UNDER CONTRACT: G Chris Paul, F Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan, F Caron Butler, F Lamar Odom, G Jamal Crawford, G Chauncey Billups, F Grant Hill, G Eric Bledsoe, C Ryan Hollins, F-C Ronny Turiaf, F Matt Barnes, G Willie Green, G Travis Leslie, F Trey Thompkins
DRAFT PICKS: None
FREE AGENTS: F Kenyon Martin, F Bobby Simmons, F Ryan Gomes
MOVES: For a team without a true GM, the Clippers did pretty well this offseason. Neil Olshey’s departure to Portland didn’t impact the team’s ability to attract quality players. It helped that the Clippers play in one of perhaps three cities that make Lamar Odom (and his fussy wife) happy; they capitalized by acquiring him from Dallas in a three-team deal that sent guard Mo Williams to Utah. If Odom finds happiness in LA and returns to form – he won the Sixth Man Award in 2011 – he reinforces both forward spots. The Clippers also brought back savvy Chauncey Billups with a one-year deal for $4.3 million plus incentives and further defined their backcourt by signing free agent Jamal Crawford to the mid-level exception for three years and $15.7 million. LA added small forward depth with the signing of Grant Hill to a two-year, $3.9 million deal via the biannual exception. The Clippers also sent Reggie Evans to Brooklyn in a sign-and-trade and used the amnesty provision on Ryan Gomes. Veteran Willie Green was acquired via sign-and-trade with Atlanta, which received the draft rights to Sofoklis Schortsanaitis, who will never play in the NBA. In their search for a legitimate backup center, LA considered amnesty victim Darko Milicic before deciding on a tandem of Ryan Hollins, who is much more active defensively than Milicic and could become an active participant in Lob City, and Ronny Turiaf, who was underutilized during his brief stay in Miami. But LA’s biggest move of the offseason was getting Blake Griffin’s commitment to a five-year, $95 million contract extension – which was signed a day before he bowed out of the Olympics with a knee injury. Griffin’s long-term presence will help lure other free agents for years to come. When all the dust settled, the Clippers elevated Gary Sacks from player personnel director to VP of basketball operations. Sacks then hired former Hornets VP of player personnel Gerald Madkins as director of basketball operations. Just weeks before camp began, LA also added Matt Barnes, further strengthening a very deep bench.
TO-DO LIST: The first chore for Sacks and Madkins will be to get Chris Paul to sign an extension, which probably won’t happen right away. Don’t read too much into Paul turning down a three-year, $60 million extension offer; he stands to add two years and $40 million to his next contract by waiting until next summer and was actively recruiting players to come play in LA all summer. Does that sound like someone who is leaving? Madkins knows Paul from their days in New Orleans, which can only help. With Paul, Billups, Crawford and Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt, the Clippers allowed Nick Young and Randy Foye to walk. Odom’s presence allowed them to take similar action with forward Kenyon Martin.
PROJECTION: The Clippers have one of the best 1 through 10 rosters in the NBA, a solid mix of youth and veterans, stars and role players. They figure to get better with the natural improvement of young studs Griffin, Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan, an expected return to form from Odom and a deeper bench. This was a final-eight team last season and could go even further next season.
(RELATED: What grade did the Clippers get?)
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