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Forbes--Could The Clippers Be On The Cusp Of Forming The Next Superteam?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Clips/Roxfan, May 20, 2019.

  1. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
    Likes Received:

    Jared Johnson Contributor SportsMoney


    For the second year in a row the Clippers dealt away their best player at the trade deadline (Tobias Harris) and still wound up making the playoff, pushing the defending champs to six games and finishing the regular season with a 48-34 record in a tough Western Conference. This Clippers’ front office has really turned a corner since Lawrence Frank was elevated to President of Basketball Operations, and their ability to stay relevant without any All-Stars will give them a strong starting pitch when they meet with free agents this summer.

    The Clippers may have had one of the most impressively constructed teams this past season with about half of their roster qualifying as “underpaid,” and literally every “overpaid” guy will be coming off the books this summer – granting the Clippers around $53 million in cap space to work with during free agency.

    To define the terms overpaid and underpaid, Forbes uses a method, indebted to Southern Utah University economist David Berri, in which we multiply a player’s Wins Estimate Average by the average cost of a win. For more explicit definitions of how the terms are defined, check out Brett Knight’s recent column breaking down the most overpaid and underpaid players around the league.

    This will be an extremely important summer for the Clippers, as they currently look like the most competent team in Los Angeles with the Lakers descending into seemingly never-ending chaos and dysfunction, so they will have a legitimate shot at going after the top-tier guys during free agency: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, etc.

    The Clippers could also swing for the fences by trading away Danilo Gallinari and his $22.6 million contract prior to July 1, which would give L.A. enough cap space to fill two max roster spots this offseason.

    So what impact players will be at the core of the Clippers free agency pitch this summer? Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams (underpaid at $8 million), Most Improved Player candidate Montrezl Harrell (underpaid at $6 million) and the impressive rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet will all be back with the club on team-friendly deals. They also have a championship-proven coach in Doc Rivers, Jerry West’s brilliant mind and deal-making prowess, and an opulent, endorsement heavy culture in Los Angeles.

    They do have one tough decision to make this summer, and that will be whether or not to bring back Patrick Beverley. Beverley’s numbers don’t often jump off the page, but his gritty and fearless approach to defense tends to become contagious, and his mere presence installs a certain culture on the team that simply cannot be recreated by many players. He served as an excellent tutor for rookie SGA this past season, and he’s certainly proven that he’s capable of playing in a key role on a winning team; the problem will be if the Clippers can even afford him.

    Based on our data, Beverley performed like a $19.6 million player this past season despite only pulling in $5 million, and while he’s certainly better than a $5 million player – to award him a salary in the $19 million range would be a bit much. He can hit open shots when they're presented to him, but he can also go through prolonged cold stretches on offense, and the 30-year-old, hard-nosed point guard has had some difficulty staying on the court throughout his career. He certainly fits in with the Clippers, but if a small market team comes in and attempts to steal him away with a poison pill-type contract, it may be best for the Clippers to let him walk and keep their options open during free agency.

    Obviously, The Clippers No. 1 target this summer will be Kawhi Leonard, as the two sides have already expressed mutual interest, and they may be able to put together the strongest pitch in order to lure him away from Toronto. Not only is the weather on average, shall we say, much more “tourist friendly” in Los Angeles, but they also have a proven and competent front office staff that could easily catapult the team to contending status by pairing Leonard with another superstar.

    The question is how much does Leonard want to be the guy on his team? Would he accept playing alongside someone who will command the ball as much as Kevin Durant? Or would he prefer to work alongside a less usage-heavy teammate such as Klay Thompson or Khris Middleton. The Clippers will have the money to go after all these guys, and while they could have a shot of pairing KD and Kawhi, I have the feeling that Thompson and Middleton won’t be going anywhere. Reading the tea leaves, it would seem that Durant could be available this summer, but it’s questionable if he’d be open to joining a west coast rival that would meet up with his former club at least four times a season. Still, from management’s perspective, if you have the chance to sign both Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard; you obviously do so.

    Now, if the Clippers miss out on both Durant and Leonard, they could shift their focus to someone like Kyrie Irving, who may have worn out his welcome in Boston after an up-and-down two-year stint. SGA can play at either guard spot so he would be comfortable working alongside Irving, and he could also help make up for some of Kyrie’s deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor. They could also attempt to pair Jimmy Butler with Irving, as Butler is another guy who has in the past expressed interest in Los Angeles, although Butler is a somewhat risky free agent target.

    Sure, Butler plays like a max contract guy when he’s on the floor, but he is a bit injury prone, and awarding him a four-year deal this summer means he will be on the books until he’s 34. That’s a risky proposition for a guy with as much mileage (and baggage) as Jimmy Buckets.

    No matter how this all plays out, we’re sure to see some fireworks this summer during free agency, and Los Angeles has been involved in a lot of rumors that would suggest they’ll be at the forefront of the explosions.

  2. rocketman12

    rocketman12 Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Some of y’all hate the Warriors. The Warriors can win the next 10 championships and It won’t bother me. I hate the clippers for some reason and I hope they never win a title.

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