Los Angeles Clippers
- Key Additions: Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard
- Key Losses: Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green
The Los Angeles Clippers are on a mission to bounce back from their 3-1 lead collapse in the second round of the 2020 playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. Clippers owner, Steve Ballmer began the offseason by letting go of his well-respected head coach, Doc Rivers.
Rivers who had been head coach of the Clippers since 2013, landed on his feet almost immediately when he became head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers less than a week later. After a lengthy replacement search, lead assistant coach Tyronn Lue was promoted to head coach.
After creating a new coaching staff, the Clippers front office focused on re-tooling their roster in hopes of accomplishing their goals of winning the franchise’s first NBA title. They traded away Landry Shamet for Luke Kennard, who is a 40.2% career three-point shooter, while also giving Kennard a four-year $64 million contract extension.
This large extension comes before Kennard has even played a regular-season game for the Clippers, in an off-season where the team has shelled out a lot of money to remain contenders.
Star player Paul George was recently given a four-year $176 million maximum contract extension, which will keep him in Los Angeles until 2025. The move was not surprising given how many assets the Clippers gave up to acquire George in 2019, but after his collapse in the playoffs, several people wonder if he is even worth the money.
One major loss for the team was losing reigning sixth man of the year, Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers. An unexpected move that not even Lakers fans saw coming, will ultimately require Lue to come up with strategies to make up for Harrell’s bench production.
In an attempt to replace Harrell, the Clippers were able to land Serge Ibaka in free agency, who was a sought after target for several contenders around the league.
Ibaka who was 5th on the Toronto Raptors in scoring last season at 15.4 PPG, will give the Clippers more perimeter shooting at the big man position, along with a slight improvement in defensive presence which they severely lacked in.
Returning role players in Ivica Zubac, Lou Williams, and Marcus Morris who also received an expensive four-year contract extension, will also be relied on to contribute large impacts alongside superstar Kawhi Leonard and George.
After an off-season full of negative press and leaked stories, Leonard will need to step up and prove that he has the ability to lead if they want any shot at beating the Nuggets or Lakers.
The Clippers are still arguably the biggest threat to the Lakers returning to the NBA Finals, but with a restructured team, it’s anyone’s guess for how this team bounces back. Expect the Clippers to battle for the top seed in the Western Conference, and the Pacific Division.