The Clippers got the best player in a three-way trade that sent Luke Kennard to L.A., Landry Shamet to the Nets and No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey to the Pistons.
The catch: Kennard, entering the final season of his rookie-scale contract, was set to soon become the most expensive of the trio.
But the Clippers are willing to pay for the production.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The deal includes $56 million in guaranteed money, with a majority of the additional $8 million in incentives considered reachable, Mintz and Spahn say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2020
This resembles extending Paul George and re-signing Marcus Morris. The Clippers’ priority was securing good players, not necessarily getting the very best production-per-dollar value.
If Kawhi Leonard re-signs next summer, the Clippers will be over the cap for the foreseeable future, anyway. If Leonard doesn’t re-sign… the Clippers would have far bigger problems. They basically have to proceed under the assumption he’ll stay, which is the most likely scenario.
So, there’s little flexibility lost with this extension, which begins in 2021. It just increases real-dollar costs, but Steve Ballmer’s willingness to spend makes him one of the NBA’s top owners.
A 24-year-old shooting guard, Kennard is a good shooter with some playmaking ability. He missed most of last season due to a knee injury, but presumably, the Clippers feel good about his long-term health. The $8 million of incentives provides L.A. some protection if Kennard’s health issues linger.