In our final 213 Hoops roundtable of the year, we examine the Clippers’ overall 2021 offseason and gives our grades for how they did in this pivotal summer.
Cole Huff: A-
I like what the Clippers did this offseason. They were able to retain every significant piece from last season’s success, while not overpaying any of those players in order to keep them. In fact, everyone they renegotiated with seemingly did the Clippers a favor and accepted less than what they probably were worth— enabling the rookies to get some multi-year deals secured. Speaking of, there were other selections that I would’ve liked more for the team, but it’s hard for me to fully evaluate the picks having just a mediocre knowledge of college basketball. There doesn’t, however, appear to be any obvious overdrafts like those of the Clippers’ past. Hopefully, a couple of the young guys are able to get some real minutes here or there to get some experience. No Sindarius stints.
If there’s room for criticism, I guess it would have been nice for the non-rookie additions (Winslow and Bledsoe) to have amounted to more. However, the value for two aging and injury-prone point guards likely weren’t going to score you anything more than a mediocre return. As for the Winslow signing, the Clips were reportedly trying to use their TPMLE on a decent amount of quality free agents but were turned down for other contenders. But as we’ve all noted, the moves could make sense if the newcomers are healthy and motivated.
Anyways, it felt like a B+ offseason when you add it all up but I ultimately gave the bump for an A- due to the team-friendly deals they got from some guys. Oh yeah, and Kawhi is back for a while.
Lucas Hann: A-
I want to give the Clippers some headroom here, since they didn’t achieve any type of best-case scenario summer. Keeping Reggie and Kawhi was good, but those were also the baseline for an adequate summer. The friendly terms on those deals (long-term commitment from Kawhi and less money committed to an aging Reggie going forward) earn some bonus points but aren’t real difference-makers. Keeping Batum was a big question mark, and they pulled it off without using their mid-level on him, marking a huge win… but turning around and using that mid-level money on Justise Winslow is something that the FO has to feel a little disappointed with considering the types of veteran free agents that went elsewhere for less. Winslow is an adequate addition but adequate dings your grade when you have an A average. The Bledsoe trade was similarly acceptable and completely understandable, but wasn’t a clear, major win and leaves some questions as to what other options may have been on the table.
Overall, I’m happy with the Clippers’ off-season. They did a good job, and an A- is no shame after an A last year (even better in retrospect with how Reggie and Nico panned out) and maybe the best off-season ever the year prior. I wouldn’t be shocked if good years from Bledsoe and Winslow bring this grade up to an A in hindsight–but the A- reflects the very real downside that both of those moves carry as well.
Joey Linn: B+
If the Clippers had simply re-signed all of their free agents and returned the team who just led them to their first Western Conference Finals in franchise history, I would certainly give their offseason an A grade. While they did successfully retain all of their free agents, trading away Patrick Beverley leaves me unable to give the offseason top marks. The team will likely not be drastically different with Bledsoe in Beverley’s place, but that is also a reason why Pat Bev should have stayed a Clipper. Unless LAC was getting a significant upgrade over Pat, it just seemed unnecessary to trade away the team’s heart and soul for what they hope will be a marginal upgrade. Aside from that move, everything else went exactly as I hoped it would.
Ralston Dacanay: A
In the grand scheme of things, I think the Clippers hit home runs in their deals with Kawhi Leonard, Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum, had an awesome draft by not drafting a center, and made some net-positive moves in the Eric Bledsoe and Justise Winslow transactions. Sure, it would’ve been very spicy to see a Ben Simmons, a DeMar DeRozan or a John Wall somehow end up with LAC, but I think the front office did its job once again. I just pray that Leonard’s recovery is going well, Serge Ibaka is feeling ready to go for day one and that the Clippers sign one of Isaiah Hartenstein, D.J. Wilson or Paul Millsap. DeMarcus Cousins or Bismack Biyombo would be pretty cool too.
Shapan Debnath: A-
I only knock the 2021 offseason slightly because the Clippers were not able to get a more dependable piece with their tMLE than Justise Winslow, but really, this was a very good offseason. LAC was able to keep all their players, including Nico at a discount in order to take a gamble on a guy like Winslow who does have some upside left. And I think the Bledsoe deal is a decent short-term solution in dealing with Kawhi’s injury as far as getting a capable guy that can keep PG fresh by taking some touches.
Kenneth Armstrong: A
Given Kawhi’s injury, which will keep him out for most (if not all) of the season, I think the Clippers did exactly what they needed to do — and even slightly overperformed expectations. They brought back Kawhi – on a longer commitment than expected. They brought back Reggie and Batum — on more team friendly deals than expected. They got younger, cleared the logjam at guard, and brought in two low-risk, high-reward guys to test out in Bledsoe and Winslow. I can’t complain.
Erik Olsgaard: A
This Clippers off-season was one of my favorites in team history. While it didn’t have a huge free agent splash like the 2019 Kawhi/PG signing or the 2011 Chris Paul trade, it was one that perfectly demonstrated the huge culture shift that’s come to the Clippers since Steve Ballmer became the team owner, continuing to propel the franchise down the wonderful path that it’s been on for the past 7 years. It’s still surreal to see players of Kawhi’s caliber choosing the Clippers; or to see roleplayers turning down bigger offers or guaranteed starting spots in favor of the Clippers because of things like culture and fanbase. Any fan of this team during the pre-Lob City Sterling era knows that these words were rarely associated with the team in a positive light. And even with the gambles this summer in Winslow and especially Bledsoe, I don’t know that I’ve ever had more trust in this team’s front office and coaching staff to figure it out. It’s a really fun time to be a fan of the Clippers, and not just for next season, but for the entire future of the franchise.
Robert Flom: A-
The Clippers nailed the big stuff by re-signing superstar Kawhi Leonard to a four-year max deal and bringing back key role players Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum on market and well below market deals respectively. If that was all that happened this summer, the Clippers’ grade would be an easy A+. Unfortunately, the Eric Bledsoe trade, while understandable, was not outside, the Justise Winslow signing offers only moderate upside with a low floor, and the Clippers’ draft was good but not great. Still, those moves are minor enough to only drag the Clippers’ 2021 offseason to a still healthy A-.
Well, that’s all for our thoughts on the Clippers’ 2021 offseason. Leave your thoughts and your own grades on the Clippers’ 2021 offseason below.