NBA PM: Clippers Add Another Veteran
The Los Angeles Clippers are near a deal to land veteran forward Grant Hill.
While the terms are unclear, Hill is expected to get a two-year deal with the team. The Clippers can offer their Bi-Annual Exception starting at $1.957 million or find a more creative way to land Grant.
LA has been trying to find a taker for Ryan Gomes for some time and have offered him to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Hill via sign and trade. Gomes is in the final year of his deal at $4 million and while he remained a solid locker room presence, he wasn’t able to help the Clippers much on the floor last season.
The Clippers have considered using their Amnesty Clause on Gomes but would naturally prefer to trade him, possibly including a second round pick and some cash to offset some of his salary. Tuesday is the final day teams can amnesty players and the decision will be made by the time of this posting (deadline set by league) until next July. The team also has a few trade exceptions that might help get a Hill deal done with Phoenix.
UPDATE: The Clippers used their amnesty on Gomes late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, assuming a deal is consummated with Hill, the Clippers get a player both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks were trying to sway.
Hill will join a strong core with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
Despite losing Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers have continued to be an active participant in free agency. The combination of Coach Vinny Del Negro, President Andy Roeser and Director of Player Personnel Gary Sacks has fielding what could be a very capable team this season.
Del Negro, who has a previous relationship with Hill from their time together in Phoenix, was said to have played a significant part in luring the 39-year old veteran.
The team won’t look to fill the “GM” position until after free agency is resolved.
On Monday Griffin underwent knee surgery and is expected to be ready by training camp.
Billups Back, Expects to Start
When the Clippers initially claimed Billups off amnesty waivers from the New York Knicks, the former NBA Finals MVP was disappointed. He had hoped to be able to dictate his fate after getting dealt from the Denver Nuggets to NY in the Carmelo Anthony deal.
Eventually he came to terms with his situation and ultimately embraced the opportunity . . . at least until a torn Achilles ended his season.
“The reputation that the Clippers once had, that was obviously something I didn’t want to be part of at the time. Me being here, being able to meet the people here and see how they do business here and see how they treat the players,” said Billups. “This is different. This is more on the lines of what I like.”
Billups recently re-signed for $4 million on a one-year deal with the Clippers. Because he was awarded his Bird Rights as a byproduct of the dispute between the NBA and the Players’ Union (which was more about Jeremy Lin, etc.), the Clippers cannot trade Billups for the coming season without his permission.
Chauncey said he believes the Clippers are the best path for him to compete once again for a title.
“I want to win,” said Billups. “I want to win a championship and obviously I don’t have another 10 years to play in the league, so I want to win it now.”
Naturally Chris Paul was lobbying Chauncey to stay.
“Chris was definitely saying, ‘Man, Hurry up. What are you waiting for? Let’s get it done,” said Billups. “Of course that makes a difference.”
Now that the decision has been made, Chauncey needs to get back to full health.
“I’m grinding man. I’m working really hard,” said Billups. “I don’t know who it was that reported I would be back in January or something like that. I’ll be back before that. I plan on playing all 82 games this year.”
In fact Chauncey is expecting to come back into the same role as starting guard alongside Paul, despite the team’s acquisition of Jamal Crawford.
“Jamal is, in my opinion, over the last seven, eight or nine years, is one of the elite players,” said Billups. “He’s been a thorn in every team that I’ve played for’s side.”
Billups noted how both Lamar Odom and Crawford are players willing to come off the bench.
“I think my role will be the same,” said Chauncey. “In Jamal and Lamar you have two guys . . . who have been sixth man of the year guys. So guys who know and more importantly will embrace their role and not worry about nights that they don’t play 30 minutes.”
Of course that may take a minute as Billups continues his rehab. He still can’t run and joked that he wouldn’t even be able to beat a reporter in a game of one-on-one. Mostly he’s doing weight training and using the team’s Alter-G treadmill for conditioning.
“In a perfect world, I want to just play my regular minutes all season but obviously this is not a perfect world,” said Chauncey. “Any doctor I see they’re very impressed and think that I’m farther along than anyone they’ve seen.”
In returning to the Clippers, Billups believes his team has the chance to do something special this season.
“Everything that we’re going to do is to try and get home court advantage. I think that’s a big deal,” said Chauncey, noting how his team won on the road in Memphis in Game 7. “I gotta think if it was the other way around, if we had home court, there’s no way we lose that game on our home court.”
It’s not just the first round that Billups is thinking home court.
“I’m talking about getting home court throughout,” said Billups. “I’m talking about winning the West.”
As far as who takes the final shot between Paul, Crawford and Billups?
“Doesn’t matter really,” said Billups. “Chris proved last year with the plays he made late in games, how do you get the ball out of his hands? Him now having other options out there that he can throw it to and feel comfortable, and we can live with that, it’s just going to make him more dangerous. I think having myself and Jamal out there late in game opens the floor up for him more. Nobody is going to want to leave us.”
Marco Belinelli Nearing a Decision
Both the Los Angeles Clippers and Marco Belinelli were interested in a deal but the Clippers had just their Bi-Annual Exception to offer. The Clippers, with the lobbying of Chris Paul, made overtures to the New Orleans Hornets but the Hornets refused to take on Ryan Gomes via sign and trade.
Now that the Clippers have gone with Grant Hill, Marco is looking at other teams. The Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks have interest.
The Knicks may have used whatever leverage they have to attain other players. The Warriors are looking at Carl Landry and are still deciding on what to do with Brandon Rush.
The Orlando Magic are a possibility although it’s difficult to project their situation with the Howard situation unresolved.
The Bulls may be the best fit having traded Kyle Korver and waiving Ronnie Brewer.
Some updates on the various Mid-Level Exceptions around the league:
The Atlanta Hawks on Lou Williams, locking in a hard cap all season at $74.3 million.
Pistons used $1.5 million to sign Vyacheslav Kravtsov and $1 million to sign Kyle Singler and have $2.5 million remaining.
The Boston Celtics reportedly have Jason Terry at the MLE but it doesn’t look executed as of yet. If it is, then they too would have the hard cap.
Nets used their on Mini MLE on Mirza Teletovic, allowing Brooklyn to spend as much as they can muster.
The Clippers have a hard cap after using their MLE on Crawford.
The Memphis Grizzlies spent almost all of their Mini MLE on Jerryd Bayless with an unusable $90k remaining.
Ray Allen of the Miami HEAT got the Mini MLE.
The Milwaukee Bucks used $650k of theirs on Doron Lamb
The New York Knicks inked Jason Kidd to their Mini MLE.
The Oklahoma City Thunder $3,326,396 left after $1,200,000 on Hasheem Thabeet and $473,604 on Hollis Thompson.
HOOPSWORLD is still waiting on the numbers for Boris Diaw via the San Antonio Spurs.
More to come . . .
Evans Trade Exception
Reggie Evans accepted a three-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets which was facilitated by the Los Angeles Clippers via sign and trade.
For the Clippers they didn’t get much from Brooklyn to broker the deal, just the right to swap 2016 second-rounders, but LA didn’t intend on returning Evans after the acquisition of Lamar Odom.
Instead they did Evans a solid, helping him get to his destination. They also attain a trade exception for Evans’ $1,622,617 salary which allows Los Angeles to trade for a player making up to $1.72 million without having to match salary.
The Nets get a rebounding specialist whose energy can sway a game. Reggie was a clear fan-favorite at STAPLES Center for LA and their run to the second round of the playoffs.
Brooklyn will pay Evans $5,086,905 over three fully-guaranteed years.
The Clippers also have trade exceptions for Al-Farouq Aminu ($2.76 million, expiring 12/14/12) and Brian Cook ($1.22 million, expiring 3/15/13). The Evans TPE won’t expire until 7/11/13.
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