The Los Angeles Clippers are on the cusp of building something special after acquiring coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics earlier this week. The Clippers' ability to keep their young nucleus together while adding some key complementary players in the process, though, is what will go a long way toward determining whether or not they can take the next step.
The Clippers face a major question at the beginning of the offseason: will All-Star point guard Chris Paul stay in Los Angeles? Paul is arguably the best player at his position in the NBA and the Clippers' future success is heavily dependent on getting him to re-sign. Eric Bledsoe gives the Clippers a promising fallback option at point guard if Paul decides to sign elsewhere, but the Clippers' championship aspirations will likely leave town if Paul does.
Paul's free agency will hang over the franchise like a storm cloud until it's decided, but he's far from the team's only free agent. Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins have all had their contracts come to an end and, along with Grant Hill deciding to retire, the Clippers will have the opportunity to retool their team through the draft, trades and upcoming free agency.
The Clippers have just one pick in the 2013 NBA Draft as they'll select with the 25th overall selection. This year's second-round pick went to the Detroit Pistons in a trade for long-forgotten Alex Acker.
The following players are under contract for the 2013-14 season:
Point Guards: Chris Paul (unrestricted free agent), Eric Bledsoe, Maalik Wayns (non-guaranteed contract)
Small Forwards: Caron Butler, Matt Barnes (unrestricted free agent), DaJuan Summers (non-guaranteed contract)
Power Forward: Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom (unrestricted free agent), Ronny Turiaf (unrestricted free agent)
Center: DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins (unrestricted free agent)
Even though the Clippers have yet to get Chris Paul locked in for the long haul, they're still in position to compete for Western Conference supremacy. If Paul returns, however, they'll have important continuity on the floor -- but could still experience some uncertainty on the sidelines with their new head coach.
Chauncey Billups likely won't return after a lost season due to injury and Green isn't a the long-term solution in his stead, so the Clips will likely look at one of the many talented shooting guards available. With every other position solidified at the starter level, the shooting guard position is definitely an area of need.
Crabbe was the Pac-12 Player of the Year at Cal while Franklin was the Mountain West Conference's top player at San Diego State. Both can bring youth and athleticism to a position where the Clippers have their largest hole.
Another option for the Clippers could be to add depth in the front court. Kansas center Jeff Withey (scouting report) projects well as a backup center in the NBA with good size, shot-blocking numbers and a decent touch on his jump shot.