Clippers Rumors

L.A. Notes: Lakers, Lue, Williams, Clippers, West

As we detailed earlier this week, Tyronn Lue‘s meeting with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka about the team’s head coaching vacancy is taking place today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter).

Lue has experience coaching LeBron James in Cleveland, which could be a point in his favor as Pelinka and the Lakers weigh their options for Luke Walton‘s replacement. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes, coaching James isn’t without its challenges, but if a coach comes in with a game plan, holds LeBron accountable, and is prepared for push-back, he can succeed.

Lue and Monty Williams are among the candidates apparently in the running for the Lakers’ job, though both men have reportedly been warned to proceed with caution. As Colton Jones of Amico Hoops relays, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said during an appearance on 710 ESPN that “everyone in the league” has told Williams not to take the job, while Jorge Sedano of ESPN said one of Lue’s close friends has given the former Cavs coach a similar warning.

It remains to be seen which direction the Lakers are leaning, or whether they’ll expand their search beyond Lue, Williams, and Juwan Howard. However, Shelburne also notes that it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Williams prefers to remain with the Sixers, where he’s an assistant on Brett Brown‘s staff. His family is settled there, and he could be next in line if Philadelphia were to move on from Brown, says Shelburne (via Jones).

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:

  • According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, there’s no indication that the Lakers plan to reach out to Clippers consultant Jerry West about the possibility of returning to the franchise following Magic Johnson‘s resignation from his president of basketball operations role. For his part, West said he’s preparing for an eventful offseason with the Clippers, but made no guarantees about his role next season and beyond. “Well, as far as I can tell, I really don’t have a future, OK? My future is now,” West told Amick. “I don’t really worry about that. I worry about getting through this season, and really concentrating – all of us, concentrating – on free agency.”
  • Although they fell back to earth last night, the fact that the Clippers made the postseason and are capable of performances like their Game 2 win over Golden State bodes well for the pitch they can make to free agents this summer, writes Shaun Powell of Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times conveys a similar sentiment, writing that the club’s future is bright regardless of what happens in the playoffs.
  • In an Insider-only piece for, Bobby Marks takes a deep dive into the Lakers’ offseason, exploring the head coaching search, the possibility of revisiting Anthony Davis trade talks, the club’s free agency options, and more.

Pelicans, Trent Redden To Discuss Senior Front Office Role

The Clippers have granted the Pelicans permission to speak with assistant GM Trent Redden about a senior front office position, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of

New Orleans recently tagged David Griffin as its executive VP of basketball operations. Griffin and Redden worked together in the Cavaliers’ front office when the team won the 2016 NBA championship. Wojnarowski writes that it’s no secret that Griffin would prioritize finding a way to add Redden to his team.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic first reported earlier this week that Redden would likely end up assuming a general manager role under Griffin in New Orleans. However, the Pelicans’ new head of basketball operations said at his introductory presser on Wednesday that he’s more concerned about bringing in the right people than in specific titles, so it’s not clear if that’s the exact role he’d have in mind for Redden.

Redden began his career as an intern in the Cavaliers front office, working his way up over his 11-plus years with the franchise. The Clippers hired him after the 2016/17 season.

NBA Agent: Clippers Would Be “Seamless Fit” For “Any Star”

Courting Kevin Durant will be among the Clippers‘ top priorities this offseason and Los Angeles is set up to provide him—or any star—with a situation that’s going to be hard to turn down.

“L.A. is a desired place of living — guys like to be there during the offseason,” an NBA agent told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “And [The Clippers] have stuff that sets them apart from like the Lakers: continuity, cohesiveness. They have an owner who will do whatever it takes that’s possible.”

“…If you’re a star and you come in, they already have guys who know their roles. In other situations, you try to bring in role players and have to deal with role allocation and adjustments. I think any star would be a seamless fit with the Clippers.”

The Clippers are an attractive basketball situation, not just for their ability to offer max contracts but also for their ability to immediately surround any star with a full team, as Brian Windhorst of explained in a piece where he supplies a blueprint for coaching LeBron James and examines the two Southern California basketball franchises. Having so many quality players on low-cost deals means the Clips won’t have to gut their roster to accommodate superstar additions.

Lou Williams, who unanimously won our staff’s Sixth Man of the Year award, is on Los Angeles’ books for just $8MM next season. The core of Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will account for slightly less than $20MM.

The franchise plans on pursuing both Durant and Kawhi Leonard this summer. Landing either would be a win. Landing both without sacrificing depth, as we saw during James’ first season in Miami, is possible because of the front office’s ability to extract value from free agency and trades.

Durant, Leonard or any of the other top stars could shun the Clippers and sign elsewhere. Talk within some league circles would lead you to believe Durant-to-the-Knicks is already a done deal. Though if the Clippers strike out on the top stars, they won’t be hasty with their cap space.

“They’re gonna be disciplined this summer,” the agent tells Buha. “They have primary targets and won’t eat into their cap space just to eat into the cap. They’re developing their young players: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet. Getting the most bang for their buck with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Pat Beverley and Ivica Zubac should be back. A lot of good aspects.”

Wolves Expected To Meet With Clippers’ Winger, Rockets’ Rosas

2:59pm: The Timberwolves have also requested and been granted permission to speak to Rockets VP Gersson Rosas, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Rosas has also been linked to the Pelicans and Wizards this spring.

2:30pm: The Timberwolves have received permission to speak to Clippers general manager Michael Winger about a potential president of basketball operations role in Minnesota, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

It’s not clear when the meeting will take place, but Wolves owner Glen Taylor has targeted a short list of potential candidates to become the club’s head of basketball operations, and Winger appears to be emerging as one of the favorites in that group, as Wojnarowski tweets.

Taylor and the Wolves announced last Wednesday at the end of the regular season that they were formally launching a search for a new president of basketball operations. While general manager Scott Layden has been running the club’s front office for most of the season and may ultimately be retained, Minnesota wants to bring in someone who can oversee the team’s basketball operations, filling Tom Thibodeau‘s old role.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported last week that the Wolves are targeting a strong communicator who places high value on the draft and player development.

For Winger, the Timberwolves’ position would represent a promotion, since he currently serves under head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank in Los Angeles. Before he was hired by the Clippers as their general manager in 2017, Winger worked in the Thunder’s front office as an assistant GM under Sam Presti.

Examining A Turning Point In The Clippers' Season

According to NBA rules, a player will receive a one-game suspension if he reaches seven technical fouls during the playoffs. Durant was one of the league’s leaders with 15 techs during the regular season, often times expressing his displeasure with missed calls or getting into it with opposing players. In Game 1 on Saturday, it was Clippers guard Patrick Beverley who got in Durant’s head, leading to both players being ejected.

“I’ve been playing against Pat Beverley since he was at Arkansas, so I kind of know what he brings,” Durant said. “He’s a Chicago kid, grew up and played in the Chicago area, so those dudes play with a different type of grit, so I can appreciate that about Pat. You know what he’s going to bring to the table, just physicality, the mucking up the game a little bit with his physicality, his talking, everything. That’s what he brings to each team he plays on. That’s his identity, and they support him with the Clippers. For me, I know that coming into the series. I thought it was fun tonight.”

  • Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a problem with Patrick Beverley‘s play earlier in the season, eventually leading to a positive turning point for the team, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “Early in the year we struggled with Pat,” coach Doc Rivers said last week, “because he was struggling buying in.” Beverley has since bought in, leading the Clippers at the point guard position and helping the team obtain a 48-34 record on the season.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Klay Thompson, Warriors, 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $69MM deal in 2015
The smart money has Kevin Durant signing elsewhere this summer, which makes it more imperative for Golden State to keep its dynamic backcourt intact. The Warriors would probably have to max out Thompson at $190MM over five years and ownership appears willing to do so. If not, rivals with ample cap space would certainly give him a four-year, $140MM deal, the max they could offer. In any case, Thompson won’t have to take a discount the way the market figures to play out. Even in a somewhat down year by his standards, he still had the sixth-most 3-point makes in the NBA.

Reggie Bullock, Lakers, 28, SG (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2017
The cap-strapped Pistons figured they couldn’t re-sign Bullock, so they traded him to the Lakers for a couple of assets. He was Detroit’s most reliable wing player but things didn’t go well for him in L.A. He never got into a shooting rhythm with the Lakers, as the career 39.2% long-range gunner made just 34.3% of his 3-point shots. Bullock’s price tag might have gone down somewhat, though he should still field some multi-year offers. He might even return to Detroit, where he played four seasons, if the Pistons can fit him into their budget.

Rodney McGruder, Clippers, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder finished his season in the Clippers organization, though he’s ineligible for the playoffs. Miami put him on waivers to get under the luxury tax and the Clippers claimed him. The Clippers gained control of his Early Bird rights and can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $3MM qualifying offer. It seems that McGruder might benefit from Miami’s surprising move, as he could claim a rotation role with his new club depending upon how well they do in free agency. If they choose not to give him a QO, he should be able to secure a contract on the open market befitting a second-unit player.

Jamal Crawford, Suns, 39, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
How crazy is this? Crawford entered the league in 2000, the same year Zion Williamson was born. They could be teammates next season. That’s if Crawford decides re-sign with Phoenix. He wants to play at least another year and why not? This week, Crawford became the oldest player in NBA history to record a 50-point game. Crawford appeared in 64 games with Phoenix after playing a minimum of 79 the previous three years. He’ll be providing offense off the bench somewhere next season, a tribute to his preparation, perseverance and durability.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, C (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
Cauley-Stein said prior to the season he was “ready to get paid” after his walk year. He started all but one game this season for Sacramento but didn’t really enhance his value. He’s not a shot-blocker. He doesn’t rebound particularly well for his size. He can’t shoot free throws, nor does he pose much of an offensive threat. The Kings can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $6.25MM qualifying offer but even that’s not a given. Cauley-Stein will certainly get a raise compared to his rookie deal but it probably won’t be what he expected.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Clippers Claim Rodney McGruder Off Waivers

The Clippers have used an open roster spot and a traded player exception to claim shooting guard Rodney McGruder off waivers from the Heat, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Because he was released after March 1, McGruder won’t be eligible to participate in the postseason for Los Angeles. However, the Clippers will assume control of his Early Bird rights and will have the ability to make him a restricted free agent this summer by issuing him a qualifying offer. That QO would be worth just over $3MM, since McGruder met the starter criteria this season.

McGruder, 27, had a solid season in Miami, averaging 7.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.7 APG with a .403/.351/.722 as a regular part of the team’s rotation over 66 games (23.5 MPG). However, with the Heat’s playoff chances dwindling, they decided to prioritize getting out of the tax.

Since McGruder was claimed off waivers, Miami won’t be on the hook for his $1,544,951 cap hit, allowing the club to duck below the tax line. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the move will save the Heat approximately $5.2MM, since they’ll no longer have a $2.1MM tax bill and will instead be in line for a $3.1MM share of other teams’ tax payments. It should also help the organization avoid repeater-tax penalties down the road.

Although McGruder is earning the minimum salary this season, his contract was a three-year pact, meaning it wasn’t eligible to be claimed using the minimum salary exception, which only accommodates one- or two-year deals. As such, the Clippers had to use a traded player exception to place their claim. The team had two exceptions that could have worked, but likely used the $2,760,095 TPE from last August’s Sam Dekker deal, since it’s worth less than – and will expire before – the $9.8MM TPE created in February’s Tobias Harris blockbuster.

The Clippers are in position to make McGruder part of their future, but could just as easily let him go during the offseason if retaining him would compromise their ability to land a top free agent target. Still, his modest cap hold – which would be the amount of his qualifying offer if the Clips extend one – should give the club some flexibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Waive Luc Mbah a Moute

The Clippers have waived veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who’s currently rehabbing from left knee surgery, the team announced today in a press release.

Mbah a Moute appeared in just four games during his second stint with the team, undergoing the season-ending knee surgery in March. He’s expected to return to basketball activities in time for free agency this July, where he’ll be able to sign with a team of his choice.

The release of Mbah a Moute, 32, leaves the Clippers with no players left on the roster who played for the team two seasons ago. The franchise has completed a full overhaul under the guidance of team president Lawrence Frank and general manager Michael Winger, with Doc Rivers remaining at the helm as coach.

Mbah a Moute holds career-averages of 6.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 0.9 steals across his 11 NBA seasons. He made stops with Milwaukee, Sacramento, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Houston before signing a one-year deal with the Clippers last summer.

Los Angeles is working to secure the sixth seed in the Western Conference with two games left on the season. The team has a road game scheduled against the Warriors on Sunday, along with a home game against the Jazz to finish their campaign on Tuesday.

NBA rosters are officially set for the playoffs on Friday, April 12 at 3:00 pm EST. The Clippers will have until their last game of the regular season to sign a player for the postseason if they wish.

Pacific Notes: McGee, Front Office, Beverley, Cauley-Stein, Suns

While the Lakers are out of the playoff picture, and LeBron James will not play again this season, several players on the roster have incentive to finish the year strong. As Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Mike Muscala are set for unrestricted free agency this summer.

Without the postseason as a motivating factor, the next pay check for those players is a strong consideration. Head coach Luke Walton commended those players’ efforts to close out the season.

“I think they’ve done a nice job of staying focused on the team. And that is a big thing, a real thing,” Walton said. “Guys should be concerned about their futures. You have to take care of that as players. But when you take care of your team and play with that type of attitude, the other teams in the league see that. That’s what they want.”

Particularly, Walton praised McGee, stating that the NBA champion “looks good right now,” and adding that his contributions recently have been “meaningful numbers.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register opines that the Lakers‘ front office needs to be cognizant of its missteps this past season. Unable to pair James with another elite talent, this summer will be another chance to do so and the team will need to be smart with its approach.
  • As the Clippers prepare for the postseason, the team hopes to get Patrick Beverley back on the court and healthy, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. “So, it’s an injury of concern, but nothing that I think is that serious,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “He will play in the playoffs. I’ll say that.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein is set for restricted free agency this summer and the Kings will need to decide whether or not to retain his services. Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee examines Cauley-Stein’s value and why Sacramento will face a tough decision.
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders looks at how the Suns can accelerate their rebuild. Phoenix has a solid star piece in Devin Booker but will need to maximize acquisitions via free agency and the draft.