A look at the key offseason moves and changes for every team in the league. Next up are the Los Angeles Clippers.
Once eliminated from the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, the Clippers moved swiftly to lock up their own free agents.
Although the price might look steep regarding the contracts of Rivers and Crawford, the 2015-16 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Los Angeles had no other options but to bring them back. Had the Clippers let both players go, minimal cap space would have been created but not enough to replace the value of both players.
Once Rivers and Crawford were signed, the Clippers used the full mid-level exception and biannual exception on Wes Johnson and Mbah a Moute, respectively.
The offseason goal for the Clippers was to provide stability with the supporting cast. Bringing back all four players accomplished that goal.
Finding value with limited resources
The Clippers made the most out of little once their own free agents were signed.
Los Angeles, armed with only the minimum exception, was able to sign Speights, Felton, Anderson and Bass.
All four players signed below-market contracts, have played in big games throughout their careers and will anchor a once-questionable bench.
Developing roles for draft picks
With Blake Griffin being the Clippers’ last first-round pick on the roster before this year’s draft – and with 2017 and 2019 first-round picks traded away – it is critical for Los Angeles to develop its 2016 draft class.
The Clippers took three different approaches during the draft.
They went conservative with first-round pick and four-year player Brice Johnson, then looked for upside with 19-year-old second-rounder Diamond Stone, and acquired point guard David Michineau to stash in Europe.
Now they must attempt to build a foundation of young players.
1. Chris Paul $22,868,827
2. DeAndre Jordan $21,165,675
3. Blake Griffin $20,140,839
4. JJ Redick $7,377,500
5. Jamal Crawford $13,253,012
6. Austin Rivers $11,000,000
7. Wesley Johnson $5,628,000
8. Paul Pierce $3,527,920
9. Luc Mbah a Moute $2,203,000
10. Brice Johnson $1,273,920
11. Marreese Speights $1,403,611
12. Raymond Felton $980,431
13. Brandon Bass $980,431
14. Alan Anderson $980,431
15. Diamond Stone $543,471
Dead money 2016
Carlos Delfino $650,000
Jordan Farmar $510,922
Miroslav Radujica $252,043
Salary table 2016
Guaranteed salaries $113,327,068
Dead money $1,412,965
Tax variance $0
Free-agent cap holds $0
Incomplete roster charge $0
Salaries: cap $114,740,033
Salaries: tax $114,740,033
Salary cap $94,143,000
Luxury tax $113,287,000
Cap space None ($20,597,033 over)
Tax room None ($1,453,033 over)
The Clippers were one of a handful of teams that did not have cap space when free agency started.
With limited flexibility, Los Angeles brought back Rivers and Crawford by using Bird rights.
The Clippers became a hard-capped team when Wes Johnson was signed for the mid-level exception and Mbah a Moute signed to the biannual exception. Moving forward the Clippers cannot exceed the tax apron of $117.28 million.
Speights, Felton, Bass, Anderson and Stone signed to the minimum. Although Stone was in line for a contract comparable to current second-round picks signed (three-plus years), the Clippers’ lack of cap space and exceptions limited what Los Angeles could offer.
Brice Johnson was signed under the rookie scale contract.
Free agents signed in the offseason cannot be traded until either Dec. 15, Jan. 15 or for three months if they signed after Sept. 15.
Wes Johnson, Mbah a Moute, Speights, Felton, Anderson and Bass cannot be traded until Dec. 15.
Mbah a Moute also falls under the one-year Bird restriction and cannot be traded without his approval. If he approves a trade, early Bird rights will not carry to his new team.
Rivers and Crawford cannot be traded until Jan. 15. Because both players were signed using Bird rights and their current contracts exceed those from the previous season by 20 percent, Jan. 15 is used as the date for the signing restriction.
Rookies Johnson (Aug. 11) and Stone (Aug. 13) cannot be traded until one month after their signing dates.
The Clippers have four players in Griffin (15 percent), Jordan (15 percent), Paul (15 percent) and JJ Redick (5 percent) with trade bonuses.
The current bonus for each player if moved before the season starts would be $6.2 million for Griffin, $6.5 million for Jordan, $7 million for Paul and $368,000 for Redick.
The Clippers would be responsible for the bonus with the acquiring team incurring the cap hit.
The amount of the bonus is spread out on the remainder of the contract, not including any player options.
Redick, entering the fourth and final year of his $27 million contract, is eligible for a contract extension.
Although Redick is eligible to have his contract renegotiated, the Clippers are over the salary cap and are only allowed to extend his current deal to start at $7.8 million for next season.
Paul and Griffin have early termination options for 2017-18 and are eligible to have their current contracts extended.
In order to extend, both players would have to amend their current contracts and eliminate the early termination options.
With the cap set to reach $102 million and with both players falling short of the current and projected max salary, the extension route is a long shot.
Starter Bench Bench
PG Chris Paul Austin Rivers Raymond Felton
SG JJ Redick Jamal Crawford Alan Anderson
SF Wes Johnson Luc Mbah a Moute Paul Pierce
PF Blake Griffin Brandon Bass Brice Johnson
C DeAndre Jordan Marreese Speights Diamond Stone
The Clippers currently have 15 guaranteed contracts and are $1.4 million above the luxury tax.
The Clippers, in the luxury tax the previous three seasons, will be a repeater tax team if they remain in the tax this season.
SNEAK PEEK TO NEXT SUMMER
The Clippers could be in the same position next July as they were this past summer, except with Paul and Griffin as their top priorities.
Cap space for the Clippers next summer will be fluid. Although over the cap, Los Angeles could have $40 million in room. However, cap space would come at the expense of letting Paul, Griffin and Redick go in free agency.
KEEP AN EYE ON
When the Clippers signed Pierce last summer, the goal was for him to emulate his play from recent seasons in Brooklyn and Washington.
Pierce fell short, averaging 6.1 points in 68 games.
It will be interesting to see if the future Hall of Famer can carve out a role this season.
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