Center Ivica Zubac and guard Rodney McGruder will enter free agency as restricted free agents after the Clippers extended qualifying offers to both, according to a source with knowledge of the offers but not authorized to speak publicly.
The offers were expected, as the Clippers have expressed their interest in keeping both players since acquiring them late last season. The team felt it upgraded at center immediately after acquiring Zubac from the Lakers via a February trade. It also valued McGruder’s toughness, experience — he has 112 career starts — and versatility to guard the perimeter.
With NBA free agency opening Sunday at 3 p.m. PDT, the team had until Saturday to extend the offers for next season. McGruder’s is worth $3 million for next season and Zubac’s $1.9 million, but those aren’t necessarily the salaries either will earn. The NBA’s free agency market will decide that.
The team did not extend a qualifying offer to Johnathan Motley, a 6-foot-10 forward the Clippers acquired in a trade last summer from Dallas, making him an unrestricted free agent. Motley appeared in 22 games last season while on a two-way deal with Clippers and their G League affiliate.
As restricted free agents, Zubac and McGruder can sign an offer sheet from another team during the league’s moratorium on new contracts, which starts Sunday. Once the moratorium lifts July 6, the Clippers would have two days to decide whether to match the terms.
Zubac and McGruder can also negotiate new deals with the Clippers that are independent of their qualifying offers.
Acquired from the Lakers before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, Zubac averaged 9.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 20.2 minutes in 26 regular-season games with the Clippers. He has since spent a portion of his offseason working out with Clippers teammates at the team’s temporary practice facility in El Segundo.
McGruder, 27, was waived by Miami days before the end of the regular season in a cost-cutting move and quickly claimed by the Clippers after averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 23.5 minutes during his third NBA season. He is a career 34% three-point shooter.