The Los Angeles Clippers are about to add yet another rotation piece to their improved stable of reserves, as free-agent big man Byron Mullens is close to signing with L.A.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the under-the-radar move is all but complete:
Free agent 7-footer Byron Mullens is nearing agreement on a two-year deal with the Clippers, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2013
At the risk of raining on the Clippers' parade, the idea of Mullens is a lot more appealing than what he brings to a team in reality.
In theory, Mullens provides Los Angeles with one of the NBA's most coveted commodities: a stretch 4. The 6'10" forward spends most of his time on the perimeter as a catch-and-shoot option, which is valuable because it forces opposing bigs into the uncomfortable position of having to venture out to the three-point line to play defense.
Last season with the Charlotte Bobcats, Mullens attempted 3.9 treys per game.
Here's the issue, though: Mullens isn't actually a very good three-point shooter. In fact, he's not a very good shooter from anywhere on the floor. The grisly details from last season include shooting percentages of 38.5 percent from the field, 31.7 percent from the three-point arc and 64.6 percent from the foul line.
Even worse, Mullens actually hurt the Bobcats' rebound rate when he was on the floor and proved to be a negative factor on both offense and defense. Overall, the four-year veteran accumulated a net rating of minus-16.2 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court.
Now, I know what you're going to ask: "Weren't the Bobcats so awful last season that their net rating as a team was in the negatives anyway?"
Yes, it's true that Charlotte was deep into the red as a team, but even its overall net rating of minus-10.6 points per 100 possessions was notably better than the figure it posted when Mullens was on the court (per NBA.com).
It's certainly possible that Mullens will enjoy a major uptick in the number of quality looks with the Clippers. Playing alongside Chris Paul tends to have that effect on shooters. And perhaps a change of scenery—not to mention an escape from a losing environment in Charlotte—will lead to greater success.
Assuming better looks and a new environment will help Mullens bump his accuracy rate up to acceptable levels, he'll represent an interesting strategic option for the Clips.
The majority of L.A.'s big men are bruising post players. And although Blake Griffin has the ability to knock down a perimeter shot, his greatest offensive value comes when he's involved in the pick-and-roll or catching the ball on the block.
Mullens will function as a changeup for opposing defenses. He'll spot up on the wings and draw bigs away from the rim, which will also allow Paul more room to operate around the elbows and in the lane.
How many minutes per game should Mullens see this season?
Overall, Byron Mullens is not a world-altering addition, and if he can't straighten out his stroke, he's almost valueless. But if things break right and the Clips use him correctly, he could become a useful rotation piece.