The Los Angeles Clippers could be about to embark on one of their most interesting offseasons in a long time. With Kawhi Leonard out for the foreseeable future and key role players like Nic Batum and Reggie Jackson becoming free agents, the Clips could find themselves looking like a very different team next season.
Should players like Batum and/or Jackson walk, Sports Illustrated’s Mason Bissada has a few suggestions as to who could fill their shoes — and they’re interesting ones. Bissada thinks the Clippers should pursue Derrick Rose and Markieff Morris.
Option #1: Derrick Rose
Rose, who was drafted first overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2008, spent seven seasons in the Windy City. A torn ACL in 2012 kept him out of his fifth NBA season, and while he averaged 20+ points in three of his first four years, he never averaged more than 18.1 points a year after the injury. Rose left Chicago in 2016, and had brief stints with the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons, and a second run with the Knicks in 2021.
Here’s Bissada’s logic on why the Clips should pursue the journeyman guard:
If the 2021 postseason proved anything for LA, it was that the necessity for a “true point guard” was misguided. Rajon Rondo was unplayable by the Conference Finals while Jackson (nearly a shooting guard in a point guard-sized body) was the Clippers’ second-leading scorer in that same series. So why not try replacing Jackson with another scoring guard? Rose was spectacular for the Knicks last season, averaging 14.7 points off the bench and knocking down a career-high 38.8% of his threes. He’d be taking a pay-cut if he left New York for LA, as the Knicks have his early Bird rights and the Taxpayer MLE is less than what he’s currently earning. It also seems unlikely that Rose would want to leave his beloved head coach Tom Thibodeau, though perhaps the allure of a championship could pull Rose to the opposite coast.
Option #2: Markieff Morris
Bissada also thinks current L.A. Lakers role player Markieff Morris, brother to Clippers forward Marcus, would be a good fit for the Clippers:
“The only thing better than one Morris brother is two,” he wrote. “Marcus’ brother might be the lesser talent of the twins, but he’s still a viable option on the wing, particularly as a part of LA’s small-ball lineup. If Batum walks, LA will need another 6’8 forward that can hold his own on a switch. The Morris brothers thrived together during their days in Phoenix, and Markieff already resides in Los Angeles. Perhaps a more sizable role while Leonard is out (Markieff only played 9.5 minutes per game in his four appearances in the Lakers’ First-Round loss to the Suns) will entice him to cross the Staples Center hallway and join his brother as a Clipper. While he isn’t the knockdown shooter that his brother is (he only hit 31.1% of his threes last season), he’s still a like-sized body on defense and a decent threat to score on offense.”
Would Either Rose or Morris Be Good Fit for Clippers?
While both Rose and Morris have their selling points (how great would it be to see Rose and the Clippers finally get their rings at the same time?!), neither would provide much of an improvement over the likes Jackson or Batum. Should other teams aggressively pursue Jackson, he could very likely leave and force the Clips to search for his replacement.
Jackson started 43 games for the Clippers last season, averaging 10.7 points and 3.1 assists. If he goes, Rose could be a solid fit to help fill his shoes. He averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 assists in 35 games for the Knicks this past season, and if Rondo and/or Jackson head out, he wouldn’t be a bad addition. Morris wouldn’t be bad, either, but his production doesn’t mirror Batum’s — although his price tag is sure to be friendlier.
None of it matters unless L.A. starts to lose its free agents. Then, names like Rose become a tad more intriguing. Stay tuned, Clipper Nation. Things are about to get very interesting.