Three Problems the LA Clippers Need to Solve in the Off-Season

Published 07/02/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
Jun 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the second half in game seven of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The LA Clippers were one of the biggest favorites to win the NBA championship this season. With the star power of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading the way, the Clippers looked a set team in both ends of the court.

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After finishing as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers had a tumultuous start to their playoffs. Facing off against the Mavericks, Kawhi and Co. fell to a 2-0 deficit and looked in massive trouble. But unlike the last season, the Clippers didn’t choke and eventually came back to win the series in game 7.

May 30, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers guard Terance Mann (14) and center Ivica Zubac (40) celebrate with teammates during the first quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In the second round it was more of the same for the Clippers as they fell to yet another 2-0 deficit against the first seeded Utah Jazz. But the duo of PG-13 and Kawhi, pulled through yet again as the Clips clinched the series in 6 games.

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But against the Jazz, talisman Kawhi Leonard suffered from a knee injury and was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. While they did eventually lose out on a spot for the NBA Finals, Paul George and the Clippers put on a resilient display against the Suns and pushed Chris Paul and Co. all the way to 6 games.

After crashing out of the playoffs, the Clippers certainly are in for a rather tricky off-season ahead of them. Take a look at three biggest dilemmas the Clippers might have ahead of them this offseason.

Bringing back Kawhi Leonard to the LA Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is arguably one of the best two way players in the league right now. With his ability to put the clamps on the other team’s best player and then to put on an offensive masterclass, the Klaw is arguably the most important player in the Clippers’ roster.

While there is no doubting the importance of Leonard in the Clippers’ franchise, unlike their other superstar Paul George, Leonard didn’t sign a long-term extension with the club. With an option of opting out of his contract in the upcoming off-season, the 2-time DPOY, will likely test his value in the free agency.

Jun 4, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends during the fourth quarter during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

With Leonard being the marquee name in the free agency market, many teams will be willing to give big bags to the 2-time Finals MVP. Given that the Clippers’ have already given up majority of their draft picks and the lack of younger assets in their team, Steve Ballmer will be determined to bring back their star player to their roster.

With PG-13 proving that he can step up in the playoffs, if Leonard sticks around with the team, the Clippers can run it back and challenge for the title next season. Another major concern will be a Kawhi’s health.

Leonard who injured his knee, might have possibly injured his ACL and getting the Klaw back to full fitness will be the biggest priority for the Clippers. Can the Ty Lue led LA Clippers retain Kawhi Leonard and get him back to full fitness?

Addressing Point Guard void

One of the biggest concerns for the Clippers coming into this season was the lack of a decent point guard and distributor of the ball. The addition of Longtime target and veteran point guard Rajon Rondo certainly seemed like the perfect answer to the same.

While Rondo could rally the second unit, he was not used as a starting point guard for the team. Given that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard’s ball handling and distribution has improved significantly, Rondo did not have a significant role in the Clippers.

While Patrick Beverley is an excellent one-on-one defender who can put the clamps on best guards in game, his lackluster distribution does not help the team and certainly does not help his case for being the primary point guard for the team.

One worthy candidate for the same can be Reggie Jackson. Jackson who came off the bench in the regular season, was forced to start multiple games in the playoffs. Given how big of an opportunity the guard had, Jackson certainly made the most of it putting some of the biggest performances with his team on the brink of an elimination.

Another such player the Clippers might target is Kyle Lowry. The veteran guard who enters free agency might be looking for a new challenge and might join a contender to compete for the title.

The LA Clippers might look forward to sign the 35-year-old. A sign-in trade or offering him big money might be the move to Clippers will have to opt for. Can the Clippers add a much needed distributor like Lowry or will they stick with the current rotation of guards?

Retaining their core

The Clippers certainly had a pretty different look to their roster this season. Addition of forward Nicolas Batum was a big plus to the lineup while players like Terrance Mann also showed glimpses of brilliance in this season’s playoffs.

Role players like Marcus Morris Sr. also showed their worth. Especially in the absence of their superstar in Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers who looked weak on paper, were a solid team defensively and critical to the system Ty Lue has built for the franchise.

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Jun 24, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Torrey Craig (12) moves to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (8) during the second half in game three of the Western Conference Finals for the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

But some key players to their deep playoff run like Batum, Jackson and rotational center Nicolas Batum are entering unrestricted free agency. Will the Clippers sign their important key players or will they be willing to spend this on a superstar?

The LA Clippers certainly have a lot of things to worry about this off-season. While they couldn’t reach the Finals, they are surely headed towards the right direction with Ty Lue as the head coach. If this side would have been completely fit, we might have seen a different result in the playoffs. Will the Clippers finally be a championship team next season?

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Aditya Mohapatra

1029 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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