Hawes was determined to sign with a contender and his commitment to the Clippers on Friday becomes a tremendous coup for president and coach Doc Rivers.
After missing the playoffs in five of his seven NBA seasons, the chance to be surrounded with All-Star talents Chris Paul and Blake Griffin offers Hawes considerable opportunity to flourish with his deft inside-outside game.
"Even taking a little less money, this opportunity was too exciting to pass up," Hawes told Yahoo Sports on Friday night. "I've had a taste of the playoffs before, but being a part of this team will be just incredible. You get to a point where you really realize what's important, and I was thinking: 'What would my 12-year-old self have done? What would he prioritize?' It was this opportunity and what they're building with the Clippers."
The Clippers recruited Hawes hard for the full mid-level exception and worked with his agent, Greg Lawrence of Wasserman Media Group, on a deal that includes a player option for the fourth year and a 15 percent trade kicker, sources said.
After a productive season between the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers – in which he averaged 13.2 points and eight rebounds – Hawes had become a desired commodity on the market. For the Cavaliers, Hawes shot nearly 45 percent from 3-point range.
In a league searching for size and shooting, Hawes had visited seriously with Phoenix and Portland before settling on the Clippers' offer.
"The creativity that Doc allows his guys on the offensive end, how he installs things to take advantage of skill sets and the right pairings is really enticing," Hawes said. "We will be able to do a lot of different things and create a lot of different matchups."
The Clippers could still engage the Cavaliers on a sign-and-trade for Hawes, which could preserve Los Angeles' exception. The Clippers also have interest in Brooklyn free agent Paul Pierce.