Los Angeles Clippers Rumors

Los Angeles Clippers trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Western Notes: Jordan, Draft, Nuggets

May 26 at 9:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Mavericks don’t have a great track record of attracting top-tier free agents to Dallas, but the franchise badly needs to land Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com writes. Jordan represents the Mavs’ last hope to put a championship-caliber team together around Dirk Nowitzki, Taylor opines. The 26-year-old big man has expressed through back channels that he’ll be “extremely interested” in signing with the Mavs this offseason, but the Clippers have indicated that re-signing Jordan is the team’s top priority.

Here’s the latest from the NBA’s Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets will begin their pre-draft workouts on Wednesday, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post reports (Twitter links). The first group to display their wares for Denver will consist of J.J. Avila, Askia Booker, Derek Cooke, Alex Herrera, Stanton Kidd, and Mitch McCarron, Dempsey notes. Working out for the team on Thursday will be Daniel Bejarano, Michael Frazier II, Cam Griffin, and Brett Olson, the Denver Post Scribe relays.
  • Arizona guard T.J. McConnell said that he worked out for the Spurs, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Working out for the Jazz on Wednesday will be Dallin Bachynski, Ryan Harrow, Kendall Gray, Tyler Harvey, Hugh Greenwood, and Tyler Kalinoski, the team announced.
  • Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones‘ first team workout will be for the Mavericks this coming Monday, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter).
  • The Timberwolves have workouts scheduled with Harvey and Michael Qualls for this Friday, Wolfson tweets.

Draft Notes: Oubre, Porzingis, Greene

May 26 at 8:59am CDT By Chuck Myron

Hoops Rumors has a full log of 2015 draft news that you can see anytime at the link here. You can also set that page up as an RSS feed to receive constant updates. All you’d need to do would be to add /feed to the url, like so: hoopsrumors.com/2015-nba-draft/feed. Here’s more on the draft:

  • Kelly Oubre had a disappointing freshman season at Kansas, but he’s still aiming high and is attempting to dispel misconceptions about his work ethic, as Moke Hamilton details for Basketball Insiders. Oubre, in speaking to Hamilton, added the Nuggets, Raptors and Knicks to the list of teams known to have interviewed him at the combine. “Some people say I’m lazy and some people say that I don’t work hard all the time,” Oubre said. “That’s not true. This year at Kansas I may have come off lazy because I really didn’t understand some of things that I was doing, so it kind of caused me to slow down.”
  • Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis joins Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay in the top five of Derek Bodner’s mock draft for USA Today.
  • St. John’s guard Phil Greene is set to work out this week for the Sixers, Clippers and Nets, sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). Greene and Steve Lavin, his college coach, recently spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors.
  • Pat Connaughton has fought the perception that he doesn’t have elite athleticism, and his 44-inch vertical leap at the combine, the second highest of all time at the event, helped move the Notre Dame shooting guard farther onto the draft radar. Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star has the details.

Latest On Paul Pierce

May 25 at 12:22pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Many around the league believe that Paul Pierce will opt out of his deal with the Wizards and join the Clippers for the home stretch of his career, as TNT’s David Aldridge writes within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. That would run counter to Wizards coach Randy Wittman‘s apparent confidence that Pierce will pick up his nearly $5.544MM option and return to Washington. Pierce, who’ll turn 38 in October, left it open-ended in the wake of Washington’s playoff elimination about whether he would even play next season, echoing comments he made in January.

The link between the Clippers and Pierce dates back to last year, as Pierce told Aldridge this past fall that he saw the Clippers as his favored alternative to re-signing with the Nets before sign-and-trade talks between the Clips and Brooklyn broke down. Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers was Pierce’s coach for nine seasons with the Celtics, and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell played a major role in luring Pierce to the Wizards this past summer before he joined the Clippers staff. Still, the Clippers, if they succeed in their efforts to re-sign DeAndre Jordan, almost certainly won’t have the capacity to give Pierce as much for next season as he would make if he picked up his option, as I explained earlier when I looked at the offseason ahead in Los Angeles. The Clippers would have a tough time exceeding the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception for any outside free agent if Jordan comes back.

Pierce has said he feels a connection with the younger players on the Wizards and with the city of Washington. The forward assumed a larger role for the team in the postseason than he had during the regular season, no doubt in part because of his sizzling 52.4% shooting on 63 attempts from behind the arc in the playoffs.

The 10-time All-Star will probably speak with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck this summer about a role with the Boston organization for after he’s done playing, as Pierce told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald in December. Still, Pierce didn’t follow up at that point on his assertion from March of 2014 that he was open to rejoining the Celtics as a player. Pierce and the Rockets had a degree of mutual interest last summer, but a deal didn’t appear likely.

Offseason Outlook: Los Angeles Clippers

May 25 at 9:56am CDT By Chuck Myron

Guaranteed Contracts

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Options

  • None

Restricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

  • None

Unrestricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • None

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $58,077,790
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $8,748,342
  • Options: $0
  • Cap Holds: $24,060,085
  • Total: $90,886,217

This looked like the year the Clippers would make that next step forward. They were one win away from their first-ever Western Conference Finals berth, but they whiffed on all three chances to grab that victory. Instead, the team hit its head against the same ceiling it has repeatedly, losing in the conference semifinals for the third year out of four. What’s worse is that the specter of losing DeAndre Jordan in free agency presents a clear path in which they could get significantly worse for next season, and there’s no readily apparent way to get much better.

Apr 14, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre  Jordan (6) against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

No, a return to the lottery isn’t in store, given the continued presence of both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, both signed through 2016/17 with player options for 2017/18. Yet with more than $58MM guaranteed against a projected $67.1MM cap, and more than $6.7MM tied up in non-guaranteed salary to key contributors Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, the Clippers would have no cap flexibility to sign an adequate replacement should Jordan bolt. The former 35th overall pick has spoken in glowing terms about Doc Rivers, the coach who took him from playing only 24.5 minutes per game in 2012/13 to an All-NBA Third Team selection in the span of two years, but Jordan has said the Clippers aren’t necessarily the favorites to sign him. Indeed, Jordan has expressed through back channels that he will have extreme interest in joining his home-state Mavericks this summer, multiple sources told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com last month.

The Clippers appear ready to make him a five-year maximum-salary offer. Jordan has said he won’t sign a one-year deal to try to reap an even greater payday when the salary cap escalates sharply in the summer of 2016, so ostensibly the Clippers can tempt him with the fifth year and 3% higher raises that only they can offer him. Of course, Jordan never said he wouldn’t sign a two- or three-year deal to take advantage of the salary cap when it’s projected to rise into the $100MMs. The financial advantage the Clippers have wouldn’t be as pronounced in that scenario. It could well come down to comfort rather than money. While Jordan’s affection for Rivers is obvious, he’s rumored to have had a falling out with Paul, though teammate Dahntay Jones says that isn’t true.

A Jordan departure would carry a silver lining of sorts for the Clippers. Removing the league’s leading rebounder and All-Defensive First Team center from the roster would leave the Clippers without a reasonable chance to break through in a way they didn’t this year, and so it would likely goose Rivers into more extensive retooling with an eye on the summer of 2016. They could try to trade Crawford’s expiring, partially guaranteed contract for a future first-round pick or a promising young player on a rookie scale contract. They could explore what sort of bounty they might get in return for selling high on Redick, who’s coming off the best season of his career, knowing that he’d be 32 by the time they could spend freely again. They could try their luck at using the full mid-level again after blowing it on Spencer Hawes last year. None of those approaches would necessarily bear fruit, but as long as the Clippers didn’t clutter their 2016/17 books too much, missing on Jordan would allow them the chance to go after Kevin Durant and other star 2016 free agents.

Jordan is, without a doubt, one of the top centers in the game, but he’s no Durant. Maxing out Jordan this summer would mean he’d be making in the neighborhood of $20.5MM in 2016/17, and coupled with the more than $20.1MM that Griffin has coming and the nearly $22.9MM the team committed to Paul, and the Clippers would have about $63.5MM against the preliminary projection of an $89MM salary cap for three players alone, never mind the money on the books for Redick and Hawes. That would make it almost impossible for the Clippers to sign Durant to his estimated $25MM maximum salary.

The effects of a max deal for Jordan would be even more immediate, since it would essentially force the Clippers to either pay the tax or unload a key member of the team, like Redick or Crawford. A slight chance exists that the Clippers could dodge the tax apron, the line $4MM above the tax threshold, but it’s more likely the Clips would zoom above the apron, too. That means the team would be unable to acquire a player via sign-and-trade or spend more than the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level amount on the starting salary for any free agent from another team. Just crossing the tax threshold carries with it stricter salary-matching rules for trades, never mind the apron.

Regardless of whether the Clippers sign Jordan or not, they’re already hamstrung when it comes to Austin Rivers. They can’t sign him for a starting salary any more than $3,110,796, which is the value of the rookie scale team option that the Pelicans declined before the season. That rule is in place so teams can’t try to get around the rookie scale and give their recent first-round picks more money as an enticement to stick around for the long term, but it doesn’t matter that the Clippers had nothing to do with that option decision. It still applies, even though Rivers was traded twice this season. It wouldn’t matter if the Clippers wanted to sign him using cap room, the mid-level, or any form of exception. That $3,110,796 figure is as high as they can go.

Of course, that doesn’t mean any other team will want to exercise its right to pay him more than that. Rivers had his moments in the playoffs, when he shot 37.1% from three-point range, but he was still a net negative during the postseason according to Basketball-Reference’s Box Plus/Minus metric, just as that statistic suggests he has been during all four regular seasons of his NBA career. Doc Rivers unsurprisingly wants to re-sign his son, and there is a degree of promise left for the former 10th overall pick who won’t turn 23 until August 1st. Still, there won’t be a clamor for his services from competing teams, and even $3,110,796 may well be too rich for the Clippers’ tastes, especially considering the other salary constraints they face.

The perception of nepotism concerned Doc Rivers before GM Dave Wohl and a pair of assistant coaches talked him into trading for his son. Doc Rivers suggested that Wohl had worked to convince him for months, dating back to last summer. Yet for myriad other reasons, Doc Rivers might be wise to give Wohl or someone else the final say in the front office. Rivers succeeded with the Redick sign-and-trade in his first weeks on the job, but he’s done little since to upgrade the talent on the roster, outside of the enhancements he’s made to Jordan and others through his coaching. Perhaps Rivers would be well-advised to concentrate on what he does best, better than just about anyone in the game, and simply coach while someone else handles player personnel. Owner Steve Ballmer just last summer gave Rivers a five-year deal worth more than $50MM to serve both as coach and president of basketball operations, but Rivers needn’t do two jobs for Ballmer to get his money’s worth. Both Wohl and assistant GM Gary Sacks have been at the controls before, and if the Clippers wanted to look elsewhere, the chance to work for the deep-pocketed Ballmer in a warm-weather glamour market with two incumbent superstars on the team would be appealing to just about any executive.

Still, it doesn’t seem like Rivers is going to be without his front office responsibilities anytime soon, and when it comes to keeping Jordan around, that’s probably an advantage for the Clippers. Whoever’s running the team will have to excel at building the team’s depth, or at least improve on the spartan supporting cast that’s there now. The placement of Paul, Griffin and Jordan on this year’s All-NBA Teams showed the Clippers’ core is as strong if not stronger than any other in the league. Paul could overcome his playoff demons, Jordan could make more free throws, and Griffin could challenge for the title of the best player in the league, and the Clippers could still fall short of a title if the team can’t fill a rotation with enough players worthy of staying on the floor.

Cap Footnotes

1 — The Clippers waived Delfino in August 2014 and used the stretch provision to spread his remaining guaranteed salary over the next five seasons.
2 — The Clippers waived Farmar as part of a buyout deal in January and used the stretch provision to spread his remaining guaranteed salary over the next three seasons.
3 — The Clippers waived Raduljica in August 2014 and used the stretch provision to spread his remaining guaranteed salary over the next five seasons.
4 — Crawford’s salary is partially guaranteed for $1,500,000.
5 — Barnes’ salary is partially guaranteed for $1,000,000.
6 — Hudson’s salary becomes fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through July 15th.

The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post. 

Clippers Seeking To Deal For Draft Pick

May 23 at 11:04pm CDT By Arthur Hill

The Clippers would like to trade their way back into this year’s draft, tweets Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times. The writer says Los Angeles is interested in acquiring a pick, but doesn’t specify how high it might be.

The Clippers gave their first-round selection, which falls at No. 28, to the Celtics as compensation when they acquired coach Doc Rivers two years ago. Their second-round choice, No. 57 overall, went to Denver in a 2009 deal for Cheickh Samb.

Faced with bench problems this season, the Clippers will probably have to rely on the draft to improve. The team already has more than $58MM in salary committed for next year, and free agent center DeAndre Jordan is likely to receive a max contract this summer.

Mavericks Rumors: Stoudemire, Aminu, Ellis

May 23 at 10:21pm CDT By Arthur Hill

Amar’e Stoudemire may be with another team next season, especially if the Mavericks can land a top-tier free agent this summer, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. After being waived by the Knicks, Stoudemire came to Dallas and averaged 10.8 points in 23 games while emerging as a locker room leader. However, the Mavericks are expected to chase LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, which would make Stoudemire’s return unlikely. Sefko also examines some other Dallas free agents, writing that Rajon Rondo and Greg Smith are definitely leaving, although the writer is just making an educated guess on Smith. Sefko says Bernard James may find a better deal elsewhere, and the fate of Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva will depend on the market.

There’s more free agency news from Dallas:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu is probably looking for a larger role and larger contract than the Mavericks are willing to give him, Sefko writes in a separate story. He’s the type of young, high-energy player Dallas needs, but as a small forward he could be trapped behind Chandler Parsons for the next two seasons, although Parsons can opt out next summer. Aminu can also play power forward, but Dirk Nowitzki is in his way there.
  • If Monta Ellis decides to opt out of the $9MM he is owed next season, it will leave Dallas with a difficult decision, Sefko writes. Ellis is a big-time NBA scorer and would form a lethal inside-outside combination if the Mavericks are lucky enough to land Aldridge. However, Ellis’ defense is suspect and he tends to be a streak shooter. If Dallas gives him a max contract, Sefko argues, he would be another overpaid player on the roster along with Parsons.
  • The Mavericks’ poor choices at point guard may force them to keep J.J. Barea, Sefko contends. With Devin Harris and Raymond Felton competing for the starting job, Dallas needs a competent backup, and Sefko notes that the free agent options aren’t promising.

And-Ones: Max Players, Clippers, Bulls, Payrolls

May 22 at 3:33pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The benefits to this summer’s max-level free agents of signing a short-term deal to re-enter free agency when the cap surges in the next couple of years outweigh the risks, argues Louis Roxin of RealGM. A couple of executives who spoke to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders take the opposite viewpoint, arguing that the specter of a decline in production, a major injury, or both make it too difficult to pass up a four- or five-year deal (Twitter links). Of course, team executives probably want to avoid paying a premium if they can avoid it, but how it all plays out this summer will be fascinating to watch. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Clippers reserve Dahntay Jones insists there’s no rift between DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, as had been reported, telling TMZ that everyone on the team is united in their desire for Jordan to re-sign in free agency this summer. “Those guys are brothers, man,” Jones said of Jordan and Paul. “They sit with each other on the plane, on the bus. If you don’t like a guy you stay away from him.”
  • The Bulls front office was miffed when Tom Thibodeau left his last contract extension unsigned for months and think he hasn’t given them enough credit for building the roster, while some in the organization feel the coach wants more power, as Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com hears. Friedell provides a timeline of the breakdown in the relationship between the coach and the Chicago brass.
  • The Nets have the highest 2014/15 payroll, but their paltry $351K in money to the waived Brandon Davies pales in comparison to the $24.8MM the crosstown Knicks spent on six players no longer on the roster, including Amar’e Stoudemire, as Pincus examines.

Western Notes: Jordan, Lakers, Nuggets

May 21 at 10:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Now that the Clippers have been eliminated from the playoffs, the team needs to look toward the offseason and find a way to improve despite the franchise’s challenging salary cap situation, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes. According to coach/executive Doc Rivers, Los Angeles’ first order of business this summer will be re-signing center DeAndre Jordan, Blinebury notes. “Our first priority is D.J.,” Rivers said. “That’s obvious. I don’t know how much I can say there. Can you tamper with your own guy? If that’s true I’m going to go tamper right now.” The Clippers will have competition for the unrestricted free agent’s services, and Jordan has already expressed through back channels that he’ll be “extremely interested” in signing with the Mavs this summer.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets are taking their time looking for a new head coach, and a decision isn’t expected for another couple weeks, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “It’s exactly how we thought it would go,” team president Josh Kroenke said. “We’ve had several conversations with a lot of people. I think that it benefits us to talk to as many people as we can. We have some people in the back of our mind that we think would be great fits. I’ve talked to enough people, and going through the process before, your coaching hire is probably going to be your hardest hire because there’s so much that goes into that role in today’s sporting industry.”
  • Kroenke also relayed that the Nuggets aren’t concerned about the length of time the coaching search has taken thus far, Dempsey adds. It’s beneficial for us on some level to be patient,” Kroenke said. “I think more candidates have opened up since the end of the season. Based on different organizations wanting to go different directions with different guys, I think there was never a time when we wanted to rush into anything. Until you have that guy that you know is the one that you want, I think it really benefits you to talk to as many people as you can. Because also during the course of these interviews you’re getting to pick some of the best basketball minds that are out there. That’s an incredible benefit to the process.
  • The Lakers aren’t 100% set on drafting either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, and the team is intrigued by D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com tweets.

James, Curry, Harden Lead All-NBA Teams

May 21 at 10:32am CDT By Chuck Myron

LeBron James and Stephen Curry finished atop the voting for the All-NBA Teams, with James Harden, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol joining them on the first team, the league announced via press release. Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Paul, Pau Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins comprise the second team. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Tim Duncan, Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving make up the third team.

Curry, the league’s MVP, and James each received 645 points through a system in which five points are awarded a first team vote, three points go for a second team vote and one point is given for a third team vote. The duo garnered 129 first team votes each, making them unanimous first team selections. They were followed closely by Harden, with 125 first team votes and 637 points, and Davis, who had 119 first team votes and 625 points. Marc Gasol, who’s heading into free agency, wasn’t as widely seen as a first-teamer by the media members who cast their ballots, rounding out the squad with 65 first-team votes and 453.

Every member of the second team received at least one first team vote, and Thompson and Irving were the only members of the third team not to get a first team vote. Al Horford also received a first team vote even though he didn’t make any of the teams. The NBA will soon display the votes of each media member on its website, but the league has already distributed the information via press release, so click here to check it out in PDF form.

Leonard, Green, Allen Lead All-Defensive Teams

May 20 at 1:17pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Tony Allen, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul comprise this year’s All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced via press release. Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Bogut, John Wall and Tim Duncan are on the second team. Bogut’s selection is perhaps most important, since he triggers a bonus worth 15% of his nearly $12.973MM salary for this season, giving him approximately $1.946MM in extra pay. It also means his cap hit for next season jumps to $13.8MM instead of $12MM, since the bonus will fall in the category of a likely bonus. Still, the extra $1.8MM wouldn’t count against the tax next season unless Bogut again plays in 65 games and makes an All-Defensive team.

Leonard was the leading vote-getter from the media members who cast the ballots, which is no surprise, since he also won the Defensive Player of the Year award. The latest honor is further ammunition for a max contract this summer from the Spurs, though it appears he and San Antonio were already set to quickly agree to terms on one come July. Green and Jordan are also soon-to-be free agents on the first team, while Butler and Duncan are heading to free agency from the second team.

Davis, who’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, topped the voting among second-teamers. The balloting went by a points system in which two points were awarded for a first team vote and one point for a second. Rudy Gobert, who received five first team votes, garnered the most points among those who missed the cut for both teams. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Klay Thompson, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley were others who garnered multiple first team votes but didn’t make it on either team. Click here to see how each media member voted.