As the NBA offseason continues, several veteran free agents remain unsigned. There is a sense that many of them could be waiting to see how some of the league’s looming trades play out, but there is also a possibility that most contenders simply do not need their services. That said, the LA Clippers do have a roster vacancy that some of the available free agents seem to fit.
Without a traditional backup center on their roster, the Clippers seem to be in the market for a serviceable big man. Having lost Isaiah Hartenstein to the New York Knicks in free agency, the team has yet to replace him with another backup big. In a recent article, The Athletic’s Law Murray said he does not expect the team to sign one of the available veteran centers 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 veteran unrestricted free agents like DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside fit into,” Murray wrote. “For one, those players are both older than 30 years old and have played in more than 500 NBA games. They’re veterans who don’t need to go through 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 they are exploring trade options, the possibility of acquiring a backup center via trade does still remain.
This is where the team’s current roster flexibility comes into play. With numerous blockbuster trades potentially on the horizon, players who are not currently deemed to be available could suddenly become realistic targets for the Clippers. Maintaining an open roster spot would allow them to have additional flexibility when facilitating certain deals.
If the Clippers choose to go this route, addressing their backup center vacancy via trade, they could then sign one of the available bigs as an insurance option. This is another luxury that maintaining an open roster spot allows. As Murray also notes in his latest article, this is similar to the approach the Clippers took with DeMarcus Cousins in 2021. Signing the veteran center as an insurance big midway through the season, the Clippers were able to strategically utilize his services when needed, without being too reliant on him.
With each of the remaining veteran centers on the market, a role similar to what Cousins had with the Clippers in 2021 seems to be more fitting than a full-time backup position. Because the team often opts to go small anyways, the lack of a backup center does not currently seem to be a major concern.