The release of Mark Madsen is just another move in what has been an unpredictably busy offseason for the Clippers. Madsen was scheduled to make 2.8 million dollars this year, but his release will save the Clippers an unspecified amount off that figure. This move was not made for monetary reasons however, regardless of the actual dollar amount that the Clippers saved. The motivation behind releasing Madsen is that it creates another open roster space, bringing the Clippers roster down to 12 players. That leaves 2 open spots for Dunleavy, who typically enters the season with a 14 man roster.
Regarded as one of the league’s nicest guys, Madsen undoubtedly would have had a positive influence on the Clippers locker room. However, without a clear path to playing time in the crowded frontcourt, the probability of Madsen making an actual impact with his play was highly unlikely. The Clippers simply have too many needs to justify holding onto a backup who wasn’t slated to play any minutes, even if said backup could have helped positively alter team chemistry. Remember, the Clippers could really use another backup point guard, and a shooter off the bench, and Madsen is neither of those things.
This is where Ramon Sessions comes back into the picture. We’ve speculated all summer long about Sessions, but Madsen’s release appears to be another fallen domino. You have to imagine that this will intensify talks if nothing else; it’s unlikely that management would waive Madsen if they didn’t have a plan for his roster spot. After all, when is the last time Clippers management paid someone not to play for them? For a historically frugal franchise, this move signals a step in the right direction. Madsen’s value was unlikely to manifest itself in terms of on-court production, so the Clippers released him to bring in someone who has a better chance at producing and helping the team on the floor. That makes sense, and it’s hard to argue that Mark Madsen, even with his expiring contract as a trade chip, is more valuable than a Ramon Sessions or Steve Novak.
That’s not to say Madsen’s release doesn’t raise some interesting questions. For example, why was Mark Madsen released instead of Ricky Davis? Davis has a 2.4 million deal that expires this year, so both players have very similar contracts. Ricky Davis doesn’t exactly carry the reputation of being a guy good chemistry guy like Madsen does, although Ricky is unquestionably more talented. But if you had the choice for a 12th man who will rarely see the floor, it’s a pretty easy decision, right? You pick the energetic, encouraging, towel waving goofball. Madsen has to be an easier expiring contract to trade as well – Ricky Davis is about as popular as the plague amongst NBA GM’s. I may be jumping to conclusions, but releasing Madsen instead of Davis tells me that Dunleavy plans on giving Ricky a nice chunk of playing time, health permitting. It’s the only conclusion that really makes any sense. Why else would you let Ricky Davis hang around your basketball team?
Even if they may have targeted the wrong player, releasing Madsen was probably the right thing to do. Steve Novak is likely headed back to Los Angeles now, and an additional mystery player will be joining him. Sessions seems like the obvious candidate for the spot, but it is possible he still has little interest in fighting for a second string spot with Sebastian Telfair. Some of the additional free agents we previously listed have now headed off to Europe, such as Maurice Ager and Von Wafer. One player who hasn’t gone to Europe is Allen Iverson, and the possibility of him becoming a Clipper still looms. Perhaps a more realistic scenario would be the Clippers bringing back Mike Taylor. He knows the players, coach, and system, and is still young. He’s obviously not option number one, but don’t rule him out if Sessions happens to become unavailable.
By waiving Madsen, the Clippers lose a great character guy and a trading chip, but they gain valuable roster flexibility and something all good GM’s crave: Options.