For yet another year, the Los Angeles Clippers suffered another disappointing exit in the postseason. The Clippers lost to the Phoenix Suns in the first round. They won Game 1 convincingly and stole home-court advantage, but wound up losing in five games after Kawhi Leonard went down with a knee injury and missed the rest of the series. Paul George did not suit up at all due to a right knee injury.
Save for the Bubble Playoffs in 2020, the health of Leonard and George has been the main culprit of the Clippers' failed championship runs. With one of the biggest tax bills in the NBA, LA doesn't have much room to work with to sign big free agents who can step up in the absence of one (or even) two of their stars.
On paper, the Clippers have one of the deepest teams in the league. At full strength, they are certified title contenders year in and year out. But that just hasn't come to fruition with the injuries to Leonard and/or George come playoff time.
Both Clippers stars are potentially entering the final year of their deals should they opt out of their player options in 2024-25. With that said, this may very well be their final chance to win a championship with those two at the helm. With limited cap space to work with, the Clippers should take this offseason seriously if they want to win a title in the Leonard-George era.
While they should have a list of free agents to target, here are a couple they should avoid at all costs.
With how successful he was during his stint there, the Clippers might just consider bringing back Montrezl Harrell, in case they are unable to re-sign backup center Mason Plumlee.
Harrell won Sixth Man of the Year in the 2019-20 season off averages of 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. But after the Clippers suffered a massive meltdown during the Bubble Playoffs, with Harrell not producing up to expectations, the 6-foot-7 big man moved on the following season to the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, Harrell has bounced around the league and his stock has fallen quite drastically.
Still, the Clippers may be enamored to bring back a familiar face and someone who had his best years in the organization. But they shouldn't fall into that trap, even if they are desperate to find a backup big man. At this point, Harrell is just no longer as productive as he was three to four years ago. He couldn't even sniff minutes in the playoffs even when Joel Embiid went down for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Another former Clipper who may be on the organization's radar is Blake Griffin. When it's all said and done, Griffin will likely see his No. 32 jersey up in the rafters of the Intuit Dome, which will be the Clippers' new home arena by the 2024-25 season.
At 34 years old, Griffin is already a shell of the once high-flying version Clippers fans came to know and love. He is no longer even the multi-faceted offensive force he once was when he played for the Detroit Pistons. Still, in a limited role and in spurts, Griffin has proven that he still has something to offer a title contender, as he showed with the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics the past two seasons. He still provides hustle and energy and is still a big body they could use should they fail to re-sign Mason Plumlee.
Of course, the allure of bringing back a household name like Griffin is always enticing. And it would be a feel-good story if the Clippers somehow stay healthy for an entire playoff run and end up winning the title with Griffin on the team.
Still, they should avoid these feel-good stories at all costs. The Clippers are already too injury-prone as a team, and adding another one just doesn't make sense. In terms of production, Griffin just wouldn't move the needle at all for the Clippers and would be a waste of a roster spot.