Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ coach and president of basketball operations, declined several requests to speak to the media about the team’s strategy for the NBA draft Thursday, saying he will talk after the draft.
But the consensus around the league is that Rivers and his staff are trying to shop their first-round pick.
The Clippers have the 28th overall selection, but league officials who were not authorized to speak publicly said Rivers doesn’t want to add a rookie to his roster and would rather have the cap space than pay the guaranteed salary that goes to a first-round draft pick.
The officials said that Rivers has offered trade scenarios centering around their pick, plus a wing player — either Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes or Jared Dudley — and reserve guard Willie Green.
One deal that was proposed had Dudley and another Clippers player and the Clippers’ draft pick going to the Charlotte Hornets for guard Gerald Henderson, but it has gone nowhere so far.
Another proposed deal had Dudley, the pick and another player in a three-team trade in which they would go to Charlotte and the Clippers would get guard Arron Afflalo from Orlando, but the Magic rejected that deal, the executive said.
But all these scenarios present Rivers and the Clippers some complications because the NBA instituted a rule that a team can’t give up a first-round draft pick in consecutive years.
The Clippers last summer sent their 2015 first-round pick to Boston for compensation to allow Rivers to join the Clippers while he was still under contract to coach the Celtics.
However, the Clippers can select a player Thursday and trade his draft rights to another team, according to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
The Clippers can also sell their draft pick, but not until right before their draft time comes up and the pick can’t be traded just for cash, according to the CBA. The pick can be sold for future rights for a player and it be used in a trade so the Clippers can acquire another player.
If the Clippers do keep their draft pick, they will have a need to fill because backup point guard Darren Collison has opted out of his contract and will become a free agent on July 1.
The Clippers also would like to get a wing player.
So on draft night look for names like Jordan Clarkson, a 6-foot-5 combo point and shooting guard out of Missouri, to be someone the Clippers might select.
Other candidates for the Clippers are Glenn Robinson III, a 6-7 small forward from Michigan, Jerami Grant, a 6-8 small forward from Syracuse, and Jarnell Stokes, a 6-8 power forward out of Tennessee.