As August begins and the free agency excitement dulls, we take a look back and evaluate the Clippers’ free agency moves and what it means for the team going forward.
Trading Austin Rivers for Gortat
The free agency frenzy began by trading 26-year-old guard Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for Marcin Gortat. With a surplus of guards and Deandre Jordan all but gone, the move was a no-brainer. By moving Rivers, who produced his most impressive season in 2017-2018 (15.1 PPG, 4.0 APG, 42.4 FG%), the Clippers were able to get a starter caliber center on an expiring contract, which allows them to stay competitive while maintaining financial flexibility for next year’s free agency.
Acquiring defense-savvy players
A lot was surprised by the signing of veteran guard Avery Bradley to a 2yr/$25M contract, with only the first year guaranteed. Bradley, who played only 6 games last season as a Clipper, has a reputation for being of the league’s most intimidating on-ball defender. The Clippers also brought back forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who was a starter and the main stopper for the Clippers during the 2016-2017 season. Mbah a Moute, 31, cemented himself as a valuable 3-and-D player and was an instrumental piece in the Rockets’ roster in his lone season with them. These acquisitions, along with 2x All-Defensive Team guard Patrick Beverley, make up for a formidable defensive line on the perimeter.
After averaging 11.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG on 64% shooting, with an impressive per 36 minutes stats of 23.3 PPG and 8.5 RPG in his debut season with the team, the Clippers re-signed Montrezl Harrel, 24, for $12M over 2 years. At only 6’8, the undersized center became a fan favorite during the Clippers’ playoff chase by providing much-needed hustle and energy off the bench.
Trust OUR Process
With all these offseason signings, it’s clear that the Clippers have no plan on tanking for high draft picks. Instead, they hope to surprise the league with a combination of promising young talents in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson and 2-way player Angel Delgado; league-tested veterans in Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams; and a potential star and franchise player in Tobias Harris, who turned down a 4yr/$80M extension in hopes of securing a max contract next summer.
Despite all the calls to doing otherwise, staying competitive makes sense. With the contracts of Mbah a Moute, Gortat, Scott, Marjanovic, Teodosic, Johnson, Beverley and Dekker all expiring next summer, the Clippers project to have at least $51,000,000 in cap space next season. If the young core’s performance exceeds expectations, it could open the doors to signing big names in the 2019 free agency such as Kawhi Leonard, who’s preference to LA makes getting him more of a possibility than a reach, as well as Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler.
Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
All stats and figures taken from basketball-reference.com