Seeking to fill out their roster with quality players, the Los Angeles Clippers will be looking to tighten their final spots with minimum contracts.
From Shane Battier to Ray Allen, NBA veterans have long taken less money in order to play for a contender. The Clips witnessed this first-hand when free agent Matt Barnes took less money to re-sign in Lob City so that the Clippers could also sign backup point guard Darren Collison.
Despite years of futility, the Clippers are now a desirable landing spot for free agents. Although most of the top prospects have been picked up, there are still plenty of potential swingmen and bigs to fill out the roster.
Let us take a look at three potential candidates who could be in Lob City on opening night.
At 6’9” and 225 pounds, Lou Amundson has made a living bothering opposing big men. A career scorer of 3.7 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game, Amundson is best used in short spurts where he can rattle big men in the paint.
Having played for eight teams in his seven-year career, Amundson had his best season in 2009-10 playing alongside Steve Nash for the Phoenix Suns. Averaging 4.7 points and 4.4 boards, Amundson mostly spelled Amar'e Stoudemire.
Although he averaged just 14.8 minutes per contest, he was a serviceable big man who worked well in pick-and-roll situations. Fittingly, Amundson shot a career-best 55.1 percent from the field that season.
Playing alongside Chris Paul, Amundson could be able to replicate this production. The Clippers do not need him to dominate offensively or defensively, but rather Amundson could be capable of playing limited minutes when spelling Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
Appearing for the New Orleans Hornets, the Chicago Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, Amundson struggled to find consistency on a team. The Clippers could provide Amundson with franchise and locker room stability. An enticing offer to play under coach Doc Rivers could have Amundson signed on for cheap.
Lanky swingman Sam Young could be a nice addition at the 4 in small-ball Clipper lineups.
With a 6’11” wingspan, Young has the length to disrupt wings on the perimeter and get out in transition. Having played two-and-a-half seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies, Young is a capable defender having thrived under Lionel Hollins.
Offensively, Young is capable of knocking down the open jumper. Albeit in a small sample size, Young converted 39.5 percent of his shots from eight to 24 feet in 2010-11.
With easy scoring opportunities afforded to him by Paul and Griffin, Young could become an effective player on the Clippers’ roster. Young’s versatility also makes him an intriguing prospect.
The Pitt product can play the 4 in small-ball lineups with Griffin or Hollins at the 5. Should the Clippers play big, Young can play the 3, creating an athletic front line alongside Griffin and Jordan.
Young big man Cole Aldrich could be a low-risk addition to the Clippers’ roster.
Aldrich has bounced around teams in his short three-year career, playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings. Unable to find consistent playing time, Aldrich was featured in the James Harden trade last October, as well as the midseason Thomas Robinson trade.
Which of these free agents would be the best fit on the Clippers?
Although Aldrich has struggled to find a home in the NBA, he was the 11th overall pick just four seasons ago, suggesting that he still has plenty of potential. Appearing in more games down the stretch for the Kings, Aldrich had back-to-back double-doubles in April. Coincidentally, those two games also came against his former teams.
In a rout on the road in Houston, Aldrich scored 12 points and pulled down 12 boards on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. A night later, Aldrich put in a complete effort, scoring another 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in a loss to the Thunder.
Aldrich can do little outside of the restricted area, however. Last season, Aldrich took 69 of his 80 field goals from inside eight feet. Although the Kansas product converted an underwhelming 60.9 percent of his attempts from within eight feet, he still provides a big body capable of logging minutes against the West’s burly front lines.
Should Aldrich develop a more polished offensive game and a more coherent understanding of team defensive schemes, the center could turn into a serviceable rotation player.
All statistics used from NBA.com/Stats, ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com.