LA Clippers' Top Free-Agent Target at Every Position
After being dispatched by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers’ sights are now set on July 1 and free agency. The Clippers have various needs, including a starting shooting guard, a wing defender, a stretch power forward and another defensive center.
All this not including decisions to be made by Chris Paul, on if he will return to the team or not, and what the Clippers will do with Eric Bledsoe. To make things even more complicated, the Clippers will likely only be armed with the mid-level exception if Chris Paul re-signs.
With so many needs and a small amount of money available, deciding who the Clippers should target in free agency is quite complicated
Point Guard: C.J. Watson
The Los Angeles Clippers will have a decision to make on Eric Bledsoe this summer. Should Chris Paul re-sign, there is a strong possibility Los Angeles opts to trade the electric guard in order to upgrade another position on the roster.
Regardless, Watson should be a top target, especially due to his solid defense and ability to hit from the perimeter. The Clippers need more shooters on the roster in order to help spread the floor for Paul and Blake Griffin.
Watson had a marginal season with the Brooklyn Nets and could be in the Clippers’ salary range at either the veteran’s minimum or using a small slice of the mid-level exception.
Shooting Guard: Tony Allen
The one area the Clippers desperately need to improve is on the wing, starting with their perimeter defense. Tony Allen will likely be a priority free agent for most teams looking to improve there as well.
Allen, who was named to the All-NBA first team this season, has consistently been a thorn in the side of Chris Paul over the past two seasons. He is an excellent defender, holding opposing shooting guards to a PER of 11.8 this past season, according to 82games.com.
Additionally, Allen can play both shooting guard and small forward, jumps into passing lanes as well as anyone and rebounds the ball well. Signing Allen would solve a major problem in the Clippers' rotation.
Small Forward: Matt Barnes
Not only did he have a career year with the Los Angeles Clippers, but he also provided the energy, defense and shooting the team needed off the bench. Chris Paul helped recruit him to the team late last summer and will likely do so again.
The only thing standing in the way of Barnes returning to the Clippers is how much his asking price is. Barnes played for the veteran’s minimum this season and is well deserving of a raise. Considering the Clippers are only armed with the mid-level exception and do not have Bird rights on Barnes, the only way to sign him is to convince him to leave money on the table and re-sign for a bit over the minimum or spend a good amount of the mid-level exception on him.
Should his asking price be too much, the Clippers could easily turn to Kyle Korver. He would provide the team with a long-range sniper to spread the floor around either unit.
Power Forward: Marreese Speights
The Los Angeles Clippers have needed a big who can stretch the floor since drafting Blake Griffin. Their inability to provide Chris Paul and Griffin with a spread floor allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to lock on defensively against their pick-and-roll sets.
Adding a player like Speights, who can also rebound the ball very well, would add a much-needed dimension to the Clippers offense. It would finally give Paul a pick-and-pop man on the roster, which would then allow Blake to work in the paint one-on-one when Speights is on the floor.
Center: Al Jefferson
The Clippers do not have enough cap space to make an offer to Al Jefferson, but they do have the pieces to acquire him via trade. The Utah Jazz are in desperate need of a point guard, and the Los Angeles Clippers have one of the most sought-after point guards on the market in Eric Bledsoe.
A deal involving Bledsoe, Caron Butler and Grant Hill for Al Jefferson and the 21st pick in the draft could entice both teams. Bledsoe would give Utah their point guard of the future, while Caron Butler provides wing depth for the season, not to mention Hill and Butler’s contracts both expire next summer.
Jefferson would provide the Clippers with the type of inside scoring they currently lack. For as great as Blake Griffin is, the team is unable to throw the ball to him in the post late in the shot clock and expect him to get an easy look. Jefferson would provide the Clippers that luxury and would also take some of the defensive focus off Griffin.
Furthermore, this would also allow the Clippers to trade DeAndre Jordan in order to upgrade on the wing, or hold on to him as their defensive center off the bench.