Well then, this has been somewhat of a hectic few days as far as the Los Angeles Clippers are concerned. They’re reportedly the front-runners to sign John Wall once he hits the open market after his buyout, they’ve reached an agreement to a brand new three-year contract extension with Ivica Zubac, and it seems like the news and rumors are continuing to pour in.
The team is currently at 11 guaranteed contracts for next season after the Zubac extension, but those final four spots are among the most interesting to watch primarily because two of them could belong to players who played massive roles on the team last season.
THREE MORE YEARS OF NICO?
It seems like an open secret at this point, but mostly every notable NBA insider is banking on forward Nicolas Batum returning to the Clippers once free agency is set to begin. Count Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer among them:
Nicolas Batum, for example, is believed to be headed towards a three-year, $30 million deal to stay with the Clippers.
This would be a coup for the Clippers. It’d allow them to retain their most important remaining free agent and keep the roster continuity going. Batum has been a godsend for the Clippers, and coach Tyronn Lue would assuredly be thrilled to have his French Army Knife back.
When accounting for the money that the Charlotte Hornets are still paying him, Batum could be slated to earn roughly $19 million next season. That’s not too bad for a guy who some people thought was pretty much done in the league prior to his revival in Los Angeles.
HOME IS WHERE THE HART(ENSTEIN) IS?
There’s been some skepticism in regards to whether or not the Clippers, as a result of them reportedly paving way for John Wall to receive the taxpayer mid-level exception, would be able to retain the services of backup center Isaiah Hartenstein. However, they might not be completely out on him.
According to Jake Fischer, there’s a chance Hartenstein returns to the Clippers on a minimum (emphasis mine):
With John Wall likely heading to the Clippers at the taxpayer mid-level, that could leave Isaiah Hartenstein with more lucrative offers, like the non-taxpayer mid-level from Chicago. The Bulls have been linked to various rim-protecting centers, but Chicago is expected to preserve room and not offer the full $10.1 million. And while Hartenstein has been increasingly linked to the Magic, the 24-year-old could theoretically stick around with Los Angeles on the cheap and be rewarded later.
While this is just a “theoretical” pull from Fischer, it’s not that crazy of a thought. After all, point guard Reggie Jackson did a similar thing with the Clippers before receiving a two-year contract, via Early Bird rights, that handsomely rewarded him for his resurgence. And, as you saw in the previous section, there’s a growing belief Nicolas Batum will do a similar thing.
Should Hartenstein bet on himself — and, as a reminder, he has bet on himself already by declining guaranteed money from the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason in order to compete for a roster spot on the Clippers — then he could enter the 2023 offseason looking at a bigger payday from the Clippers than he can presently get at the moment. It is a risky proposition, though.
2023 NBA TITLE ODDS
According to the latest DraftKings odds for the 2023 NBA champion, there’s a tie at the top between the Golden State Warriors, the current reigning champs, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Both are tabbed at +550. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics (+600) and Milwaukee Bucks (+650) round out the top four. The next-highest Western Conference team, the Phoenix Suns (+900), doesn’t appear until sixth on the list.
This probably shouldn’t be too shocking. After all, the Warriors are the defending champs and the Clippers appear poised to compete for a title thanks to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (hopefully) being healthy. The Clippers and Warriors are also tied for the best odds to win the Western Conference, both sitting at +290.
LASTLY, A POLL QUESTION ...
With the John Wall signing looking to be on the way, it brings about two very important questions. Firstly, how much does it actually help the Clippers on the court? After all, and this does need to be mentioned, Wall has only played 40 games over the last three seasons.
But a second question that matters is, just how much do fans actually like the move? We’d love to hear your opinion in the poll below. Don’t forget to vote!