Update: Dudley was ineligible to be waived under the Stretch Provision as his contract was signed under the previous CBA (h/t ESPN’s Kevin Pelton). The text remains unchanged, but be advised that salary cap relief via Stretch Provision could only come through trade. -Andrew Han
On Tuesday, the Clippers traded Jared Dudley and a 2017 lottery-protected first-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica and their own 2015 second-round pick. The immediate autopsy on the deal suggested Delfino would be waived via the “Stretch Provision.” By stretching Delfino’s $3.25 million guaranteed contract over the next three years (at just under $1.1m per season), the Clips can realize some much needed breathing room under the hard cap of $81M imposed by signings Spencer Hawes to a full mid-level contract. Murmurs that Raduljica would also be waived have snuck into some reports.
However, Raduljica is unlikely to be waived. First of all he’s a big body on a reasonable contract, filling a position of need. More importantly, the trade would be completely nonsensical if the intent were to waive Raduljica. ClipperBlog managing editor Andrew Han explains:
Say what you will, but there’s no practical reason why Raduljica would be waived. The Clippers actually added $500K in salary (really only $250K because of Dudley’s bonus structure)
and if the intent was to waive or “stretch” all incoming salary, Los Angeles would have been better off simply stretching Dudley’s contract. In fact, stretching Dudley would have turned his $4.25M salary into five years at $1.7M, giving the Clippers enough space under the hard cap to sign four players at the veteran’s minimum contract this season.
Stretching Delfino turns his $3.25M salary into three years at $1.083M, giving the Clippers enough space this year to sign three players at the veteran’s minimum contract.
If they decided to stretch Raduljica as well? Well, his $1.5M contract would turn into $500K for the next three seasons. Combined with Delfino, the Clippers would be on the hook for $1.583M.
Waiving Raduljica along with Delfino via the Stretch Provision would save the Clippers approximately $117K a season vs. simply using the same method on Dudley. A first-round pick to save $117K in cap space and an additional $3.75M in payroll sounds steep, doesn’t it?Especially so in the wake of Steve Ballmer assuming control of the franchise. It’s therefore logical to conclude that Miroslav Raduljica is an asset, either on the court or in a trade at a later date. Anything else and alarm bells should be sounding in everyone’s heads.
Hard to argue with the boss much on that front. So, Raduljica is probably here to stay.
What to make of the big Serbian? First things first, he’s really big. 7-foot and 250 pounds, though whatever scale used to produce that latter figure might be in need of a re-calibration, because he’s really quite large. Second, he didn’t play all that much for Milwaukee during his rookie year, totaling 465 minutes across 48 appearances.
However, when he did play, he was surprisingly productive, averaging 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, while shooting a hefty 54-percent from the field and 81.8-percent from the line. He carried an above average PER at 15.3 and his free throw accuracy helped push his True Shooting percentage above 60-percent, extremely efficient territory. He was an especially effective offensive rebounder in his limited action.
More surprising was how well he appears to have defended the rim, considering his somewhat lumbering style. Raduljica held opponents to sub 40-percent shooting at the rim, and his overall SportVU-based rim protection was eighth among all NBA big men on a per minute basis narrowly edging out teammate and shot blocker extraordinaire Larry Sanders. Overall, Bucks opponents shot only 52.9-percent at the rim with Raduljica on the floor as opposed to 58.9-percent overall.
No Bucks player had a positive overall plus/minus, but Raduljica was one of the closest to even. All told, there are many indicators that he might be a serviceable NBA player, though it must be noted that ESPN’s “Real Plus Minus” metric does not like him as much, placing him 57th among all centers and implying a sub-replacement level of production. Further, he was extremely foul prone, averaging 6.5 fouls per 36 minutes. Only Alexis Ajinca and the departed but not lamented Ryan Hollins played more than 400 minutes and fouled more frequently.
In any event, all the numbers are highly speculative based on Raduljica’s small sample of extremely low pressure minutes playing for a completely dysfunctional Milwaukee squad.
His skillset is intriguing though. A powerful, space-eating, garbage bucket-getting backup center would not be amiss for the Clippers. If his rim protection metrics hold up at all, that represents a boon to a team which was forced to rely on Glen Davis for backup pivot minutes in the 2014 playoffs.
Further, his lumbering style might prove to be a blessing in disguise. If Raduljica were to get a large number of second-unit minutes, perhaps the team would slow their pace to match his, reducing the number of possessions played while Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan are resting. In addition, a number of potential playoff rivals have just the sort of physically stout big men who tend to overpower Jordan and new addition Hawes won’t be able to contain either.
It’s not hard to envision Raduljica giving important minutes in a series versus the Rockets and Dwight Howard or the Grizzlie and Marc Gasol, or even the Thunder if Steven Adams takes on a larger role for OKC.
Clearly, the primary goal of this trade was to clear cap space for other signings such as Epke Udoh or Chris Douglas-Roberts (two rumored targets), but adding a big man who might be able to contribute is a nice bonus to have thrown into the mix for the Clips.