August 13, 2022

Kyrie Irving is with Brooklyn. Kevin Durant, for now, is too. Deandre Ayton, Jalen Brunson and other free agents in between await their fates with free agency sitting just beyond the horizon. How could the Los Angeles Clippers get involved? Let’s take a nice long look.

When does free agency begin?

Don’t tell Adam Silver or literally anyone familiar with NBA legal proceedings, but about four weeks ago. And I’m lowball.

Seriously, the teams are technically allowed to contact free agent players starting Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT). So expect to hear a lot of talk from the news frontrunners – Woj, Shams, Haynes, Fischer, others (more on that later) – starting around 6:01. Or 5:59. I’m sure there’s a prop somewhere on DraftKings or the dark web. Have it.

It is then that you will discover a number of offers; most will be announced soon after it is legally proper to discuss them for the first time. But the contracts cannot be formalized before July 1. This is why you hear so much about July 1 as the start of free agency.

To find? I understood? Neither do I. Good.

In terms of financial details, what are we looking at moolah-wise?

Here’s how ESPN’s NBA Front Office Insider — and Marist College alum; go Red Foxes – Bobby Marks described it all in April:

The trade with Portland to acquire Norman Powell and Robert Covington not only added a long-term payroll, but also an additional luxury tax penalty of $19 million.

The trade also showed that despite limited project assets, there are other ways to improve the roster. The Clippers have four players next season who will earn between $11.2 million and $16.8 million (Powell, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Marcus Morris). They also have two valuable trade exceptions of $9.7 million and $8.3 million.

The Clippers have a salary of $160 million and a tax bill of $17.9 million before the start of free agency. They will benefit from the mid-tier exception of $6.4 million.

And here are what other resources the Clippers have that can help them build the roster:

  • Commercial exceptions: $9.7M and $8.3M
  • Exception: $6.3 million mid-level tax
  • 7 second-round picks in the next 7 years
  • Cash: $6.3M to send or receive in an exchange

What happens on June 29? I mean today?

Forward Nicolas Batum has until that date to exercise the $3.3 million player option in his contract. Naturally, sources said Batum considered declining his option, but wanted to stay with the Clippers. Now, if the option is declined, he can sign a new contract for up to $10.9 million, but it must be a contract for at least two years and the second year cannot be matched. of an option.

Also required for June 29: Jay Scrubb ($1.8M) and Amir Coffey ($1.9M) one-year qualifying bid. Scrubb was selected in the second round of the 2020 NBA draft — 55th overall, including three picks ahead of B-Ball Paul Reed — and has missed more than 90 games due to two surgeries on his right foot.

Coffey, on the other hand, has bird rights and the Clippers don’t have to tap into their mid-tier tax exception in order to find a long-term deal. Coffey has been a nice surprise in 2021-22, starting 29 games and averaging 12.6 points while shooting effectively. He should be back. Scrub? Who to say.

What have the Clippers already done?

Let’s go one by one here, detailing all the settings and reasons for the moves that have at least been reported so far, in the order in which they were reported.

June 28: Ivica Zubac has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $33 million extension. “The Clippers declined a $7.5 million team option on Zubac’s contract, paving the way for a new deal to be negotiated for Zubac, who is the longest-serving player on the roster,” he said. writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “Zubac had his most productive NBA season for the Clippers a year ago – with career-best averages of 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds.”

Zubac, as you may recall, was the acquisition of the prize in a scam from the local Lakers rival, and in 2021-22 he averaged 10.3 points, 85 rebounds and 1.6 assists. decisive per game. The deal, for all intents and purposes, was a given: his team declined their own option to bring him back with a raise.

By Athleticismit is Law Murray, “He has been praised for his leadership as well as his potential by his teammates, coaches and reception staff. The only surprise may be the fact that the Clippers have committed more than $10 million a year to a player who can be adjusted on the floor during the money season, or even shut down games on a regular basis. But Zubac won this contract thanks to his durability, constant improvement on the ground and strong intangibles in the locker room.

So here is. It’s hard not to extend a guy who’s been a staple on the roster for four seasons, and the Clippers brass, by all accounts, like the big one in the center of their frontcourt. Now if only they could find another replacement.

June 27: After agreeing to a buyout with the Houston Rockets, John Wall reportedly planned to sign with the LA Clippers.

Uhhhhhh… I think I heard 29 other teams yelling, “Objection, Your Honor?”

Well, it’s hard to explain, but when it comes to buyouts, those deals can be done pretty quickly. Yes, there have been behind-the-scenes discussions that only Woj can find out through his sources. He even tried to cover some things in a follow-up tweet.

It’s a fancy way of saying, “I pressed send a little too soon.” It’s not done Again, I promise. But that will be when it is allowed. That’s exactly what cost the Miami Heat a second-round pick due to their handling of signing Kyle Lowry last summer. But that’s life in the NBA.

“Wall, who owed the Rockets $47.4 million after exercising the player option for the final year of his contract, agreed to take $6.5 million less to become a free agent, a source says to ESPN. That’s roughly the amount of the Mid-Tier Taxpayer Exception Wall could receive once he’s able to negotiate a deal with the Clippers,” Wojnarowski wrote.

Wall will create an immediately intriguing fit in this Clippers schedule, despite the fact that his near-full final season has come – checks the notes – 2016-17. Yeah. But placing Wall alongside the two Los Angeles stars is a salivating idea to say the least. Let’s see how it goes.

What are their greatest needs?

The good news for the Clippers? They don’t have many real needs. Their roster is a championship contender on paper; it has always been a question of health, since the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Perhaps a second backup center, a real playmaker or an extra scorer would serve as a jolt to an otherwise unexciting offseason. But sometimes it’s better to be boring. Lord knows they will be anything but once next season begins.

How will they meet these needs? Better yet, can they?

Honestly, the ideal course of action for the Clippers might be to stay beyond what they’ve already done. If they can somehow bring Nicolas Batum and Amir Coffey back (both are likely), you can consider the offseason a win.

Bringing Isaiah Hartenstein back, however, should be the number one priority. He had a stellar season last year coming off the bench for the Clippers and caused a stir in the team’s shortened rotation at the end of the season. He averaged 8.3 points per game and shot 62.6% from the floor, upending what had previously been a journeyman narrative as he became a great top-tier substitute.

The problem: LA only has non-bird rights — which doesn’t allow the team to go over the salary cap to re-sign him — on Hartenstein, so bringing him back could be a tall order. Even bigger than him. The Clippers could use his mid-tier $6.4 million taxpayer exception to make him a competitive offer. But if they choose to give up their single room with Hartenstein, they will be aiming for a mid-level target in the market.

The Clippers weren’t planning to be a big player this offseason, so there’s no need to worry about who’s coming or going because in all likelihood their activity is muted. Losing Hartenstein could be the biggest punch, should it happen. But a championship — something they have within reach, if all goes well — is basketball’s best medicine.