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The Clippers find themselves in yet another transitional period. Owner Donald Sterling can either open up his wallet and keep the two keep players over this decade, or he can save a ton of money by letting them both walk.
Elton Brand and Corey Magnetite, as expected, have both opted out of the final year of their contracts, and will be looking to cash in big time.
All indications are that the Clippers will make every effort to keep Brand, who is in line to receive a maximum deal of $120 million. Brand appears to be eager to remain with the team if they offer him enough money. He was scheduled to make over $16 million next season.
Maggette on the other hand is a different story.
Maggette has clashed with head coach Mike Dunleavy several times over the past few years. He has been upset over a lack of playing time. He was upset when Dunleavy brought him off the bench in the past. He has asked to be traded. And he has even signed with another team when he had the chance too.
Five years ago Maggette signed an offer sheet with the Utah Jazz, but the Clippers matched it. This year the Clippers do not have the option to match an offer given to Maggette. It will be the first time that he is free to leave the team.
Sterling has always been in Maggette’s corner. Sterling could persuade Maggette to stay, especially with $10 million a season. Maggette was scheduled to make $7 million next season.
A sign and trade is possible, which would allow Maggette to make the money that he is looking for, and it would allow him to finally get his wish of playing for another team. For the Clippers it would allow them to choose a good player to replace him.
If the Clippers do not resign either player they could have a very new look next year, because Shaun Livingston, who was supposed to be the future of the organization before he badly hurt his knee, will not be offered a qualifying offer. He will become an unrestricted free agent, just like Brand and Maggette.
Reports are that Livingston is still struggling with his rehab. It appears that the Clippers do not have too much faith that he will make a full recovery. They can still re-sign him if they feel that they can get him for the right price. But he will test the free agent market.
The Clippers can pay the big bucks for players who helped them to come within one game of the Western Conference finals two years ago. Or they can continue being that team that looks towards next year’s draft.
A source close to the Clippers pointed out that they have been one of the most profitable teams in the NBA over the past 20 years... because they do not spend the money. It’s hard to be highly profitable and good.