Twenty minutes into free agency and the first Clippers nugget revealed is by ESPN writer Arash Markazi:
Clippers have been shopping Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley around. Again, upgrading small forward position is a priority for Rivers.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 1, 2014
This comes as a surprise to no one.
While Matt Barnes had an outstanding season as the starting small forward–averaged 9.9 points on 43% shooting–his best work comes as a reserve. He brings a hard-nosed mentality that gives the bench unit spark. In the starting lineup, Barnes fit well due to his ability to knock down shots and defend opposing teams best players, something Jared Dudley was brought in to do yet failed miserably at, but in the end, Barnes being the starter was proof the position lacked depth.
Barnes is owed $6.938 million over the next two season, the last year non-guaranteed, while Dudley is owed $8.50 million over the next two seasons, the last having an early-termination option attached to it.
If either is moved, Barnes seems to be the easier sell to NBA teams. He proved to still be capable and could be wiped off the salary cap next year due to his contract structure. With Dudley, you figure the Clippers will have to attach an asset in order to make him valuable to teams. The $4.25 per price tag isn’t egregious, but when factoring his play from last season (shot a career-low from the field last season) and the fact that he has the option to opt into his final year, teams are less willing to accept that kind of pay without being compensated in some way.
Depending on who the Clippers target, that compensation could be a future first-round pick, last year’s first round pick in Reggie Bullock, or this year’s first round pick in C.J. Wilcox.