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Bigs off the market, Clippers options dwindle

With today's signings of Metta World Peace and Elton Brand elsewhere, the Clippers' options for adding another big man got a bit more limited.

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The Clippers need a third big in their rotation. All they can offer in return is a minimum salary and a chance to win. If they hope to get someone who's worth more than a minimum salary, they either have to get very lucky with a young guy, or they need for a veteran former star is willing to take a pay cut in order to get on a good team.

Two of the more visible individuals in the latter category came off the market today. Metta World Peace, recently amnestied by the Lakers, cleared amnesty waivers yesterday and signed with his hometown New York Knicks today. Meanwhile, Elton Brand, who had his best seasons as a Clipper, twice making the All Star team in L.A., signed a one year contract with the Atlanta Hawks. The idea that Brand might have taken a minimum deal to play for the Clippers now looks more than a little like a pipedream -- the Hawks are paying Brand $4M this season, almost three times as much as the Clippers have to offer.

It's way too early to worry a lot about the lack of available options. Some of the best pickups frequently come out of the blue, like the Clippers signing of Matt Barnes last September. There are still a few names out there, and other vets could get bought out of the current contracts. Or perhaps the Clippers might choose to enter the season below the apron/hard cap on the chance that an opportunity presents itself around the trade deadline -- always a strong possibility.

There's also the very distinct possibility that Doc Rivers will eschew additional bigs in the traditional mold -- his center in Boston the past few seasons was power forward Kevin Garnett and he rarely had another seven-footer on the roster, let alone on the court. The NBA is moving inexorably towards small ball, and I for one see little downside to a roster with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the big lineup, and Ryan Hollins as a third big who rarely plays. We'll see.

Lamar Odom and Antawn Jamison are still out there -- the Clippers could certainly wind up signing one or both of those guys. But more and more I'm getting the feeling that Rivers won't feel compelled to add that prototypical big just because traditionally teams have. He likes the idea of playing small, he seems to think he can get more value out of his last few roster positions with a combo forward (or a big wing, whatever you want to call it), and he's probably right.