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What’s Next For The Clippers?
Posted By Eric Pincus On June 16, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
The Los Angeles Clippers have been a hot news topic recently, as their search for a head coach has led to negotiations with the Boston Celtics for Doc Rivers.
Rivers, a former Clipper, has three seasons left on his contract in Boston. If the two teams can find the right combination of players and picks, Boston would let Rivers leave for Los Angeles.
The difficult part is finding that happy medium.
Along with Rivers, the Celtics can deliver Kevin Garnett, who would waive his no-trade clause. They’re likely to buy out Paul Pierce for $5 million, with the expectation that he too would sign with the Clippers in July.
The Clippers are fond of Rivers and hope to give free agent Chris Paul every reason to return, while furthering their chances at an NBA title. The question for L.A. is cost.
While Rivers may be their top candidate, the Clippers are considering a long list of quality coaches including Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw, Byron Scott, Nate McMillan and George Karl.
Players like DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler can be shopped for a solid return to a number of teams. Pierce may be bought out regardless, with Los Angeles a possible destination with or without Rivers.
The Clippers would like a deal with Boston, but there may be too many other opportunities if it proves too costly. It’s just too easy for L.A. to walk away from negotiations without a deal.
Expect a few more starts and stops between the two franchises before a final decision is made.
If the blockbuster happens with Boston, some reports have the Clippers willing to trade Blake Griffin (along with Eric Bledsoe) to the Los Angeles Lakers for a re-signed Dwight Howard.
It can be tricky to get absolute truths in an industry where misdirection is the norm, but sources within the organization have long-maintained that Griffin is untouchable.
The Clippers own the 25th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft (June 27), although the selection could end up in Boston’s hands if a deal is struck. L.A. doesn’t have a second-round pick, with their 56th pick heading to the Detroit Pistons to complete an older trade for Alex Acker.
Los Angeles used to live through the draft, but the franchise is less interested in developing young players than finding the right veterans to help give the team a better crack at a title.
Obviously, the biggest issue the Clippers still face is re-signing Paul. While it appears likely, nothing should be taken for granted. If Paul does return, L.A. is likely to shop Bledsoe before he hits restricted free agency in 2014, which could open up a spot in the backcourt.
Both Willie Green and Maalik Wayns have non-guaranteed contracts with the team. Chauncey Billups is a free agent.
The team has recently worked out guards Pierre Jackson from Baylor, Nate Wolters from South Dakota State, Myck Kabongo from Texas, B.J. Young from Arkansas, Elijah Johnson from Kansas, Erick Green from Virginia Tech, Mark Lyons from Arizona and Isaiah Canaan from Murray State.
Outside of guard, the Clippers could stand to add depth at every position.
L.A. has worked out big men Mike Muscala from Bucknell, Brandon Davies from BYU, Grant Jerrett from Arizona, Colton Iverson from Colorado State and Amath M’Baye from Oklahoma.
They also saw small forwards Solomon Hill from Arizona and James Southerland from Syracuse.
The Clippers would also like to keep both Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes. Odom would need to take a pay cut to stay after making $8.2 million last season.
Barnes had a strong year and would like a raise over his $1.2 million salary. The Clippers can pay up to $1.5 million without using any of their Mid-Level Exception (MLE).
Pierce could be a target, if he’s bought out of contract by Boston.
If the Clippers use their MLE, they will lock in a hard cap, which is projected to be at about $75.5 million next season. L.A. won’t have a Bi-Annual Exception, which was used on Grant Hill last summer (who has since retired).
Billups made $4 million last year. The Clippers also have free agents Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf, who both signed at the minimum. DaJuan Summers is under contract but non-guaranteed.
It’s difficult to project how the Clippers fill out their roster with free agents until they’ve taken care of their own players, especially Paul.
Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic has been linked to the Lakers for Bledsoe. The Clippers may have some interest in Danny Granger, a player they could have drafted in 2005 instead of Yaroslav Korolev.
Granger is coming off of a down season with extremely-limiting knee issues. He has $14 million remaining on his contract.
Afflalo will make $7.5 million each season over the next three years, although his final season is a player option.
Garnett will make $12.4 million next year but his $12 million due for 2014/15 is only 50% guaranteed.
The Celtics would like to move a player like Courtney Lee ($16.4 million over three years) or Jason Terry ($10.7 million over two).
The NBA Draft is less than two weeks away. The Clippers aren’t going to want to miss out on their alternates to Rivers. Free agency starts in July.
The Clippers have more questions than answers but it won’t be long before the dominoes start to fall.
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