Report: Clippers plan to stretch Carlos Delfino, waive Miroslav Raduljica

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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.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

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.

Austin Rivers opting in for $12.65 million with Clippers

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Austin Rivers‘ three-year, $35,475,000 contract caused resentment within the Clippers when his father – Clippers coach and then-president Doc Rivers – gave it to the guard in 2016.

But don’t think for a moment that will bother Austin into bypassing $12.65 million next season.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

That high salary will put a target even more squarely on Rivers’ back, but he’s used to it.

He’ll be overpaid, but he can still help the Clippers. Maybe that’s as an expiring contract used to facilitate a larger trade. Maybe that’s on the court. L.A. will reportedly drop guard Milos Teodosic. The Clippers, with the Nos. 12 and 13 picks in tonight’s draft, could select another guard, but few rookie point guards are reliable.

Report: Spurs ‘shut the door’ on Lakers’ Kawhi Leonard trade inquiry

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After shooting down trade inquiries before the trade deadline and brushing off proposals earlier this offseason, the Spurs are reportedly hearing out offers for Kawhi Leonard.

Except from the Lakers.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Lakers are reportedly Leonard’s preferred destination. Of course, San Antonio isn’t obligated to send him there. But he can influence the process by stating a plan to sign with only certain team(s) in 2019 unrestricted free agency.

The Celtics and 76ers might have better assets to send the Spurs. But if only the Lakers have a commitment from Leonard to re-sign, they might offer a greater share of their assets than Boston or Philadelphia would (especially if Los Angeles believes acquiring Leonard would be the first domino in also landing LeBron James and Paul George).

Between Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and future first-round picks, the Lakers could offer roughly commensurate value for Leonard. San Antonio might not like those particular players, but a third team could always get involved. Send some combination of Ball, Ingram, Kuzma and Hart to a team that wants them and have that third team convey players more desirable to the Spurs.

But that takes thoughtful negotiating, and San Antonio doesn’t seem interested.

There’s a belief San Antonio won’t trade Leonard to a Western Conference team, especially another historically strong franchise like the Lakers. That sentiment seems foolish to me, but it didn’t emerge out of thin air. There are real people – and real hurt feelings – involved here. Grudges sometimes trump rationality.

Maybe the Spurs will eventually explore whether the Lakers present the best offer. But this is at least circumstantial evidence San Antonio will handle this crisis stubbornly.

League buzz: Kings will take Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, Luka Doncic gone at three

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It’s hard to see through all the smoke and tell if things around the 2018 NBA Draft are solidifying as we get to fewer than three hours before the Phoenix Suns go on the clock.

The Suns are a lock to take DeAndre Ayton at No. 1.

After that, the Kings more and more seem to be leaning toward taking Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, according to multiple reports of those close to the team.

At three things really open up. Atlanta is listening to trade offers but one way or another is likely to pick Luka Doncic. There are rumors that multiple teams — Dallas, Orlando, others — would then trade their pick plus some other asset (young player/future pick) to the Hawks for Doncic. Who the Hawks reportedly really want is Trae Young, but they can move down to get him.

If the Slovenian is off the board, it’s more likely that Memphis trades the No. 4 pick, according to sources. However, there are questions about whether Memphis can get what it thinks is fair value for selling the No. 4. So maybe they just take Jaren Jackson Jr.

How is it going to shake out?

That follows my final mock draft, which was put together Wednesday for the video above. It has:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley
3. Atlanta: Luka Doncic
4. Memphis: Jaren Jackson
5. Dallas: Mo Bamba
6. Orlando: Trae Young
7. Chicago: Michael Porter Jr.
8. Cleveland: Wendell Carter Jr.
9. New York: Kevin Knox
10. Philadelphia: Mikail Bridges
11. Charlotte: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
12. LA Clippers: Robert Williams
13. LA Clippers: Collin Sexton
14. Denver: Miles Bridges

The problem with any mock draft now is accounting for trades, and those are coming.

Report: Spurs hearing out Kawhi Leonard trade offers, including from Lakers

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The Spurs shot down Kawhi Leonard trade offers before the trade deadline. They brushed off Leonard trade offers earlier this offseason.

Then, the already strained situation got even worse.

Leonard put out word he wanted to leave San Antonio, ideally for the Lakers. He met with Gregg Popovich this week in San Diego, reportedly directly telling the president-coach he wants out.

What are the Spurs doing now?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers are in that mix.

The Spurs can try to mend their relationship with Leonard. They could even use a super-max contract – projected to be worth $219 million over five years – to aid that process. They don’t have to trade him.

But the clock is ticking toward tonight’s draft, teams using their cap space in other ways and Leonard’s 2019 free agency.

San Antonio has no choice but to get more aggressive in handling Leonard’s future. This is a small step in that direction.