Just a couple days into free agency (July 2), it was reported that the Clippers were re-signing wing Rodney McGruder to a 3 year, $15 million deal. Since that time, it has been revealed that the third year of his contract is non-guaranteed, making it all the better in terms of flexibility and as a trade asset. The Clippers added McGruder off waivers at the very end of the 2018-2019 season: even though he was not eligible to play in the postseason, they were able to re-sign him using his bird rights. Overall, everything about his situation on the Clippers indicates just how clever their front office has become. Here are some of our staffers’ thoughts (and grades) on the McGruder deal.
Shapan Debnath: B+
On the surface, this seems like an “A” type of deal, rooted in fairly shrewd management dating back to last season, with flexibility on that third year for a player that has had experience starting in the league. All the highlights I’ve seen seem to imply someone that can contribute to this team as a backup, but I’ll be honest and say I haven’t seen enough McGruder for me to grade much more than what I think in theory is a great pickup. But I’ll be watching him closely in this season’s infancy.
Chris Murch: B+
McGruder seems like a perfect fit for the Clippers. He’s a scrappy, tough, athletic, defensive-minded player who can hold his own on the offensive end. McGruder also fits the Clipper mold of the overlooked and under-appreciated. He was waived by the Heat, despite averaging career highs in points, assists and rebounds last year, and went undrafted. He will be an integral part of the 2nd unit next season, and there will be some “Rodney” games where he helps turn the tides of a game. Also, can someone start working on photoshopping his head onto Will Forte’s MacGruber character?
Thomas Wood: B
McGruder is a plug-and-play rotation option with three years of experience in a similarly communal Miami Heat system. Capable wings in their prime are rarely inexpensive; the numbers on McGruder’s deal are inoffensive and will look better if his three-point percentage creeps back up. As has been noted, his non-guaranteed third year should make him trade-handy should the need arise. Solid player, decent value. Doing good business has become the Clippers’ norm.
Kenneth Armstrong: B+
The deal, according to my limited knowledge of the cap and all that stuff, seems good for the Clippers since the third year is not guaranteed. The Clippers likewise maneuvered themselves well by getting McGruder at the very end of last season so they could retain him for the future. He’s a good player and the Clippers were thoughtful with their signing of him. Works for me.
Robert Flom: A-
Rodney McGruder is not a great NBA player. He is, however, a perfectly competent rotation player on a good team, and offers value on both sides of the floor. On offense, McGruder is a fine outside shooter (34.8% per game) who will get far cleaner looks with the Clippers than he ever did with the Heat. He doesn’t get to the foul line much, and is not a playmaker per se, but he moves the ball and rarely makes mistakes. Most of Rodney’s value will come defensively — despite being only 6’4 and possessing an average wingspan, McGruder is a tenacious defender who can guard players both somewhat larger and smaller than himself. He’s not anywhere near an All-Defense level defender, but guys who can switch 1-3 are valuable, and McGruder can do that much. As the backup shooting guard (if Landry Shamete starts) or backup small forward (if JaMychal Green does), he should fit in perfectly next to Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Moe Harkless.
Three years, $15 million is a reasonable deal for such a player, especially one (as noted above) that fits in snugly with the Clippers’ culture. And that’s even before going into the details of how the Clippers picked him up cleverly on the waiver wire to obtain his bird rights, or their negotiation of a non-guarantee on the third year of his deal. This was great work by the front office to bring in a guy who should play a small, yet important role in the Clippers’ fortunes this year.