Clippers Look Like a Playoff Contender
March 14, 2019
Clippers appear headed for the Playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers have become a daily soap opera, with daily speculation about who is in and who is out. With a record of 31-36, they are headed for a sixth straight season of missing the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, appear to be headed for the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. Their record improved to 39-29 after beating the Boston Celtics 140-115 on Monday night for their fifth straight win.
The Clippers were led by Lou Williams, who came off the bench to score 34 points. Danilo Gallinari added 25 points and Montrezl Harrell chipped in with twenty points. The Clippers an amazing shot 61.6 % from the field and hit 13 of 28 three pointers in the blowout win.
Coach Rivers was ecstatic about the game: "We played terrific. We shot the ball well, moved the ball and played at an amazing pace. I thought the defense early on was terrific and that got us out running. We really believed that we had to turn this into a pace game to win and I thought we did that."
The Clippers have become a well-run organization, behind the leadership Owner Steve Ballmer, President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank, Head Coach Doc Rivers and Consultant Jerry West. The Clipper organization has set up their future well, with a combination of smart draft picks, trades and sound contracts. That has set up the Clippers to be a major player in free agency this summer.
The projections for the 2019-20 NBA salary cap is $109 million. The Clippers projected team salary for 2019-2020 is currently about $49 million. The Clippers would have about $60 million to spend on free agents. The Clippers will have Williams, Gallinari and Harrell under contract next season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson and Landry Shamet, their three rookie first round picks, will be under contract for the next three seasons. Reserves Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Wallace are also under contract for the 2019-2020 season. Center Ivica Zubac is a restricted free agent and the Clippers will probably re-sign him.
With $60 million to spend on free agents, the Clippers will likely go after Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard, considered one of the top five players in the NBA. Leonard has been open about a desire to return to Southern California. He played his high school ball at King high school in Riverside and his college ball at San Diego State.
The Lakers will also be bidding for Leonard's services, but it is believed that Leonard wants no part of the Laker organization, that he is interested in the Clippers. Given the current state of affairs with the Lakers, that would seem to be the smart decision.