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3 late free agency targets the Clippers should consider

3 late free agency targets the Clippers should consider

The Los Angeles Clippers won the wildest offseason in NBA history by convincing Kawhi Leonard to sign with his “other” hometown team, also making the stunning move that sealed the reigning Finals MVP’s fate, trading for Paul George. Their collective acquisition is one of the biggest player-movement coups the league has ever seen, not just immediately thrusting the Clippers to the top of the championship hierarchy, but knocking the rival Los Angeles Lakers from its peak, too.

But even if LA’s summer had been a bit more modest, with just Leonard or another solo max-level player coming aboard, Doc Rivers still would have had major reason for optimism. His team is the deepest in the NBA and it’s not particularly close, rife with dynamic ball handlers, lethal shooters, versatile defenders, and productive big men. The Clippers literally go 10-deep with proven rotation players, and that’s before accounting for Jerome Robinson and Mfiondu Kabengele, first-round picks in the last two drafts.

Just because LA boasts such quality depth, though, hardly means its roster couldn’t improve. Titles are routinely won on the margins, with all calibers of players contributing throughout the arduous run to the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Clippers, like every other team in the league, need all the help they can possibly get in hopes of winning biggest when it matters most.

Here are three free agents who could fit that bill.

Ryan Anderson

Landry Shamet is poised to soon establish himself as one of basketball’s most versatile, active shooters. Few can catch fire like Lou Williams. Leonard and George are imminently threatening three-point shooters both on and off the ball. Patrick Beverly is a reliable spot-up option. Even JaMychal Green and Rodney McGruder command the defense’s attention from beyond the arc.

LA doesn’t lack for shooting, basically. Rivers may never play a lineup including multiple players without three-point range; the Clippers’ spacing should be pristine at almost all times. But neither Montrezl Harrell nor Ivica Zubac stretches the floor from center, and Green, though he thrived when pressed into action as a small-ball 5 in the first round of the playoffs against Golden State, isn’t a true marksman.

Enter Anderson, a career 38.0 percent three-point shooter who hoisted 20 triples from 30 feet or more in 2017-18, his final season with the Houston Rockets. Waived by the Miami Heat in July after being traded from the Phoenix Suns, Anderson was a turnstile defensively before last season, when he barely played for two lottery teams. But if he’s healthy and in shape, the Clippers could definitely do worse with one of their final two roster spots than a 6-foot-10 veteran with playoff experience who can bomb from several feet behind the arc.

Zaza Pachulia

Harrell deserves more playing time after a breakout 2018-19 campaign, and LA clearly believes in Zubac, who was acquired in a heist from the Lakers at the trade deadline and just signed a four-year, $28 million contract. But Harrell, despite his disruptive hands and penchant for highlight-reel blocks, is inherently limited defensively, and Zubac was yanked from Rivers’ rotation after making a series of defensive mistakes against Golden State.

Pachulia is one of the most technically sound team defenders in the NBA, and just as importantly, is a master screen-setter – key in an offense featuring guys like Leonard, George, Williams, and Shamet. He’s also an expert post defender, crucial should LA meet the Lakers, Denver Nuggets, or Philadelphia 76ers in the postseason.

Shelvin Mack

The Clippers have plenty of capable ball handlers, but only one true point guard, Beverley, on the roster. Shamet and Williams will routinely play de facto floor general when he’s off the floor, while Leonard and George will do most of LA’s playmaking regardless.

Still, the Clippers would be wise to bring in another experienced point guard, and could certainly do worse than Mack. He can defend both backcourt spots in a pinch, has worked himself into becoming a viable long-range shooter, and definitely won’t be daunted when summoned to action by injury misfortune.