As expected, the Clippers made their first phone call to free-agent point guard Darren Collison when the NBA’s free-agency period opened for business at 9:01 p.m. Pacific time Monday.
The Clippers made what was described as “just a cursory call” to Collison’s representatives to let them know they were interested in re-signing the 6-footer, according to NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The Clippers also reached out to small forwards Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng on Monday night, but both would have to take a pay cut or be acquired in sign-and-trades.
Ariza made $7.7 million last season with the Washington Wizards and Deng made $14.2 million in a season he split between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The most the Clippers have to spend on either player would be the mid-level exception that starts at $5.3 million.
The quandary for the Clippers is that to re-sign Collison, they would have to use the mid-level exception on him too.
Collison made $1.9 million last season and opted out of a contract that would have paid him $1.985 million next season, obviously looking for a bigger pay-day.
Collison, who was Chris Paul’s backup last season, showed his value to the Clippers when he started 18 games while Paul recovered from a separated right shoulder.
Collison helped the Clippers go 12-6 while Paul was out, keeping the team afloat in the tough Western Conference.
The Clippers also reached out to free agents Glen Davis and Danny Granger to let them know there is interest in having them return.
With Jason Kidd having left Brooklyn to coach in Milwaukee, the Clippers think they have a chance at landing free-agent small forward Paul Pierce.
Pierce played for Clippers Coach Doc Rivers in Boston.
Wilcox gearing up
C.J. Wilcox is ready for the competition he’ll encounter with the Clippers.
Wilcox was drafted in the first round at No. 28 on Thursday, and he plays at the shooting guard position where the team already has two very good players.
The Clippers start J.J. Redick at shooting guard and bring Jamal Crawford, who won the NBA’s sixth-man-of-the-year award last season, off the bench.
“I’m just going to take it as a challenge,” Wilcox said Monday when he was introduced to the media. “I’m going to come in every day and work hard and squeeze my way in.”
Wilcox, 23, averaged 14.4 points on 43.3% shooting, 38.9% in three-point shooting, over his four-year career at Washington.
“I think the neat thing for C.J. is that he has two really good guys to be taught under,” Rivers said. “Learning the stuff from Jamal and how he scores and then learning the way J.J. moves without the ball, if you can combine those two things into your game, then your playing time probably will not be a problem. But it is a competition.”