So far during this brief offseason, the L.A. Clippers have addressed a need in the backcourt by combo guards Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups. They dealt Mo Williams to Utah, and Randy Foye is unlikely to return as an unrestricted free agent. They’ve also been linked to the Dwight Howard trade rumors, reportedly having been offered Nets second-year scoring guard MarShon Brooks in exchange for a future first-round draft pick that would ultimately wind up in Orlando.
They also lost energetic forward Reggie Evans to the Brooklyn Nets, and are reportedly unlikely to bring back veteran Kenyon Martin in light of the acquisition of Lamar Odom.
Even with the addition of the versatile Odom, the Clippers still have a hole in the frontcourt off-the-bench. Ryan Gomes is still on the roster, so he could conceivably pick up some of those remaining minutes backing up Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. However, he’s undersized, and didn’t have much of a role on last year’s team. The departures of Evans and Martin hurts the Clippers on the glass, and Gomes’ below-average rebound rate for his position won’t be much help there, obviously.
Trey Thompkins is an intriguing prospect as a combo forward because of his size (6’10″) and shooting ability, but he’s certainly not a banger, and adds nothing in terms of rebounding assistance, either. If he ever sees the floor, he’s an oversized 3 or a stretch 4.
With Crawford and Billups now on the books for next season, the Clippers are quite limited in terms of cap flexibility, meaning they’ll have to find a player willing to take a cheap contract, assuming they can’t pick one up via trade.
Kris Humphries-Kardashian is obviously an ideal candidate because of his willingness to do the dirty work and his tenacity on the boards, but his price tag will greatly exceed what the Clippers are able to offer, so that’s out.
Jordan Hill showed flashes of prowess as an offensive rebounder in his brief stint with the Lakers last season, but he’s reportedly drawn interest from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who can easily outbid L.A. for his services.
Carl Landry is out there, but he’s another undersized, scoring-oriented 4 in the mold of a Brandon Bass. Like Gomes, he doesn’t rebound.
The best, most realistic candidate for the Clippers to scoop up and pluck into their rotation may be former Clip Craig Smith, actually. “The Rhino” is yet another undersized guy, but he’s a wide body that knows his role and rebounds very well for his height (6’7″).
Plus, it’s not like L.A. needs a guy to come in and play 30 minutes a night off-the-bench. They already have that in Odom. Smith, like Reggie Evans, became a fan-favorite during his previous stint with the Clippers due to his relentless play and hustle.
Honestly, a guy like Smith is not the difference between a playoff team and a true championship contender. But you can do worse with your spare, backup minutes.
If the team would rather go in the direction of a true backup center, realistic names to take that spot would be guys like Kwame Brown, Ryan Hollins, Nazr Mohammed and Joel Przybilla. None of the four has even a hint of an offensive game, but they can each make something of an impact defensively in limited minutes.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.