So as expected, the Clippers didn’t land Lebron. Oh well. As a true Clippers fan you always need to look at next year. With that said, let’s look at what was done and what the future may hold. If Blake can be a star and drive the Clippers into the playoffs this year, then the Clippers would instantly be on every free agents possible destination list. With that in mind, let’s look at the 2011 potential targets.
Thank goodness the Clipps didn’t pull a Grizz or Hawks move and pay 2nd tier talent with 5 or 6 year top tier money! Wisely, the Clippers locked up affordable guys in Foye, Gomes, Cook all to short term, easily tradable contracts. Then with the most important strategic moves they retained Rhino and Butler (chemistry guys who actually want to be Clippers) both to one year deals. This is exactly what I begged the Clippers to do because it makes 2011 the year of Clippers free agent spending.
Why free agents should come to the Clippers:
Upside: 1 LA! Desirable city, ideal climate, huge marketing potential. 2. Young roster ready to break out 3. Best training facility in the league 4. Chance to forever be known as the free agent that changed an entire team’s legacy.
Downsides: 1. High state’s income tax 2.Donald Sterling owns team 3. Team’s current legacy
Here are the players that could be great targets: (player’s age next summer in parenthesis)
Carmelo (27): The prize of next summer. He would leave because his team is AGING: Billups34, Kenyon33, Harington 31, and Birdman 33. He would put the Clippers on the map, fill their only gaping hole (small forward), and make the Clippers, Lakers, and Thunder battle it out for western conference championships every year.
Yao (30): Considering leaving basketball forever. If he stays and is healthy, he’s the only player not named Carmelo that I see pushing the Clippers into the actual championship hunt.
Tony Parker (29): With Duncan 35 and Ginobilli 34 the Spurs run is done. Is he young enough to be the PG that takes Blake and Gordon to the championship?
Mike Conley (23): Grizz aren’t sold on him, so should we be? I think it will depend on how promising Bledsoe looks this season. The Grizz gave Gay max money, Randolph is going to want more than Gay,
Gasol will want similar. If all 3 of these guys get paid, that’s approx $45 mil year in 3 guys. That leaves OJ Mayo free agent in 2012 who will want big raise) or Mike Conley as odd man out in a small market.
JR Smith (25): Only 25 as of next summer. Amazing 3 point shooter who could provide ample spacing for Griffin and Kaman to work down low.
Al Horford (25): Similar situation to the Grizz. They overpaid with Joe Johnson $120 mil. He’ll make $18 mil next season alone. With Smith, Marvin, Bibby all under contract they’re on the hook for $50 mil, and that’s before paying free agents Horford or Jamal Williams. Can the Hawks afford to max out Hordford and be on the hook for $65 mil next year in that small market? Horford would be a great, YOUNG Center to pair with young Blake, Gordon, Bledsoe, and Aminu, as a 28 year old Kaman would have great trade value next summer in the last year of his deal.
Tyson Chandler (28): Has a great attitude as he announced this summer he’s willing to be a backup center behind Haywood. He’s on Cuban's team, so unlikely Cuban doesn’t overpay to keep Chandler.
Thaddeus Young (23): He was the 2nd best player on Philly, but they got ping pong ball lucky and now have Evan Turner who can play the 2 or the 3. With EB untradeable @ 2 years/$35 mil, Iggy making 3 years/$45 mil, and Turner the future, this team has the SG, SF, PF positions all locked up, barring a trade of Iggy. This would make it highly unlikely Philly matches a large offer to restricted free agent forward Young if they have no room in starting lineup for him. If the Clippers had their choice of Iggy (27) 31% 3 point shooter, or Young (23) 35% 3 point shooter you would be in a tough spot to pick. BUT, with Iggy requiring a trade to get him, and Young being available as a free agent this choice is easy.
Jason Richardson (30): Amazing 3 point shooter! Suns are done. Nash and Hill way to old at 37 and 36. Amare already bolted. Rich is older, but he would symbolize a win now mentality the Clipps have been trying to sell. Getting Rich would also make Gordon best 6th man in league.
My Vote: Plan A: Trade for Granger mid-season. Plan B: Trade for Gerald Wallace mid-season. Plan C: Keep cap space and offer world to Carmelo in summer of 2011. Plan D: Keep cap space and offer Al Hordford a contract the Hawks can’t afford to match. After getting Horford, then trade Kaman for either a young stud PG or SF depending on who looked more promising: Bledsoe or Aminu.
Who would you want the Clippers to target in 2011 free agency??? Did I forget anyone from my list? Lets hear it!