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Report: Clippers and Wizards nearly swapped Caron Butler, Trevor Ariza

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Butler was reportedly nearly traded. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Butler was reportedly nearly traded. (Getty Images)

From David Aldridge on NBA.com:

L.A. and Washington had a done deal Wednesday night that would have sent forward Trevor Ariza to the Clippers in exchange for Caron Butler, giving L.A. a long, defensive-oriented body to throw at the likes of Kevin Durant in the playoffs. (Butler, who still has an offseason home in the D.C. area, and who was loved by the locals, didn't have a problem returning to a non-Arenas Wizards locker room. He'd have been welcomed back as a much-needed offensive option, according to sources.)

But sources indicated that Clippers owner Donald Sterling nixed the deal Thursday morning, not wanting to gamble on the team's chemistry being affected in any way down the stretch. My interpretation: we don't want to do anything that could, in any way, be held against us by assistant general manager Chris Paul this summer if we don't get far in the postseason.

(via New fiscal rules shape trade deadline-day maneuverings | NBA.com)

First question:

What in God's name was LA thinking, here?

PlayerAgeGFGFGAFG%3P3PA3P%FTFTAFT%TRBASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
Trevor Ariza27374.511.0.4061.44.4.3161.82.1.8526.32.72.10.62.012.1
Caron Butler32555.613.2.4252.35.9.3881.62.0.8134.31.50.90.21.415.2
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/25/2013.

So yeah, Ariza's having some troubles offensively this season. And forever. The Clippers are a team that struggles with their halfcourt offense despite the brilliance of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin running the pick and roll. You can't take out a 39 percent 3-point shooter for a 32 percent one who's also launching 41 percent from the field overall. Butler is no Kevin Durant at 43 percent, but it's better.

Is Ariza better at age 27 than Butler is at age 32? Absolutely. But Butler has more experience and can do the job just fine.

And the money's even a wash. Butler's owed $16 million through 2014. Ariza is owed just under $15 million, assuming he doesn't opt out, which if he had a shot to stay with a contender, he definitely would not. So the Clippers wanted to trade for a marginally better defender and wholly worse offensive player making only slightly less while futzing with their team chemistry which has been brilliant this season.

That's right, we've reached the point where Donald Sterling is the voice of reason. Get to the bomb shelters, folks. I'll grab the bottled water.

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