According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Jeff Green will leave the Clippers to join the Orlando Magic on a one-year, $15-million deal.
Free agent Jeff Green has agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal with the Orlando Magic, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2016
Green joined the Clippers in a mid-season trade with Memphis, a deal in which Doc Rivers gave up Lance Stephenson, and paid the price of a future first round draft pick for the upgrade. The good news is that the future pick is lottery protected, and if it isn't conveyed, it turns into a second round pick. This protects the Clippers from giving up a high pick if they are a bad team. The bad news is that the Clippers gave up the pick because they believed that Jeff Green's bird rights would give them the opportunity to retain him, which would be superior to any of their other options at small forward this summer with just the Mid-Level Exception. Now, with Green leaving, the Clippers gave away a pick for nothing, reflecting very poorly on that trade.
Green averaged 11 points per game in his 27 appearances as a Clipper last season. With the cap jump, he was sure to demand a raise, and it seems as though $15 million, while high, isn't totally unreasonable for a player who made $9.3 million last season and was sure to get offers in the teens. Considering the Magic only offered Green a one-year deal, the Clippers could have likely made at least a competitive offer for slightly less money with multiple years guaranteed.
Hopefully, Doc Rivers has other plans for the small forward position and knew that letting Green go was a necessary part of his plan. The Clippers met with Green in Miami last night and have reportedly been in touch with him, so it seems unlikely that they could be caught completely off guard by this announcement.
Now, the Clippers' options just become a little more limited than they were before: if they choose to stay the course, they'll only be able to re-sign Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford before using the seemingly-worthless mid-level exception and minimum deals to find two rotation-level small forwards and a backup center. If they choose to create cap room, losing Jeff Green's 14 million dollar cap hold was the first and biggest step, but they'll need to let go of Jamal Crawford's $10.8M cap hold as well in order to create any real space. Then, they'd be able to add a better free agent than the MLE would give them, but they'd lose another rotation piece in a situation where it's becoming clear that the Clippers will struggle to find quality depth for next season.
If the Clippers go the cap room route, they'll have options like Marvin Williams and Luol Deng, but they could easily be beaten out by higher bidders. Otherwise, there aren't a lot of options and they could be left splitting their cap room and using their room MLE to add or bring back lower-level players, like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Wesley Johnson, and Cole Aldrich. They've also registered interest in free agent wings such as James Ennis and Alan Anderson.