The Clippers signed Milos Teodosic to a 2 year, $12.3 million deal last summer, but the second year came with a caveat: only one-third of the $6.3 million was guaranteed up until midnight on July 15, at which point the rest of the contract became guaranteed for the next season. Well, midnight has come and gone (on the east coast, which is when NBA dates almost always apply), and Milos is still on the roster, so his deal is now the full $6.3 million for next season.
A few weeks ago, this didn’t seem like a likely option. By drafting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, the Clippers invested heavily in two young guards, adding more players who need minutes to an already guard-heavy roster. Re-signing Avery Bradley soon into free agency seemed to make Milos’ return even less likely. And it is still possible that Milos is dealt before the start of the season. While his contract is less enticing now, it’s also substantially larger, making it more useful in multi-player deals for a big piece (Kawhi Leonard comes to mind). This does, however, seem to rule out a simple waive of Milos, as the Clippers have several players on cheaper deals who also provide less to the team (Sam Dekker and CJ Williams being the most obvious names).
With Milos guaranteed, the Clippers now have 17 players with contracts for next season, not counting two-way player Angel Delgado or restricted free agents Tyrone Wallace and Montrezl Harrell. That’s two too many, and it still seems that Harrell will be coming back, meaning at least three players would have to go sometime before the Clippers’ first regular season game.
Again, Milos could well be traded before then, but the players who now appear more likely to be gone are the aforementioned Dekker and Williams, as well as second-year guard Jawun Evans, who had a rough Summer League. Those three are all on smaller deals than Milos, and would provide less to the Clippers next season in terms of wins, though all are younger than Milos, Jawun and Sam substantially so. Still, the Clippers seem to be all aboard the “compete for the playoffs” train, and if so, keeping Milos certainly makes sense. While his defense was abominable and he missed almost half the season with injuries, Milos is the best passer on the Clippers, and one of the best shooters. They are a better team with him in the rotation.
However, Milos sticking around does shove the Clippers’ rookies out of immediate rotation minutes. Unless one of Jerome or Shai is good enough in camp to push past Milos, Pat Beverley, Lou Williams, or Avery Bradley, they are unlikely to see regular minutes to start the season, at least at the guard positions (either could feasibly play in three-guard lineups off the bench). This isn’t ideal (I would like for the rooks to get minutes right away), but it makes sense if the Clippers really are going to push hard for a playoff spot.
Again, the Clippers could still trade Milos, but he is now much more likely to be a member of the team on opening night.