Just as a reminder, the Clippers signed guard Avery Bradley to a 2 year, $24 million contract, but with only a small guarantee ($2 million) on the second year. Here are our thoughts on that deal.
Kenneth Armstrong: B-
Bradley comes back at a fairly reasonable price, given that he is a veteran and an elite defender. And the deal’s structure, having the second year be a team option and not fully guaranteed, helps the Clipper maintain the flexibility they will need next offseason. Bradley’s defensive aptitude can hopefully rub off on Jerome Robinson, who is not known for his defensive skills, to say the least.
This deal also makes a little more sense with the trading of Austin Rivers, which came later in the summer. I might be giving the front office a little too much credit, but the initial outrage over Bradley’s resigning by Clippers fans might have been undeserved, as it seems like the Clippers perhaps knew that they would be finding a way to get rid of Austin and therefore needed to bring back Bradley.
In the end, though, Bradley is not as good or productive as Rivers, nor does he have the upside of the Clippers’ younger guards. And, finally, Bradley is injury prone. Last offseason, Clippers convinced themselves that Gallinari would magically be healthy when he got to LA, which, of course, was not the case. It’s hard not to think that the Clippers fell for it again and are walking into another predictably disappointing contract.
Shapan Debnath: D
Even with the fact that only a fraction of Bradley’s second year on this contract is guaranteed, I just don’t care for the signing in a litany of ways. Maybe for a win-now team Bradley makes sense, but I’d prefer to see his minutes spread around to our young guns rather than seeing like 3-4 more wins. Very unimpressed with this move, one of the bummers of the summer.
Robert Flom: C-
Avery Bradley is a solid NBA player. He can shoot from three, he’s a dogged perimeter defender, and plays hard. That said, he’s a tricky fit in the modern NBA. At just 6’2, Bradley is point guard sized, yet lacks the passing, playmaking, or ball-handling skills that would enable him to play the position on offense. He’s therefore an undersized two-guard, the issue being that his defense is mostly useful at the point of attack: he’s best guarding point guards. All these limitations make him an especially tough fit on a Clippers’ team that will probably start Pat Beverley at point guard, another tough defensive player that is a bit too small to guard wings regularly. Simply, while Bradley is useful, he’s more of a complementary piece, and one that doesn’t match the puzzle set that is the Clippers’ roster.
More than that, though, I’m just not sure what the big picture plan is with Bradley. While the Clippers want to be competitive and win games this year, and Bradley will help them (at least a little) do so, he’s also a roadblock to the Clippers’ prized rookies getting playing time. I maintain that the Clippers’ best chance to make waves this year (and to attract free agent shine for the future) is a strong rookie campaign by either Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Jerome Robinson. Unfortunately, Bradley’s re-signing - along with the presence of Beverley, Lou Williams, and Milos Teodosic - makes it unlikely that either rook will see many minutes this year, barring injury.
I also find the idea that Bradley could always be flipped at the deadline to a contender somewhat puzzling. If he’s having a strong season, the Clippers would probably want to keep him, unless the rest of the team outside him is in shambles. If he’s injured or struggling, his trade value (even on a team favorable deal) won’t be worth a whole lot. Again, I understand that the Clippers want to win games this year. I just don’t think bringing back Bradley is much a boost in that department, and I dislike the idea of the rookies being so limited in their playing time next year.
Michelle Uzeta: B
I don’t have strong positive or negative feelings on the Avery Bradley re-signing, so I’ll just give it a B.
Bradley has proven himself to be a useful rotation player, but his benefit to the Clippers has yet to be seen. He was having an uninspired season with the Detroit Pistons before coming to Los Angeles in the Blake Griffin trade, and only played six games with the Clippers before undergoing season-ending abdominal surgery in February. In his six games as a Clipper, Bradley averaged 9.2 points on 47.3% shooting, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 27.5 minutes, not far off his career averages of 12.3 points on 43.9% shooting, 3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game.
Bradley has struggled to find his own looks over the years so being paired with a pass-first point guard like Milos Teodosic for portions of games may help him flourish in the 2-guard position. Bradley definitely has the ability to be a consistent double-figure scorer for the Clippers if surrounded by the right players. The 6’2” Bradley is also solid on defense, an area in which many on the Clippers’ current roster are challenged. He has made two NBA All-Defensive teams in his career, first team in 2016 and second team in 2013.
At 27, I fear Bradley may already be on the downside of his career, but I hope to be proven wrong. He and Doc Rivers have good history from Boston; hopefully Doc can help Bradley reclaim those glory days.
Lucas Hann: B
I am not a big Avery Bradley fan, and generally speaking I wish the Clippers had done less this summer to focus on guys who aren’t likely to be a part of the long-term core. With the team already doomed, by my estimation, to a sub-.500 season and lottery appearance, I’d rather go all out and get a higher draft pick while giving the young guys minutes.
The Bradley signing is the one that, for me, makes the most sense value-wise in the long term, which is why his contract will probably get a better mark from me than the deals that Mike Scott and Luc Mbah a Moute signed. The Clippers gave Bradley a two-year deal, with the second year only guaranteed for $2 million. This gives the team another chance to move Bradley at the deadline this year, which they almost did last season--but instead of a 30-game rental for a beat up Bradley who had been struggling, they’ll be able to sell teams on essentially a team option for a 2nd year, and hopefully a healthier and more productive player. Even if that falls through, the downside is low--I’d bet that someone would take his expiring deal off of the Clippers’ hands for free next summer if they need to clear space for star free agents. And even if nobody wants him at all, they’ll be able to give a team cash to cover the $2 million and move that money anyway.
That leaves the only real downsides being the opportunity cost that comes with giving Bradley minutes over the Clippers’ younger guards, and the missed opportunity to lose a bunch more games and get a very high draft pick in 2019. That’s pretty manageable if the team believes they have a good shot at turning Avery into a first round pick at the trade deadline. The same can’t be said for the decision to keep Milos Teodosic on the roster for another season.
Max Jeffrey: C+
Well-known for his stellar on-ball defense, Avery Bradley struggled to consistently do anything else very well on the floor for the Clippers last season. His shot selection was pretty questionable, and his inability to switch on defensive assignments could be limiting. Injury was certainly a factor, so we may have yet to see his true potential in a Clippers uniform.
When news broke that Bradley and the Clippers had reached a 2-year/$25 million deal, the grade seemed like it should have been an F. It looked like a massive overpay in a dried-up free agent market, and further-complicated the backcourt logjam the Clippers had. But with basically only year-one guaranteed, the contract is fairly low-risk and could become very tradable by the deadline in February. It’s unclear what his minutes will look like this season, but he is expected to at least help the Clippers remain somewhat competitive while providing some tutelage for the young rookie guards the Clippers acquired in the draft.