We know the Clippers have plenty of holes to fill and limited resources with which to fill them. DeAndre Jordan is and will be priority No. 1, of course. If he is adamant about leaving, and wants to sign with Dallas, then the rumored DJ-for-Tyson Chandler sign-and-trade seems the best route for the Clippers to take. It nets them a player that profiles similarly to Jordan, though (likely) at a lower salary. It would also give them a true leader type that they’ve lacked outside of Chris Paul for the last several years.
So, let’s say the Clips have their center situation figured out, be it Jordan or Chandler. What’s next? They’ll already be capped-out, with only the taxpayer midlevel exception and veteran’s minimum to throw at free agents. Trades are obviously always on the table, but what assets does L.A. really have that anybody else would want?
Outside of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick they have next-to-nothing. As far as draft picks go, they basically have less-than-nothing. They have the rights to swap late-second rounders with the Nets in 2016, but that is all. They’ve already traded every pick they’re allowed to trade through 2017. They own their own 2016 first-rounder, but they’re not allowed to trade it, anyway, since league rules don’t allow teams to trade consecutive first-rounders. They’ll obviously be allowed to trade it during and after that draft, but we’re not talking about moves they can make in 2016. So, it’s moot.
There have been murmurs regarding Paul Pierce potentially reuniting with Doc Rivers ever since Rivers came to Los Angeles in the summer of 2013. Pierce had the chance to sign with the Clippers as a free agent last year, but opted to join the Wizards instead. Following Washington’s playoff exit at the hands of the Hawks last month, Pierce was non-committal about next season, saying he’ll need to take some time to come to a decision about whether or not he’ll play again. He holds a player option for over $5 million for next year. One would imagine that if he plays, he’ll be playing in Washington, but who’s to say for sure?
If Pierce is interested in making as much money as possible for one more season, then he’d be hard-pressed to find much more than the $5 million he can bank from the Wizards. We know that the Clippers (with the mini-midlevel being somewhere in the range of $3.3 million) can’t really come close to that. If that’s his main reason to return, then the Clippers are obviously a non-factor.
Pierce has also made no secret of his love for his Wizards teammates, and surely it’d be tough for him to bolt on that player option. He truly seemed to enjoy playing the role of grandfather teaching the young bloods a thing or two, particularly during the postseason. But there have been a couple of reports over the last couple of days that suggest the Clips remain interested in Pierce, and perhaps the allure of reuniting with Rivers and returning to play in his hometown would be enough to convince him to come west.
If it’s another realistic shot at a championship Pierce wants, then he may not be able to find a much better fit than LAC, anyway. The Wizards are a real up-and-comer, but they did just get smoked by the Hawks…who got smoked by the Cavs…who may well get smoked by the Warriors n the Finals. To suggest that the Wiz will be a legitimate championship contender as early as next season seems a bit of a stretch. The Clippers, with DeAndre Jordan (or Tyson Chandler), would be right there with the addition of Pierce along with a few minor tweaks to the bench.
We can’t forget that he’ll be turning 38 before the start of next season. Even so, he clearly saved his best basketball for the playoffs last season, and God knows the Clippers need to give Griffin and Paul as much help as they can get. If he would decide to come to the Clippers, surely he could coast through the regular season playing ~25 minutes a game, as he did with Washington. L.A. would be getting him for the postseason, where he’s truly at his best.
I’ll still say it’s a longshot, given all the factors in play here, but if Pierce does decide to play next season and terminates his player option with the Wizards, the Clippers have to be right at the front of the line to bring him on board.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.