With free agency beginning tomorrow, the Clippers may have found themselves their coveted stretch four in Spencer Hawes if the two parties can come to terms:
Free-agent center Spencer Hawes, who has three-point range, is interested in playing for the Clippers. But he made $6.5 million last season in Cleveland and may have to take a pay cut to join the Clippers.
While Hawes fails to make an indent in the teams biggest flaws, he’d slide in perfectly as the third best big-man on this roster, automatically improving the Clippers, at least in regards to lsat years version. At with his versatility, Hawes could be paired with either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, depending on what look Doc Rivers wants to go with or if foul trouble dictates a lineup change.
Splitting time between the Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers, Hawes shot the lights out last season, shooting 45% from the field and 41% from three. Oddly enough, Hawes’ 45% field-goal shooting was a career-low, but this figure is more of a testament to how well Hawes has shot the ball in his seven year career rather than a hypocritical analysis of his statistics. The 41% three-point shooting was also a career-high.
Despite the shooting, which is his main draw, there are some flaws to Hawes game.
Throughout his career, the seven-footer has never been an above average defender or rebounder. Last season, Hawes ranked 49th in total rebound percentage amongst qualified players and 82nd in offensive rebound percentage amongst qualifying players. For a big man those are terrifying numbers, especially on a team that finished in the bottom half of the league in both offensive rebound percentage and defensive rebound percentage. Some of it is philosophy. Rivers has been known to force his players to get back on defense rather than chase rebounds, but unless DeAndre Jordan is dominating on the boards, the Clippers often struggle at what many see as a simple practice.
And defensively? After dealing with Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison, there’s only one way to go and that’s up. Defending the post shouldn’t be an issue. It’s how well he defends in space (or defends the pick-and-roll) that could or couldn’t be a problem, and after looking through Synergy clips, foot speed is an issue. As the center, the inability to recover to protect the rim is huge, especially if Hawes finds his way onto the Clippers, a team that currently lacks rim protectors outside of Jordan and the decent perimeter defenders that could better deter wings from getting into the paint. Outside of Matt Barnes and the seldom-used Reggie Bullock, the Clippers wing unit was a sieve defensively last season, often relying on DeAndre’s blistering athleticism to save possessions.
Financial issues are also apparent. With a core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and J.J. Redick, the Clippers are tight-nit salary wise. Then there are the contracts of Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Jared Dudley who will make a combined~$13 million. Coming off a year that was rare by the NBA big man, would Hawes put himself in the position to sign a tax-payers mid-level of nearly $3 million? Doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint, but as players age and they look to find a stable environment where winning is the norm, money becomes less of an issue. Unfortunately of the Clippers, there are teams that 1) are in the same position as the Clippers and 2) can offer Hawes much more than the mid-level.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. With Hawes fitting the profile of the player Rivers has tried sign in the past. All hands will be on deck as free agency arrives tonight.