WEDNESDAY, 3:27pm: The signing is official, the team announced.
TUESDAY, 1:57pm: The Clippers will sign Jeff Ayres to a contract that covers the rest of the season, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Grizzlies had reportedly been eyeing the veteran big man following the expiration of his second 10-day contract with the Clips, but instead L.A. and Ayres are apparently circling back to one another for the balance of 2015/16. It’ll have to be a prorated minimum-salary deal, since that’s all the Clippers can hand out.
Ayres, 28, appeared for just 14 total minutes spread over five games with the Clips on his pair of 10-day deals, which he signed January 23rd and February 2nd. L.A. later turned to rookie Alex Stepheson, who also signed two 10-day contracts with the team, the last of which ran to term last week. Memphis snapped him up the next day, furthering the idea that the Clippers and Grizzlies, who would meet in the first round of the playoffs if they started today, are trolling the same free agent waters. The teams also pulled off a deadline-day swap, exchanging Lance Stephenson and Jeff Green.
A roster spot is open for the Clippers, who won’t have to make a corresponding move to usher Ayres back onto the team. Just how much he’ll make depends on when he signs, but, as a veteran of five previous NBA seasons, he’d get $194,224 if the deal becomes official today. The Clippers would only have to pay him $167,166, with the league picking up the tab for the difference, but the Clips are above the tax threshold, so the signing would add $417,915 to their projected tax bill.
Stepheson, who’d make less money based on his lack of experience, would have been a cheaper option for the Clippers, but Ayres gives the team some veteran know-how, particularly about the Spurs, a potential playoff opponent who had Ayres on their roster for the two seasons prior to this one. He averaged 13.0 minutes per game and made 10 starts for the title-winning 2013/14 San Antonio team.