What do the clippers do?
It’s the question that keeps their fans up at night, or sleeping with one eye open, cell phones at the ready in case a Woj bomb lights up their screens late at night with news of a major problem.
The Clippers’ recent history of bold, unexpected moves makes it easy to imagine the team’s front office cooking up another surprise.
Consider the seismic trade brought on board Paul George from Oklahoma City and matched him with Kawhi Leonard, or before that the deal sent Tobias Harris to Philadelphia, or the one no one saw coming shipped Blake Griffin to Detroit.
Now, five days of free agency, and with a training camp a week away and the season starting December 22, those who invested in the Clippers’ arc are in danger of turning blue by holding their breath in anticipation of another stranger development that may or may not come.
So far, the Clippers have had starting forward Marcus Morris Sr. re-signed and rarely attacker Patrick Patterson; tried to upgrade by putting Serge Ibaka, a veteran center on the ground instead of Montrezl Harrell; and traded for aggressive young gunman Luke Kennard to replace Landry Shamet.
Those moves are designed to strengthen a team that had the league’s second-best offensive rating (113.3) and fifth-best defensive rating (106.9) last season before coming out spectacularly in the second round. of the Western Conference playoffs.
At this point, the Clippers have signed 12 players, not counting two-way guards Amir Coffey and Jay Scrubb. Rookie center Daniel Oturu, the No. 33 overall pick whose rights they acquired on concept night from Minnesota, has not yet signed. Center Joakim Noah is on a no-guarantee contract, as is Justin Patton, the 23-year-old center who was released by the team on Tuesday. He was acquired on draft night as part of the three-team deal with Detroit and Brooklyn.
The Clippers are not ready yet. They definitely want to add depth to the wing and find a way to replace free agent departure JaMychal Green‘s contributions to power forward. They also want a primary ball handler, the playmaker many – reportedly including Leonard – thought they needed last season.
But with the dust elsewhere in the league, including in the hallway, where the Lakers prepare to defend their title through getting younger and more offensive, the Clippers have been silent since Saturday night, when the news broke Ibaka agreed to a deal.
At the end of a quiet second day off agency, the Clippers made some noise.https://t.co/4cfJISePjA
– Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) November 22, 2020
The LA Clippers have announced that Justin Patton has been disbanded. Patton had a $ 1.76 million non-guaranteed contract.
The roster has now been reduced to 12 players, including Joakim Noah’s $ 2.7 million non-guaranteed contract.
$ 3.5 million under the hard cap (equals a minimum of 2 vet)
– Bobby Marks (@ BobbyMarks42) November 25, 2020
As free agents fly off the board – including some of the Clippers’ reported top goals like veteran point guard Rondo region and forward Markieff Morris, picking other teams – speculation is mounting as to what the Clippers might have in store.
On top of that, the Clippers have not yet publicly answered questions about their signings or trades in the past week and have not yet officially announced their moves alongside the draft night deals that brought in Kennard, Oturu and Scrubb.
Social media is filling the void, with rumors suggesting the Clippers are – or were – the preferred destination for security guard Russell Westbrook, the league’s former MVP reportedly seeking to be traded out of Houston.
Westbrook’s $ 41.4 million contract would make trading virtually impossible for him. If you disregard Leonard and George and note that the rules make it so that Kennard’s contract can’t be combined with another player’s salary reconciliation, the Clippers are left with just six negotiable salaries – and a deal to be done would have to trade Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, Lou Williams, Terance Mann, Mfiondu Kabengele and Noah, which would decimate their depth as free power diminishes.
Even then, the Clippers are only $ 3.5 million below the $ 138.9 million hard limit – or two veteran minimums, as noted by ESPN’s Bobby Marks – further limiting their options.
On his podcast this week, ESPN basketball insider Zach Lowe said he doesn’t think the Clippers are done tinkering either. But he suggested that changes might not come until the trading deadline approaches: “They have patience.”
And they do without the recruiting charms of Doc Rivers, who helped convince Leonard to join the Clippers for last season, which ended with the defeat that led to the veteran coach’s departure.
It’s not that the Clippers don’t have options among the free agents that remain available, including guards like Reggie Jackson, a well-known product that sparingly played in the bubble last season for the Clippers. Shabazz Napier, Jordan McLaughlin and Shaquille Harrison are other candidates to potentially join the backcourt.
On wing, the remaining free agents like Kyle Korver, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Glenn Robinson III are serviceable role-players who won’t make the dial dance in a way that will satisfy many fans who have come to expect the Clippers to make for some smashing surprises.
Zach Lowe on the Clippers: “I don’t think the Clippers are ready. At the very least, I don’t think this is the Clippers team to hit the floor after the season’s trading deadline. I don’t think they are done rebuilding their team. They have patience. ” pic.twitter.com/bqnUjAsORz
– Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) November 23, 2020