The Los Angeles Clippers have assembled one of the highest quality, deepest contingent of perimeter players in the league. Chris Paul, Darren Collison, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley and Willie Green give the team myriad options for both shooting and playmaking in the backcourt and on the wings.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan also give the team perhaps the most athletic starting front court in the NBA. Even at their current levels, Griffin and Jordan are terrific interior options for the Clippers. If they young duo can continue to improve, who knows how good they'll be.
But there remains a glaring hole in the roster. As currently constituted, there is no one behind Griffin and Jordan save for the extremely limited Ryan Hollins. Hollins plays with energy and he's a fine guy to have around, but clearly the team needs a better option coming off the bench to spell their bigs. Coach Doc Rivers played small ball lineups a lot in Boston and that is certainly a viable option as the league overall continues to play smaller and smaller -- but that might mean the Clippers can get away with adding one more big instead of two. They must do something.
On the supply side, one of the strange aspects of the big man market this off-season has been the inordinate number of former Clippers available. There have been lots of non-Clippers out there as well of course, but at the same time it seems as if every big who has worn a Clippers uniform in the past five years or so has been available at some point this off-season.
Chris Kaman signed with the Lakers a couple weeks ago, a very, very poor man's Dwight Howard I suppose. Elton Brand signed with the Hawks earlier this week. Kenyon Martin just signed with the Knicks ([Note by Steve Perrin, 07/17/13 6:26 PM PDT ] KMart has apparently not signed with the NYK yet, but a deal may be close). But even as those former Clippers have gone off the market, some others have become available.
Yesterday Drew Gooden, who was a Clipper after the All Star break in 2010, was placed on amnesty waivers by the Milwaukee Bucks. (Perhaps fittingly, it was Gooden's performance for a very bad Clippers team after arriving in L.A. that led to the large contract the Bucks are now compelled to dump.) Amazingly, Gooden is still only 31 years old (doesn't it feel like he's been in the league for more than 11 seasons?) and was productive in 2011-2012 when the Bucks actually played him, posting a PER of 18.8. With young bigs galore in need of minutes, Milwaukee simply had no use for Gooden last year, and you can hardly blame them for putting him on ice (and now on waivers).
And now, word out of Toronto is that Marcus Camby will be bought out by the Raptors. Part of the deal that sent Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks, Camby was clearly never going to fit in north of the border, so the buyout is hardly surprising. At 39, Camby has had trouble being healthy enough to play lately (he was limited to 24 games and 250 minutes in New York last season), but does anyone doubt that he can still rebound and block shots provided his body allows him to get on the court?
Rumors have the Clippers interested in both Camby and Gooden assuming they clear waivers, and the veteran's minimum contract the Clippers have to offer will likely be enough for either one of them since they're already getting paid on their existing contracts. The Clippers also can offer a decent sized role and a chance to win -- so one presumes that there's a better than average chance that the Clippers can sign one of them if there is genuine interest there.
Lamar Odom (a former and current Clipper) and Antawn Jamison are still out there on the market as well of course. Rivers would love to add a big with some range, and Jamison is the only one of this group that can make a serious claim to being a stretch 4. Odom is probably the best player of the bunch -- among available free agents Odom has the best +/- and the best rebounding percentage. But one wonders if the Clippers would prefer to distance themselves from the ongoing drama that is Khloe and Lamar.
At any rate, there are still options out there, some of them better than terrible. The Clippers will no doubt sign another big or two before training camp. And there's a decent chance it will be a familiar face to Clipper fans. Heck, Craig Smith is always an option.