- Blake Griffin ($16,402,500)1
- DeAndre Jordan ($10,986,550)
- Caron Butler ($8,000,000)
- Jamal Crawford ($5,225,000)
- Eric Bledsoe ($2,626,473)
- Grant Hill ($2,045,065; guaranteed for $500,000)
- Willie Green ($1,399,507)
- DaJuan Summers ($947,907)2
- Maalik Wayns ($788,872)2
Free Agents / Cap Holds
- Chris Paul ($18,668,431)
- Lamar Odom ($12,300,000)
- Chauncey Billups ($7,600,000)
- No. 25 pick ($957,500)
- Matt Barnes ($884,293)
- Ryan Hollins ($884,293)
- Ronny Turiaf ($884,293)
- (Bobby Simmons – $884,293)
- 1st Round (25th overall)
- Guaranteed Salary: $43,740,5231
- Options: $0
- Non-Guaranteed Salary: $4,681,351
- Cap Holds: $43,063,103
- Total: $91,484,9771
Like the Nets a year ago, the Clippers head into the offseason with their future hinging on a decision from their franchise point guard. Unlike the Nets, who still needed to make a flurry of moves to fill out their starting lineup even after Deron Williams agreed to re-sign for the five-year max, the Clips have a solid core already in place, including a franchise player (Blake Griffin) whose own five-year extension kicks in this summer.
That's not to say Chris Paul's decision doesn't represent a crucial moment for the franchise — it does. But if Paul were to leave town in search of greener pastures, it wouldn't necessarily be back to the drawing board for the Clippers, who are coming off the first Pacific Division title in team history.
Fortunately for the Clips, all signs all season have pointed toward Paul re-signing in Los Angeles for five years and $107.34MM. Assuming the team remains confident it will have Paul back next season, that means it will be free to move down the offseason to-do list, addressing a number of additional issues that arise with CP3's return.
For one: Vinny Del Negro's days in L.A. appear numbered, and if Paul is going to be commiting to another five years with the team, you have to figure that means he'll have a voice in the search for a new head coach. Alvin Gentry, Michael Malone, and Byron Scott are among the names that have surfaced as potential Del Negro replacements, and according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, Paul "is fond of" all three.
Once the club hires its coach, it can turn its attention to filling out the roster. If Paul re-signs for the max, the team would already be over the cap, having committed $62MM+ to just six players. Acquiring a player via sign-and-trade is a possibility, but the team will have limited space to pull off a sign-and-trade or use its full mid-level exception. Signing a player using that full MLE would ensure the team is hard-capped for all of next season, like the Bulls were this past year, making in-season moves and upgrades a little tricky.
A long-term deal for Paul would also raise questions about Eric Bledsoe's future in Los Angeles. The Clippers' back-up point guard is eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, and the promise he's shown in his first three seasons will ensure there are teams interested in paying big bucks to lock him up. It's hard to see the Clippers being one of those teams though, with Paul penciled in for most of the playing time at the point in L.A. Although the Clippers won't be forced to make a decision on Bledsoe this summer, the team's leverage in trade talks figures to decline as the 23-year-old's free agency approaches. The Clippers could decide to emulate the Thunder's approach with James Harden, moving Bledsoe well in advance of his free agency in order to maximize his trade value.
Whether the Clippers opt to make their major moves via trade or free agency, there are plenty of holes to fill on a roster that currently only has five players on guaranteed contracts for '13/14. While Jamal Crawford has exhibited an exceptional ability to score off the bench, the Clips could use a more defensive-minded starting two guard — Tony Allen comes immediately to mind, though there will likely be plenty of contenders courting him this offseason.
The Clippers could also use an upgrade on Caron Butler on the wing, but their more pressing need may be in the frontcourt. DeAndre Jordan's offensive game is limited, and L.A. could benefit tremendously from another productive big man to take some pressure off of Blake Griffin. Lamar Odom, Ryan Hollins, Ronny Turiaf, and the rest of the Clips' options didn't exactly fill that hole this past season.
Kevin Garnett would be an ideal fit for the Clippers, and was frequently linked to L.A. in trade rumors at the deadline, though it's not clear if KG is interested in continuing his career anywhere except Boston. Even if he were willing to waive his no-trade clause, the price would be steep — I'd imagine the C's would ask for both Jordan and Bledsoe. Paul Millsap's name also surfaced in deadline rumors in relation to the Clippers, but his path to L.A. isn't quite so clear now that he's a free agent. He'll receive more than the mid-level exception, so the Clippers would likely only have a shot at him through a sign-and-trade. Perhaps L.A. could put together a Bledsoe-centric package that would interest the Jazz, given Utah's need for a point guard.
If the Clippers can't land a player like Garnett or Millsap, they could turn their attention to a free agent market that includes a handful of lesser, albeit more obtainable, options. Still, after seeing the Clippers eliminated in the first round this spring, it's clear the team needs at least one more impact player to become a true threat to come out of the West. I'm not sure that impact player will be available for $5MM or less.
Nonetheless, Griffin and Paul have turned the Clippers into a perennial playoff team, and the appeal of Los Angeles will ensure that many free agents gravitate toward the club. It shouldn't be too difficult for the team to put together another solid bench made up of veterans willing to take slight discounts to play for a contender in L.A.
It was a disappointing end to the season in Los Angeles, but with Paul seemingly likely to return, a new head coach expected to take the reins, further development on the way from Griffin and Jordan, and a valuable trade asset (Bledsoe) in hand, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the team's future.
- Besides Paul, the free agent the Clippers should try hardest to re-sign, in my opinion, is Matt Barnes, who was a terrific value for the veteran's minimum. I'm guessing Barnes will receive more lucrative offers this summer, and the Clips don't hold his Bird rights, so the two sides may be destined to go their separate ways, but I imagine L.A. will try to find a way to bring him back.
- It will be interesting to see just how much the team values the "veteran leadership" provided by Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. Neither player contributed a whole lot on the court in 2012/13, and bringing them back for anything more than the minimum could end up being a misallocation of cap space.
- If the Clippers do try to trade Bledsoe for a veteran, Butler is a decent bet to included in the deal as well. Butler's $8MM cap figure would allow L.A. to take back a significant salary, and his contract will expire at season's end.
- The exact figure of Griffin's maximum salary has yet to be determined, so these amounts will likely be a little higher than listed.
- It's not known whether Summers' and/or Wayns' contracts for 2013/14 include a partial guarantee, or whether they're fully non-guaranteed.