The Clippers, who could be close to finalizing their roster after agreeing to re-sign guard Avery Bradley on Tuesday, could be the Lakers of next summer, a team with loads of cash that could return to relevance during the 2019-20 season.
It is possible the Clippers could have enough financial flexibility to spend almost $70 million next year, enough money to offer maximum salaries to two top-tier free agents.
The contracts of Patrick Beverley, Tobias Harris, Wesley Johnson, Boban Marjanovic and Marcin Gortat, whom the Clippers acquired from the Washington Wizards last week by trading Austin Rivers, expire after this season, which would free up nearly $55 million.
The Clippers now have a 16-man roster with Bradley, one over the league maximum, and have interest in re-signing free-agent center Montrezl Harrell, according NBA officials not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
If the Clippers and Harrell agree to a deal, that pushes their roster two players above the 15-man limit and would mean L.A. has to purge players.
One candidate to be waived is point guard Milos Teodosic. He exercised his $6.3-million option for next season, but the Clippers can buy him out for $2.1 million. The Clippers have to make that decision before Teodosic’s contract becomes guaranteed July 15.
Second-year players Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell and C.J. Williams, each of whom will make $1.378 million next season, could become casualties, too.
After the Clippers agreed to pay Bradley $25 million over two years, they have eight guards.
Bradley, 27, played just six games for the Clippers last season after he was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in January as a part of the Blake Griffin trade.
Bradley’s season with the Clippers ended after he had surgery to repair adductor and abdominal muscles.
Bradley has averaged 12.3 points in eight NBA seasons and shot 43.9% from the field, including 36.6% from three-point range.
The 6-foot-2 Bradley is considered one of the top defensive guards in the NBA.
The Clippers could be looking at a starting backcourt of Bradley and Beverley, who is another good defender.
Lou Williams, the NBA’s sixth man of the year, will come off the bench. Rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson will work to get playing time.
Teodosic, Evans and Thornwell round out the Clippers’ backcourt.
The Clippers have a forward group of Danilo Gallinari, Harris, Johnson, Sam Dekker and Mike Scott, who just agreed to a deal Monday.
Getting Harrell back is important for the Clippers because they need another backup center behind Gortat, since Marjanovic rarely plays. Harrell averaged 11 points last season and ranked third in the NBA in field-goal percentage at 63.5%.