Before free agency officially began, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Paul’s representatives had told other teams not to bother reaching out to the star guard because he had fully intended to re-sign with Lob City. Early into free agency, CP3 made his sentiments public via twitter:
With Paul committed for the long haul, Doc Rivers and Gary Sacks have begun working on other roster upgrades. The oft-rumored Eric Bledsoe found himself in even more potential deals.
Already coveted by the Orlando Magic in a deal involving swingman Arron Afflalo, Bledsoe was also rumored in a potential trade with the Toronto Raptors. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, a deal with the Raptors would likely include shooting guard DeMar DeRozan.
Frankly, the Clips will be looking to deal Bledsoe now that Paul is committed long-term. Eventually, Mini LeBron might cost Los Angeles too much money once his rookie deal expires.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the Clippers might dangle Bledsoe as part of a sign-and-trade with either the Dallas Mavericks or the Milwaukee Bucks. Former USC guard O.J. Mayo is a potential fit on the perimeter. He could find his way back to Los Angeles if the Clips are willing to part with Bledsoe.
Should the Clippers decide to deal Bledsoe for another guard, sharp shooting J.J. Redick might be acquired in the process.
The Duke product nailed 36.6 percent of his long balls for the Bucks and Magic last season, and would be a good fit as a floor-spacer in Lob City. A solid defender, Redick could also strengthen the Clippers perimeter defense alongside Paul in the backcourt.
Like Mayo, Redick would likely push the Clips over the cap. As such, they would have to deal other contracts in order to acquire either player under the new CBA.
Outside of Redick and Mayo, the Clippers are also interested in free agent Tony Allen. Chris Paul’s postseason nemesis for the past two seasons, Allen is a rugged defender that knows his offensive limitations. His acquisition would give the Clippers one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA.
According to columnist Mark Heisler, Doc Rivers has interest in bringing the two-time All-Defensive First Team guard to Los Angeles. Rivers coached Allen on the 2008 Boston Celtics’ championship team. Despite the interest, Shelburne tweeted that Los Angeles has yet to formally contact Allen.
According to Shelburne, the Clips planned to reach out to each of their veterans shortly after free agency began. Los Angeles Times beat writer Brad Turner tweeted that Barnes and the Clippers have mutual interest:
Earning the league minimum despite a career year in 2012-13, Barnes is looking for a raise. With max money committed to both Paul and Blake Griffin, along with over $15 million committed to Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan combined next season, it is yet to be seen what the Clips will offer Barnes.
Fox Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson reported that Billups has interest in joining the defending champion Miami Heat, and would be willing to take a pay cut in the process. While Billups would provide great veteran savvy for the Clippers, he would have to take a drop in salary if he wants to return to Los Angeles.
Conspicuously absent from early rumors was any discussion of the Clippers acquiring a big man. Despite a strong start to the season, Jordan severely underperformed down the stretch.
In the postseason, Jordan was non-existent against a burly Memphis Grizzlies front line. In six games, he averaged a measly 3.8 points and six rebounds.
If the Clippers have any hopes of getting to the NBA Finals with Jordan on the roster, then Rivers will have to turn DJ into a back line force. He has shown a tremendous amount of potential, but entering his sixth season, Jordan has demonstrated little evidence of sustainable offensive and defensive production.
Jordan's career averages of 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds are very close to his career high averages in points (8.8) and rebounds (8.3).
Given the trading chips the Clippers have in Bledsoe, Jordan and the expiring contract of Caron Butler, Lob City's best course of action might be to leverage its assets and turn them into a quality contributor.
Portland Trail Blazers' superstar LaMarcus Aldridge might be a candidate if the price is right. However with the superb play of reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, Portland might be hesitant to make a deal with the Clips that involves Bledsoe.
Unless coach Terry Stotts believes that Bledsoe is indeed a shooting guard, then bringing in the Kentucky product would only create a logjam at the point guard position.
Perhaps Clippers’ management will assess their situation at shooting guard first, and then make a decision on Jordan. Either way, it is proving to be quite an exciting free agency period in Lob City.
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