The Clippers reached a deal to trade away one of their stars today, but remain confident about re-signing another. According to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), the Clips believe today’s Chris Paul trade agreement clears the way for the club to re-sign Blake Griffin.
[RELATED: Clippers to trade Chris Paul to Rockets]
While the idea of re-signing Griffin after losing Paul may seem counter-intuitive, there are some reasons why it makes sense to bring back one without the other. Paul and Griffin were never believed to be the best of friends, with multiple reports over the years suggesting there was some tension between the two players.
Additionally, had the Clippers re-signed both Paul and Griffin to maximum salary contracts, the club would have gone well into luxury tax territory. Without Paul’s max salary to consider, the Clips’ books will be a little easier to manage, even with a lucrative new deal for Griffin on the cap.
Along the same lines, the Clippers wouldn’t necessarily be able to create a significant chunk of cap room by letting Griffin walk, since they already have upwards of $74MM in guaranteed salaries on their 2017/18 cap after taking into account the additions of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Sam Dekker. Re-signing Griffin and staying over the cap would allow the team to keep the trade exception it figures to acquire in the CP3 deal.
Multiple teams, including the Celtics, Heat, and Thunder, are expected to pursue Griffin in free agency, so a return to Los Angeles is hardly a sure thing for the former No. 1 overall pick. Nonetheless, if the Clippers are willing to offer five years, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be the favorite. As our maximum salary projections show, the Clips could offer a five-year deal worth an estimated $172MM+, while any other team could offer up to about $127.7MM over four years.
Meanwhile, in other Clippers news, the team has reached an agreement with forward Paul Pierce to extend the guarantee date on his salary for the 2017/18 season, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Pierce, who remains under contract for one more year despite his plans to retire, currently has approximately $1MM of his $3.68MM salary guaranteed. The full amount was set to become guaranteed after June 30, but pushing back that deadline could allow L.A. to use Pierce’s contract in a trade once the new league year begins.