Leonard isn't only option for Clippers

Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

One free agent expected to draw strong interest across the league is forward Al Horford, who declined his contract option with Boston next season worth $30.1 million to seek a longer, more lucrative deal. A New York Times report suggested he did so with the knowledge that at least one offer in the range of four years and $100 million will be waiting. The Clippers are one of the few teams with enough cap space to even consider paying Horford more than $20 million annually, but the fit does not appear seamless. Such an asking price is steep and Horford's age -- he recently turned 33, more than a decade older than the young core the Clippers are building around in hopes of extending their window as a contender as long as possible.

The Clippers will face a difficult decision in what to offer Patrick Beverley. The veteran guard is an unrestricted free agent coming off a strong season in which he served as the Clippers' spark plug and reduced doubts about his ability less than two years after a serious knee injury. Beverley, who will turn 31 in July, has made clear in several interviews since the season's end that he will follow the money. Caught by TMZ cameras waiting for a ride at Los Angeles International Airport this week, Beverley called his summer goal "securing my family's future."

The Clippers never downplayed the Chicago native's importance last season, when Beverley's edge rubbed off on the rest of the locker room. For his part, Beverley has said leaving teammates he has grown close to would be difficult. It remains to be seen how closely the two sides will see eye to eye on his market value.

After the draft, Frank called himself more excited than nervous for free agency, believing in his team's preparation. Left unsaid were other reasons for optimism. Given the team's numerous future draft picks that could be swapped in a trade, free agency isn't the only pathway for the Clippers to potentially acquire a star player. The team could have cap space next summer too.

"However it plays out we just feel very, very confident that we're going to build a sustainable contender," Frank said.


Minutes later, he left the conference room and returned to the team's draft room. A fruitful night was almost over. A world of uncertainty awaited.

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