Per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the Clippers are re-signing guard Avery Bradley to a 2 year, $25 million contract. This is somewhat of a surprise, as the Clippers drafted two guards in the NBA Draft a couple weeks back, and just traded Austin Rivers, ostensibly to clear room for the rookies. Lucas wrote an in-depth article about Bradley and all the choices surrounding him a few days ago, and it is well worth your time to re-read now.
Bradley is a 27-year old guard who played in just six games for the Clippers after coming over from the Pistons, as his season was cut short early by a sports hernia. Known for his tough on-ball defense and ability to hit three-pointers, Bradley is a bit of an odd fit in the current NBA. He’s small for a two-guard, and is therefore mostly useful defensively guarding point guards. On offense, however, he plays off-ball, so he preferably should be paired with a large point guard who can cover larger players for him defensively while also handling the ball. This could theoretically be either Jerome Robinson or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, though it’s unlikely either would start over Pat Beverley were he still on the roster come opening night.
If Bradley stays on the Clippers through the summer, he will undoubtedly help them win a few games next year. He’s a competent NBA player, and will almost certainly be better than either Jerome or Shai in their rookie seasons (excepting a Donovan Mitchell-esque eruption). Still, he’s not a difference maker, and he also blocks the Clippers’ brightest hopes of the future from getting extended minutes next season, so this is a curious move. It’s possible this is a prelude to a Kawhi Leonard deal, as he’d make much more sense on a veteran contending team than on a rebuilding squad or even a team struggling for the playoffs.
The final issue is Bradley’s contract. In a summer when players have been going cheaply and for just a single year, signing Bradley to an above-MLE contract for multiple seasons seems like an overpay. Additionally, the Clippers have been preaching for months about clearing cap room for the summer of 2019, which would seem to imply that Bradley’s 2nd year is either a team option or is non-guaranteed. If so, the deal looks a whole lot better, though the optics are still puzzling. If it isn’t, this is a pretty baffling deal barring Bradley’s being included in a trade in the coming weeks, as it blocks them from having two max-salary spots next summer. Even if Bradley plays well this year and rehabs some of the value he lost last season, I can’t imagine him having much value as a rental at the trade deadline, though it’s possible there are teams out there who value him highly.
Regardless, Bradley is now back on the Clippers, and will be slotted in as their starting shooting guard. At the very least, he and Beverley (should Bev not be traded) will be a force on the defensive end next year.
Sources: Free agent Avery Bradley has agreed to a 2 year, $25M deal with the Clippers.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2018