The Los Angeles Clippers have the star the team has long needed in Blake Griffin. They also happen to have a stud two-guard in Eric Gordon and a killer asset in the Minnesota Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick. Now is the time for the Clips to make their move, right?
Right? (Is this thing on?)
Here's a look at the Clippers' salary cap levels over the past six seasons.
Guess what? The Clippers don't like to spend money! It's true!
Heading into free agency, the Clippers have a cap figure of $45 million with the leaguewide team salary cap set at $58 million and the luxury tax line at $70 million. L.A. can't chase one of the players looking for close to a max deal, but should be able to stay in the mix for second-tier free agents.
The Clippers' free agents are:
L.A. is expected to match anything Jordan signs, supposing the Clippers don't lock him up first. That should soak up anywhere from $4 million to $8 million in the Clippers' space. Smith is a player worth keeping, but the team's priorities are more likely to be wrapped up at point guard and small forward.
Caron Butler has been a popular name for the Clippers, as the team desperately needs a player in front of Al-Farouq Aminu while the youngster learns the NBA game. Tayshaun Prince, another veteran, could be a different option; both are outside-in players that could mesh pretty well with a Griffin-Jordan-Chris Kaman interior.
Speaking of Kaman: he is always on a trade block, and entering the final season of his contract, he could draw interest from capped-out teams looking for frontcourt help. But all the same, he looks like a pretty important third big for the Clippers, assuming the team aspiring to land in the playoffs this season. Again, the Clips hold the rights to Minnesota's 2012 first-round pick, which is completely unprotected. That pick should almost certainly land in the top 10; some would bet heavily on it landing in the top five. This is expected to be a really, really good draft. Keep that in mind once superstars land on the rumor mill.
For more on L.A.'s alternative to pure evil, visit SB Nation's Clips Nation.