Answering questions about DeAndre Jordan’s upcoming free agency

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5 – What options are left for the Clippers if Jordan leaves in free agency?

May 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) dunks against Los Angeles Clippers forward Spencer Hawes (10) in the first half in game five of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Not many.

The immediate option is more Hawes — as a starter in Blake Griffin‘s absence, the 7-footer averaged 7.8 points on 36-28-50 shooting splits, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 15 games. But Hawes is a league-average offensive player and below average defensive player — the drop-off from Jordan to Hawes is gasp-worthy.

Outside of Hawes, the Clippers would have to find a buy-low candidates to fill the depth chart in front or behind Hawes.

As mentioned in slide three, the Clippers would have around $7 million to finagle with if Jordan leaves + the Clippers release three non-guaranteed players (Hamilton, Crawford, Hudson) + all other free agents (Turkoglu, Davis, Udoh, Rivers, Jones) are renounced (removes the cap holds, and Larry/Early/Non-Bird exceptions of renounced players) or signs elsewhere.

Now for the 2015 free agent rundown (here’s a list of centers in tier form based on expected market value/talent — these evaluations are reached at my own discretion):

1st tier centers: Marc Gasol
2nd-to-3rd tier centers: Greg Monroe (RFA), Tyson Chandler, Kosta Koufos, Robin Lopez, Omer Asik, Brandan Wright, Enes Kanter (RFA)
4th tier and below centers: Kevin Garnett, Bismack Biyombo (RFA), Chuck Hayes, Aron Baynes (RFA), Alexis Ajinca
Veteran minimum centers (“notables”): Joel Anthony, Kendrick Perkins, Ronny Turiaf.

Given $7 million is either a pay decrease for the veteran centers and far below market value for the younger centers, it’s easy to see how hard of a task replacing Jordan would be. Chandler would be an ideal fit if he’d be willing to take a huge pay cut (earned $14 million in 2014-15). Kevin Garnett fits the pay range, but with ownership on his mind, an extra year outside of Minnesota doesn’t seem likely. Kosta Koufos seems like the best bet of the non-RFA’s and Gasol/Chandler to earn $10+ million. Lopez, Asik, and Wright are idea but would, again, have to take a steep cut to fit the Clippers’ pay range. Biyombo? Would have to outbid the Charlotte Hornets. Ajinca? Anthony? A Doc Rivers-Perkins reunion? Turiaf’s triumphant return 1) from injury and 2) to Los Angeles?


And this doesn’t even mention the Clippers having to find a replacement for Jamal Crawford (if Rivers doesn’t see second-year guard C.J. Wilcox as a viable replacement), a backup small and power forward, and backup point guard.

Long story short, if Jordan decides to leave the Clippers, it’s going to be a long season in 2015-16 unless Doc Rivers the GM can find impact players for the minimum. And at this point that’s not something I’m willing to be on.