Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What Should Vinny Del Negro do? My LAC offseason wishlist (Part I)

The Los Angeles Clippers finished with the 5th Seed in the Western Conference, needing seven games to fend off the Memphis Grizzlies, highlighted by their scintillating comeback from 27 points down in Game 1.

Unfortunately, they went up against the buzzsaw that is the San Antonio Spurs, thus ending their postseason.

Free Agency Fever has begun. Now what? Let's go through it...

The holdovers: Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler,  Ryan Gomes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Travis Leslie, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul and Trey Thompkins.

What exactly is going on with the Odom deal? Here is the official wording from the Clippers themselves.

The Los Angeles Clippers today acquired forward Lamar Odom from the Dallas Mavericks as part of a four-team trade also involving the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.  The Clippers sent point guard Mo Williams to the Jazz and the draft rights to Furkan Aldemir, the Clippers’ second round selection (53rd overall) in the 2012 NBA Draft to Houston while the Jazz conveyed the draft rights of Tadija Dragicevic, Utah’s second round pick (53rd overall) in the 2008 NBA Draft to Dallas.  To complete the trade, Dallas sent the draft rights of Shan Foster, the Mavericks’ second round selection (51st overall) in the 2008 NBA Draft to the Jazz with Houston sending cash considerations to Dallas. 
What does Lamar Odom provide you? The former Clipper provides versatility with his size as well as his veteran experience. He'll also improve bench production that will be affected after the departure of Mo Will.

Who do we keep? Here are the Los Angeles Clippers' unrestricted free agents: Chauncey Billups, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons, Nick Young. They do not have any RFAs.

Billups and Martin are vets that I'd like to keep around as locker room guys and role players. Ditto for Evans. I value Foye's contributions, but definitely will not overpay for him. Likewise for Nick Young, but Swaggy P has some flaws that kind of make me cringe a little.

Update: What has been agreed on principle is a sign-and-trade by the Brooklyn Nets for Reggie Evans for a heavily protected second round pick.

Who should we chase? There are three tiers of players that the Clippers should be chasing.

1. Two-guards. It is very clear that LA needs height in its backcourt. Also a shooter. Ideally, the two should go together, but not really that necessary on the latter. A couple of interesting options being thrown around is Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry, but the former has some well-known issues and the latter is 34 and is probably on the decline. They have targeted Ray Allen as well, who is definitely on the decline, but his shooting is perceived to be an asset. If said two-guard can play small forward in a pinch, it would be an advantage.

2. Tall big. DeAndre is the only true center they have in the lineup, but there is a need to secure some height. We need also for that particular big man to be able to either mentor DeAndre or push him to play better. One of the free agent options would be to bring back Marcus Camby, who helped with the mentoring process in the early years. It would be of great help if the big has some workable talent at least on one side of the floor.

3. Bench depth. There is a need to upgrade team depth. It sometimes became too agonizing to watch non-production in our rotation. Whether Vinny Del Negro had anything to do with that, we are not exactly THAT sure, but having key pieces to surround our offensive core will really be welcomed.

Now, time to peruse the targets.

Atlanta - Kirk Hinrich would be an interesting piece, as Vinny did coach him in Chicago. Willie Green can fill it up. Tracy McGrady is a proven scorer, but he has a lot of miles on that body. Considering that he'll probably play around 15-20 minutes, might just be enough. Erick Dampier and Jason Collins surely provide size, but they are definitely fillers at this point. We have seen Vlad Radmanovic already in a Clipper uniform and he does not fit the plan.

Boston - Ray Allen is the primary target, as he precisely fits the need. Mickael Pietrus and Marquis Daniels would also fit as tall-two guards, although both players have major injury issues that might scare off most people. Someone with possible health issue is Jeff Green, but he duplicates Odom. Keyon Dooling did start out his career with the Clippers, but at this point, he does not really fit the needs of the team as of the moment. As for Brandon Bass, he might have priced himself out of the Clippers' reach, but he definitely can serve as the offensive option off the bench should he even think of joining the team. There are better options out there than Sasha Pavlovic and Ryan Hollins.

Brooklyn - Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace have crossed themselves out with their respective deals. So would DeShawn Stevenson, because he will be sent to Atlanta via sign-and-trade. Kris Humphries would be an interesting off the bench option, but if he will be used for the inevitable Dwight Howard trade, he will be used in it. Gerald Green would fit the need as the scorer off the bench, and with his play for the Nets last year, earned some dough when he will get his next contract. Sundiata Gaines, Armon Johnson (small guards) and Shelden Williams (defensive big) are the type of players that do not fit the need for Vinny in the team due to role duplication. As for Damion James, he is an interesting case that we might take a flier on, but he was not really used by Avery Johnson.

Charlotte - D.J Augustin is restricted, but given Los Angeles' point guards, not a need. Derrick Brown might be a better target, but like D.J., is a restricted free agent that Mike Dunlap might find handy in trying to remake the sad sack franchise. Cory Higgins was said to be ranked as the worst NBA free agent available in the market this season, while Eduardo Najera and D.J. White could be interesting undersized big men options, with White being a better alternative compared to the Oklahoma alum.

Chicago - Omer Asik already has a poison pill-filled offer sheet from Houston that makes him already out of the Clipper price range. John Lucas III and Mike James would replicate the current positioning of the Clippers at this point, while I won't mind having Brian Scalabrine on the team as the "Jack Haley" benchwarmer, his skill set is something that is found on better players.

Cleveland - Anthony Parker has announced his retirement and is seeking a front office job, while Semih Erden is said to be going back to Turkey. Meanwhile, Alonzo Gee was a minor revelation for the Cavs and in likelihood, will be someone they will retain unless someone overpays. Although Jamison would be a welcome addition, because of the addition of Odom, he would then become a luxury instead of fixing a need. As for Luke Harangody, he's a younger version of Brian Scalabrine, talent-wise.

Dallas - We already know that Jason Terry is headed to Boston. Jason Kidd has said to have whittled down his choices to pretty much either Dallas or New York. Ian Mahinmi and Delonte West are undersized yet serviceable guys for their respective positions and would be welcome additions, especially Delonte. Brian Cardinal is like Brian Scalabrine. As for Yi Jianlian, he's a stiff.

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