Clippers have reportedly made offer to forward Chris Copeland


Nov 7, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland (22) drives to the hoop against the Boston Celtics during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers have already had an eventful and dramatic offseason. Now, they’ve reportedly made a guaranteed offer to forward Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers, according to Sportando.

The Clippers have added more depth to their wing rotation this summer with the acquisitions of Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson and even with rookie Branden Dawson (if he ends up earning some playing time at small forward, as well as power forward). Even though they lost Matt Barnes in the trade with the Charlotte Hornets, they’ve still improved their core of perimeter players.

Which is why an offer to Copeland, who spent 62 percent of his playing time at small forward this year, a somewhat surprising idea.

After beginning his NBA career with the New York Knicks, Copeland has spent the rest of his time playing for the Indiana Pacers. He only received 6.5 minutes per game last year, but with Paul George missing this season due to injury, Copeland earned a bigger role, averaging the most minutes of his career with 16.6 per game.

His increased role aside, though, his efficiency has taken a rather serious turn for the worse. His field goal percentage fell by 10.9 from the previous season, whilst his three point percentage decreased by 10. So, even though he made 2.3 threes per 36 minutes, he hardly did so at an effective rate.

That being said, the Clippers did rank 3rd in total three pointers made and three point percentage this season, meaning another shooter who will see minimal playing time doesn’t seem like the best move. And after adding Paul Pierce to replace Matt Barnes as starting small forward, Doc Rivers has already made an upgrade to his starting core of perimeter players: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and The Truth.

Copeland did make 41.8 percent of his threes in 2013-14, though. And weighing in at 6’9″ and 235 lbs, after spending 50 percent of his career playing time at power forward, he can operate as a stretch big man.

Oct 12, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA;Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland (22) reacts after scoring against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

However, after leading the league in offensive efficiency with 109.8 points per 100 possessions this year, the Clippers really don’t need another shooter who offers little in the way of rebounding and defense. They ranked just 15th in defensive efficiency, meaning that Copeland (a player who averaged only 4.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes) offers little improvement to the Clippers’ areas of weakness.

The average offensive rating of Pacers’ opponents also increased by 2.3 points when Copeland was on the floor this year. That may be a small margin, but Copeland is still too weak as a rebounder and post-defender to significantly help the Clippers’ second unit. His shooting could help space the floor for DeAndre Jordan inside if he’s used as a stretch-4, yet that’s where his notable strengths to help L.A. run out.

Right now, the priority for the Clippers is to sign a big man who’s most comfortable at the 4, rather than someone who hovers around the perimeter. Their two top targets are Darrell Arthur and Josh Smith, both of whom have a lot to offer. Smith seems like the better option, due to his superior athleticism, interior and perimeter defense and transition play, but either of these two bigs would thoroughly benefit the Clippers’ shallow frontcourt.

If you want more detail and analysis on the matter, read my full column on what Josh Smith and Darrell Arthur can bring to the Clippers here.

If the Clippers create enough cap space (potentially by trading Jamal Crawford for Brendan Haywood, and releasing him to clear his $10.5 million salary) then maybe they can sign Copeland and either Arthur or Smith as well. Yet, with Josh Smith having far more potential to make a genuine offensive and defensive impact with the Clippers’ bench than Copeland, he’s really who they should focus their limited cap space on first.

Next: Who should the Clippers sign? Josh Smith vs. Darrell Arthur

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