The Clippers feel they need some roster upgrades — at the three and in terms of depth — if they are going to take the final step to compete for an NBA title with the core of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan. (They need to keep Jordan this summer, too.)
Team president Doc Rivers added Lance Stephenson via trade, but it’s bad news if Stephenson is starting. The Clips want to land another starting three this summer.
Like maybe Paul Pierce? That long-standing rumor still has legs, as reported most recently by Arash Markazi of ESPN.
One of the options the Clippers are exploring, according to sources, is Paul Pierce, who could sign a mini-midlevel exception of $3.37 million for up to three years if he declines his $5.5 million player option with Washington. Players don’t normally turn down money but it’s essentially a $1 million difference this season for Pierce, 37, to return home and be reunited with Rivers, who was his coach in Boston for nine seasons, including the 2007-08 championship.
The Clippers are also exploring trade options for Jamal Crawford, according to sources, and one possibility is trading Crawford and C.J. Wilcox, the team’s 2014 first round pick, to the Denver Nuggets for Wilson Chandler. The Clippers inquired about Chandler last season but nothing materialized.
Denver certainly is trying to shake up its roster and Chandler is a name that has been rumored to be on the move.
But the Pierce rumor has had long legs. He reportedly wanted to come to Los Angeles last summer, but Rivers used his full mid-level exception on Spencer Hawes — who was just shipped out in the Stephenson deal. Will Doc Rivers get a do-over on last summer’s mistake?
Pierce may choose not to leave Washington — he liked the young team, and in the East it is an easier path to the Finals than in the deep West.
But if he bolts, he may head back to his home in L.A., for one more run at a ring with his favorite coach.