The Los Angeles Clippers nearly faced a massive identity crisis when they were all but forced to trade point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets. Fortunately, the team was able to save their future just a bit, as they put pen to paper on a massive five-year, $173 million deal, per Shams Charania of The Vertical.
While the fact that the Clippers re-signed Griffin is great news for the franchise and helps keep them in the playoff mix in a loaded Western Conference, they still could use a few additional pieces. One player who almost immediately comes to mind is former Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay. When looking at the current roster for the Clippers, it’s obvious that they have a major hole at small forward, and also have more guards than they could possibly utilize.
Their trade of Paul netted the Clippers Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker and a first-round draft pick. Tack that on to the fact that they drafted point guard Jawun Evans and shooting guard Sindarius Thornwell to pair with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, and that’s a pretty crowded backcourt, with not much help at small forward.
As Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported, Gay and the Clippers met on Monday, which proves that the two sides do at least have some level of mutual interest.
As for Gay, he’s fresh off a left Achilles’ tendon surgery which only allowed him to play in 30 games last season for the Sacramento Kings. Even still, he averaged 18.7 points with 6.3 rebounds per game over that span, while playing nearly 34 minutes per game. So, what exactly does Gay bring to the Clippers that makes him such a perfect fit?
Rudy Gay’s Fit With the Clippers
Not only did the Clippers lose Paul this offseason, but J.J. Redick signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. This means that 33.1 points per game is now gone from their starting lineup. Gay, who’s 30 years old, still has plenty of ability when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop, and also has shown that he can take over games at times when needed.
While Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are still an excellent pairing inside, and newly-acquired Lou Williams has the potential to put up big points when he gets hot, the starting lineup at the guard spots and small forward are lacking in terms of scoring. Gay with any duo of Williams, Crawford, Beverley, and Rivers is much more dynamic than what either Wesley Johnson or Sam Dekker could bring to the group.
But, there is an issue that keeps this from being a simple decision. As Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, currently the Clippers have just the mid-level exception of $8.4 million to spend. This would be a major pay cut for Gay, who opted out of a $14.2 million deal with the Kings.
The Clippers would likely need to make a move in order to free up cap space or find a way to convince Gay to play for the $8.4 million this coming season. But, if they are able to figure out a way to make it happen, they could immediately be addressing their biggest need heading into the 2017-18 season while also adding a playmaker who’s certainly being undervalued a bit right now.