Clippers

Clippers Set to Coast Under the Radar

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The Los Angeles Clippers boasted one of the NBA’s highest-paid rosters heading into a 2021-22 season littered with uncertainty and anguish, with two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard’s ACL tear sustained in the previous season’s playoffs.

Despite the lack of star firepower, the Reggie Jackson-led Clippers were able to tread water right up until the bitter end when they eventually lost in the Play-In Tournament to a newly revamped and in-form New Orleans Pelicans team.

Now locked and loaded with their two All-NBA superstars returning from injury and a deeply versatile supporting cast, the Clippers appear to be the name on most pundit’s lips whenever the “favorites to win it all next season” discussion inevitably comes up.

So, what options do Tyronn Lue and the Clippers’ front office have for entering free agency and the draft?

As presently constructed, the Clippers have a guaranteed $161,111,912 in salary, assuming Jason Preston’s team option is picked up for the $1,563,518 he’s on the books for.

Players Currently Under Contract

The Clippers also have a player option on Nicolas Batum set at $3,328,530. As we approach the June 29th deadline, it feels more likely he’ll opt out and re-sign on a higher-value contract for another crack at glory in the City of Angels.

One of the bigger questions lingering around the Clippers’ front office however, is what to do with center Ivica Zubac. They presently hold a $7,518,518 team option and maintain his Bird rights, allowing them to offer a more lucrative extension should they see fit.

Amir Coffey’s cap hold sits at $2,076,674 and given his restricted-free-agent status, the likelihood of him moving on remains fairly low.

The Clippers also have Jay Scrubb and Xavier Moon assigned on two-way contracts. With cap holds of $1,811,516 and $1,616,044 respectively, all signs point towards the former being retained and the latter being released in search of new opportunities.

On the unrestricted-free-agent front, Isaiah Hartenstein’s contract expires in the offseason and unless there’s significant competition for his signature, the Clippers will likely move quickly to re-sign the seven-foot sharpshooter, who provided a steady balance of floor spacing and rim protection in his first season under Coach Lue.

Hartenstein’s contractual position does put some pressure on the Clippers, who only have the taxpayer mid-level exception to use as the team does not hold his Bird rights. Newly acquired Rodney Hood holds a Non-Bird cap hold of $1,811,515, but like that of Xavier Moon, there’s a slim chance the Clippers’ front office will be willing to keep the 29-year-old.

What The Clippers Have Available In Free Agency

The current and projected roster structure suggests there’s practically no scenario where the Clippers aren’t once again heavily situated within the luxury tax. This means they’ll be limited in what they can do when free agency comes around. The taxpayer mid-level exception is projected to be in the region of $6.36.4 million, but the Clippers do have significant trade exceptions available at $9,720,900 and $8,250,000 respectively should they wish to package any of their current players.

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