Ranking LA Clippers' Most Believable 2014 NBA Free Agency Rumors
The Los Angeles Clippers aren't major players in NBA free agency this year for good reason. They have all the key elements necessary to make a deep playoff run already in place. Superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have shown they have what it takes to lead the team through the Western Conference. Though they fell just short, they proved themselves capable of playing with anyone.
But even they need help.
Though the Clips don't need much in order to build on what was their best regular season in franchise history, they are looking at several options as free agency began on July 1.
Where will they spend their limited dollars with only mid-level and trade exceptions available? Let's take a look at the possible scenarios, beginning with the least likely.
Ice Cold: Luol Deng
Luol Deng is one of the most talented free agents on the market this offseason. While going to a contender like the Clippers is likely important to him, the lack of cap space to pay the market rate for a solid two-way player like him could be problematic for Los Angeles.
He made $14.8 million in 2013-14, and that's well beyond the mid-level exception.
A sign-and-trade deal is possible for the 29-year-old, but it's hard to fathom breaking up a squad that nearly made it through the brutal Western Conference to integrate a new primary rotation player into the system.
The Clips will talk to him as has been reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports, but expect nothing more than conversation here.
Cool: LeBron James
At this point, the stage is set for LeBron James to return to the Miami Heat and continue to build a dynasty. While that remains the most likely scenario, there is plenty of intrigue when it comes to the Clippers.
For one, Los Angeles is built to win right now and has few questions about the direction in which the team is going or its leadership. Doc Rivers is a proven winner who already has James' respect and playing in the second-largest media market in the United States has to play in the team's favor.
Couple all of that with the fact that he's close friends with Paul, and the rumors seem to carry a little more weight.
In fact, the always-reliable Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported that the Clippers have piqued LeBron's interest. The challenge here is that any westward migration for the Chosen One would involve a sign-and-trade with either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
Given the fact that James is the best player in the world, the Heat would likely seek Griffin in return. If you're scoring at home, Griffin is a player who Rivers believes is "untouchable," according to ESPNLosAngeles.com.
That alone makes the entire situation far-fetched but such a move would send shockwaves throughout the league and is still possible.
Lukewarm: Spencer Hawes
Spencer Hawes could return closer to home after testing the market. According to Yahoo Sports' Wojnarowski, the West Coast native out of Seattle is meeting with Rivers to discuss the possibility of joining forces with Paul and Griffin.
The one major roadblock for getting a deal done in Los Angeles is the fact that Hawes is reportedly seeking close to $8 million after making $6.5 million last season with the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers, per Brad Turner of the LA Times. That could be out of the Clippers' price range.
In addition, the diminished role he'd have to take on in the prime of his career at age 26 behind Griffin and Jordan may discourage him from signing, despite the chances for a title.
Heating Up: Thabo Sefolosha
Thabo Sefolosha is a rotation player and a lock-down defender who would fit well with the Clippers. One area they struggled in last season was defending on the wings, and the Swiss free agent would take care of that deficiency immediately.
He's also a solid spot-shooter and can stretch the floor on offense, though scoring isn't his greatest area of expertise.
So far, Oklahoma City has yet to contact him in the early stages of free agency and the Clippers are interested, per Shams Charania of RealGM. Several other teams, including the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets, are also in the mix.
He made $3.3 million last season, a figure at which even a slight raise could still put Los Angeles in the ballpark to sign him.
Hot: Clippers' Free Agents
The Clippers probably won't make a major splash in free agency this offseason for a number of reasons. One of which is they have several of their own former players to consider re-signing in order to maintain continuity and compete for NBA glory again.
At the top of the list is Darren Collison, who capably started in place of Paul when the starting floor general missed time with various injuries. Collison opted out of his current deal, but the Clippers have made him their No. 1 priority, according to the L.A. Times' Broderick Turner.
In addition to Collison, Danny Granger is another player who could be a low-risk, high-reward signee after spending just a fraction of the season in L.A. in 2013-14. If healthy, the veteran could provide solid minutes off the bench at numerous positions.
Finally, there's Glen Davis, who under Rivers could carve out a niche role and be a serviceable big man in the rotation, should he remain fit and healthy. Given the circumstances and potential to win, it's a good bet he finds a spot with the Clips and comes in ready to work.
On Fire: Paul Pierce
The story behind the rumor is with Jason Kidd no longer coaching the Brooklyn Nets, the team loses some leverage to keep the veteran without a clear direction moving forward.
The Clippers, on the other hand, are primed for another run at an NBA title and have all of the infrastructure in place to be a real contender. That's what Pierce is looking for at this point in his career, and he and Rivers share strong mutual respect having won a title together as player and coach in 2008.
This rumored signing is worth buying into as it makes sense for both parties. The Clippers would get a veteran leader who can contribute from the wing while Pierce gets another shot at the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the twilight of his career.
If there's any significant signing to take place here, this would be the one to bet on.