Extending Lou Williams Would be a Huge Step Backwards for the LA Clippers

With recent reports suggesting a contract extension between Lou Williams and the LA Clippers may be on the horizon, how would this extension fit into Steve Ballmer and Jerry West's vision for the future of the franchise?

The LA Clippers have once again found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place

When the team traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said that the deal accomplished three objectives on the Clippers' to-do list. 

“Clearly, we targeted three strategic objectives. Does it allow us to maintain our competitiveness? Can we increase our ability to add young, emerging talent and draft picks? Can we increase our flexibility?” Frank said.

However, the Clippers now need to take a look in the mirror and realize that they cannot have their cake and eat it too. Adding emerging talent and draft picks usually doesn't go hand-in-hand with maintaining the team's competitiveness. How can the Clippers expect to stock up on young players and picks if they don't make it into the lottery themselves? 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst published an article on ESPN.com stating that league sources have told them that contract extension talks between the LA Clippers and Lou Williams have gained significant momentum and a new deal is within reach.

Williams is having the best season of his career at 31, averaging 23.3 points and has single-handedly willed the Clippers to a win on more than one occasion.

"Sweet Lou" quickly became a fan favorite and gained a significant amount of attention during the All-Star voting period, as multiple experts and fellow players argued that Williams' deserved an All-Star nod. And yes, Lou Williams is a great player having a great season for the Clippers and will likely win his second Sixth Man of the Year Award by a considerable margin. However, this doesn't mean that the LA Clippers should be looking to grant him a hefty contract extension. 

With the trade deadline looming, Williams, along with DeAndre Jordan, is the Clippers most valuable trade asset and arguably their best chance at adding emerging talent or a decent draft pick before next season. The Clippers have their own first-round draft pick and the Piston's first-rounder in this year's draft with the picks currently residing at the 13th and 14th spots respectively. The top portion of this year's draft is overflowing with young players who have the potential to become franchise-altering draft picks such as Duke's Marvin Bagley, Arizona's DeAndre Ayton, and the Euro-League star Lukas Doncic. 

If the Clippers are really looking ahead to the future, they will push to flip Williams for some form of draft compensation, whether it be in this year's draft or in the next few years. Re-signing Williams would be an opportunity lost for the Clippers and would have a considerable impact on their short-term cap situation for the next couple of seasons. 

Ideally, the Clippers and Williams have leaked this information on their own in order to scare other NBA teams into making tempting offers for Williams before the trade deadline passes on Thursday afternoon. Williams has been linked to one of his former team's the Philadelphia 76ers, along with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Boston Celtics.

Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer wrote this about Williams in his trade deadline preview:

He [Williams] seems like too perfect a fit to rejoin the Sixers, the franchise that drafted him out of high school in 2005. Philadelphia is currently in dire need of Williams's second unit shot creation, but Minnesota, Boston and Oklahoma City have also expressed interest, per sources. A first round pick should get the deal done. But the Clippers are also asking for young prospects to add into their new, two-way inspired, development culture, sources say.

If one of these teams does offer a first-rounder to the Clippers in exchange for Williams, the team should pull the trigger immediately. The reality of DeAndre Jordan finishing out the season with the Clippers is becoming more and more likely as the deadline approaches and Williams is the only hope the team has of acquiring any sort of asset before the deadline.

As they stand right now, the LA Clippers are caught between tanking and trying to remain in the playoff race and the looming trade deadline could very well be the fork in the road where the team is forced to choose one or the other. 

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