Thursday, July 5, 2012

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

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 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. 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.

Reggie Evans is also one of our free agents, but the Clippers arranged for a sign-and-trade to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange 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.

Denver Nuggets: JaVale McGee is an emerging young big man, whose talent will be out of the Clippers' price range. Andre Miller looks like he will be staying in the Mile High City, while Rudy Fernandez looks to return home to Spain to play for Real Madrid.

Detroit Pistons: Ben Wallace has already said he will be retiring. Walker Russell is a small guard, which the Clippers currently have in spades. Vernon Macklin is a young big that may be available for cheap, while Damien Wilkins is a sort-of serviceable forward off the bench that might be of interest in case the top free agent options become unavailable.

Golden State Warriors: Brandon Rush is a restricted free agent that LA might interest, with his skill set and needs that he can address at the 2-guard spot. Chris Wright and Dominic McGuire are undersized hardworking forwards who could play spot minutes as third-tier forwards, while Mickell Gladness and Mikki Moore are decent defensive-oriented centers that can spot minutes for you as well. Nate Robinson would be a fan favorite, but he is a small scoring guard, and the Clippers are already small at the position (as of the moment).

Houston Rockets: The main target is Courtney Lee, a sweet-shooting swingman. He is one guy that fits the need and is young. Clipper fans would welcome the return of Marcus Camby to the team as the team's third big. Goran Dragic and Earl Boykins are guards that would be a luxury for Clippers fans and in Goran's case, a very expensive one at that.

Indiana Pacers: Portland has already offered a deal for Roy Hibbert that is way over what LA could provide. George Hill is staying, while the other restricted guy in AJ Price is a point guard that may be a great free agent steal if he can find the right team. Unfortunately, that is not going to be Los Angeles. Clippers have had an interest in securing Kyrylo Fesenko last season before they got Kenyon Martin. Lou Amundson could reprise what Reggie Evans did last season, while Leandrinho Barbosa can jumpstart an offense off the bench.

Los Angeles Lakers: Darius Morris looks like he is staying with the Lakers. The other restricted free agent, Devin Ebanks, could be a serviceable defensive wing option off the bench. As for the unrestricted free agent options, Jordan Hill's play last season has priced himself out of the Clippers' hands, while former Clipper Matt Barnes could prove to be serviceable, if his skill set has not regressed. The same can be said for Troy Murphy. As for Ramon Sessions, he would be a luxury choice that probably would be too pricey for the other side of Staples.

Memphis Grizzlies: Both restricted free agents, Darrell Arthur and Maresse Speights would be ideal third big options. Hamed Haddadi would be a very intriguing cheap big as well. After seeing Gilbert Arenas, it is pretty much safe to say his best days have long passed him by. Lester Hudson might be a better player compared to Agent Zero. And as for OJ Mayo, he would fill a need, definitely, but there are other teams who have a need that he can fill and better compensate him for it.

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