Basketball

Clippers: Top 10 Free Agent Point Guards

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With many free agents currently on the roster, the Clippers have a lot of question marks they’re looking to answer long before we look to the other available players on the market. Kawhi Leonard officially opted out of his deal, though he is reportedly expected to renegotiate a deal to stay with the Clippers. Serge Ibaka is reportedly opting into his final year under contract, but both Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson are still question marks for the Clippers.

However, just because the front office has several major decisions ahead of them regarding their current roster doesn’t mean we can’t look to the league and dissect the available free agent pool in the meantime.

Point Guards

If the Clippers can bring Jackson back on board, the need for a point guard will be minimized with Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, Terance Mann, and Jackson all on board and capable of handling the ball. However, given the possibility of trades, losing free agents, and generally adding depth, it’s still safe to assume the front office will peruse the point guard market.

Honorable Mention | Chris Paul

This is very unrealistic for multiple reasons. Chris Paul costs more than the Clippers can pay a free agent right now, and I don’t know that CP3 would even want to reunite with his former franchise. Regardless, Paul opted out of his contract with the Suns and he is officially a free agent, so what kind of Clippers writer would I be if I didn’t at least bring up this possible reunion.

10. Brad Wanamaker

Wanamaker is a witty combo guard entering his fourth year in the league. Due to a short career overseas, Wanamaker will be 32 years old in his fourth season, but this is definitely not a bad thing. Adding capable veterans to an already established core has proven to be a recipe for success in past years.

Acquiring this 6-3 guard may not be a scale-tipper move in terms of winning a championship, but more ballhandlers and knowledgeable basketball players are never a bad addition to a roster. Wanamaker should be on their radar if the Clippers find themselves in need of a backup guard or filling out their roster after making moves.

9. Devonte’ Graham

Graham, a former standout at Kansas, had a breakout season in 2019-20 with the Hornets. He averaged 18.2 PPG, 7.5 APG, and shot over 37% from deep. However, in the 2020-21 season, Graham had to take a backseat to Terry Rozier and reigning Rookie of the Year, LaMelo Ball.

Graham is still a very capable point guard at only 25 years old. Despite dropping his averages to 14.8 PPG and 5.4 APG last season, he’s among the best backup point guard options in the league, and a perfect plug-and-play option to insert into the starting lineup in case of injuries or rest situations the Clippers often find themselves in.

8. Cameron Payne

He may not have been well known as a good basketball player a year ago, but Payne made a resounding statement in the Suns’ 2021 playoff run. He stepped up in a major way when the Suns were without Chris Paul for a stretch and continually provided productive bench minutes throughout the postseason.

Payne’s quick first step proved to be near un-guardable, allowing him to get to the rim with consistency throughout the playoffs. He ended up averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.2 APG while playing less than 20 minutes per night. Payne is another fantastic backup guard option given the possibility of additional moves in the Clippers’ backcourt this offseason.

7. Dennis Schroder

Perhaps one of the least realistic options in terms of money, Schroder makes this list as a viable starting point guard option if all hell breaks loose for the Clippers this offseason. Schroder has had two of his best seasons to date over the last couple of seasons with the Thunder and Lakers. With the Thunder in 2019-20, Schroder averaged 18.9 PPG, and then in 2020-21 with the Lakers, Schroder posted a near-career-high 5.8 APG across 32.1 minutes per game.

Again, I understand this is not a likely option considering the level of money Schroder is asking for this offseason, but he’s still available and still a quality starting point guard. You never know; with the unpredictability of the NBA offseason, 3-team trades, sign-and-trades, and unexpected signings are part of everyday life.

6. Patrick Mills

The long-time San Antonio Spur would likely shock a lot of people should he decide to leave this storied franchise. However, Greg Popovich is likely well on his way to retirement, LaMarcus Aldridge left the team last season, and DeMar DeRozan has been linked to nearly half the teams in the league this summer already. Don’t toss out a Spurs rebuild just yet.

Mills, the 33-year-old guard, averaged 10.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, and shot over 37% from deep off the bench last season. He’s been a near-double-digit scorer for the past five seasons and an impart piece of the Spurs’ success through the 2010s. The veteran Aussie is perhaps the best backup point guard option available if the Clippers are looking to simply sign another shooter around their core.

5. Derrick Rose

Rose has had one of the wildest careers in NBA history, ranging from league MVP to missing nearly two full seasons with an injury to being in contention for 6th man of the year on playoff-caliber teams. Perhaps the only thing missing from Rose’s career now is a ring, leading us to believe he might search out the opportunity to win this offseason.

Enter the Clippers. Though rose has already been linked back to his hometown Chicago Bulls this offseason, Rose may pursue a ring above all else, and the Clippers would be firmly on his radar if this were the case. This would be an ideal target for LAC should the Clippers lose out on either Reggie Jackson or Patrick Beverley, especially considering a sign-and-trade likely wouldn’t be necessary to land the veteran guard.

4. Mike Conley

Conley has been part of a lot of battles against the Clippers during his tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies. Though he’s coming off of his prime now, Conley is still a fringe All-Star point guard in today’s league. He averaged 16.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 1.4 SPG last season with the Utah Jazz and helped lead them to the best record in the NBA.

The Clippers may not be able to outright sign Conley to a contract if they retain their current roster, but Conley is an elite sign-and-trade option should the Clippers go that route. The 33-year-old guard is another prime candidate to hunt for a ring over money this offseason, and the Clippers should be firmly on his radar.

3. Lonzo Ball

The 23-year-old point guard is a prime candidate to return to Los Angeles this summer, except this time it would be to play for the team across the hall. Ball has improved his accuracy from 3-point range each season, climbing all the way to 37.8% with the Pelicans last season. This goes along with his 14.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.5 SPG.

Ball is among the best playmakers in the NBA thanks to his elite IQ, 6-6 frame, confidence in his playmaking. Confidence in shooting the ball is perhaps the skill Ball is still working on the most early in his career. He improved his 2P%, 3P%, and FT% last season, showing a clear improvement in confidence in himself. Ball is almost to the stage in his career where he can be a lead guard on a championship-caliber team. Now he just has to find said team, and the Clippers are a very realistic option.

2. Spencer Dinwiddie

Dinwiddie has been linked to both the Lakers and Clippers early this offseason due to him being from the area originally, but with Russell Westbrook officially heading to LA, it seems less likely that the Lakers would make a move for another point guard.

The 27-year-old guard played only three games for the Nets last season before suffering a season-ending injury. However, during the 2019-20 season, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 3.5 RPG. If Dinwiddie does want to come home and play in LA, the Clippers remain the more likely team to make that happen, though it would likely mean losing one if not both of Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley.

1. Kyle Lowry

Lowry is one of the biggest names on the free-agent market in 2021, aside from maybe Kawhi Leonard. The former NBA champion and 6x All-Star is an elite playmaker in today’s league. He’s averaged over 6.5 APG in seven of the last eight seasons while also shooting roughly 38% from distance.

Lowry reuniting with Leonard to win a first-time championship for yet another franchise is stuff you just can’t make up. This signing would almost have to be a sign-and-trade to bring on the veteran All-Star guard, but adding the level of playmaking and experience Lowry brings could prove to be worth it for the championship-hopeful Clippers.

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