trading Landry Shamet, a reserve guard about to enter his third season, to Brooklyn while sending another reserve wing, Rodney McGruder, to Detroit. McGruder’s addition was to match salaries in the trade, which also saw Detroit take Brooklyn’s 19th pick.
“Hello Brooklyn !!!” Shamet tweeted, before later posting a video of himself in a Yankees hat.
Former Chino Hills High teammates LaMelo Ball and Onyeka Okungwu join Lonzo Ball as NBA draft lottery picks.
The three-team trade pared $2 million in salary from the Clippers’ payroll, an amount that could be a signal about the team’s plans as it enters free agency, which begins Friday. If the team uses the $9.3 million nontaxpayer midlevel exception to the salary cap it would trigger a hard cap, leaving the team unable to exceed $138 million in payroll. Yet the savings in salary could help the team use that full midlevel while also having the space to re-sign some of its own free agents, such as forward Marcus Morris, center Montrezl Harrell and forward JaMychal Green, while staying under the limit.
Because the Clippers have few other avenues to attract bigger-name free agents given their lack of cap space, the exception’s amount could prove to be a valuable incentive for a player believing the Clippers offer a chance to chase a championship. Free agents who could be in that salary range could include Toronto center Serge Ibaka and Miami guard Goran Dragic.
The Clippers added two more players in the second round, first through a trade with New York to acquire Minnesota center Daniel Oturu, who was selected 33rd overall. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound Oturu averaged 20.1 points and 11.3 rebounds during a sophomore season that earned him all-Big Ten honors. As a freshman with the Gophers, Oturu played alongside Amir Coffey, the forward who is on a two-way contract with the Clippers.
The Clippers kept dealing until the draft’s final minutes. They flipped picks with Brooklyn to take Jay Scrubb with the 55th pick, giving the Nets their original 57th pick. The 6-6 Scrubb was the national junior college player of the year after averaging 21.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
Whether Oturu or Scrubb make a dent in the Clippers’ rotation remains to be seen, but Kennard will be immediately inserted into coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation. Lue has promised an offense that will feature more ball movement than last season, and a shooter who can run off screens such as Kennard could thrive. Shamet might have, as well, but the Clippers apparently considered the slightly older guard a more dependable fit. Upgrading the backcourt has long been a priority of the team’s offseason and Kennard is the first move to address that.
The 12th pick in the 2017 draft, Kennard is a career 40% three-point shooter and averaged 15.8 points in 32.9 minutes last season when he was primarily a Pistons starter, yet he played only 28 games because of tendinitis in his knees. In June, Kennard told reporters in Detroit that he had fully recovered.
He will replace Shamet, a 2018 first-round pick of Philadelphia who made an immediate impact with the Clippers upon joining the team midway through his rookie season. Shamet made 41% of his three-pointers, including the shot that sealed the team’s 31-point comeback victory against Golden State in the 2019 playoffs.
His efficiency declined last season, shooting 40%, as his role shifted. Shamet was moved from the starting lineup to the bench because of the arrivals of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and his health — including a bout with coronavirus that delayed his arrival to the NBA restart near Orlando, Fla. — and usage by coach Doc Rivers rarely allowed consistent minutes.
McGruder was signed as a free agent in 2019 to replicate his production in Miami, where he’d gone from undrafted to a starter on the back of his gritty defense. Ultimately, he was used sparingly during his lone season with the Clippers, averaging 3.3 points in 15 minutes per game. He appeared in only five of the team’s 13 postseason games.
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