You may have seen the news today that the Los Angeles Clippers signed rookie free agent forward Brandon Davies. Davies is a 6'9 forward out of BYU who went undrafted back in June, but he was picked up by the Clippers for Summer League and has been working out with the team in Playa Vista all summer. There's a piece on Davies from Eric Patten over on Clippers.com.
If this doesn't really feel like news, that's because it's not. We knew that Davies had a deal with the team -- they just made it official today. Nor does the contract signing make it that much more likely that Davies will be on the opening day roster. His contract is unguaranteed and he'll still have to earn a roster spot in training camp.
The team now has 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Davies and Maalik Wayns on unguaranteed deals, for a total of 15 players under contract. For Davies and Wayns that means that they'll be in camp -- but it may not mean a lot more than that.
The Clippers will almost certainly start the season with no more than 14 players under contract, and it wouldn't shock me if they went with 13. They may still harbor hopes of getting under the luxury tax threshold of $71.748M (very difficult, but not impossible) but regardless they will still have to deal with the hard cap that is imposed on them at $75.748M. Either way, the Clippers don't have a lot of wiggle room. My feeling is that they will go ahead and be taxpayers this year -- but avoiding some salary now could allow them to take advantage of opportunities later, either with a veteran free agent or using the $2.6M trade exception they got in the Eric Bledsoe deal.
What chance does Davies have of actually making the team? Well, although we don't have any numbers on the contract yet, he's probably cheaper than a veteran's min player, so that works to his advantage. But after watching him in summer league in Vegas in July, I certainly didn't see anything that made me think he'd be in the NBA this year. I'd say he remains a real long shot to make the final cut.
Looking at the depth chart of the 13 guaranteed contracts, you would conclude that the Clippers still need a third string point guard and a sixth big -- so Wayns and Davies are certainly the correct placeholders for those spots. But after signing Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison in the front court, the Clippers would seem to have a greater need for a veteran defender if they do sign another big.