In a few short hours, free agency will begin, and the Clippers will have to get to work figuring out their roster. Right now, here's where they stand.
|Point Guard||---||Eric Bledsoe||Maalik Wayns|
|Shooting Guard||---||Jamal Crawford||Willie Green|
|Small Forward||Caron Butler||Reggie Bullock||DaJuan Summers|
|Power Forward||Blake Griffin||---||---|
So, obviously, there's some spots to fill. The Clippers absolutely need to get starters for both guard positions, and backup bigs. First, here's the players that they can re-sign from the team last season:
Chris Paul: Paul is the obvious starting point guard, and he's reportedly telling other teams not to schedule meetings because he'll be back. Which is awesome. He'll get a max deal that the Clippers can give him because of his bird rights.
Lamar Odom: The Clippers can pay Odom more than they would ever need to with his rights. It's likely he'll settle for a fairly small salary, considering that he's not very good anymore and he has virtually no value to any other team. Maybe even the league minimum. He slides into the backup PF slot.
Matt Barnes: Barnes is a tough one. Right now, he doesn't have a spot on the depth chart to slide into, but that's not the issue. If he re-signs, he'll be the best SF on the Clippers' roster, and if Butler is part of a trade for a better starting SG, then Barnes could very well end up as the starter at the SF position. The issue is that the Clippers can only give him 150% of his previous minimum contract, and Barnes might be able to to get more than that elsewhere. Maybe three years and 5ish million will be enough. Maybe not. They could also sign him with their mid-level exception, which we'll talk about later.
Chauncey Billups: There were rumblings a while back that he might head for Miami (does it annoy anyone else that every single free agent is connected to Miami for the league min?) and I don't mind that. I hope it's true. That way he won't be back on the Clippers. If he is back, I hope it's not for more than the min.
Ryan Hollins/Ronny Turiaf: Hollins and Turiaf split time as the backup centers last season. They were both alright, but especially due to DeAndre Jordan's inconsistencies, the Clippers could use an upgrade at the backup C position. If the Clippers add another center, they could still keep one of these two. That one would probably be Ryan Hollins, who has a connection with Doc Rivers.
The moral of the story is that as far as re-signings go, the Clippers have the necessary rights to retain anyone they want, with the exception of Matt Barnes. Chauncey might not be back, but that wouldn't be for salary purposes.
So, after some re-signings, the depth chart looks like this:
|Point Guards||Chris Paul||Eric Bledsoe||Maalik Wayns|
|Shooting Guards||---||Jamal Crawford||Willie Green|
|Small Forwards||Caron Butler||Reggie Bullock||DaJuan Summers|
|Power Forwards||Blake Griffin||Lamar Odom||---|
|Centers||DeAndre Jordan||---||Ryan Hollins|
So, what can the Clippers do to add more players? The obvious answer involves a trade, and there are plenty of rumors bouncing around involving Eric Bledsoe and/or Caron Butler. But, for the sake of this exercise, let's assume that no trade is made (because one hasn't been made yet), and that Billups walked, Barnes couldn't be had for his FA rights money, and the Clippers are trying to upgrade over Turiaf.
One possible answer would be splitting the mid-level, giving half to Barnes and half to a backup C. But then there's a sticky situation where Butler or Barnes has to be playing the SG position, which could work but wouldn't be ideal.
There's only two ways for the Clippers to add new players after these re-signings: the Mid-Level exception, and sign-and-trades. We'll assume that sign-and-trades aren't happening and focus on the players available to the Clippers for their MLE. First, let's look at some SG/SF players to keep an eye on:
- Matt Barnes (partial MLE)
- Kyle Korver (full MLE)
- Marco Belinelli (partial MLE)
- O.J. Mayo (full MLE)
- Anthony Morrow (league min)
- Tony Allen (full MLE)
- Nick Young (partial MLE)
- Randy Foye (partial MLE)
- Martell Webster (partial MLE)
- Leandro Barbosa (league min-partial MLE)
- Zaza Pachulia (partial MLE)
- Chris Wilcox (league min-partial MLE)
- Andray Blatche (league min-partial MLE)
- Josh McRoberts (partial MLE)
- Byron Mullens (partial MLE)
- Marreese Speights (full MLE)
- FElton Brand (not a typo; league min-partial MLE)
- Chris Kaman (full MLE)
- Brandan Wright (league min-partial MLE)
- Carl Landry (full MLE)
- David West (full MLE)
- Chris Anderson (partial MLE)
- Samuel Dalembert (full MLE)
- Kenyon Martin (partial MLE)
- Jermaine O'Nean (partial MLE)