The LA Clippers will be among teams looking to make significant upgrades this offseason following their early exit from the 2020 NBA Playoffs. There are a few areas that the team will need to prioritize — mainly at point guard and center — but finding an affordable player that will make a tangible difference will be easier said than done.
Finding a backup big will be the easier task of the two. Players like Nerlens Noel, Aron Baynes and Tristan Thompson should all be in the Clippers' price range and would be welcome additions to the roster, especially if Montrezl Harrell is playing elsewhere next season.
Finding a playmaker, though, will be difficult. There's a shortage of quality guards on the market, and many of the top-tier options simply aren't affordable.
The top of the class is highlighted by Fred VanVleet, De'Aaron Fox, and Goran Dragic. Of those three, Dragic may be the most realistic target, but his performance throughout the playoffs has probably priced him out of LA's range.
Still, Dragic is someone worth looking at. He doesn't offer much on the defensive end, and at 34, he's no longer at his peak. That said, his basketball IQ is off the charts, and he's done some special things with the Miami Heat this postseason.
Then there are players like D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague, both of whom are upgrades over Reggie Jackson and have proven to be reliable playmakers over their 10+ years in the league. But would they really move the needle enough for LA to commit a portion of its midlevel exception to them?
If LA is serious about adding a starter-quality point, the trade market is the place to be instead.
The obvious play is finding a way to add someone like Jrue Holiday, but LA lacks the assets to make that happen. A package highlighted by Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Rodney McGruder works salary-wise, but do the New Orleans Pelicans accept?
There will be options regardless of the route LA chooses to take, but the trade market offers more upside. And with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George entering what could be the final year of their partnership, the Clippers will need to take some risks.