With six players set to enter unrestricted free agency on July 1, the Los Angeles Clippers’ front office will be looking to bolster a talented roster with solid veteran additions.
The Clippers' future is unsettled, as much of this summer will be dictated by Chris Paul’s free agency decision. The team’s coaching vacancy as well as revived discussions with the Boston Celtics to acquire Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers and potentially Paul Pierce also bring to light more personnel management and salary-cap ramifications.
LAC has key players like Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford locked up for the foreseeable future. Although DeAndre Jordan is on the books through the 2014-15 season, he could be on his way out if the Celtics’ deal goes through. Prized young backup point guard Eric Bledsoe might also be out of Los Angeles if the Clips can secure Paul’s signature on a contract extension this summer.
Given that the complexion of the roster might be entirely different by opening night, it is challenging to anticipate what sort of major moves the Clips will make this summer. If the Celtics deal goes through, will Los Angeles try to acquire Pierce if he is bought out of his current contract? Will rumors of a Bledsoe swap for Orlando Magic swingman Arron Afflalo come to fruition if Paul re-signs?
If the Clips build an instant contender and another superteam, will veterans take a pay cut to chase a ring? Over the last couple seasons, both Shane Battier and Ray Allen, among others, have taken smaller contracts in pursuit of a ring.
As a result of these scenarios, we will focus on three potential cost-effective signings that could bolster an already-loaded roster.
Significantly, Dalembert is coming off of a down year. Playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, he averaged the fewest rebounds in his career since his rookie season in 2001-02. He saw virtually no postseason action, appearing in just one playoff game in the Bucks’ first-round series against the Miami Heat.
Regardless of whether the Clippers have Jordan, Garnett or someone else starting at center, Los Angeles could benefit from the interior toughness provided by Dalembert.
A career 41.7 percent shooter from downtown, Matt Bonner’s sweet stroke would give the Clippers a dead-eye three-point shooter that could space the floor.
The Red Rocket was paid around $3.6 million this season and has a non-guaranteed contract with the Spurs for roughly $3.95 million next season. Despite the Spurs’ culture of loyalty and player cultivation, Bonner might be let go this summer.
Role players are not immune to the type of security afforded to San Antonio’s big three.
Remember, Stephen Jackson was released after playing 55 games this season to make room for Tracy McGrady. Given the host of three-point shooters in San Antonio such as Gary Neal and Danny Green, Bonner’s services might be dispensable this summer.
Having chased championships with the silver and black for the majority of his career, Bonner might want to continue on a contender. Although he is not the greatest defender, his shooting and championship savvy would be a welcome addition to the Clippers.
Convincing the 33-year-old to take less than his market value might be a challenge, but the allure of another ring would certainly be enticing. Beyond the love affair that the Clipper faithful will have with Bonner’s New Balance shoes, the sharpshooter’s presence would be a welcome upgrade to the roster.
Having earned under $900,000 on his one-year deal with the Clippers this season, Matt Barnes’ production should certainly earn him a raise this summer.
Barnes’ renaissance year should open the door for many potential suitors willing to sign the UCLA product to a multi-year deal. However, Barnes’ comfort in Los Angeles and integral role in the team’s success might compel the 33-year-old veteran to re-sign with the Clippers this summer.
Caron Butler’s role as starting small forward is certainly unsustainable. Even this season, Barnes earned a more prominent role than Butler in the rotation while outperforming him on the floor. Barnes scored the most points per game in his career this season despite starting in only four games.
Barnes has already expressed interest in re-upping in Los Angeles this summer. If the Clips can hang on to Barnes without breaking the bank, then they should definitely consider bringing back the gritty defender.
All statistics used from Basketball-Reference.com, ESPN.com and Hoopsworld.com.