The Clippers’ work on the phone lines seems done. Soon we can get back to the business of balling, or whatever remains of that enterprise for the Clippers until April 14.
The Clippers essentially traded Marcus Camby, Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair for Drew Gooden, Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake. More important moving forward, the Clippers sent out $5.5 million in committed salaries for the 2010-11 season (Thornton $2.8M, Telfair’s player option of $2.7M).
There’s been a faint expectation dating back to last year that Camby’s expiring contract could fetch the mythical, elusive small forward, a creature that combines Luol Deng’s length, Tayshaun Prince’s defense and savvy, Nic Batum’s youth and Danny Granger’s shot. The truth is that such a player doesn’t exist. If he did, he’d probably command far more than Marcus Camby’s expiring contract.
Instead, the Clippers get leaner headed into Summer 2010. Depending on where the salary cap is set and where they’re picking in the first round of the draft, they’ll have somewhere in the $15-$16M range, give or take a little. They downgrade considerably at the big by dealing Camby away and replacing him with Gooden, but Blake and Outlaw represent nice upgrades over Telfair and Thornton respectively. Outlaw has his fans around the league, which makes his Bird rights potentially worth something. If the Clippers decide they don’t want to sign him long-term, they could still ink him to a deal and use that contract in a sign-or-trade to obtain something they prefer. The same holds true for Blake.
Did the Clippers solve any specific long-term needs at the deadline? No. But they put themselves in a strong position to do so at the next possible opportunity, this upcoming summer. In a brutal economic climate, they persuaded teams to accept guaranteed contracts for players who aren’t all that valuable. That’s impressive.
The Clippers’ enhanced financial flexibility doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t guarantee that a big free agent will sign with the team. It doesn’t guarantee that the money will necessarily be spent wisely. It doesn’t guarantee that the right coach will be hired. It doesn’t guarantee the health and durability of the players. It doesn’t guarantee Baron Davis’ happiness or devotion to the team’s success.
It doesn’t do any of that, but it does offer distinct hope that the next three seasons will be better than the last three.