The Clippers have already made their biggest moves of the offseason by trading for Luke Kennard, signing Serge Ibaka, and retaining Marcus Morris Sr. They have limited flexibility to improve their roster at this point, but some needs still need to be addressed.
Let’s take a deeper look at the team the Clippers have assembled thus far to see where they should use their resources to improve their chances in the 2020-21 season. As a reminder, the team still has the biannual exception remaining, which is worth $3.6 million. They also have two small trade exceptions for $1.4 million and $3.5 million created by trading away Derrick Walton Jr. and Jerome Robinson, respectively, last season.
At the guard spot, Patrick Beverley and Paul George remain the two starters. Lou Williams and Kennard will back them up, with Kennard as the point and Williams as the off-ball guard. Terance Mann also figures to get some minutes and is already the best defender of the bench players in just his second season. Those five Clippers should be able to handle all of the guard minutes, even if George occasionally slides over to small forward.
On the wing, Kawhi Leonard will start at the three. His backup is essentially George, though Amir Coffey could earn some time now that two-way players are allowed to be with the NBA team more frequently during the shortened season. Jay Scrubb, another wing, is also going to be on a two-way, but it’s unreasonable to expect him to make a contribution in his rookie season. This is a place where the Clippers could use some reinforcements, ideally a combo forward who can toggle between multiple positions.
LA should check on Glenn Robinson III, or even take a flier on Andre Roberson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for some wing depth. They should also be prepared to swoop in if Trevor Ariza or Nic Batum become available on the buyout market.
In the frontcourt, Morris and Ivica Zubac will presumably start at the four and five. Ibaka can back up both of them, though he’s played almost exclusively at center over the past two seasons. Patrick Patterson would most likely be the second-unit power forward. Daniel Oturu and Mfiondu Kabengele are also young centers off the bench, and at this moment, Joakim Noah and Justin Patton are still on the roster.
That’s a lot of fives and potentially only two power forwards (and the Clippers would rather not rely on Patterson for heavy minutes) if it turns out Ibaka can no longer match up at that position. Consequently, this is another place where the Clippers could use an extra body. Ersan Ilyasova could be an interesting candidate a the four given his shooting, but he presents a lot of challenges defensively. Beyond him, the list of available forwards is bleak.
The Clippers could just decide that they’ll convert Ibaka back to a four during the regular season and not add another big, instead using their final roster spot on Reggie Jackson, for example, after he filled in capably last year. It might be prudent to take multiple chances on a wing in the event one doesn’t pan out.
What position do you think the Clippers should address with their final roster spots? Who should they specifically target? Let us know in the comments.
More news for Tuesday:
- The Pope met with five NBA players in the Vatican to talk about social issues yesterday. This is a story you simply have to read.
- The L.A. Times asked executives around the league about the trade value of the three players on the Clippers: Zubac, Beverley, and Williams.
- Ben Cohen wrote about shooters cashing in during NBA free agency. Could Kennard be on this list next season?
- NBA teams have been notified that only 50 individuals will be allowed in the practice facility at the same time. More coronavirus protocols are to come.
- John Hollinger notes that Oturu has some power in dictating his contract with the Clippers despite being a second-round pick.