The Los Angeles Clippers really did have a great season. This season was a step in the right direction, a step towards becoming an NBA championship contender. That being said, this season made it clear that the Clippers are one or two players short from becoming a contender.
It seems like an easy fix because LAC is a sexy team in a sexy team town with a cast of stars. But the problem isn’t attracting the players, it’s paying them. A lot of what happens this offseason could depend on how willing new owner Steve Ballmer is to pay a high luxury tax. (barring Sterling ever making up his mind if he wants to sell the team to Ballmer)
For the second season in a row, the Los Angeles Clippers will be paying the luxury tax, which means the approximately $2 million they paid last season will double this season and will only climb as they stay over that threshold. But, some relief has arrived as the Clippers will dump close to $2 million as Darren Collison has decided not to pick up his $1.98 million player option. Glen Davis will most likely accept his option which is worth $1.4 million and the Clippers have yet to determine whether they will exercise Willie Green’s team option worth around $1.45 million. So when it comes down to it, the Clips won’t see their current $73 million payroll decline too drastically.
So what can the Clippers do? Trade. Desperately try to trade.
So it’s very apparent which area the Clippers need assistance and that is at the small forward. Doc Rivers really experimented with all three forwards this season (Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes, and Danny Granger). While the future of this position remains unclear, everyone in Clipper Nation knows this, it is time for Jared Dudley to go. He started 43 games, and after that it was a complete downward spiral for the 8th year man out of Boston College. Once Danny Granger arrived, it was clear Dudley would struggle getting consistent minutes.
Dudley logged 7 DNP’s in the playoffs and only scored 9 points in the 14 games. And honestly, I think the Clippers front office would love to just trade him for a 2nd rounder and move on. Clear out the $4.2 million in cap space and move on.
Danny Granger is now a free agent and it is unclear if the Clippers will renew his contract. What is funny about this situation is that the Clippers are missing a Granger-type player to complete their roster. The only problem is they need the 2009-2010 Granger, a very consistent wing scorer. This being said, Granger averaged 8.2 points per game for the Clippers while playing only a limited role; a full summer with the team and consistent refining of his game could lead him to being to an increase in his effectiveness next season. I think the best course of action for LA would be to resign Granger and let him start over Matt Barnes. Also, Barnes has been a bench player most of his career and I believe he would thrive coming off the bench as he ages.
Because the Clippers will have less than a dozen players under contract going into the summer, the Clippers are going to be up against the cap once its all said and done heading into next season. The roster could look much like it does now, or there could be new additions such as Delonte West who just inked a summer league contract with the Clippers. Who joins the team remains to be unseen, but who needs to leave is very clear. Thank you for your services Jared Dudley, I wish I could say it was a pleasure watching you play in a Clippers uniform.