Clippers build depth by selecting Kobe Brown, Jordan Miller in NBA draft

The Clippers raised smoke with pre-draft trade rumors but didn’t spark any fires as Thursday’s NBA draft went as planned.

With newly promoted general manager Trent Redden working with president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, the Clippers selected Missouri forward Kobe Brown 30th overall and forward Jordan Miller out of Miami with the 48th selection.

On Wednesday, the Clippers nearly traded the first-round pick in a potential deal involving the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, but talks broke down. The Clippers and New York Knicks also talked about moving star forward Paul George after the eight-time All-Star’s fourth season with the team ended with a knee injury that kept him out of the playoffs.

The potential three-team trade would have brought Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Clippers and sent guard Amir Coffey and forward Marcus Morris Sr. to the Wizards. A day after trying to trade the 33-year-old forward, the Clippers instead added to their youth movement with Brown.

The 6-foot-8 forward named after the Lakers star was just the second player in Missouri history to be voted first-team All-Southeastern Conference by both conference coaches and media, averaging 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists as a senior.

While Brown, 23, led the Tigers in scoring and rebounding for two consecutive seasons, his three-point shooting jumped from 20.6% as a junior to 45.5% during his senior year when he attempted 112 total threes compared to just 68 during the previous year.

The Huntsville, Ala., native was also named the SEC scholar-athlete of the year and helped the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Miami guard Jordan Miller practices.

The Clippers selected Miami guard Jordan Miller with the 48th selection of Thursday’s NBA draft.

(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

Miller, a 6-7 forward who was born in Anaheim, helped Miami to the Final Four last season, earning second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors while averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. The 23-year-old played three seasons at George Mason, including one that did not count against his eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, before playing two seasons with Miami, where he played for Clippers assistant Jay Larranaga’s father, Jim.

Behind their experienced main rotation, led by Kawhi Leonard, 31, and George, the Clippers are building with young depth. Brown and Miller join point guard Jason Preston, guard Bones Hyland, wing Brandon Boston and center Moussa Diabate, who are all 23 or younger.

“Having good young players is always critical to team building,” Frank said, emphasizing the new collective bargaining agreement that will come into effect on July 1. “It’s going to be very, very important to get good players on good contracts. We build our team around our two stars, but you have to have complementary skill sets.”

Even with youth on the bench, the Clippers are still waiting for the health of their two stars.

After missing the 2021-22 season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, Leonard suffered torn meniscus in the same knee that knocked him out of the playoffs as the Clippers lost in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. George averaged 23.8 points per game for the Clippers last season, but appeared in just 56 games and suffered a knee injury in March.

George’s injury history has scared off potential trade partners as he has played an average of 47 regular-season games in his last three seasons with the Clippers. He is eligible for an extension of up to four years and $220 million, and without one, could decline his player option for the 2024-25 season to become a free agent next summer.