May 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, center Ryan Hollins (15) look on as forward Matt Barnes (22) hugs guard Darren Collison (2) after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-99 in four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers Make Darren Collison No. 1 Priority

In a free agency where teams are pushing, shoving and jockeying to be in the best position to land either LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love, the Clippers are more focused on taking care of home.

When asked about their strategy and priorities for this summer’s free agency–which starts July 1–head coach and team president Doc Rivers responded, “You know our first guy, I’ll be honest, is one of our guys that opted out,” Rivers said. “He’s a little guy. That’s very important for us.”

Clippers’ most prized second-unit possession, Darren Collison opted out of a deal that would’ve paid him $1.985 million next season. It seems that when after the clock strikes midnight on July 1, Rivers will be on the phone with Collison’s representatives.

Collison was the most productive player in the Clippers second unit averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Playing within the starting and second unit, Collison was a saving grace for the Clippers when point guard Chris Paul sat out due to a shoulder injury sustained in a contest against the Dallas Mavericks. Collison’s ability to play hard-nosed defense and get to the rim are qualities the Clippers will seek to retain.

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James can sign a maximum deal with their current teams (Knicks and Heat) that would pay them close to $129 million over five years. Both can get a $96-million deal over four years with teams that are under the salary cap. The Clippers have been trying to clear space for a decent shot at Anthony or James.

This has included attempting to trade Matt Barnes and shedding the contract of Jared Dudley. Barnes is expected to make a little under $3.4 million and Dudley $4.25 million. The Clippers have already elected not to exercise their team option on guard Willie Green which would’ve paid him a bit under $1.5 million, waiving him instead.

The Clippers will start making calls Tuesday, July 1 but won’t be able to officially sign players until July 10.

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Tags: 2014 NBA Free Agency Darren Collison Doc Rivers Los Angeles Clippers NBA

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