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The Clippers Have Two Roster Spots Remaining

What's next?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With 13 players on guaranteed contracts, the Clippers only have two spots left to play with. While the team is probably still talking about potential Jamal Crawford moves, it's looking like they will go into the season with the current squad. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan will start, with Austin Rivers, Crawford, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith all playing key roles on a bench that will also feature C.J. Wilcox, Branden Dawson, Wesley Johnson, and Cole Aldrich.

That's 13 players. Teams are allowed to carry 15 into the regular season. The Clippers also have Jordan Hamilton under contract, but his fully non-guaranteed contract basically makes his an open roster spot — the Clippers can keep him for as long as they want to, and then cut him for free if someone they want more becomes available, or if they need to acquire a player at a different position due to injuries.

This is just me spitballing, but the depth chart probably looks something like this:

PG Paul Rivers Stephenson Crawford
SG Redick Stephenson Crawford Rivers Wilcox
SF Pierce Stephenson Johnson Dawson
PF Griffin Smith Pierce Dawson
C Jordan Griffin Aldrich

There's two areas that kind of stick out there: point guard and down low. At point guard, the Clippers basically only have one pure player at the position — the other three are all combo guards, who can play the position in a pinch, but aren't true point guards. Also among that group, you have three volatile players — all three of them could end up being huge contributors next season, but the inconsistency of Rivers' youth, fading effectiveness of Crawford's low-efficiency scoring, and questionable chances of Stephenson's resurgence leave a lot of room for error. Adding a solid point guard could go a long ways toward stabilizing this roster, especially given the state of the second unit.

In regards to backup big men, the Clippers have a nice quartet right now, with Griffin, Jordan, and Smith presumably getting most of the minutes. Pierce is a solid option to stretch the floor as an undersized PF, and Aldrich can provide size in the middle when Jordan is out (whether it be due to injury, foul trouble, or free throw issues). However, the Clippers would be well served by adding another playable big man for depth. It can be impossibly hard to find such a player for the league minimum with no minutes available to offer, but the unique relationship that Doc Rivers has with Glen Davis could result in Big Baby coming back on as a depth signing. He'd be a great addition — despite being a limited player when he's your third big, he'd probably be the best 12th man in the league.

For now, the Clippers will probably make a move to address one of these areas, while keeping Jordan Hamilton's non-guaranteed contract on as the equivalent of an open roster spot. Here are some remaining free agents who could be targets at point guard:

Pablo Prigioni: the 38-year-old was just traded from Houston to Denver, and then waived. If he keeps playing in the NBA, he'd be a solid veteran presence. In three NBA seasons, he's a 40% shooter from deep, although he struggled after joining Houston last season. He's not much of a defender or athlete at his age, but he's smart and scrappy.

Luke Ridnour: Also a veteran who was recently waived due to his non-guaranteed contract, Ridnour is a 34-year-old journeyman who has been on something like 6 teams this summer alone. He's a decent but inconsistent shooter from deep (35% career), and his solid play has kept him in the NBA for 12 seasons, several of those as a starter.

Nate Wolters: The only young guy on the list — who I actually had as a potential third-string PG before he was put on the Clippers' Summer League team — could be a target for a non-guaranteed deal like Hamilton's. He could also get a partially-guaranteed contract, where the team could assure him something like $250,000 and make the rest non-guaranteed. Even though he's not a great shooter or defender, Wolters is a really good pick-and-roll ball-handler and decision-maker. At only 24, with two years of NBA experience, he could be a good prospect and add to the Clippers' youth movement.

As far as big men go, the obvious candidate is Big Baby, who spent most of the last two years with the Clippers and has a strong relationship with Doc Rivers. Davis averaged 4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12 minutes a game last season, shooting a miserable 22% from mid-range. Other remaining names, like JaVale McGee, Samuel Dalembert, Carlos Boozer, and Kevin Seraphin are all going to get more money and minutes than the Clippers can offer, making the realistic options players like Ryan Hollins, Reggie Evans, and, more likely, another player who is close to Doc, Kendrick Perkins.