Today, I am becoming the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. How am I doing this? NBA2K21! Now, I know 2K isn’t always super accurate, but it’s still the best option for a basketball simulation. I’m using 2K’s MyNBA mode and taking over the Clippers.
So how is this gonna work? Well, I’m going to be making realistic moves to set the Clippers in the direction I think they should go in. (Note: I have trade override on, simply because 2K’s trade system is iffy sometimes. You often have to throw in a ton of draft picks to get a trade done. Just trust that I’ll make realistic trades. You’ll get to see them.) I’ll be controlling the Clippers for the 2020-21 season and the 2021 offseason. I’ll make all the trades, free agent signings, staff signings, and draft choices that I think the Clippers should do to send them in the right direction. (Another note: If I, for example, sign a player in free agency, I’m not saying the Clippers will sign them next year. Obviously. This is all hypothetical.)
What’s my plan for the Clippers? I want to win now, obviously. The Clippers already gave up their entire future for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, so I have to try to win. I have some general trades in mind that I want to make, and I will trade any draft picks the Clippers have left to win a championship before Kawhi leaves.
I hope I’ve explained how this works well enough, so here we go! (I copy/pasted the first two paragraphs from the Spurs article. I should have explained it well.)
Beginning of the 2020-21 Regular Season
Signing: Gary Payton II
The Clippers had an open roster spot, so I picked up GPII on a 1 year deal. He can defend and shoot. He probably won’t play much, but he’ll be part of the squad.
Trade #1: Kabengele to OKC
Thunder get: Mfiondu Kabengele
Clippers get: Mike Muscala, 2021 2nd round pick, 2025 2nd round pick
I don’t have any need for Kabengele, so there’s no need to stunt his growth. I get Mike Muscala who can be a third string center, and I get some seconds that I could use in a future trade. OKC gets a center who is just in his second year, so they don’t mind giving up Muscala and the picks to get him
Now it’s time to set the rotation. I’m a fan of 10 man rotations, and the Clippers are deep enough to run one. I honestly could run a 13 man, but that’s unrealistic. Here’s what we’re starting out with:
Starters: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka
Bench: Lou Williams, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Patrick Patterson
We played 14 games in December. Our record was 9-5. I don’t like that. I know it’s early, so I’m going to give it a month before I make any changes.
We are now 20-10, which is good for second in the West. I like that. I think I’m going to ride out with this team until the trade deadline. I am going to make some changes to the rotation.
Starters: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka
Bench: Lou Williams, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Daniel Oturu
Patrick Beverley wasn’t doing a good job, averaging 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists on 37% shooting. I don’t care if he’s good defensively, Pat Bev was already on the hot seat and now he’s losing his minutes. I’m giving Oturu some playing time to increase his value for a trade around the deadline.
(Also, if you care, Kabengele is averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds for OKC. Looks like I missed out)
Contract Extension Deadline
I’m giving Lou Williams a 2 year, $10 million extension. He’s getting older, so he’s not worth more than that. It’s actually more than he expected. Although Lou can’t defend, his consistent scoring will be useful as we try to win.
Trade #2: Pat Bev to New Orleans
Pelicans get: Patrick Beverley, Daniel Oturu, 2021 2nd round pick (via OKC), 2022 2nd round pick, 2022 2nd round pick, 2023 second round pick
Clippers get: Eric Bledsoe
Well, Bledsoe wasn’t the first on my list of point guards I would have liked to pick up. I looked at Malcolm Brogdon and Kyle Lowry, but couldn’t make anything work. So instead, I’m bringing Bledsoe back to LA. The Pelicans had two point guards that deserved to start, in Bledsoe and Lonzo Ball, and Bledsoe was the odd man out for what I think NOLA wants to do. Patrick Beverley will still be useful for New Orleans while they try to win games, but he doesn’t need to start. I’m also giving them Oturu and four 2nd round picks for their trouble. If I didn’t give them those things, why would they want Patrick?
I wanted a two-way point guard. That’s why Brogdon would have been great. But Bledsoe, although he isn’t the best offensive player, is elite defensively. He’ll be a big upgrade at the starting point guard position.
Trade #3: Mann to Houston
Rockets get: Terance Mann
Clippers get: David Nwaba
This trade also includes a second round pick swap. Mann is in the same boat as Kabengele was, where I don’t want to waste Mann’s potential by not playing him. Houston could use some youth. Nwaba is a good two way wing who will play some nice situational minutes for me.
Signing: Ersan Ilyasova
I cleared up a roster spot in the Bledsoe deal, so I picked up Ersan. He can stretch the floor and will be a nice veteran for this team.
So now, after the moves I made, the rotation looks like this:
Starters: Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Serge Ibaka
Bench: Lou Williams, Ivica Zubac, Luke Kennard, David Nwaba, Ersan Ilyasova
At the break, we’re 34-23. That’s 4th in the West. I think the trades I made will be enough to put us back into a top 2 seed. Kawhi Leonard was an All-Star starter. Mfiondu Kabengele made the Rising Stars game averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds. Maybe I should have kept him.
Second Half of the Season/NBA Awards
The Clippers finished 53-29, which landed us at the 2 seed. I won executive of the year. Kawhi Leonard made All-NBA 2nd team and All-Defensive 1st. Here are the stats:
K. Leonard: 25 PPG/7 RPG/5 APG
P. George: 20/5/4
L. Williams: 17/2/5
E. Bledsoe: 15/3/7
L. Kennard: 11/2/3
S. Ibaka: 11/7/1
M. Morris Sr: 11/4/1
R. Jackson: 9/3/3
I. Zubac: 9/8/1
P. Patterson: 4/2/1
E. Ilyasova: 3/2/0
D. Nwaba: 4/2/1
N. Batum: 3/3/2
This was a great season for our role players. Reggie, Patterson, Nwaba, Ilyasova, and Batum all did their jobs well. Zubac had a great year off the bench. Lou Will brought the scoring I knew he would. Bledsoe did great. 7 assists is really good for him. I’m glad I made the trade.
Mfiondu Kabengele averaged 13/7/1 and was third on the Thunder in scoring. Opportunity is all young guys need in the NBA, I guess.
Well crap. We lost in the first round! The 7-seeded Phoenix Suns beat us in 6 games. Unbelievable. Paul George choked again, averaging 17/4/5. That sucks! Everyone’s numbers got worse or stayed the same except for Kawhi. I don’t know what else to do. Time for the offseason, I guess.
We have the 29th pick in the draft. I don’t think I’m going to draft. I’m gonna make a trade this offseason.
Draft Pick: Al Williamson
With the 29th pick in the 2021 draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select point guard Al Williamson from St. John’s. This is an auto generated guy (that means he’s not a real player). He’s not here to stay. I wasn’t allowed to trade the pick because of the Stepien Rule.
Kawhi declined his option! Panic mode! I’m gonna have to give this guy the big bag if I want him to come back. I am now worried.
Resigning: Kawhi Leonard
He’s back! I gave him a 4 year, $155 million dollar deal. I was surprised he didn’t want more. The problem now is that I need to sign 6 players, and I have no cap space.
Trade #4: Marcus Morris to the Valley
Suns get: Marcus Morris Sr., 2023 2nd round pick (via POR), 2024 2nd round pick (via DET)
Clippers get: Jae Crowder, Jevon Carter
I had to trade Marcus. Someone had to go. Jae Crowder is a better defender than Marcus, but I’m sacrificing some offense. The Suns had to throw in Jevon Carter to match salary, so I’m giving them the seconds to make up for it. The Suns are doing this trade because after they beat me in the first round, they want to get even better. Marcus Morris is another name to help them do that.
Signing: Paul Millsap
I’m bringing in Paul Millsap on a 1 year, $4 million deal. He will be the starter next year unless he gets worse. Millsap can defend and stretch the floor, and will be a very valuable player next season.
Signing: Torrey Craig
I’m picking up Torrey Craig on a one year deal. He will bring excellent wing defense off the bench (because Luke Kennard can’t). A minimum deal is a steal, but that’s what he wanted.
Resigning: Gary Payton II
I’m bringing Gary Payton back on a two year deal. He’ll also bring wing defense.
Signing: Robin Lopez
RoLo is a stretch center who can also defend the paint. He’ll be a great third string veteran center this year.
Signing: Mike Scott
I’m bringing Mike Scott in to fill the role Patrick Patterson and Ersan left: stretch four. He can shoot, and that’s why I’m bringing him in.
So those are my signings, but the roster isn’t set.
Signing: Mfiondu Kabengele
I’m bringing in the goat himself. He might get traded, or I’ll trade RoLo instead and keep him. I saw Kabengele was still available at the end of free agency, and had to sign him.
Trade #5: Al Williamson to Houston
Rockets get: Al Williamson
Clippers get: 2024 2nd round pick, 2024 2nd round pick (via GS), 2023 2nd round pick (via DAL)
I told you that I didn’t want Williamson. John Wall is getting older for Houston, and I’m giving them a young point guard who was a first round pick and can develop to take Wall’s spot when he retires. They’re giving me seconds. Easy deal for both sides.
Waiving: Robin Lopez
Well, RoLo was just around for training camp. He got worse this offseason, and I want to keep Kabengele instead. Sorry Robin, I’m sure you’ll find a job somewhere else.
Signing: C.J. Miles
Since I didn’t need Robin, I signed C.J. Miles. He’ll bring third string 3-and-D minutes.
(Now, I could have kept RoLo. I know that was confusing. Basically, I was planning on trading Al Williamson for a player, but I didn’t do so. Therefore I had a roster spot to keep RoLo, but I forgot and cut him. Either way, I didn’t need him. So I have C.J.)
Beginning of the 2021-22 regular season
My time as the Clippers GM is now over. Here’s a look at my final roster:
PG: Eric Bledsoe, Lou Williams, Jevon Carter
SG: Paul George, Luke Kennard, Gary Payton II
SF: Kawhi Leonard, Torrey Craig, C.J. Miles
PF: Jae Crowder, Paul Millsap, Mike Scott
C: Ivica Zubac, Serge Ibaka, Mfiodnu Kabengele
I think that this is a championship level team. Any team with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will always be competitive, but I think the role players I picked up around them are excellent. This team’s floor is probably a second round exit in 2022, and their ceiling is a championship.
So, let me know what you think about the roster I set up! Do you agree that the Clippers should go all in, or do you think they should try to retool with a younger roster? Do you think Kawhi will stay after this season? Also, let me know if I should make any changes to the way I did this (for future GM tenures). Thanks for reading!