Kenneth Armstrong: B+
The Clippers did a surprisingly nice job using their two-way contracts last season. Tyrone Wallace and CJ Williams played significant minutes, and we were even groaning and hankering for Wallace to return to the main roster at the end of the season because we thought he could have helped the Clippers lift themselves into the playoffs.
Assuming the Clippers can continue to get this value from two-way contracts, Johnathan Motley will be a great addition to the LA Clippers/ Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario system. He is such a unique player because of his combination of size, agility, and ability to score. I would love to see Doc make Motley one of his pet-projects like he did with DeAndre.
So long as the expectations for Motley are appropriate, this move is a good one. Don’t assume he will be the next DJ any time soon (or any time, ever); just expect him to provide a nice spark in low-stakes games and perform at a high level in the G-League as he continues to develop.
Shapan Debnath: A+
This guy looks like an NBA player and he’s so incredibly cheap. This is a high grade for someone who won’t make a massive impact or anything, but penny for penny this seems like a steal of a move.
Michelle Uzeta: A+
The Los Angeles Clippers got something for nothing by trading the rights to 32-year-old forward Maarty Leunen (who?) and nominal ($50k) cash considerations to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for promising ex-Baylor big Johnathan Motley. Rights to guard Renaldas Seibutis were also picked up by Los Angeles in the exchange.
Last season Motley played primarily on Dallas’ development league team, the Texas Legends. He did well, averaging 22.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 34 games, and earning second-team, all-league honors. The 23-year-old also suited up for 11 NBA games last season, averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 16.0 minutes for the Mavericks.
Motley has great length (7’4” wingspan / 9-foot standing reach) and has demonstrated some agility. He is a solid rebounder and fairly consistent finishing at the rim. The Clippers could use him both as a power forward and as a small-ball center, giving them some needed flexibility down low. Motley will also be a fantastic pairing for any two-way guards the Clippers want to develop during G-League play.
Offensively, Motley could work on consistency and extending his range to include a 3-point shot. Defensively, he struggles with one-on-one matchups by over-reacting and taking himself out of plays. He has a lot of potential on both ends of the floor, however, and could be a pleasant surprise if his knee holds up.
Eric Patten: C+
It’s probably unfair to grade the Motley acquisition. It feels like the kind of mark on a report card that might read “inc”. Still, you can’t knock the Clippers for making a deal to land a prospect who has excellent athleticism, a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and averaged just shy of a double-double his final year in the Big 12. Getting Motley means either Tyrone Wallace won’t be back, which would be unfortunate, or Angel Delgado is gone. However, Motley is worth giving a look, especially on a two-way deal at a position of need.
Robert Flom: A-
The Johnathan Motley trade is the perfect example of a low risk, relatively high reward move. The Clippers gave up virtually nothing (rights to a European player who’s never coming to the NBA, and $50k) for Motley, a player who dominated the G-League last year and showed well in his stint with the Mavs towards the end of the year. Motley is an athletic, long big man who can finish with strength around the basket and also possesses at least the semblance of a three-point shot. There’s a chance he could become a quite good NBA player if his shot continues to develop, but even if it doesn’t, he probably has a career as an energy guy off the bench. Motley is young, he has upside, he’s at the very least a fringe NBA player, and the Clippers basically got him for free. Good job, Clips.