Clippers Rumors

Poll: Which L.A./NYC Team Is Most Likely To Land Top 2019 Free Agent?

The 2019 NBA offseason is shaping up to be a fascinating one. With plenty of big-name players poised to reach free agency and many teams around the league in position to create cap room, there could be a good deal of player movement on the free agent market.

Making things even more interesting is the fact that all four teams in Los Angeles and New York, the country’s two biggest media markets, are poised to be among those teams with significant cap space, and all four teams will be looking to land a top-tier free agent.

In certain recent years, the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, and Knicks may not have even received consideration from elite free agents. All four clubs have suffered from poor management and/or ownership at times during the last decade, but all four appear to have turned a corner as of late.

The Lakers, under new head of basketball operations Magic Johnson, secured a long-term commitment from LeBron James in free agency and have complemented him with an intriguing collection of young prospects. They should have the cap space necessary to sign another maximum-salary free agent in 2019.

The Clippers, led by owner Steve Ballmer, have transitioned out of the Lob City era by putting together a deep, talented roster, and will have veteran executive Jerry West in their corner as they look to make a splash on the 2019 free agent market. They’ll have more than enough room for one max free agent, and could potentially clear enough space for two.

The Nets are finally out from under their commitments to the Celtics and are trending in the right direction, having acquired young building blocks like Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert despite not having premium first-round picks for the last few years. They could also be in position to open up two maximum-salary contract slots this summer, depending on what happens with their own free agents (note: two max slots are far less likely after Spencer Dinwiddie‘s extension).

Finally, even the Knicks, who have endured more drama and made more questionable roster moves than just about any other NBA team in recent years, have been showing more patience and making smarter roster moves since Scott Perry assumed GM duties in 2017. Assuming they’re able to move a salary or two, the Knicks should have enough cap space for a max free agent in 2019.

All four of these clubs have big-market appeal and will be able to make strong pitches to next year’s best free agents. That’s a group that should include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton, Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, and Kemba Walker, as our recent free agent power rankings show.

Our question today is which of those four clubs has the best chance to land one of those marquee free agents. For the sake of this poll, we’re focused more on outside free agent signings, so the Clippers re-signing Harris or the Knicks re-signing Kristaps Porzingis wouldn’t really count.

What do you think? Which Los Angeles or New York club is in the best position to land an elite free agent in 2019?

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Clippers Have Made Themselves Attractive To Free Agents

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Warriors have been one of the NBA’s least active teams in terms of in-season trades over the last several seasons, but the other four Pacific teams all look like good candidates to be active over the next couple months. The Kings may be buyers, the Suns are in the market for a point guard, and the Lakers and Clippers will seek upgrades that don’t compromise their 2019 cap space.

Here’s our latest look at a few possible trade candidates from the Pacific…

Milos Teodosic, G
Los Angeles Clippers
$6.3MM cap hit; restricted free agent in 2019

Last month, in the midst of a 14-game stretch in which he appeared in four games and played less than 24 total minutes, Teodosic expressed some frustration with how his time in the NBA is going, suggesting he’d likely return to the EuroLeague in 2019 — perhaps even before the end of the NBA season.

With Lou Williams on the shelf due to a hamstring injury, Teodosic has had the opportunity to play a bigger role over the Clippers‘ last two games, and he should continue to get regular minutes for at least a couple weeks. However, if he falls out of the rotation again before the trade deadline, Teodosic could become a trade candidate.

The Clippers have no shortage of backcourt options and teams like the Suns or Magic could really benefit from having a veteran point guard setting up their young players for easy baskets. Those clubs would also have an easier time carving out a clear-cut role for the former EuroLeague star.

Zach Randolph, C
Sacramento Kings
$11.69MM cap hit; unrestricted free agent in 2019

A starter last season for the Kings, Randolph hasn’t played a single minute this season and looks like a buyout candidate. Before they consider negotiating a buyout though, the Kings figure to thoroughly explore the trade market to see if Randolph’s $11.69MM expiring contract might be a useful trade chip.

Combined with Sacramento’s $11MM in cap room, Randolph’s expiring deal could give the club some intriguing options on the trade market. For instance, since the Kings reportedly have interest in Otto Porter, let’s say the Wizards make Porter available for cap relief and draft picks.

Sacramento could attach a future pick to Randolph ($11.69MM) and Ben McLemore ($5.46MM), who is also in the final year of his contract. If both teams were over the cap, those two players wouldn’t be enough to match Porter’s $26MM+ salary, but the under-the-cap Kings aren’t subject to those salary-matching rules and could make it work. The Wizards, meanwhile, would get out of tax territory, pick up a future asset, and significantly increase their 2019 cap flexibility.

There’s no indication that that specific scenario is on the table, but it’s an example of how the Kings could leverage expiring contracts like Randolph’s and their cap room in order to make a major move.

Dragan Bender, F/C
Phoenix Suns
$4.66MM cap hit; UFA in 2019

Typically, a 4-24 team like the Suns would be able to find plenty of minutes for a big man who is just two-and-a-half years removed from being drafted fourth overall. However, Bender’s days in Phoenix appear to be nearing an end. The team declined his 2019/20 option in October and has played him in just 10 games (8.6 MPG) so far this season.

If even the Suns can’t find a role for Bender, perhaps his days in the NBA are numbered too. But the seven-footer knocked down 36.6% of his three-pointers last season and he’s still just 21 years old. If another club wants to roll the dice on Bender’s upside, it seems like Phoenix would be open to making a move.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Keeping Close Eye On Kawhi, Durant

The Clippers are “transparently obsessed” with chasing 2019’s top two free agents, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who writes that the franchise has treated Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant like college recruits, frequently sending executives to Raptors and Warriors contests this season to scout the stars and ensure that the Clips are visible at those games.

Raptors officials have noticed at least one Clippers employee at about three-quarters of their games this season, per Windhorst. President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank has been among those Clippers employees spotted at Toronto’s contests, even though top execs rarely attend NBA games that don’t involve their teams.

As Windhorst details, the approach appears to be part of team owner Steve Ballmer‘s master plan. In Ballmer’s perfect world, the Clippers would land Leonard or Durant – or both – during the 2019 offseason, making them the face(s) of the franchise as the team prepares to eventually move into a new arena in Inglewood. Ballmer alluded to this plan on Tuesday, as Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times relays.

“We’re just stacking it up,” Ballmer said. “We’re stacking it up with Jerry [West], stacking up with Lawrence, stacking it up with Doc [Rivers], stacking it up with a new arena. We’re headhunting in a place where this team has not been before.”

The Raptors and Warriors will hold the Bird rights for Leonard and Durant, respectively, allowing them to offer more years and more money to their stars than any other suitor could put on the table. Still, the Clippers are in position to make a strong pitch to both players — L.A. should have the cap flexibility to create two maximum-salary slots, and has added a veteran executive in West – as well as former scribe Lee Jenkins – to its front office “in an effort to prepare a grand slam pitch when the time is right,” writes Windhorst.

While it remains to be seen whether the Clippers will be successful in their efforts to add a star, they may have another prime opportunity to continue their scouting efforts on Wednesday night, with the Raptors in Golden State to face the Dubs. Leonard is day-to-day with a sore hip, though Toronto had no problem thrashing the Clippers in L.A. on Tuesday night without him.

Rivers: Lou Williams Could Miss 2-3 Weeks

Clippers guard Lou Williams, who left Monday’s game against Phoenix with a hamstring issue, could miss the next two or three weeks due to that injury, head coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday night before the club’s game against Toronto (link via Ohm Youngmisuk of

“My guess, two weeks,” Rivers said, per Youngmisuk. “I don’t know. Honestly. They said it was not a bad hamstring, but I have never heard of a good one. I think when you hurt those things, those are really tough injuries.”

Williams has struggled a little with his shot so far this season, posting a .398 FG% which would match his career low. However, he’s still a go-to option for the Clippers in the clutch, and is averaging 17.2 PPG.

While the Clips will miss Williams in his absence, they have a deep roster and shouldn’t find themselves too shorthanded over the next couple weeks. Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Avery Bradley will continue to play major roles in the backcourt, with Milos Teodosic, Tyrone Wallace, and Sindarius Thornwell among the candidates to pick up a few extra minutes.

Clippers Expect Mbah a Moute Back In Coming Weeks

Legal Fight Continues Over Clippers’ New Arena

The Clippers’ plans to build their own arena could be tied up in court for the foreseeable future, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times.

Owner Steve Ballmer wants to create a new home for the franchise, which currently shares Staples Center with the Lakers and the NHL’s Kings with a lease that runs through 2024. Ballmer has targeted a four-block area in Inglewood as the location for a privately funded arena, team offices, a practice facility, a sports medicine clinic and other ventures.

The project, which undergoing an 18-month environmental impact study, is the subject of a legal battle between Ballmer and Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the nearby Forum. Neither side is commenting publicly on the legal proceedings, but the battle intensified this week when Murphy’s Bowl LLC, which is controlled by the Clippers, countersued MSG.

“The proposed Los Angeles Clippers Arena … is the latest in this series of projects that will reshape Inglewood and benefit its residents for decades,” the countersuit read. “MSG Forum LLC … fearing the competition it would face from a new arena in Inglewood, seeks to stop the Clippers Arena in its tracks.”

The project has attracted opposition since Ballmer reached an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city nearly a year and a half ago. Uplift Inglewood contends the community violated California’s Surplus Land Act by offering to use the area for an arena rather than affordable housing. A group called IRATE has filed a pair of lawsuits claiming the project would violate the state’s Environmental Quality Act.

A quick resolution isn’t expected, but about half of the Clippers’ 36-month negotiating agreement still remains. Ballmer appears resolute in his desire to build a new home for the franchise, and a spokesman for AEG, which owns Staples Center, confirmed that the team hasn’t engaged in any discussions about extending its lease.

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:

Jonas Jerebko, Warriors, PF, 31 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.18MM deal in 2018
Jerebko has bounced around the league the last few seasons but he always stays within his role and provides solid contributions wherever he lands. He’s averaging 7.2 PPG while shooting a career-high 48.9% from the field in 19.8 MPG. He’s also helped on the boards (5.5 RPG). An above-average 3-point shooter, Jerebko shouldn’t have too much trouble finding another contender to sign him as their backup stretch four next summer. It could be Golden State if he’s willing to settle for the veteran’s minimum again.

Tobias Harris, Clippers, 26, PF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2015
When news leaked over the summer that Harris turned down an $80MM extension offer from the Clippers, many people wondered what Harris was thinking. He was willing to bet on himself that he could do even better as an unrestricted free agent and thus far, the odds have increased in his favor. Harris is posting career highs in several major categories, including scoring (21.0 PPG), shooting (50.8%) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) for one of the league’s surprise teams. When the superstars come off the board, Harris will be next in line for a big payday.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lakers, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The previous Pistons regime declined to give Caldwell-Pope a multi-year extension. He wound up signing a pair of generous one-year contracts with the Lakers but he’s been reduced to backup duty. Most of the shots he’s taken have come from beyond the arc and he’s not particularly good at it (33% this season, 34.4% for his career). Caldwell-Pope doesn’t appear to have a future with the Lakers beyond this season and will have to take a pay cut to find work elsewhere.

Dragan Bender, Suns, 21, PF (Down) — Signed to a three-year, $13.4MM deal in 2016
When the Suns drafted Bender No. 4 overall in 2016, then traded with Sacramento for No. 8 selection Marquese Chriss, they seemingly resolved their power forward spot for years to come. Instead, they wound up with two of the biggest busts in that draft. Chriss was traded away to Houston during training camp while Bender is barely seeing the court in Phoenix. He’s appeared in eight games while averaging just 5.5 MPG. Bender needs a change of scenery but he’ll have to settle for a modest deal next year until he proves he’s a genuine NBA player.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, PF (Up)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
The Kings have a lot of young bigs but Cauley-Stein has been a fixture in the lineup. He’s posting career highs at 14.3 PPG and 8.2 RPG while generally playing the same amount of minutes as last season. Cauley-Stein came into the league with a reputation of being a quality defender and he’s posted positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus ratings each season, according to Basketball-Reference. He’ll be a restricted free agent but might be one of the few who gets a substantial offer sheet, considering Sacramento will like choose to make Marvin Bagley III their main man in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Rumors: Beverley, Durant, Butler, Harris

Back in July, we heard that Tobias Harris turned down a four-year extension offer from the Clippers. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Harris wasn’t the only player with whom the Clippers discussed a contract extension this year. Deveney hears from a source that the team also spoke to guard Patrick Beverley about a new deal, despite the fact that he was still rehabbing from knee surgery at the time. Beverley decided to play out the final season of his contract instead.

Beverley, who is earning just over $5MM this season, would have been eligible for an extension worth up to about $47.5MM over four years, though the Clippers almost certainly offered less than that. I’d guess Los Angeles made an effort to lock up Beverley at a team-friendly rate following his long injury absence, with the 30-year-old betting he could rebuild his value in advance of his 2019 free agency.

Here’s more from out of Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers are keeping a close eye on Kevin Durant‘s situation in Golden State, and have every intention of making a pitch to Durant in free agency next summer, Deveney reports. Deveney suggests that Durant seems likely to hear out the Clips, though with his free agency still seven months away, it’s hard to get a sense at this point of what the process will look like.
  • The Clippers made “no significant push” to acquire Jimmy Butler when the Timberwolves were shopping him earlier this fall, sources tell Deveney. As we heard during that saga, the Clips were strongly opposed to including Tobias Harris in a package for Butler, and that stance has paid off so far — Harris, who leads L.A. in PPG (21.6) and RPG (8.4), has been the club’s best player this season.
  • Patrick Beverley was fined $25K by the NBA for throwing the ball at a spectator on Sunday, the league announced today in a press release.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Haddadi, Goodwin, Douglas, Griffin

USA Basketball has secured a spot in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 event, Sportando relays. The USA team captured a berth with a 78-70 win over Uruguay on Sunday. Venezuela and Argentina were the other teams from the Americas who also qualified for the FIBA tournament.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Center Hamed Haddadi and shooting guard Archie Goodwin will continue their careers in China, according to a pair of Sportando posts. Haddadi, 33, reached an agreement with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. He last appeared in the NBA during the 2012/13 season with the Grizzlies and Suns. Goodwin, 24, signed with the Qingdao Eagles. He most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in a combined 15 games for the Nets and Pelicans.
  • Former NBA guard Toney Douglas has reached an agreement with the Turkish club Darussafaka, according to another Sportando report. Douglas previously played for another team in Turkey, Sakarya. Douglas, 32, most recently played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season with the Grizzlies when came off the bench for 24 games.
  • The blockbuster deal that sent Blake Griffin from the Clippers to the Pistons last winter has worked out surprisingly well for both sides, as Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. Griffin has stayed healthy and played like an MVP candidate for the Pistons through the first 20 games this season, while Tobias Harris is the leading scorer for one of the league’s most prolific offenses, John continues. The draft pick the Clippers acquired was used on point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has displayed unusual poise as a rookie, John adds.