GUEST ARTICLE BY: Jay-Hoosier
If Carmelo Anthony was smart, he would want to be traded to the….wait for… and I hope you are sitting down… The Los Angeles… CLIPPERS! I’ll give you a second to catch your breath.
And, we’re back.
This season, the Clippers have established themselves as one of the most exciting teams in the NBA and have picked up some BIG wins in the process (like the win over the Heat in LA). Blake Griffin is the most exciting big man in basketball, Rookie of the Year, and an All-Star. Eric Gordon is a 20+ points/game scorer (and a likely All-Star in a year or two). Baron Davis likes basketball for the first time in…well, ever. DeAndre Jordan is showing the ability to be a starting center on a contender. Eric Bledsoe has shown some flashes coming off the bench (even though he isn’t ready for the big stage YET). Things are looking up for LA’s other basketball team.
The positives don’t stop here for the Clippers. Let’s take a look at LA’s other assets moving forward over the next couple years.
The Clips aren’t going to make the playoffs after their poor start and the injury to Gordon so they are going to be adding another lottery pick (possibly top 10) to their roster after this season. DraftExpress.com has the Clippers selecting Kentucky’s Terrence Jones with the 8th pick in the draft. In other words, the Clippers will have another talented, young asset after this summer’s draft.
Next year, the Clippers have just over $50 million in salary and have the following expiring contracts:
Chris Kaman ($12.2 million) and Randy Foye ($4.3 million). They also have Minnesota’s unprotected first round draft pick in 2012. Oklahoma City owns the rights to the Clippers’ first round pick in 2012, however, it is top 10 protected. So, if in 2012, the Clips’ 1st rounder is a top 10 pick, the Clips will have 2 top 10 picks, and Minnesota’s pick could easily be a top 5 pick. Either way, the Clips will have at least Minnesota’s #1 pick.
To sum up the above, the Clips have a top 10 draft pick in 2011, enough expiring contracts to add a player making $16.5 million (almost a max player), and likely a top 5 draft pick in 2012. Those are three incredibly valuable assets in today’s NBA.
This leaves the Clips’ roster looking like this in 2012/13:
Clippers roster in 2012/13 (not including draft picks):
Baron Davis ($14.9 million expiring)
Blake Griffin ($7.2 million team option)
Ryan Gomes ($4 million expiring)
Eric Gordon ($5.1 million qualifying offer)
Al-Farouq Aminu ($3 million team option)
Eric Bledsoe ($1.7 team option)
(It is likely that the Clips will resign Jordan)
Assuming they pick up the team options the total team salary is $35.9 million. They will also have $18.9 million in expiring contracts which they could flip for another max player (Davis and Gomes).
So, over the next two years, the Clips have the ability to flip expiring contracts for two max players without breaking up the young core of Gordon, Griffin, Bledsoe, Jordan, their 2011 first round pick (likely top 10), and Minnesota’s 2012 first round pick (likely top 5).
Let’s look at the Knicks roster for the coming years.
First, the Knicks aren’t going to be in the lottery this year and even if they were, Houston has the right to swap first round picks with the Knicks. Houston also owns NY’s 2012 #1 pick. Basically, the Knicks are going to have the following roster moving forward:
Knicks Roster in 2012/13
Amare Stoudemire ($19.9 million)
Danilo Gallinari ($5.6 million qualifying offer)
Timofey Mozgov ($2.8 million expiring)
Anthony Randolph ($4 qualifying offer) – If Knicks trade for Melo, Randolph will be in the trade.
Toney Douglas ($2 million team option)
(It is likely that the Knicks will resign Felton)
Assuming they pick up all the options the Knicks total salary will be $34.3 million.
In other words, in 2012/13, the Knicks and the Clippers are basically in the same financial situation except the Clips will have a HUGE asset in Baron Davis’s expiring contract, AND the Clips will have at least two lottery picks.
It is hard to predict what particular NBA rosters are going to look like in a year and a half, but it is likely that the main pieces of the above rosters will remain unchanged. Now, add Melo to both of the 2012/13 rosters listed above and consider which roster is better.
Have we done that? Good.
Now, take into account that the Clippers will have $18.9 million in expiring contracts (Davis and Gomes) that they could use to trade for another max contract. You can win a championship with Melo, Griffin, Gordon, and X-star as your top 4. By the way, if you are wondering who “X-star” might be, here are some unrestricted free agents in 2012 who might be available for expiring contracts: Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd.
On the other hand, if your top 4 is Amare, Melo, Gallinari, and Felton, you aren’t going to win a championship. New York really hurt its future by using their future draft picks to dump all of its salary last summer.
Similarly, if Denver wanted to get the most out of Melo, a Clips offer of Kaman, Foye, Aminu, and Minnesota’s #1 in 2012 would be BY FAR the best deal. Denver gets everything they want: expiring contracts, young talent, and a good, possibly great, draft pick.
LA gets a star who wants to be in a big market. The Clips can also challenge the aging Lakers for supremacy of LA. Would you rather have Gordon, Griffin, Melo, another star, and a 2011 lottery pick or Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and Bynum for the next 5 to 8 years?
I thought so.