The Los Angeles Clippers are a team best known for its weak playoff runs that always seem to fall short of the conference finals. Of course, it always seemed destined for the ex-Clipper, Chris Paul, to never break a conference final however he’s shown us he can be more than capable as a member of the Houston Rockets, going to the Western Conference finals series in last year’s playoffs.
While Paul has managed to break new ground as the starting point guard of his new team, it seems the Clippers are still hugely affected by the departure of their star guard, having been in a rebuilding state for the past two seasons with their replacement backcourt options of Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley.
As we around the mid-point of the season and have now passed the trade deadline, the Clippers stand at 8th in the Western Conference, only half a game ahead of the Sacramento Kings. With such an insecure standing, it will be down to the current players on the roster to secure a playoff spot for the organisation as the Clippers made little-to-no big moves before the trade deadline. Now the organisation will need to wait patiently until the offseason in order to acquire some big names from the list of 2019 free agents.
The Clippers will head into the 2019 offseason with a lot of cap space and 10 free agents from their own roster that could be making departures from the team. Of course, this offseason will boast some big names, including All-Stars D’Angelo Russell and Kemba Walker.
While there are many elite guards available this offseason, it would be wise of the guard-heavy Clippers to sign some frontcourt players. We all know that DeMarcus Cousins and Kawhi Leonard will both be in this year’s free agent class and will most definitely be targeted by the Clippers front office. Leonard may be keen to play in Los Angeles and other All-Stars such as Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis could be lured to Staples Center. This is most definitely good news for the team as adding Leonard to their roster will increase the attraction of other big names and could create a serious recruiting platform for the Clippers to bring in said players.
Since the departure of the “Lob City” trio, the Clippers have lacked power in the centre position, with only the recently acquired Ivica Zubac and Angel Delgado as their only true centres. With this in mind, it would be wise to target free agents that can play that role, a great fit for them would be the ex-Clipper DeAndre Jordan, while he had previously stated his discontent in L.A., Jordan would be returning to the team without players such as Paul, allowing for Jordan to not only have an almost fresh start as part of the Clippers, but to also have more of a lead role on the team which he may have lacked in the past.
Other big-name players that will be available this offseason are Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, two players that are undoubtedly keeping the Warriors at the top of the NBA scene right now. As previously stated, the Clippers have the cap space to sign some serious players to provide the firepower they need and signing any number of the Warriors players would be a great fit, not only will the players be earning a large sum of money, but they won’t have to worry about adjusting to a new state to play in.
It is quite optimistic to believe that the Clippers will be able to attain any of the aforementioned players, so it may be wise for the front office to look into recruiting solid players at every position to keep the team at a playoff-clinching standard. A good start for that rebuilding process would be signing Nikola Vucevic whose contract with the Orlando Magic will come to an end this year. Other players the team should most definitely aim to recruit include Enes Kanter, who has recently been waived by the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony who has also suffered from a similar fate at the Chicago Bulls and Kristaps Porzingis, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of this year. While the latter of the three will be hard to attain, it is certainly a target that the Clippers should work to achieve.
Had the Clippers been more active in their recruiting, they could have acquired Marc Gasol as the Memphis Grizzlies have stated they will be entering a rebuilding phase, which would see the departure of Mike Conley and Gasol himself, however the Raptors were quick to snap up Gasol which ended the eleven-year Marc Gasol era in Memphis. Similarly, the recently-waived Wesley Matthews looked ripe for the taking as the New York Knicks were quick to let go of Matthews following the Porzingis trade, but the Indiana Pacers proved to be the victors in recruiting Matthews.
As the Clippers stand on the brink of a playoff run, it will be down to the front office to secure many future successful seasons for the organisation.