As the NBA’s offseason continues, several veteran free agents remain unsigned. It feels like a lot of them could be waiting to see how some of the league’s impending trades go, but it’s also possible that most of the suitors just don’t need their services. That said, the LA Clippers have a vacancy on the roster that some of the available free agents seem to fit.
With no traditional backup center on their roster, the Clippers appear to be on the hunt for a fixable big man. Having lost Isaiah Hartenstein to the New York Knicks in free agency, the team has yet to replace him with another big replacement. In a recent article, The Athletic’s Law Murray said he doesn’t expect the team to sign any of the veteran centers available in free agency.
“I do not expect the Clippers to add a veteran center before the end of the preseason, which is the bracket that unrestricted veteran free agents like DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside fit into,” Murray wrote. ” For one, these players are both over 30 and have played in over 500 NBA games. They are veterans who don’t need to go through a training camp.”
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Numerous reports have indicated that the Clippers are comfortable entering training camp with their final roster spot open, maintaining a level of flexibility that would otherwise be compromised. While the team has not revealed any indication that it is exploring trade options, the possibility of acquiring a Vault through trade remains.
That’s where the team’s current flexibility comes in. With many hit trades potentially on the horizon, players who aren’t currently considered available could suddenly become realistic targets for the Clippers. Maintaining a place on the open list would allow them to have additional flexibility when facilitating certain transactions.
If the Clippers choose to go that route, processing their backup center vacancy via trade, then they could sign one of the greats available as an insurance option. This is another luxury that maintaining an open listing spot allows. As Murray also notes in his latest article, this is similar to the approach the Clippers took with DeMarcus Cousins in 2021. By signing the veteran center as a big insurance mid-season, the Clippers were able to use strategically his services when needed, without being too dependent on him.
With each of the veteran centers left on the market, a role similar to the one Cousins had with the Clippers in 2021 seems like a more appropriate fit than a full-time backup position. Because the team often chooses to be small anyway, the lack of a save center doesn’t currently seem to be a major concern.