A few facts about the Clippers' current third-string point guard Lester Hudson: He's the two-time reigning MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association; He was the first NCAA Division 1 men's basketball player to ever record a quadruple double in a college game, putting up 25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals; And finally, his non-guaranteed contract with the Clippers becomes guaranteed tonight at midnight.
Last season the Clippers picked Hudson up on a pair 10-day contracts after he had finished his CBA season, in order to try and provide depth to a weak bench. When signing him for the rest of the season, like many teams, they gave him a multi-year deal with the next season slightly over the minimum, but non-guaranteed. Teams primarily do this just in case a player breaks out unexpectedly — e.g. Hassan Whiteside — or to add as salary filler in trades, as Hudson can be cut for no cap hit.
The way Hudson's contract is structured, he couldn't have been traded until July 11th because of rules in the CBA, but his contract also becomes guaranteed on July 15th, tomorrow, or tonight at midnight. With the clock ticking, the Clippers have three options with Hudson: trade him, cut him, or keep him.
As has been repeatedly discussed over the past couple of weeks, the Clippers may be looking around the trade market for different ways to improve, with Jamal Crawford reportedly being shopped. Lester Hudson and Jordan Hamilton help in whatever possible trade the Clippers could make with Crawford, as they are added salary that could bring back a more expensive player for no cost, since teams can cut them because of their non-guaranteed salary and owe nothing. Hudson's value as this type of trade asset only remains as long as his deal is non-guaranteed, meaning that if the Clippers are planning on including him in a trade, expect it to happen today. After today Hudson could still be traded, but a team would have to be a really big fan of the CBA MVP to want to pay him more than the minimum.
Hudson's contract for this upcoming season is currently listed at $1,015,421. The veteran minimum for this upcoming season is $947,276. The harsh truth is that Hudson is not better than a minimum salary player, and every extra dollar that he makes is multiplied within the Clippers's tax bill. There's times to spend Ballmer's billions, and there's times to be frugal; the surplus salary Hudson would make is not one of them. If the Clippers can't deal Hudson today before his contract becomes guaranteed, look for them to cut him loose.
The final option the Clippers could have is to simply keep Hudson. They could simply do nothing and let his contract clause kick in, keeping him next season for slightly above the minimum if Doc and the front office really want to bring him back. However, even if the team wants Hudson to return, the more likely scenario is to first cut him, then invite him to training camp and re-sign him for the veteran minimum. So in a sense they would be both cutting and keeping him.
For Hudson, a journeyman who has fallen in and out of the Association, this upcoming deadline will be something he's very familiar with. For the Clippers, the clock is ticking on one of their few trade assets and they need to make a decision.