As free agency courtship rolls on to Independence Day, the Los Angeles Clippers have reportedly set their sights on two frontcourt players to sign with their mid-level exception. LA Times‘ Broderick Turner reported the first half of the news Thursday morning:
Clippers Coach/President Doc Rivers wants to use midlevel on a big man. Spencer Hawes is available still.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 3, 2014
ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi tweeted out the second part shortly thereafter:
A couple of big man targets the Clippers have looked into are Kris Humphries and Jason Smith, who played with CP3 in New Orleans.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 3, 2014
Team president Doc Rivers appears interested in upgrading the small forward position through a sign-and-trade deal, leaving the non-taxpayer mid-level, bi-annual and veteran’s exceptions at his disposal.
Kris Humphries, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds playing 20 minutes a night in Boston last season, just finished up a two-year, $24 million contract he signed with the then-splurging Brooklyn Nets in 2012. He was then included as part of the trade with the Celtics that netted Brooklyn Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.
Jason Smith, 28, has been with the New Orleans Pelicans since 2010. He was averaging 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds this season as a starter for the Pelicans before missing the final 51 games with cartilage damage in his right knee. Smith also tore the ACL in his left knee in 2008 during a Summer League game as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Neither player stretches the floor much, but both have proven to be capable contributors in the post and have plenty of starting experience.
To get Humphries, a 10-year veteran, signing on the dotted line will require him taking something of a championship discount, even if his $12 million salary over the last two years was inflated. Smith, on the other hand, has injury concerns that will knock his price down from an already low starting point; his last contract was for three years and $7.5 million.