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Biggest Needs for the Los Angeles Clippers to Resolve Ahead of the 2021 NBA Season
After never fully embracing one another during the bubble, the Clippers are headed back to the drawing board. It starts with a changing of the guard at the top.
Steve Ballmer and Lawrence Frank decided to close the book on the Doc Rivers chapter and promote Tyronn Lue to the helm. Lue inherits a roster is that’s loaded with talent, and Kawhi Leonard is a bonafide top-5 player in the league.
We’re talking about one of the few organizations in the Association that can genuinely say, “championship or bust.”
Let’s check in with the Los Angeles Clippers’ biggest needs in this abbreviated offseason.
Shore Up the Post Play on Offense
LA’s lack of an interior presence on offense really came into light during the playoffs. Montrezl Harrell was a shell of himself (10.5 ppg, 2.9 rbg) and Ivica Zubac never settled into a rhythm. Every other player in Doc Rivers’ rotation played on the perimeter.
With rumors swirling that Harrell will bolt in free agency, suddenly the Clippers options in the paint are sliced in half. Assuming the 2019-20 6th Man of the year does indeed land in a new city, it’ll be imperative for Lawrence Frank to actively pursue a proven commodity in the post.
Marc Gasol could fit in, although what he brings to the table at this stage of his career is a valid question to ask. Serge Ibaka makes sense, and who knows?
What if DeMarcus Cousins has more in his tank?
Target Fred VanVleet
Speculations that the Clips will go after Rajon Rondo are real.
The Clippers have interest in signing the Lakers' Rajon Rondo, league sources say, and are expected to pursue Rondo when free agency opens in November— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 28, 2020
However, imagine if Jerry West could pull enough strings to lure Fred VanVleet to La La Land?
Arguably the most prized free agent (excluding Anthony Davis), FVV is going to garner interest from a handful of clubs. With that being said, his prior relationship with Kawhi Leonard could be a major selling point.
For those unaware of how much Fred has blossomed in Toronto, check out the trajectory he’s been on for yourself.
|Fred VanVleet – By the Numbers (Per Game Averages)|
Securing VanVleet to run the offense would push Patrick Beverly into a reserve role, and quite frankly, that’s where the defensive specialist really belongs.
One of the Los Angeles Clippers’ biggest needs is to acquire some rim protection.
Tied for 17th in the NBA in blocks per game during the regular season (4.7 bpg), the Clips averaged just 3.7 bpg during the postseason. Zubac isn’t a feared shot-blocker, Harrell appears to be on his way out, and this is a squad that ranked 25th in offensive rebounds allowed.
A guy who immediately comes to mind who could help erase these shortcomings is Hassan Whiteside.
The unrestricted free agent knows he’s set to take a pay cut after padding his account with more than $96 million (contract earnings alone) over the last four years. Now 31 years old, perhaps Whiteside is at the point in his career where he’s ready to chase rings as opposed to more money.
A blockbuster deal involving Paul George is unlikely at this point, but I’d love to see LA retain Montrezl Harrell. In the event that PG13 stays put and Harrell finds a new home, there are still ways the Clips can improve.
A sign and trade involving Fred VanVleet would do wonders for this team, as would obtaining a legit big man who can contribute on both ends. Namely Hassan Whiteside – who should be available at a discount given an impending reduction to the salary cap.