Today is official free agent season in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Clippers currently have some moving parts and holes to fill. Three players have opted out, one has been waived and there are a few that are on the trading block.
Devoid the LeBron James, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony rumors, there are a good amount of serviceable players and upgrades the Clippers should consider. As the team turns its attention to who’s available right now in the free agent pool, here are the best free agent fits at every position.
Darren Collison: Collison wants to stay in Los Angeles, and the Clippers want to keep him around. Collison opted out of the second year of a deal that would’ve paid him $1.985 million, and Doc Rivers has already expressed his interest in keeping him around.
Collison was by far the most productive player on the Clippers bench averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. His return would help their efforts in contention for the Clippers first championship.
Opting out of his deal obviously means Collison wants more money, it might take a considerable dip into the Clippers mid-level exception to resign him. He’ll probably net a two-year $8 million deal.
D.J. Augustin: In 71 games with the Bulls last season, Augustin averaged a career high in points with 14.9 per game while dropping five dimes a game. He’s a speedy guard with great leadership qualities, who also shot 41 percent from deep in his one season in Chicago. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau’s remarks about Augustin justify any team looking to sign him. Thibodeau said:
“He saved our season. He’s a big shot maker, he’s made big plays, not only with his shooting, but with his play-making – you trap him and he hits the open man.”
With a healthy Derrick Rose stepping back into the fold, Augustin will decide whether or not to stick around in Chicago. There’s a possibility that he’ll re-sign and stay on alert if and when he’s needed to take over the starting point guard duties again.
He made half of a million dollars in salary last year with the Bulls and should command somewhere close to the $2 million range.
Vince Carter: Coming off a year where he made a little more than $3 million in salary to perform as a sixth man for the Dallas Mavericks, Vince Carter still has the wow factor in the NBA. He’s not dazzling crowds anymore, but at the age of 37, appearing in 81 games averaging 24 minutes is impressive on its own.
The Clippers could use his veteran presence and high basketball IQ. While most veterans begin to slow down after the age of 35, Carter’s percentages have remained steady.
There aren’t many players you can bank on receiving a positive contribution from at age 38, but Vince Carter seems like he’s one of them. Word is VC wants to return to the Mavs, however it won’t hurt for Rivers to put in a call to his agent.
Chris Douglas-Roberts: Douglas-Roberts had a pretty good showing in the playoffs against the Eastern Conference’s best defensive team, the Miami Heat. He had back-to-back double-digit scoring performances of 17 and 14 points in Games 3 and 4 averaging 10 points on 68 percent shooting in their four games.
Simply put, he didn’t run from the big stage. His versatility as a defender would be of great use for the Clippers.
Douglas-Roberts can defend small guards and forwards.
However Douglas-Roberts has never played more than 61 regular season games in his five-year NBA career. Championship teams need consistency, at the very least they need to plan for it.
If Douglas-Roberts can play at least 75 regular season games, he would be a great pick up for the Clippers and a feasible replacement for Matt Barnes off the bench. Barnes seems to be on his way out via trade.
Trevor Ariza: Ariza spent his last two seasons in uniform with the Washington Wizards. He’s been a league journeyman having played for the Knicks, Magic, Lakers, Rockets, Pelicans, and Wizards.
Ariza has career percentages of 43.4 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3. He’s got a long wingspan and is capable of defending the small-forward and small-guard positions.
He’d be a great option to start at small forward.
Ariza would fit well in the mid-level range costing the Clippers close to $5 million in salary per year. A native of Los Angeles, Ariza attended Westchester High School, and was a star athlete at UCLA.
Assuming the starting small forward responsibility for the Clippers would be a welcomed homecoming for Ariza, who hasn’t played in California since the 2008-09 season when he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Luol Deng: Deng made $14.3 million last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Chicago Bulls traded him due to failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension.
Deng is a great team defender who would fit very well into Doc Rivers system. He’s not as athletic as the fast-gunning Clippers would like, and he’s only appeared in 63 games combined in the last two seasons, however his career averages of 16 points and 5.7 rebounds is enough for the Clippers to clear some cap space.
Deng will command close to $8 million for a contending team, but might head to a bottom-feeder for the $12 million payday he’s seeking.
Michael Beasley: Miami Heat general manager Pat Riley loves Michael Beasley even if head coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t share the same sentiment. All signs point towards Beasley returning to the Heat, but after only logging six minutes in the playoffs and zero in the Finals, he could be looking for a change of scenery.
Six years into his NBA career, Beasley still hasn’t found his permanent home. He was a on the verge of becoming a star for the Phoenix Suns until he was waived.
Beasley has the potential to be a great sixth-man and with guard Jamal Crawford seemingly on his way out, the Clippers will need another gunslinger that can fill it up.
DeJuan Blair: Blair has been a bit of an unsung hero in his five-year NBA career. Last season with the Dallas Mavericks he averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Not impressive in the least, but Blair’s physicality and ability to pay attention to the intangibles keeps him employed in the league. He made a bit less than $1 million and at this point anything would be an upgrade over the Clippers last backup big men.
Ed Davis: Weeks before Ed Davis was dealt from the Toronto Raptors to the Memphis Grizzlies he was hooping. Davis moved into the Raptors’ starting lineup and averaged 13.1 points on 56.1 percent shooting and 7.7 rebounds per game.
It looked as if Memphis found a diamond in the rough and a high production big-man for years to come.
Unfortunately Davis never found his stride in Memphis playing behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His lackluster production led to the Grizzlies passing on an option to pay Davis $4,361,789 next season.
In 15 minutes of action, Davis put up 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds, however with at 6’10 with a seven-foot wingspan, Doc Rivers might have his next defensive project for cheap.
Andray Blatche: Who knows whether Blatche’s Instagram account was really hacked? What’s a fact is that Blatche opted out of a deal that would’ve paid him $1.4 million.
Blatche will net a multi-year deal that might cost the Clippers their full mid-level exception or more. His production off the bench last season for the Brooklyn Nets might justify the size of contract.
He averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game, and could be the scoring big off the bench Rivers is looking for.
Spencer Hawes: There seems to be mutual interest between Spencer Hawes and the Clippers. Hawes went 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3.
We all know how Doc Rivers loves his shooting big men. What’s more encouraging is that Hawes’ 45 percent field-goal shooting was a career-low.
He made $6.5 million last season and will make a similar figure. Without much salary wiggle-room, the Clippers will look to shed contracts and get Hawes signed quickly.
Emeka Okafor: Okafor cashed in on $14.5 million last season, and he won’t get anything close to that figure next season. With career averages of 12.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks, Okafor sat out last season due to a herniated disc in his neck.
He’s put up 51.2 percent in field goal shooting and 58.4 percent at the line. Although his free throw shooting leaves something to be desired, Okafor plays a very physical game down low and is a great rim protector.
He’s been a double-double machine throughout his career, but only when playing starter’s minutes.