Here's the link - with a Hat Tip to citizens Buky, oasisman, Zhiv, Eggman and BoomDizzleness from GSOM (everyone was on this pretty quick - great job). I'll get this on the front page, and then update with more thoughts on what it means.
What does it mean? Well, first of all it means the Clippers are currently down to Marcus Williams backing up Al Thornton at the small forward, not to mention 19 year old rookie Eric Gordon backing up Cat Mobley at the shooting guard.
I view small forward as the bigger problem - I expect Gordon to be very good, but it's always a little daunting to be relying on a teenager. For that reason, I'm not completely crushed the Buike fell through. I definitely see him as more of a guard than a forward. But the question remains, who is out there? And unlike the Camby situation, the Clippers are no longer the only teams who can bid on free agents in this price bracket since the Clippers only have about $3M to spend.
Which raises an interesting question. While the offer sheet was in place, the $3M counted against the Clippers cap. Let's say it maxed them out completely, right to the limit (probably not - I mean, what are the odds they'd have exactly $3M? - but it was reportedly pretty close). They just traded Brevin Knight for Jason Hart, and Hart makes $484K more than Knight. That trade was allowable, since the two salaries were within 25% of each other. This is all quite complex, but I'm pretty sure that the Clippers just chewed up close to half a million in cap space by making that Knight-Hart trade before the Buike situation was resolved. They couldn't have waited 2 days to make that trade? So if indeed they were very close to the cap before, they now probably only have about $2.6M to offer a free agent in starting salary, instead of $3M. OOOPS. Well, at least we have Jason Hart. Yuck.
Looking at whose left in free agency, I see a lot of names that would intrigue me at the minimum, but very few that I'd want to spend more on. Shannon Brown, Kirk Snyder, Casey Jacobsen, MIckael Gelabale, Salim Stoudamire, Juan Dixon, DerMarr Johnson - these are all interesting players who've never gotten much burn in the NBA, who could conceivably add something to the Clippers. But they're all minimum guys - at least to me.
Ryan Gomes would be a nice get, but he's restricted and I'm sure the Wolves would match $3M. He's also more of a 3-4. Fred Jones? His last contract was 3/$11M. He won't get that this time. He's probably in the right price range, and he's unrestricted. So I guess he's an option.
I'll tell you this - I wish the Clippers had traded Brevin Knight for a small forward and signed Carlos Arroyo as the back up point.
Of course Shaun Livingston remains a wild card in all of this. I still think that eventually he could be the ideal fit on this team - a versatile 6th man and defensive stopper, capable of playing from the 1 to the 3. Unfortunately, that eventually would seem to be further into the future than we would have hoped. And it's opening day where we need the most help at shooting guard, since we're counting on a youngster to help there (another eventually). I remain convinced that the Clippers would like to sign him, but they clearly planned to offer him no more than the minimum if Buike had signed. Does this allow the Clippers to put a little more (I'm not talking about a lot) on the table for Livingston?
Finally, there's always Quinton Ross. We're talking about a back up wing, and that's pretty much what he is. Clipper fans know better than anyone his limitations, but is there anyone out there in our price range who's better? Fred Jones?
Just when we thank this crazy roller coaster of an off-season is pulling into the station, we go through another couple of loops.