LA Clippers decline to exercise third-year team option on Brice Johnson

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: Brice Johnson
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 21: Brice Johnson /

The LA Clippers 2016 first round draft pick it set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 after the team decided not to exercise its 2018-2019 team option for Brice Johnson.

The UNC product’s days in Los Angeles appear to be numbered. In a somewhat surprising move, the LA Clippers decided to decline their 2018-2019 team option for Brice Johnson. Johnson will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Johnson never got the opportunity to break through into the Clipper’s lineup during his rookie season. He only appeared in 3 games for the team, averaging scoring only 4 points in 9 minutes of play. Johnson spent most of the 2016-2017 season playing for Salt Lake City Stars in the D-League. He averaged 12.2 ppg and 6.5 rpg for the Stars.

This season has been more of the same. Johnson has been buried in the lineup behind bench bigs Willie Reed and Montrezl Harrell. Johnson has appeared in three games for the Clippers this season, averaging 3.3 points per game. The Clippers also decided to pick up forward Sam Dekker’s fourth year team option.

The decision to decline Johnson’s team option was to maintain flexibility, according to Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “We still think Brice is a talented player. There wasn’t a great body of work due to some difficult circumstances, obviously, with the back injury. This year, we have great depth at his position,” Frank said.

Moving forward

Johnson could still conceivably sign back with LA next summer, but he will likely go down as another in a string of first round picks to not work out for the Clippers. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are the only players drafted by the Clippers in the last decade that are still with the franchise. Under Doc Rivers the team has generally been built outside of the draft to a varying degree of success. Like Johnson, recent Clipper first-rounders C.J. Wilcox and Reggie Bullock showed promise but never made an impact for the team.