There are tiers of free agents this summer, and teams with money to spend usually follow a pattern: Aim high at the top tier, if they strike out then move on to the next tier, and on down the list until they get their man.
The Los Angeles Clippers are in the mix for two of those (Thompson isn’t going anywhere, he will re-sign with Golden State). Both Durant and Leonard have been linked to the Clippers, but the NBA Finals may change the situation for both, Durant because of his torn Achilles (nobody is exactly sure how that will impact him, and the Knicks have long been the favorite if he leaves anyway) and Leonard because he won and may choose to stay on a short deal with Toronto.
If the Clippers strike out with that top tier, they are not moving on to the next group (Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, etc.). They will just wait it out and build slowly reports Jovan Buha at The Athletic.
So what happens if the Clippers strike out and don’t nab Durant, Leonard or Davis?
The Clippers will remain patient and diligent with their roster-building, carrying out their original 2018 plan to acquire assets and develop their young core over multiple seasons. The Clippers don’t feel pressure to ramp up their aggression on the trade market if they don’t sign a star free agent, league sources told The Athletic.
The Clippers like their young core — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shammet, Montrezl Harrell — and combine that with Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari (if he can stay healthy again) and you have a Clipper team back in the playoff mix in the West. The Clippers will live with that and be patient with their young core, waiting for a true No. 1 option, rather than settle for a player they have questions or doubts about.
Which is smart. No half measures.
At least for now. Eventually, the pressure will mount to do more, but in the short term the Clippers can afford to be patient.