As the NBA Finals continue, the LA Clippers are focused on upcoming free agency and are evaluating any possible pieces they can add.
With all eyes currently on the NBA finals, the LA Clippers are keeping their gaze firmly on the future. And that future will be bright, with the realistic hopes of adding one or even two perennial All-Stars to the fierce, feisty Clippers team, the squad that captured national attention by being the only team to clinch a playoff berth with no All-Star in the lineup, and the only team in NBA history to come back from a 31-point playoff game deficit.
Which leaves us wondering…how this team that has developed an identity with no egos, no marquee-level superstars, a squad and management/coaching staff that has created a unique culture of a selfless, team-first mentality, will find the big free agents or trades that will mesh with the best locker room in the NBA.
In less than one month, the brightest free agency class in recent memory will hit the ground running. What are the best options for the Clippers? If the Clippers are in fact adding a superstar, or two, who is the best fit for the Clippers culture?
The worst fit? Jimmy Butler. A great player, but one who reportedly comes with drama. Reports are that Butler is a concern in the locker room; that wherever he lands, it becomes all about him. Issues seem to follow Butler, team to team. For the Clippers, Butler is the wrong superstar.
Ditto with Anthony Davis (not a free agent, but a likely trade candidate). Also an elite level player, but AD has underperformed to date in leading a team. Davis also may come with attendant drama; his representation by Rich Paul may add a level of interference that would clash with the Clippers culture.
Some fun options to consider are Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan. Harris is likely soon to be an All-Star, and the fan base would welcome him back, especially if he comes in a package deal with his BFF (and fan favorite) Boban Marjanovic. Redick had a solid season in Philadelphia. He might bring some issues as he expressed some pretty harsh opinions about what he described as a passive-aggressive culture during his time with the Clippers; however those comments referenced the Big Three era so Redick might fit in well with the current Clippers culture. And it would be great to see Redick potentially reunited with Landry Shamet.
DeAndre Jordan, the player who had the longest tenure on the LA Clippers, could be an exciting option to return…. if he can bring his bestie, Kevin Durant, with him. DJ and KD are close friends, vacation together, and would be a solid duo in the Clippers starting lineup. No reason for them to unite on the east coast as is a persistent rumor, when they can instead play together in beautiful sunny Southern California.
Kemba Walker is flying a little under the radar in this free agent class, but his skills and temperament could be a solid addition to the Clippers. He has said that he doesn’t think of himself as a superstar and is surprised that he is playing at this level, for that reason Kemba is widely regarded as solid yet humble; a vibrant player who is beloved by teammates. Those qualities fit flawlessly into the Clippers no-ego, team-first culture.
A huge signing for the Clippers must be our own Patrick Beverly. He will be looking for a big contract, and deservedly so. But Bev has been the heart and soul of the Clippers this past season, sometimes it seemed that his will alone propelled the team. He’s fierce, fearless and the face of the Clippers culture.
And last but not least, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is the dream come true for the Clippers in free agency. His quiet nature, his focus on basketball ahead of celebrity, and his insane basketball skills on both ends of the court are a perfect fit for the Clippers. He is part of a close-knit Southern California family. It is not hard to imagine Kawhi fitting in seamlessly with Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly and the rest of the Clippers squad.
Free agency begins at 6:00 p.m. EST on June 30…. less than one month away. It has all the makings of a great ride. As our own Ralph Lawler puts it— fasten your seatbelts!