• Russell Schmidt

The Free Agency Profile for the Los Angeles Clippers


*Photo via USA Today

2014-15 Record: 56-26 (Second Pacific, Third Western Conference)

Season Summary: Not too long ago it looked like Chris Paul would finally reach the conference finals. A Western Conference Finals berth for the Los Angeles Clippers would have also been the first in the franchise’s history. The Clippers defeated the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in a seven game thriller in the first round of the playoffs. The series was one of the best ever seen in the first round, and the Clippers looked primed for a deep playoff run.

The Clippers followed up their dramatic first round series with a 3-1 lead over the Houston Rockets in the second round. Unfortunately for LA, it all went downhill from there. The Clips collapsed and lost three games in a row, losing their spot in the conference finals. No loss was worse than their Game 6 meltdown to the Rockets. The Clippers led the series 3-2 at the time and were up 87-68 on their home floor at the end of the third quarter. The Rockets outscored the Clippers 51 to 20 in the last 15 minutes of action to force a Game 7 in Houston. A demoralizing loss like this makes it easy to forget what an outstanding season the Clippers had.

The Clippers managed to win 56 games in what was arguably the toughest conference in NBA history and beat the defending champs in the playoffs. Nevertheless fans will most likely remember this season as a failure because of the team’s heartbreaking loss to the Rockets. In response to the disappointing end of the season, Coach Doc Rivers put his General Manager hat on quickly. In a trade verbally agreed upon before the completion of the NBA Finals, a rarity in the NBA, the Clips traded Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Lance Stephenson.

Cap Space: about $7 million under the current salary cap projection of $67.1 million.

Impending Free Agents:

-DeAndre Jordan (Unrestricted Free Agent)

- Jamal Crawford ($5.675 Million Team Option)

-Austin Rivers (UFA)

-Hedo Turkoglu (UFA)

-Glen Davis (UFA)

Will They Stay or Go: Hedo Turkoglu is no longer a player that can be counted on for heavy minutes, but he can still produce in spurts. It would be shocking to see Turkoglu command more than the veteran’s minimum, and the Clips should look to bring him back at that price to fill in the end of their bench.

Austin Rivers has been inconsistent throughout his career and in his short time playing for his father. Nevertheless, Rivers should be retained due to the Clippers weak bench and his promising postseason performance.

Glen Davis is another player the Clippers should look to keep for their bench. Davis is a big body, has a decent jump shot, and is outstanding at drawing charges. Davis is no more than a 10-15 minute player, but that’s all they need from him with Blake Griffin taking up most of the minutes at the power forward position. Davis is also a favorite of coach/GM Doc Rivers from his days with the Boston Celtics.

LA’s two key free agents are Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan. Crawford’s team option will almost certainly be picked up since it is at a very fair price. Despite this fact, Crawford’s role with the team is now in question after the acquisition of Lance Stephenson. Stephenson enjoyed his greatest success as an Indiana Pacer, when he was able to play with both the first and second units. Stephenson would start the game with the starters and play more of a secondary role. Then Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel would leave Stephenson in with the reserves to serve as the focal point of the bench units. This allowed Stephenson to play as both the alpha dog and a role player. The Clippers will not be able to let Stephenson play as the leader when the bench players come in if Crawford is still on the team. Like Stephenson, Crawford is a very ball dominant player and needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Don’t be surprised if the Clippers look to trade Crawford in order to fortify the small forward position and/or to strengthen the bench.

DeAndre Jordan is coming off arguably his finest season, one in which he made third team All-NBA, led the league in field goal percentage and rebounds per game, and finished fourth in blocks per game. It would be surprising to see the Clippers let Jordan leave via free agency. Jordan is a perfect fit next to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Paul sets up Jordan for dunks and alley-oops that allow him to be somewhat effective on offense. On the other end of the floor Jordan cleans up the glass and acts as the teams anchor on defense. It also doesn’t hurt Jordan’s case for a new contract that he is a best friend of franchise cornerstone Blake Griffin and has a big fan in Coach/GM Doc Rivers. With no draft picks or cap space to replace him, the Clippers will have their hands tied and be forced to give Jordan whatever contract he wants, even if it’s a max deal.

Team Needs: Small Forward, Center (if DeAndre Jordan leaves), Bench

Possible Targets:

Paul Pierce- It has been reported that Pierce will decline his player option with the Washington Wizards, but he plans on playing next season. Pierce will almost certainly either suit up for the Wizards or the Clippers. With Matt Barnes traded Pierce would now seamlessly fit into LA’s starting lineup. Pierce is from LA and very close with Doc Rivers from their time together in Boston. Pierce may also view the Clippers as a better shot for him to win another title than the Wizards.

Alan Anderson (Player Option), Mike Dunleavy (Unrestricted Free Agent), Corey Brewer (UFA), Wes Johnson (UFA), Gerald Green (UFA), Arron Afflalo (PO)

These players are SG/SF that can both start or come off the bench. Most, if not all, could be had at the mid-level exception. Brewer and Afflalo could be out of the Clips price range, but all of these players would be good acquisitions to solidify either the small forward position or as a wing off the bench.

Jordan Hill (Team Option), Kosta Koufos (UFA), Omer Asik (UFA), Alexis Ajinca (UFA), Brandan Wright (UFA), Robin Lopez (UFA), Amir Johnson (UFA), Kevin Seraphin (UFA), Tyson Chandler (UFA)

These players should be targets to replace DeAndre Jordan if he leaves or to help improve the bench. Asik, Chandler, and Lopez are unlikely to come unless Jordan leaves, but the other players could potentially come in as reserves or starters.

Sources:

http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12711616/teams-told-nba-salary-cap-hit-100m-2017-18-season

http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/12307054/nba-free-agents-2015-2016

http://www.nba.com/games/20150514/HOULAC/gameinfo.html?ls=iref:nba:serieshubs:mid:seriesschedule#nbaGIboxscore

http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/lac/seasontype/2/los-angeles-clippers

http://hoopshype.com/salaries/los_angeles_clippers/

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