The Clippers wanted Kevin Durant to tell them by Saturday if they were out of the running for him so they could start to retain their own free agents (they already lost Jeff Green to Orlando, although how big a loss that really is we could debate). He must have told them they were out because Saturday the Clippers locked up Austin Rivers, for example.
Heard that Clippers formally offered 6th Man of the Year Jamal Crawford on Saturday, too. But he is still weighing options. Not sure where they get bench scoring if he bolts.
Sam Amick of the USA Today was far less optimistic about the Clippers retaining him.
While the specifics of the Crawford offer were not known, it’s clear that it came in well shy of the three-year, $35 million deal given to the son of Clippers coach and president of basketball operations, Doc Rivers, on the same day. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out why Crawford may not be thrilled at the moment.
The Clippers slightly overpaid to keep Rivers, but I’m surprised they lowballed Crawford. At age 36, Crawford can still get buckets. He averaged 14 points a game last season, often running the second unit for the Clippers while Chris Paul rested. He still has one of the best crossovers in the game, and can knock down pull-up jumpers. There are legit concerns: at age 36 he is showing declining efficiency, and he’s never been strong at the defensive end (and that’s getting worse).
Philadelphia, Golden State, and Washington all have reached out to Crawford. He has options.
Here’s the problem for the Clippers: Who are they going to get that’s better than Crawford as a sixth man? Along those same lines, who are they going to get to replace Jeff Green as a starting three that’s an upgrade? The Clippers still have their core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, but they may be getting worse around that big three. And remember, both Paul and Griffin can opt out next summer and become free agents (and with the market the way it is, it’s safe to bet they will). If the Clippers take a step back this season, can they retain those two?
Doc Rivers the GM has some real challenges coming up. Losing Crawford is not going to help.