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Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Clippers

Guaranteed Contracts


Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Draft Picks

  • 2nd Round (53rd overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $50,009,242
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary (including options), Cap Holds: $26,331,039
  • Total (not including draft picks): $76,340,281

Coming off a season in which the team set a franchise record with a .606 winning percentage and reached the second round of the playoffs, it's hard for Clippers fans to be anything but pleased. Chris Paul gave the team a star point guard to pair with the up-and-coming Blake Griffin, who earned All-NBA honors for the first time in his second full season.

But as successful a season as 2011/12 was, the Clippers will need to be careful to ensure it was the first step on the road to contending perenially, rather than an aberration. With GM Neil Olshey heading to Portland, the Clips will be tasked with finding a worthy successor to guide the franchise through a number of tough roster decisions and contract negotiations in the coming year.

While the Clippers won't be forced to make an immediate decision on either Paul or Griffin, contract extensions for the two stars will be a top priority for the club. Griffin is entering the final year of his rookie contract, making him eligible for an extension this offseason. The Clips are reportedly confident about getting something done before the 23-year-old reaches restricted free agency, so you have to assume they're prepared to offer a maximum-salary contract, or something very close to it.

Paul, meanwhile, has committed to his 2012/13 player option, but will be eligible for unrestricted free agency a year from now. A new contract for him this summer may not be as likely as one for Griffin, given the rules surrounding veteran extensions. So it will be crucial for the Clippers to convince him to stay by showing they're committed to making the moves necessary to ensure the team is a contender for years to come.

With no first-round draft pick and limited cap flexibility this summer, however, what exactly can the Clippers do in terms of roster moves? The team has yet to take advantage of the amnesty clause, and while it could go unused, Ryan Gomes' $4MM 2012/13 salary makes him a candidate. If Mo Williams opts into the final year of his contract though, amnestying Gomes would only reduce the team's cap figure from about $58.5MM to $54.5MM, which wouldn't create any usable cap space.

If Williams opts out, the team will have more options at it disposal, but I have a hard time seeing the veteran guard declining his option. As much as Williams seems to desire long-term security, passing up an $8.5MM salary in 2012/13 in favor of a new contract that would significantly reduce his annual salary seems unlikely.

With Williams on their books, the Clippers will be over the cap and will have only the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions to use on free agents. The MLE could give them a chance to bid on a shooting guard such as Jamal Crawford, Ray Allen, or Jason Terry if they don't elect to re-sign Nick Young. The BAE, meanwhile, may not be significant enough to woo an impact player, but we've seen veterans willing to accept discounted deals to play in Los Angeles or New York before. With Paul and Griffin on board for at least another year, the Clippers have become that sort of destination team that free agents could target.

Although free agency seems like the Clippers' best bet at adding another rotation player, a trade is also a possibility. Eric Bledsoe represents the team's strongest and most likely trade chip, though the club has been reluctant to move him in the past. Perhaps if the Clips get the impression that Paul is a good bet to re-sign long-term, they would be more willing to shop Bledsoe, who figures to be the successor at the point if CP3 leaves L.A.

With two star players entering contract years, the Clippers will be faced with a number of challenging decisions within the next year or so. Those decisions will begin this summer, which means Los Angeles will have to move quickly to find a general manager capable of making the right moves. The Clips are in no danger yet of jeopardizing the long-term futures of Paul or Griffin in L.A., but the next few months will be crucial for a franchise that enjoyed its most successful season in 2011/12 and has no desire to backslide into mediocrity.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.


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