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Free Agency 2016: Clippers MLE Wing Targets Part 2

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The series on potential future Clippers continues with a look at several guys who don't quite fit the traditional mold for modern "3 and D" wings.

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Garrett Temple

Age: 30

Size: 6'6, 195 pounds

2015-2016 Stats: 7.3 points/2.7 rebounds/1.8 assists in 24.4 minutes per game, 39.8/34.5/72.8 shooting in 80 games played

For Career: 33.5% three point shooting on 529 attempts

Why the Clips should sign him: Garrett Temple is much different than any player on this list or the previous one. He is a multi-positional player, yes, just like the rest. But instead of going tall, Temple goes small. Basically, he can play either guard spot or small forward, and can do it on both ends. If Jamal Crawford actually does leave in free agency, the ball-handling on the 2nd unit would be reduced to just Austin Rivers..... which is not ideal (much as I appreciate Austin). Temple isn't a point guard in the traditional sense, but he has enough ball-handling chops to bring the ball up, and enough playmaking and passing abilities to relieve Austin of some of those duties. While these supplementary point guard skills would be extremely helpful, they still aren't the main reason to sign him.

Again, Temple can defend three positions. As recent playoff series have shown over and over and over again, having lengthy defenders who can switch repeatedly is the key to defending modern offensive juggernauts such as Golden State and Cleveland. Garrett is just as capable of guarding Steph Curry as he is Klay Thompson, and that is a kind of player the Clippers haven't had in recent years. While not a lockdown defender by any means, he is solid enough, and tries hard on every play. The rest of his ability on offense is mostly being able to hit a decent number of open three point shots. Not a great shooter, Temple has improved enough in recent years to make defenses pay, and that's all the Clippers need.

Why he should sign with the Clips: Temple is comfortable on the Washington Wizards, and has several good friends there. He probably also has some loyalty to the organization that really gave him an NBA career. On the other hand, they missed the playoffs last year, and are getting publicly snubbed in free agency this summer. The Clippers can offer 20+ minutes per game (even more if Jamal departs), a definite playoff appearance, and a decent shot at contention. Temple is getting older (by NBA standards anyway), and has made less than 4 million dollars in his professional career. Some team may offer more per year, but the security and overall cash of the Clippers' MLE would be a tempting offer.

Probability of Signing: If Clippers make an offer, I think they could get him.

Lance Thomas

Age: 28

Size: 6'8, 235 pounds

2015-2016 Stats: 8.2/2.2/0.9 in 22.3 minutes per game, 44.2/40.4/85.7 shooting in 59 games played

For Career: 38.6% three point shooting on 132 attempts

Why the Clips should sign him: Lance Thomas is more of a traditional "3 and D" type wing, though the main risk with him is how small a sample size there is of him shooting. Now, if his outside shooting continues at that level, he would be a terrific get for the Clippers. If not, he would be somewhat of a bust. The fact that he hasn't played a whole lot in the NBA bodes well for his shooting being a legitimate improvement instead of an outlier. Another plus: his extremely good free throw shooting, which is a nice indicator that he does have touch on his shot. Thomas might never hit 40% from deep again, but if he can hover around 35-36%, the floor spacing provided would be a real boost.

The other positive aspect of Thomas is that he has legitimate power forward size. He isn't bulky enough to guard old school guys like Zach Randolph in the post... but how many of those guys are there in the NBA anymore? Not many. Lance is pretty quick for a guy his size, and while he isn't going to be a stopper on LeBron or anything, he can cover wing players credibly. Even if the shooting doesn't pan out completely, having an above average defender at the forward positions is always a good thing to have.

Why he should sign with the Clips: Like Temple, Lance is not exactly a huge earner. The MLE would be a 600% increase on all his previous salaries in the NBA combined, and would cover him into his early 30s. While he was a nice player last year for the Knicks, they were a bad team, and there might be some doubt he could do similar things on a playoff squad. An opportunity to play in the playoffs, especially on a contending team, might be too tough to pass up (Thomas has never appeared in the playoffs).

Probability of Signing: Again, similarly to Temple, I think the Clippers could get him if they want him.

Solomon Hill

Age: 25

Size: 6'7, 225 pounds

2015-2016 Stats: 4.2/2.8/1.0 in 14.7 minutes per game, 44.7/32.4/85.7 shooting in 59 games played

For Career: 32.5% three point shooting on 305 attempts

Why the Clips should sign him: Hill's numbers aren't as "impressive" (comparatively, folks) as the other two guys on this list. The difference? His age. Solomon is young, and with only three years in the NBA, still has lots of room to improve. His defense at positions 2-4 is already pretty good, and will only get better with increased focus and attention to detail, especially off the ball. Hill is by far the best rebounder of these three, and is also an underrated passer and playmaker. He isn't exactly going to run the pick and roll countless times, but he makes the correct pass most of the time, and is good at attacking closeouts off the dribble.

What's the problem with Hill? Well, he isn't a very good shooter, or at least he hasn't been for more than brief stretches of his NBA career. The Clippers' primary need is a "3 and D" player at small forward, and there is a significant possibility Hill wouldn't be able to fulfill the "3" part of that deal. If he does, however, he would be an absolute steal at the MLE. And there is a good chance he can make good on that bet. The Pacers' offense was awful the past few seasons, and while there might not be a real "CP3 bump", going to the Clippers' high-powered offense should definitely help Hill get more open looks. There is also just the fact that he is young, and can better his shooting and the entirety of his game. He would be a risky—but potentially fantastic—signing by the Clippers.

Why he should sign with the Clips: Being the fifth starter on the Clippers is just about the best job an NBA wing can ask for: open shots, not being held extremely responsible for wins and success, and playing for a very good team. The Clippers' hidden trump card, however, is that Solomon Hill is an "LA man", born and raised in the City of Angels. Not all players necessarily want to return home (cough Kevin Durant), but it is very tempting for a lot of guys. While that "other LA team" can offer more money, Hill would have a more substantial role on a better team with the Clippers.

Probability of Signing: This is much more up in the air. A report just came out that Hill expects 9-13 million dollars per year, which is far, far more than the Clippers can offer with the MLE.

On the other hand, his 4th year option (for just over 1 million dollars!) wasn't picked up just 8 months ago, and he didn't even play in 23 of the Pacers' regular season games. Only a few months ago, he was projected for around a 3/10 deal, maybe a bit more. He had an excellent playoff run, but 7 games might not provide the bump he is expecting. He could very well get his large raise, but I do think the Clippers have a real shot.