LA Clippers: 5 Free Agent Solutions to the Clippers' Small Forward Problem
It's no secret in Clipperland that, for two years, they've been scrambling to fill a massive void at the small forward position.
Last summer, a half-hearted play for LeBron James failed. The attempt at LeBron seemed more like patronizing theater than anything real.
With LeBron out of the picture, the Clippers settled on Ryan Gomes to be their guy.
He didn't get the job done.
They also drafted rookie Al-Farouq Aminu.
Though Aminu showed promise, he's not the answer they're looking for.
At least not yet.
Thus, we go into another offseason with the same positional problem.
The Clippers are solid at four positions. If they can find a competent starter at small forward, they could contend. This years small forward free agency class doesn't compare to last years, but there's still some talent out there.
Unfortunately, not all of them are a good fit for the Clippers.
The Clippers are in need of perimeter defender who can knock down some three balls.
Here I present to you five free agents who could fit the bill for the Clippers in '11.
5: Mike Dunleavy
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Mike Dunleavy had a less than stellar year last season, and I know Clipper fans cringe when they hear the name Mike Dunleavy, but Mike wouldn't be a horrible fit.
He's not exactly a lock-down defender, but as far as three-point threats go, Mike's one of the best at his position.
With Blake Griffin dominating inside and Eric Gordon slashing to the hole, the Clippers are going to need a player to camp out on the three-point line to await a kick out when defenses double Griffin, or collapse on the penetrating Gordon. And when said player receives the pass, the Clippers need him to knock it down about 40 percent of the time.
Mike Dunleavy can get that job done.
He may not be the perfect fit, and he's a bit of a defensive liability, but he's a great rebounder for his position, and he'd give the Clipper's a new aspect offensively.
4: Andrei Kirilenko
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AK-47 may be one of the worst nicknames in all of sports, and he is injury plagued, but he may be a fit for the Clippers.
Andrei Kirilenko isn't your traditional small forward. He's a versatile player who can fill many different needs for a team. he can take it to the hole, spot up from three, rebound, block shots, and lock down the best forward on any team. He can start at the three, and when Blake needs a blow, he can back him up at the 4.
Andrei isn't what you would call a spot-up shooter; he is 31 percent for his career from three-point range, and he averages just over one attempt per game, but he is serviceable, and his other attributes make him more than viable for the Clippers.
3: Caron Butler
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Caron Butler is an intriguing idea for the Clippers, though I doubt it's one they'll explore.
Caron is a 20 point per game guy who can shoot, drive, and do just about everything offensively. He's a solid defender, and he would provide a young Clipper team with some valuable veteran experience.
The biggest question with Caron is the health of his injured knee, and given the Clipper's history and luck with injuries, I don't believe they'll want to go down this path.
Plus, with Gordon, Griffin, and Kaman, the team already has three dominant scorers. What they need more than another offensive weapon is a role player to knock down open threes, rebound, and play defense.
I doubt Caron would be willing to take on the role of "supporting cast." Still, the idea of putting out a starting line-up with five guys who have, at one point, averaged 20 points per game (Williams, Gordon, Butler, Griffin, Kaman), is pretty exciting.
2: Tayshaun Prince
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Here is where it starts to get very intriguing and interesting for the Clippers.
Tayshaun would be a great match with the Clippers.
He's a lock-down defender who can guard the other teams best guard or small forward.
He rebounds and he can hit the spot up three, and most importantly, he's a proven winner with Detroit.
The Clippers are loaded with talent. But let's face it, with the exception of Moe Williams, they don't have a whole lot of playoff experience.
I love Blake Griffin and believe him to be a great leader, but this team needs someone who has been there, done that, in order to keep them pointed in the right direction when things get tough.
Tayshaun is a lifetime 37 percent shooter from three-point range, and he's averaged 13 ppg for his career. He's a great defender, a solid rebounder, and he's a team player.
He's worn out his welcome in Detroit and he's only 31 years old. He'd be a perfect fit with the Clippers.
However, there's one guy who'd be an even better fit.
1: Shane Battier
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If the Clippers find a way to sign Shane Battier, watch out.
I'm willing to put my reputation on the line and guarantee a top-four seed.
It seems unlikely that Memphis would let such a talent walk, but their main concern will be with signing back Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Shane Battier is the best defender in the league at his position, not named Lebron James. He'll always guard the other teams best player, and hold them under their season average.
In Battier, they have a guy who can neutralize the opponents number one threat.
If the other team's best player is a guard, in the past, Eric Gordon has been saddled with the responsibility of taking him. Eric is a very good defender; however, he is also the team's best scorer, and it'd be nice if he could conserve some of his energy for offense.
Beyond that, Shane is a great locker-room guy, which can't be underestimated for a young team like the Clippers. He's got playoff experience, he's a good rebounder (4.7 rpg, career), and he's an excellent three point shooter, hitting 38.5 percent for his career, while taking three to four attempts per game.
Shane Battier is exactly what the Clippers need. He is the consummate role-player, and he'll round out their roster perfectly.
Now, can we get slum lord, Donald Sterling, to open up his wallet to sign this guy?