Clippers

Clippers Have Clear Offseason Priorities

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With the Los Angeles Clippers’ season coming to an end sooner than anticipated, they have their eyes set on next year.

This year was plagued with injuries and what-ifs, but the Clippers will return to full strength next season. Before that happens, however, the front office needs to take care of business.

Here are five key pieces the team have contracts up for negotiation.

Covington is The Clear Priority

This offseason, the veteran wing is an unrestricted free agent, and re-signing him should be one of the club’s top priorities.

Covington, who joined the team last trade deadline, has found an excellent role in Los Angeles.

His specialty is fitting in any lineup and doing whatever he is asked. As recently as the first play-in game, he was tasked with guarding All-star center Karl-Anthony Towns. Despite there being a considerable size difference between the two, he did a fantastic job.

Towns finished with a lackluster 11 points on a poor shooting night.

According to Cleaning The Glass, the Clippers are a staggering 15.4 points better per 100 possessions with Covington on the floor. While this sample consists of just under 500 minutes, Covington has been a net positive player his entire career.

He has even impressed President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, who expressed interest in retaining Covington.

Covington perfectly embodies the Clippers’ culture.

He adds length and switchability to a team with an abundance of long wings. He can also knock down threes, including a career-high 11 triples against the Milwaukee Bucks near the end of this season.

Pick up That Option Zub!

With the Denver Nuggets also set to receive reinforcements next year, the importance of keeping Ivica Zubac can not be stressed enough. Zubac provides the Clips with a solid center that can make Nikola Jokic work on both ends of the floor, something many other teams lack.

The Clips have a $7 million team option for Zubac next season. The value he brings to the team greatly exceeds the monetary worth of his contract. The average annual value of his contract has him as the 31st highest-paid center, per Spotrac.

Zubac was a key contributor to the Clippers’ eighth-ranked defense this year. His rim protection helped Los Angeles maintain a solid defense in a rocky year.

Bringing Zubac back on this extremely team-friendly deal is a must.

Bring Back Batum Too

If you could make an NBA player in a lab to play for the Clippers, it would be Nicolas Batum.

The Frenchman is a six-foot-eight guard with a seven-foot-one wingspan who guards multiple positions, knocks down threes, and keeps the ball moving.

Batum looked to be on his way out of the NBA when he initially signed with Los Angeles in 2020. Since then, however, he has proven to be a reliable player on a championship-caliber team.

Batum has a player option heading into the 2022-23 season. While the value he brings to this team is much more than his $3 million average annual value this year, money shouldn’t be an issue for him. Batum is still owed $9 million from the Hornets next season.

He has also shared his thoughts on returning next year.

While he hasn’t officially made any decisions yet, these words should undoubtedly ease the minds of Clipper fans heading into the offseason.

Another Big Return?

Young center Isaiah Hartenstein is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Hartenstein greatly exceeded expectations this year. Despite making less than $2 million, Hartenstein — like his counterpart Zubac — has brought much greater value than his contract might suggest.

With Hartenstein on the floor, Los Angeles is 12.3 points per 100 possessions better. Many teams in the NBA have benches or bench players that struggle to hold leads. Hartenstein provides the opposite; he helps the bench add to leads.

Isaiah adds lots of dynamism to the Clippers’ — at times — stagnant offense. He runs the floor very well to help create easy transition buckets for himself and his teammates. Hartenstein is not afraid to make any pass, which has its positives and negatives.

Sometimes easy buckets can be created when Isaiah throws a pinpoint dime ad-libbing out of the play to a cutting player. Other times, the pass can be too early, flashy and off-target, leading to turnovers.

Hartenstein ranks among the league’s best defensive big-men at defense around the rim, sitting seventh in defensive FG% of shots within six feet, with a minimum of 50 games played and three shot attempts contested a game.

He moves his feet well enough to provide some resistance on the perimeter, as well as being in good positions to get blocks and contest shots at the rim. However, he will need to improve his discipline if he wants to stay out of foul trouble and play more minutes.

As good as Hartenstein has been, he only logged 13 total minutes in the team’s two play-in games.

While hanging on to Hartenstein would be great for the Clippers, there are questions about his utilization in the playoffs. The Clippers have made their mark playing five switchable players in their marquee small-ball lineups.

How will there be enough minutes for two centers in the playoffs?

Coffey Rounds Out Clippers’ Needs

Young swingman Amir Coffey has had a career year by every measure.

Ensuring a deal gets done with Coffey is important– his contract will be cheap relative to all other wings on the team. Championship teams need to be able to take advantage of their young talent while still on affordable contracts.

While the signing of Coffey would not make or break the team’s championship aspirations, it would certainly help. Amir provides the Clips with a safety net if they cannot retain Covington. Coffey has shown he is a good three-point shooter with the ability to slash and handle the ball with ease.

He put all of his skills on display in the season’s final game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With Kawhi Leonard set to return, minutes may be a scarcity for some team members next season. Coffey taking another leap could give the Clippers even more solid wings that need playing time.

Which is a problem many teams would be happy to have.’

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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