As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, figuring out the Clippers’ roster needs this summer is a tricky endeavor. No matter what happens, however, the Clippers are likely to be in the market for a wing that can play both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Using the mini-Mid-Level Exception, they can offer one free agent a 3-year, $15,354,800 contract. It isn’t much under an inflated salary cap that saw Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers each get 8 figures last summer, and it’s actually less than the Clippers gave Wesley Johnson a year ago, but it’s still their only opportunity to add a free agent on an above-minimum deal.
It’s always tricky—and subjective—to figure out what free agents will be available at a given price point. Some guys are going to be massively underpaid, and some valuable players will fall through the cracks and be available for small, short-term deals. Regardless, the players available to the Clippers this summer won’t be without their warts. With that being said, here are a few potential options at the Clippers’ price point:
Allen’s shortcomings are well-documented: he’s now 35 years old, injury prone, and he still can’t shoot. But he’s a tough, gritty veteran who can still defend at a high level. Would it shock anyone if Doc Rivers targeted him? Perhaps the biggest drawback is his size: at just 6’4”, Allen would be an underwhelming small forward, but he’d definitely get minutes there. He’d be a disappointing usage of the team’s only above-minimum contract, and Chris Paul would have to forgive him for #FACEKICK.
Sefolosha makes a lot more sense for the Clippers here, while still falling within Doc Rivers’ typical target range. At 33, Sefolosha is past his prime, but he’s still capable of contributing at both wing positions. His shooting (34% from deep each of the last two years) is sub-par but still scores ahead of Allen, and at 6’7” he’s a more comfortable choice at small forward. Thabo is, of course, best known for spending just over 5 seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder as the starting shooting guard between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
If the Clippers decide to go with a younger option, they could give McLemore a chance to remain in California. The Sacramento Kings have the option to extend a qualifying offer to McLemore and make him a restricted free agent, but if they decide to move on from the inconsistent shooting guard, he could be available on the cheap. At 24, he has a lot of room to improve, and his bird rights down the line would be more valuable than for the ancient free agents above him on this list. Still, he doesn’t quite have the size to play small forward, he’s struggled to find his way during four years in the NBA, and at such a low price point, the Kings might just choose to keep him anyway.
If the Clippers are to swing a deal for Carmelo Anthony (and possibly Courtney Lee), they might as well pursue his Knick teammate in Justin Holiday. The 28-year-old wing has a little more size to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions, and he’s coming off of the best year of his career—7.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game in 20 minutes a night. He played in all 82 games and shot 36% from beyond the arc. If he could replicate that level of production while soaking up 20 minutes a game as a backup, he’d be a nice cog in the Clippers’ rotation, which is about all you can ask for at $5 million a year.