The end for the L.A. Clippers couldn’t have been any more disappointing after a 53-win season and a No. 4 seed. Injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin ended them in the first round though they had a chance to at least get to the West finals.
The Clippers have some attractive free agents and don’t have a lot of salary cap room to refresh their own roster. Their best shot is to use the Bird Rights on their own free agents to retain some of them.
The Wizards will go into the offseason with as many as nine spots open. Their goals are to get younger, more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.
They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.
These are the Clippers’ best free agents available, in order of best fit:
Jamal Crawford: He’s 36 but that doesn’t matter much. He’s a bench player who is instant offense. Crawford won the Sixth Man of the Year award for the second time and made just $5.7 million. He’ll command somewhere in that range with a raise, of course, but the unrestricted free agent also has indicated he’d like to return to L.A. He’s from the West coast and appears to prefer it, but if he’s willing to listen to a pitch his 14.2 points in 27 minutes a game is worth it.
Jeff Green: A 6-9 combo forward, he was on the Wizards’ short list of possibilities two years ago when he was with the Celtics and on the market. He averaged 11.7 points and made 41 starts but can disappear for long stretches. He’s 29 and athletic and played for Scott Brooks when both were with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now he's unrestricted.
Austin Rivers: A 6-4 guard, he’s a backup who’ll be looking for a raise if he exercises his player option. Still, the raise he'd get over his $3.1 million, if any, would be modest. Rivers' shooting from inside and outside the arc remains sub-par though defensively he has proven to be quite valuable.
Wesley Johnson: A career backup, like Rivers and Aldrich, Johnson was a lottery pick, too, who hasn't lived up to his draft status. A shooting guard, he played for the $1.1 million minimum as well and averaged 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 21 minutes. Johnson can be a spot starter and has potential to be a late bloomer but remains a shooter in the low 30s from three-point range.
Cole Aldrich: It has taken the 2010 lottery quick quite a while to mold himself into a usable center, but he did a decent job as DeAndre Jordan's backup (5.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 59.6% field goals). Aldrich makes the vet minimum of $1.1 million and should be able to get a raise by exercising his player option, too. Like Green, he played for Brooks in Oklahoma City.