Now that the Los Angeles Clippers have been eliminated from the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the focus in Southern California is turning to a major offseason. Will Kawhi Leonard be back next season? Heck, is he going to be perfectly healthy after missing the Western Conference final with a knee injury?
Meanwhile, the Clippers have a few other free agents they need to focus on without too much financial capital or draft picks to improve their roster. This is where we dive into the Los Angeles Clippers rumors for the offseason with updates throughout the summer.
Los Angeles Clippers rumors: Kawhi Leonard’s free agent status
Before suffering a sprained knee in the Western Conference semifinals, it was obvious Leonard would be withdrawing from his contract. The 30-year-old double NBA Finals MVP is set to earn $ 36.02 million in 2021-22 and is in line for a supermax contract. As of now, it still stands to reason that Leonard will step down from said contract.
The good news? Almost every recent report suggests Leonard will be returning to the Clippers. That said, he would not commit to re-signing in Los Angeles during the 2020-21 season.
“Just for my situation right now, I’m just focused on this season,” Leonard said in December. “I’m not saying I’m going somewhere else or staying here, but I’m just focused on the season. Obviously, if I’m healthy, the best decision is to turn down the player option, but that doesn’t mean I’m leaving or staying.
Obviously, that’s the biggest backdrop for the Los Angeles Clippers. If, for some reason, Leonard signed with another team, Los Angeles would likely go into full-scale rebuilding mode. Despite the brilliance of Paul George during the NBA playoffs, this is not a contending team without Leonard in the fold.
Los Angeles Clippers Free Agents
Outside of Leonard, there are a few big players who are set to hit free agency this summer. After an impressive playoff performance, veteran guard Reggie Jackson is potentially ready to cash in on the open market. Jackson, 31 averaging 17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 41% of long range shots during the playoffs. With Los Angeles set to exceed the salary cap, it will be interesting to see if this gets into a potential bidding war for Jackson.
To a lesser extent, former All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins could also attract a ton of interest in free agency. He qualified for the Western Conference final with starting center Ivica Zubac missing due to injury. While Cousins is not supposed to receive a long-term deal in the open market, there will be interest in his services.
Los Angeles Clippers Business Goals
While the Clippers don’t have the financial capacity to take on a huge contract without sending salaries elsewhere, they do have some intriguing business chips. It comes in the form of a surprising 24-year-old winger Terance Mann and the aforementioned Zubac. They could potentially be combined with other assets to get an upgrade in the backcourt.
Primarily, the playmaker is a need, with both George and Leonard being forced into near-ball handling tasks. Rajon Rondo is not the long term solution and is better suited to backup duties at this point in his career. It would make sense for the Los Angeles Clippers to seek out a leader in the trading market. If they were to move Mann, Zubac and a filler like Marcus Morris, the team could recoup around $ 28 million in wages. Here are some options.
- Malcolm Brogdon: It is not yet known whether Brogdon will be on the trading block after another successful season. However, he would be an important target for the Clippers. The 28-year-old point guard averaged 21.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season. Perhaps the transfer of Mann, Zubac and Morris to the Pacers could achieve it.
- Collin Sexton: There has been talk of this high level guardian being available in trade negotiations over the summer. If so, the Los Angeles Clippers would be well advised to come call them. Sexton, 22, averaged 24.3 points on an excellent 48% range shot for the Cavaliers last season. While there are questions about form here, Mann’s move and the Cleveland compensation plan would be seen as a win for the Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers free agent goals
Scheduled to exceed the cap of around $ 37 million, Los Angeles lacks the financial flexibility to be a major free agency player. However, it has the mid-level exception estimated at $ 5.89 million for taxpayers to use. This could be split up to be used on a few players or used on a main room – especially the playmaker. There are also a few options here.
- Derrick Rose, New York Knicks
- Patrick Mills, San Antonio Spurs
- TJ McConnell, Indiana Pacers
- Devonte ‘Graham, Charlotte Hornets (Restricted)
- Ish Smith, Wizards of Washington
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