Patrick Beverley had been the longest-tenured Clipper ever since the team traded away Lou Williams back in March, the lone player remaining from the Chris Paul trade of 2017.
Now Beverley, Daniel Oturu, and Rajon Rondo — the player acquired in that Williams trade earlier this year — are all on their way out. The Clippers traded the trio to Memphis in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, who started his career in Los Angeles as the 18th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The trade was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Los Angeles Clippers are trading Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Eric Bledsoe, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 16, 2021
At first blush, this seems like a trade to help clear up roster spots for the Clippers. The team had 17 players under contract and now drops that number to 15 by trading three for one. One of those players is Yogi Ferrell, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, so that leaves the Clippers some additional opportunities for maneuvering, for example, if they want to promote Amir Coffey to the big league team.
There are also financial considerations at play. The Clippers shed $30 million in luxury tax payments because Bledsoe makes about $5 million less than the combined salaries of Beverley, Rondo, and Oturu. Under the ownership of Steve Ballmer, that shouldn’t be a motivator to make a deal. However, this does create a traded player exception worth $8.3 million, per reporting from Bobby Marks of ESPN. That gives the Clippers to acquire a player midseason who is making that much or less without sending out matching salary, like Seth Curry or P.J. Tucker.
Rondo and Oturu never made much of an impression on the Clippers in their brief stints, but Beverley fundamentally impacted the culture in L.A. This is a changing of the guard for this franchise.