The Clippers traded Jared Dudley and first-round pick, and all they’ll have to show for it is a little – and I mean a little – roster flexibility.
In the deal with Milwaukee, the Clippers netted Carlos Delfino and Miroslav Raduljica. Initially, there were questions about Delfino’s health and where Raduljica fit into Los Angeles’ center rotation.
But those concerns are probably irrelevant.
Yet according to a person with knowledge of the Clippers’ situation, it’s likely that Delfino – who is owed $3.25 million next season and has a team option for the 2015-16 campaign – will be waived using what’s deemed the "stretch provision."
One strong free agent possibility is 27-year-old shooting guard Chris Douglas Roberts, though he can’t sign until the aforementioned moves are made. Roberts averaged 6.9 points and 20.7 minutes for the Charlotte Hornets last season in 49 games. Another possibility is big man Ekpe Udoh, the 27-year-old who visited with the Clippers on Tuesday. Udoh, who was taken sixth overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 2010 draft, spent the last three seasons coming off the bench for the Milwaukee Bucks. Raduljica is also likely to be waived by the Clippers.
If you’re wondering why the Clippers didn’t just stretch Dudley, they couldn’t because his contract was signed under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (hat tip: Kevin Pelton of ESPN).
When a team stretches a player, his remaining guaranteed salary counts against the cap evenly across double the number of years remaining on his contract plus one. Delfino has two years remaining, including a fully unguaranteed season. Opinions are split on whether Delfino’s remaining guaranteed salary ($3.25 million) would be spread over five years (which would account for his unguaranteed season) or three years (which wouldn’t). I believe, though I see logic behind both interpretations, it would be spread over five years, but it’s not totally clear.
The Clippers are hard-capped due their signing of Spencer Hawes for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and they currently lack room to sign another player. If they stretch Delfino – regardless of whether his salary is spread over five or three years – they could sign three players to minimum one-year contracts.
It’s unclear whether the Clippers plan to stretch or Raduljica, who is owed $1.5 million this season followed by an unguaranteed year, or eat his entire salary this season. But stretching him and Delfino – again regardless of whether their salaries are spread across three or five years – would allow the Clippers to add a fourth minimum-salary player.
Because the Clippers have already used their full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, they have no mechanism to offer free agents more than minimum salaries. Perhaps, though, they have a trade up their sleeve. Hopefully they do – because free agents are slim pickings.
No unrestricted free agent left on the market justifies sending away a first-round pick. Not Douglas-Roberts and Udoh, both of whom are fine but available for a reason.
Doc Rivers clearly wasn’t fond of Dudley, but this was far too steep of a price to pay for the ability sign a couple extra minimum-salary players. Had they just kept Dudley, the Clippers could have fit one more minimum-salary player under the hard cap.
Beyond losing a first-round pick, the Clippers will also face a cap hit for Delfino (and maybe Raduljica) multiple years in the future. That negates some of the savings scheduled for next summer, when Dudley’s contract remains guaranteed and Delfino’s and Raduljica’s don’t.
Yes, Dudley is gone, but at some point the Clippers must show what they gained. It apparently won’t be Delfino or Raduljica.