The LA Clippers restructured their roster this offseason in preparation for a long stretch of the year without Kawhi Leonard. They’ve added defense in Justise Winslow, ball-handling in Eric Bledsoe, drafted three young guards, and retained their all their big-name free agents.
Here are three burning questions that the Clippers will have to answer next season.
1. Youth movement or vets in pursuit of a playoff spot?
The LA Clippers have a number of young players on their 2021-22 roster. They drafted Keon Johnson, Jason Preston, and Brandon Boston Jr. this offseason, adding to a team that already features Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and Ivica Zubac. They signed all three of their rookies to guaranteed deals, including Boston, who secured the most guaranteed money for a player selected in the 50’s of an NBA Draft.
On the other hand, however, their core features Nicolas Batum (32 years of age), Marcus Morris (31), Reggie Jackson (31), Serge Ibaka (31), Paul George (31), Eric Bledsoe (31), and Kawhi Leonard (30). While Leonard is expected to miss a significant portion of the season due to his surgically repaired ACL, the Clippers have a very mixed group.
So that begs the question: Can the Clippers focus on developing their youth while also pursuing a playoff spot with a veteran-laden team.
In theory, the Tyronn Lue-coached Clippers should be able to put an emphasis on their young guys throughout the season. They did a good job of it last year, giving Terance Mann an increased workload, mostly due to roster injuries, while slowly bringing along Luke Kennard. Those players weren’t rookies, however, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team maneuvers both sides of the spectrum.