The 2022 NBA Draft is Thursday, and when it comes to free agents, what happens with the LA Clippers and their attempts to retain their own has been the priority. That’s especially the case this year, where the Clippers do not have a lottery pick or a first-round pick and will begin the draft with a lone second-round pick. The Clippers also have a mostly full roster, meaning that if they can retain their own free agents, there may be room for only one significant veteran contributor from outside the team.

We’ll know by next week how the team option for Ivica Zubac and the player option for Nicolas Batum resolve themselves, as teams officially will begin negotiating with free agents at the end of next weekend.

Before the draft starts reshaping rosters across the league, let’s take a look at some under-the-radar options for the Clippers to consider, one at each position. I also will include the positional rankings from The Athletic’s John Hollinger with each target.

 

Power forward: Otto Porter Jr.

It was interesting when the Warriors visited the Clippers for the first game after the 2021 All-Star break. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr mentioned the Warriors wanted to sign Batum after the Charlotte Hornets bought out his contract in the 2020 offseason. Batum went on to have a career renaissance with the Clippers in 2020-21, then signed a two-year deal with a player option to return for the 2021-22 season. The Warriors, on the other hand, missed the 2021 playoffs after losing two Play-In games, then signed oft-injured Porter on the low once Batum re-signed with the Clippers in 2021.

The Porter signing worked out swimmingly for the newly crowned champion Warriors. Porter was a backup power forward who was asked to do little offensively (seven-year low 8.2 points per game, career-low 15.0 usage rate), but the third pick of the 2013 NBA Draft out of Georgetown spaced the floor effectively (1.3 3s per game, 37.0 percent), rebounded hard (5.7 per game) and was active defensively (1.1 steals). Dunks are one of my favorite indicators of health and explosion, and Porter had 11 this season in 63 games after only eight in the previous three seasons combined in Washington, Chicago and Orlando.

The Clippers would prefer Batum to return; Batum also would prefer to return. So, adding a veteran power forward would seem to be a moot point. But just in case things break down somewhere, or in case there’s a trade that involves Marcus Morris Sr., Porter could be a contingency option and certainly would fit the Clippers on both ends of the floor.