The Clippers today waived Josh Powell. Powell had signed a three year contract with the team before last season, but the team had an option on the second two years. They had to make a decision before tomorrow, and it's not surprising, given all the changes and given that there now appears to be a roster crunch, that they decided to look elsewhere for help.
Several quick thoughts come to mind in the wake of Powell's departure.
- Of the players on the 2006-2007 2007-2008 opening day roster, only Chris Kaman, Cat Mobley, Al Thornton and Tim Thomas remain. That's quite a makeover. Familiar faces Shaun Livingston and Paul Davis could still make the team. Nick Fazekas and Marcus Williams were around for the end of last season, but not for the beginning.
- It's yet another indication of the absurd extent of the Clippers' injury problems last season that they just waived a guy who started 25 games for them, and yet is paid the NBA minimum. Think about that - he has a minimum contract, he was 8th on the team in minutes played last season - and they waived him. How did they win even 23 games?
- Although I'm not defending Elton Brand's behavior by any means, it is interesting that the Clippers ended up waiving Powell. It would not have freed up much money had they done it sooner (even an empty roster spot has a cap hold), but it would have freed up some.
- It's interesting that the Clippers appear to have chosen Nick Fazekas over Powell, despite the fact that Powell got significantly more minutes at the end of last season. I love Fazekas, and I think it's the right choice. He's just got a nose for the basketball and incredibly good hands. But it's not the conventional move, going with the gawky white guy.
- The team is now down to five bigs on the roster - Kaman, Camby and Thomas all have guaranteed contracts, Fazekas has a qualifying offer, and DeAndre Jordan has a make-good contract. (Actually, I'm just guessing that Jordan's contract is contingent on him making the team, but that's irrelevant because he's basically a lock.) They definitely need at least one more big, and apparently they are talking to Paul Davis, Francisco Elson and former Clipper Brain Skinner. It's worth noting that until Davis' knee injury last season, he was way ahead of Powell on the team's depth chart. No doubt that had something to do with today's decision. I suppose they could conceivably decide to go with two more bigs, especially since Thomas can play some three. But I'm hoping it's only one more.
Bear in mind, the Clippers can only offer minimum contracts to free agents for the rest of the off-season. Basically, if there's a pretty good big out there you'd like them to sign, forget it - they can't afford him. Trades are of course always a possibility, and nothing would really surprise me in this crazy off-season. But I really expect that the top ten guys (Kaman, Camby, Thornton, Mobley, Baron, Thomas, Ricky, Hart, Gordon and Jordan) are pretty much set and it's just a matter at this point of signing one more cheap big, and then looking for upgrades in the Taylor, Fazekas, Williams spots.
Oh, and Shaun Livingston. The Clippers will bring him back if he is willing to play for them for the minimum. It remains to be seen if any other team will offer more, but given that the guy hasn't played anything more strenuous than one-on-one in 18 months, it would seem unlikely.