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Clippers Free Agency: Some Numbers Emerge

Apr 11, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Celtics center Ryan Hollins (50) warms up before the start of the game against the Atlanta Hawks at the TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 11, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Celtics center Ryan Hollins (50) warms up before the start of the game against the Atlanta Hawks at the TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

After introducing Lamar Odom, the newest Los Angeles Clipper, at a press conference at the team's practice facility in Playa Vista, the Clips' front office set about removing Odom's "newest" title. The Times reports that the Clippers have extended offers to three free agents: guard Jamal Crawford, guard Chauncey Billups, and center Ryan Hollins.

Team President Andy Roeser, Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, and Director of Player Personnel Gary Sacks are acting as the team's GM, and have offered the following contracts:

  • 3 years for Jamal Crawford at the full MLE
  • 1 year for Chauncey Billups at 4.3 million
  • 1 year for Ryan Hollins at the veterans' minimum of 1.1 million
If all these contracts are signed, the Clippers' payroll becomes 69.2 million dollars in guaranteed salary next season for 12 players. Another minimum contract keeps the Clippers under the luxury tax, and gives them a solid roster of 13.

Here's what I wrote about Crawford this morning, when it was reported that the Clippers were attempting to sign him to a contract. I don't really like him as a player, and I think that three seasons is way too long. Unlinke Odom's outlier bad season, Crawford has been steadily declining recently, and at 32 he isn't likely to reverse that trend. Three seasons from now, he could be shooting 35% from the field and 25% from three... that's not exactly quality numbers.

Crawford would likely become the backup SG, with Billups returning to the starting lineup when Chauncey recovers from his Achilles injury. Jamal would be the second former 6th Man of the Year Award winner the Clippers acquired in the last week, after he won the award in 2010 and Odom won the award in 2011- two 6th men of the year isn't bad off the bench.

I hate to suggest it, but is it possible that that's the criteria that the Clippers are using to find free agents is just based on awards?

Chauncey Billups we all know about. He started last year for the Clippers before going down with a season-ending ankle injury. While his veteran leadership was invaluable, he was already a step slow last season, and the 36 year old will only be slower coming off of surgery. At one season for 4.3 million, he is still easily worth it, and I'm a fan of this deal. Chris Paul wants Chauncey, Chris Paul loves playing with Chauncey, Chris Paul thinks that he would have shiny NBA Finals MVP trophy to match Chauncey's if injuries hadn't struck.

Ryan Hollins, well, I'm not an expert on. I know he went to UCLA, I know he's a long, athletic big man who isn't very good, I know he used to play for Dallas and Boston and had a solid season with Boston last year when I saw him play... /does research/... He's a fairly efficient scorer with a 56% career clip from the field. Hollins isn't a good rebounder or shot blocker, but he plays with a high motor. To summarize, he's 7', he isn't terrible, he won't expect minutes, and he is coming for the minimum. Not bad.

What do these signings mean for the Clippers when they try to sign other free agents?

Well, it puts them right at the luxury tax apron, meaning that any additional FA signings either mean amnestying Gomes or becoming taxpayers.

This scenario isn't that bad for the Clippers. They save their Bi-Annual for next season, stay under the tax apron, and still field a fairly complete roster.

Also underrated is Gomes' value as an expiring. His 4 million dollar deal is basically a TPE at this point- a different team could trade a player just for the cap relief Gomes offers at the end of the season.

A trade like that offers the Clippers one last chance to improve their team without going over the luxury cap.

This scenario, unfortunately, means that Nick Young will not be back... we'll live.