What should the Los Angeles Clippers do in the NBA Free Agency?


Kyrie Irving is with Brooklyn. Kevin Durant, for now, is too. Deandre Ayton, Jalen Brunson and other middleweight free agents await their fate with free agency beyond the horizon. How could the Los Angeles Clippers get involved? Let’s take a nice long look.

When does free agency start?

Don’t tell Adam Silver or literally anyone familiar with NBA legal proceedings, but about four weeks ago. And I’m playing low.

In all seriousness, teams are technically allowed to contact free agent players beginning Thursday at 6 pm ET (3 pm PT). So expect to hear a lot from the news bosses: Woj, Shams, Haynes, Fischer, others (more on that later), beginning at about 6:01. Or 5:59. I’m sure there is support somewhere on DraftKings or the dark web. They have on it.


That’s when you’ll find out about quite a few offers; most will be announced soon after it is legally appropriate for them to be discussed for the first time. But the contracts cannot be made official until July 1. That’s why you hear so much that July 1 is when free agency begins.

Get it? I understand? Me neither. Good.

In terms of financial details, what are we seeing in terms of money?

That’s how ESPN’s NBA Front Office Insider, and Marist College alumnus; go Red Foxes: Bobby Marks described it all in April:

The trade with Portland to acquire Norman Powell and Robert Covington added not only long-term payroll, but also an additional $19 million luxury tax penalty.

The trade also showed that despite the draft’s limited resources, there are other avenues to improve the roster. The Clippers have four players next season who will earn between $11.2 million and $16.8 million (Powell, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Marcus Morris). They also have two valuable trade exceptions of $9.7 million and $8.3 million.

The Clippers have a $160 million salary and a $17.9 million tax bill before free agency begins. They will have the mid-tier tax exemption of $6.4 million.

And here are other resources the Clippers have that can help them build the roster:

  • Business exceptions: $9.7 million and $8.3 million
  • Exception: median tax level of $6.3M
  • 7 second-round picks in the next 7 years
  • Cash: $6.3M to send or receive in one trade

What is happening on June 29? alias today?

Forward Nicolás Batum has until this date to exercise the $3.3 million player option on his contract. Naturally, sources have said that Batum plans to turn down his option, but wants to stay with the Clippers. Now, if the option is declined, he can sign a new contract for up to $10.9 million, but it has to be at least a two-year deal and the second year can’t come with an option attached.

Also required to happen by June 29: Offer Jay Scrubb ($1.8 million) and Amir Coffey ($1.9 million) a one-year qualifying offer. Scrubb was selected in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft, 55th overall, notably three picks ahead of B-Ball Paul Reed, and has missed more than 90 games due to two surgeries on his right foot. .

Coffey, on the other hand, has rights to Bird and the Clippers don’t have to resort to their mid-tier tax break to find a long-term deal. Coffey was a pleasant surprise in 2021-22, starting 29 games and averaging 12.6 points while shooting efficiently. He should be back. scrub? Who will tell?

What have the Clippers already done?

Let’s go one by one here, detailing all the parameters and reasons for the moves that have at least been reported so far, in the order they were reported.

June 28th: Ivica Zubac has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $33 million extension. “The Clippers declined a $7.5 million team option on Zubac’s contract, paving the way to negotiate a new deal for Zubac, who is the longest-serving player on the roster,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote. Zubac had his most productive NBA season with the Clippers a year ago, averaging career bests of 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds.

Zubac, as you may recall, was the prize acquisition in a plucking of the local rival Lakers, and in 2021-22 he averaged 10.3 points, 85 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. The deal, for all intents and purposes, was a done deal: His team turned down their own option to bring him back with a raise.

By the athletic‘s Law Murray, “He has been praised for his leadership as well as his potential by his teammates, coaches and front office staff. The only surprise may be the fact that the Clippers committed more than $10 million a year to a player who can fit the floor in the money season, or even to regularly close games. But Zubac has earned this contract with his durability, constant improvement on the court and strong intangibles in the locker room.”

So yes. It’s hard not to extend a guy who’s been a roster staple for four seasons, and the Clippers’ brass by all accounts love the big boys in the center of their frontcourt. Now, if only they could find another backup for him.

June 27th: After agreeing to a buyout with the Houston Rockets, John Wall reportedly plans to sign with the LA Clippers.

Uhhhhhh… I think I heard 29 other teams yell, “Objection, your honor?”

Well, it’s hard to explain, but when it comes to types of purchases, these deals can be made pretty quickly. Yes, there were discussions behind the scenes that only Woj can discover through his sources. He even tried to hide some things in a follow-up tweet.

This is a fancy way of saying, “I pressed send too hard earlier. it’s not done even, I promise. But it will be when it is allowed. Which is exactly what it cost the Miami Heat a second-round pick because of their handling of the Kyle Lowry signing last summer. But c’est la vie in the NBA.

“Wall, who was owed $47.4 million by the Rockets after exercising a player option for the final year of his contract, has agreed to take $6.5 million less to become a free agent,” a source told ESPN. That is roughly the amount of the mid-tier taxpayer exception Wall could receive once he is able to negotiate a deal with the Clippers,” Wojnarowski wrote.

Wall will immediately fit into the Clippers’ scheme, even though his last nearly full season was, check notes, 2016-17. Oh! But placing Wall alongside the two Los Angeles stars is, to say the least, a tempting idea. Let’s see how he goes.

What are your greatest needs?

The good news for the Clippers? They don’t have many real needs. His roster is a championship contender on paper; It’s always been a health thing, ever since Kawhi Leonard and Paul George came along. Perhaps a backup second center, a real point guard or an additional scorer would serve as a jolt to an otherwise unexciting offseason. But sometimes, it’s better to be boring. God knows they will be anything but once the next season starts.

How will you address these needs? Better yet, can you?

Honestly, the ideal course of action for the Clippers might be to stand their ground beyond what they’ve supposedly already done. If they can somehow bring back Nicolas Batum and Amir Coffey (both of which are likely), you can count the offseason a win.

However, bringing back Isaiah Hartenstein should be the number one priority. He had a breakout season last year off the bench for the Clippers and made a splash in the team’s shortened rotation as the season progressed. He averaged 8.3 points per game and shot 62.6 percent from the floor, changing what was once an official’s narrative as he became a prominent backup.

The problem: LA only has Non-Bird rights, which doesn’t allow the team to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him, over Hartenstein, so bringing him back could be a tall order. Even taller than him. The Clippers could use their $6.4 million mid-tier taxpayer exception to make you a competitive offer. But if they choose to give up their single room with Hartenstein, they’ll be looking for a mid-tier target in the market.

The Clippers weren’t planning on being a big player this offseason, so it’s not worth worrying about who’s coming or going, since in all likelihood, their activity is muted. Losing Hartenstein may be the biggest punch in the gut, should it ever happen. But a championship, something within their grasp, if all goes well, is the best medicine in basketball.