The Clippers found a rare bargain amid the free-agency spending frenzy, reportedly agreeing Monday to a two-year, $4.5-million contract with veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute.
The deal first reported by the Vertical was for the Clippers’ biannual exception and includes a $2.3-million player option in the second year. Mbah a Moute cannot formally sign his contract until the free-agency moratorium ends Thursday.
Retaining Mbah a Moute presumably completes the Clippers’ starting lineup for next season. Mbah a Moute was perhaps the team’s most pleasant surprise among its newcomers last season, his defensive versatility prompting Coach Doc Rivers to slot him as a starter for the bulk of the season.
Mbah a Moute, 29, averaged only 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but his defensive metrics more than compensated for his meager offensive output. The former UCLA standout was also universally liked among his teammates for his hard-working demeanor and no-nonsense approach.
The Clippers have now kept four of their own free agents after agreeing to re-sign Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and Wesley Johnson in addition to Mbah a Moute. The team lost two players it wanted to bring back after Jeff Green agreed to a contract with the Orlando Magic and Cole Aldrich agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Clippers’ remaining needs include a backup center and possibly a reserve point guard if they intend to use a three-guard alignment with their backups like they did for parts of last season. The team recently acquired a center in Diamond Stone and a point guard in David Michineau, though it seems unlikely the second-round draft picks would be ready to become rotational players as rookies.