The LA Clippers’ recent signing of ex-Heat center Willie Reed could eventually lead to rotation issues for the LA bench.
Let’s make this clear right off the back, I have nothing against Willie Reed. He’s a solid back up center that has worked his tail off to get where he is and should be getting more money than what the LA Clippers are paying him.
Compared to some of the other contracts that some backup centers received last offseason and this offseason, Reed’s one year, $1.5 million deal is a bargain deal for the production he brings. Reed’s signing makes a ton of sense if the Clippers were in dire need for a backup center to play behind DeAndre Jordan.
However, LA acquired Montrezl Harrell, whose game is very similar to Reed’s, in the return haul when they shipped out Chris Paul to Houston.
Now the Clippers are stuck with two backup centers that have almost the exact same offensive skill set. Both centers score predominantly on lobs and dunks and neither have good enough jump shots to spread the floor, making them a poor pairing at power forward and center.
Harrell and Reed are both good young players, but the Clippers don’t really need both of them. Add Brice Johnson, who looked ready for NBA rotation minutes in Summer League, to the mix and you’re stuck with three young big men that are going to be fighting for minutes behind DJ.
Both Reed and Harrell are set to earn around $1.5 million each this season and while the two players have the same amount of NBA experience (two years), Harrell is three years younger than Reed at just 23-years-old and has more of a ceiling.
Both players played just over 1,000 minutes in the 2016-2017 NBA season with Reed playing 1,031 minutes in 71 games for the Heat and Harrell playing 1,064 minutes in 58 games with the Rockets. When comparing their totals from last season, Reed outrebounded Harrell by about 100 rebounds while trailing or barely beating out Harrell in every other major category. Harrell scored about 140 points more than Reed and shot 65 percent from the floor compared to Reed’s 57 percent mark, which could be a product of playing with James Harden.
Another detail about the Clippers’ signing of Reed that concerns me is that as of right now, Reed’s contract puts the Clippers over the hard cap for the upcoming season. While being hard capped isn’t the end of the world, I personally would’ve rather had the team find a big man that could shoot and stretch the floor next to Harrell instead of going over the apron for a player with the same skill set.
The Clippers’ problem of having two solid young back up centers with similar skill sets isn’t the worst problem an NBA team could have. I have faith that Jerry West, Doc Rivers, and Lawrence Frank know what they’re doing and that the bench rotation will ultimately end up working out.
It’s hard to predict who will start the season with more minutes off the bench between the two players since both are new acquisitions to the Clipper team. Both players will have to use training camp to try and prove to Doc Rivers that they are deserving of the backup minutes going into the season.