Amid the wait for a decision from superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers and guard Rodney McGruder agreed to a three-year contract worth $15 million Tuesday.
The deal, confirmed by a source not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, does not impede the team’s pursuit of Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP with Toronto. Leonard is still weighing whether to sign a maximum-salary deal with the Clippers, Lakers or Raptors.
By acquiring McGruder shortly before the end of the regular season, after Miami had waived the 6-foot-4 guard for cost-cutting reasons, the Clippers acquired his early Bird rights, which allow a team to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own players. In the interim, the Clippers still maintain enough cap room to fit a maximum salary.
The Clippers made McGruder a restricted free agent on June 28 by extending him a qualifying offer. Instead of signing an offer sheet with another team, McGruder and the team negotiated a new deal that will keep the Maryland native in Los Angeles.
McGruder, 27, averaged 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 23.5 minutes during his third NBA season. He is a career 34% three-point shooter. The Clippers valued him for his experience, with 112 career starts, ability to guard three perimeter positions and tough playing style the team felt befit their locker room dynamic.
Re-signing McGruder is the third roster move made by the Clippers so far in free agency. They also agreed to a three-year, $40-million contract with guard Patrick Beverley and traded for former Portland small forward Maurice Harkless.
Clippers center Ivica Zubac remains on the free-agent market as a restricted free agent.