Los Angeles Clippers: 10 Free Agents Who Would Improve the Team Next Season
Now that the Clippers' season is in the books, it's time for the team to begin looking ahead to next year.
The San Antonio Spurs exposed some flaws in the Clippers' roster, and it's up to GM Neil Olshey and the front office to plug those holes.
The key spots that the Clips need to address are big man depth and wing scorers/playmakers. With a talented crop of free agents hitting the open market this summer, the suddenly alluring Clippers may be a hot destination.
That is, if Donald Sterling is willing to open up his checkbook for once.
Here are 10 players who would improve the Clippers in 2013.
10. Chauncey Billups
That's right, Chauncey Billups will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Clippers obviously are familiar with Billups' presence, as they sported a 15-7 record with Chauncey in the lineup in 2012.
In addition to veteran leadership and championship experience, Billups does three things well that the Clippers could really use.
He hits threes. He can create for others. And he can get to the foul line.
The downside is that he'll be 36 years old at the start of next season and is coming off of a major injury.
9. Robin Lopez
While he's often dismissed as the lesser of the Lopez twins, Robin Lopez would be a great fit for the Clippers.
The Clips have no one to back up DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin next season with Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans both heading for free agency. Everyone saw how valuable a role Evans and Martin played for the team in their first round series against Memphis, particularly defensively.
Lopez could fill the void admirably. He's a legit seven-footer who protects the paint and crashes the glass. For his career, he averages 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per 36 minutes and he has posted an above-average PER in two of the last three seasons.
8. Anthony Randolph
This is a pure value pick for me. Randolph is a talented but troubled big who has shown flashes of brilliance in limited time.
For whatever reason, Randolph has never gotten a legitimate shot at consistent playing time. It's certainly not because he can't play,
Over his career, Randolph has averaged 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per 36 minutes. His 17.6 PER in 2012 was higher than All-Stars Rajon Rondo and Andre Iguodala.
Randolph has totally fallen off the map over the last couple of years so he should be available on the cheap. This former lottery pick is still only 22 years old.
With the Clippers he can finally get the opportunity he needs to break out, and he's got the skills to be a game-changing force for the Clips.
7. Nick Young
Another guy who played for Clippers last season, Nick Young would fill a bench scoring role nicely for L.A, if retained.
Young proved his worth to the Clippers in the postseason, where he was a big part of their successful bench, knocking down better than 51 percent of his threes in the playoffs.
As a player who can provide instant offense, Young could see his role expanded in a second season with the Clippers.
6. Michael Beasley
Michael Beasley is another pure scorer who could really boost the Clipper bench.
His size and versatility add to his value as well. Beasley can play the 4 in a small lineup or play the 3 in a big one, ostensibly providing the Clippers with a match up advantage when he is on the court.
Coming off the worst season of his career, the former No. 2 overall pick's stock is down. The Clippers can take a chance and buy low, hoping that a 23 year old who's just one year removed from averaging 19 points a game can harness his talents under the influence of Chris Paul.
5. Ray Allen
Ray Allen's appeal is obvious. He still has an elite ability to run off of screens and get off catch-and-shoot jumpers at an efficient clip.
You'd think that playing with a point guard like Chris Paul and a great passing big man like Blake Griffin would only make him better.
That may be the case. However, there's also a downside to signing the former All-Star.
Allen's big name would require big dollars to be spent. At this point in the soon-to-be 37-year-old's career, his next contract will probably make him overpaid.
Another red flag besides his advanced age is Allen is coming off of his worst pro season since his rookie campaign and he has struggled with injuries throughout the year. Maybe the ageless wonder's body is finally starting to betray him.
4. Courtney Lee
Through his four seasons as a professional, Courtney Lee has proven that he's capable of two things. He is willing to play defense and he can shoot the three.
Lee's game would fit well in L.A., as he would provide them with a real shooting guard who can guard opposing 2's. Also, his outside shooting ability would be enhanced playing in an offensive attack that relies heavily on the three-point shot.
At 26 years old, Lee is just about to hit his prime, and you don't have to break the bank to get him either.
3. Brandon Rush
Brandon Rush emerged as a effective bench wing in Golden State last season.
At 26 years of age, Rush is coming off his best pro season and is about to step into his prime as a player.
Among guards who played at least 40 games in 2012, Rush was second in true shooting percentage behind only James Harden. He put up efficient 50/45/79 (FG/3PT/FT) shooting splits, all career bests.
Rush can also be the wing defender that the Clippers sorely lack. His size and length can bother opposing perimeter scorers and he ranked second among all NBA guards in blocked shots last season.
2. Ersan Ilyasova
One of the most underrated and underpaid players in the NBA, Ersan Ilyasova will be looking for his first big payday this offseason.
Playing in relative anonymity in Milwaukee, Ilyasova is coming off of a season in which he averaged 13 points and nine rebounds in under 28 minutes per game.
Those numbers belittle the way Ilyasova actually played in 2012. In his 41 starts he shot 52 percent from the field and 47 percent from three, and his 20.55 PER was 31st in the entire league, just ahead of Pau Gasol, Deron Williams and Steve Nash.
The Turkish native's versatility makes him a valuable commodity as well. He has the size and the rebounding ability to play the 4, while maintaining the agility and outside shooting required to play the 3.
Ilyasova was second in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage in 2012, while also ranking 10th overall in offensive rating (estimate of points produced per 100 possessions).
Uber-efficient role players like Ilyasova are necessary to compete for championships. The Clippers would do well to go after this one.
1. O.J. Mayo
The Clippers are familiar with O.J. Mayo after dealing with him for seven consecutive games in the playoffs. Mayo is also familiar with Los Angeles, having played his college ball down the road from the Staples Center at USC.
The former No. 3 overall pick hasn't lived up to the hype so far in the NBA, but in my opinion it has been because of his circumstances, not his talent.
Memphis has given out huge contracts to Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley over the past couple of seasons, so Mayo has been relegated to a fairly low spot on the Grizzlies totem pole.
Also, defensive stalwart Tony Allen is a better fit on the floor with the four big-money players than Mayo is, which has pushed him to an uncomfortable bench role.
Mayo is a very polished scorer who can also make plays for his teammates and is willing to guard the other team's best perimeter player on defense. His numbers haven't wowed anyone so far in his career, and thus the price should be low for this 24-year-old restricted free agent.
And with the Grizzlies having nearly $49 million tied up in the quartet mentioned above next season, they likely won't be matching any substantial offers for Mayo.
The talent is there for Mayo to break out into a star. All he needs is the right opportunity. He would be a perfect fit as the Clippers' starting shooting guard next season.