Salary cap? Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer seems to not care about it.
Coming off a disappointing 42-40 season where they didn’t get out of the Play-In Tournament, the Clippers project to enter this season over the salary cap.
Like, way over.
Numbers on Spotrac show the Clips over the cap by $75 million, second-most of any team. The cap is $123 million; if teams go over $150 million, they incur paying a luxury tax for every dollar over based on a formula.
So the Clippers are over and will stay over. Ballmer wants to bring an NBA title to the Clipper side of town and he’s not clipping coupons (sorry, I had to make the joke).
Is he getting his money’s worth? Here are the big money makers in Clipper Land.
Cap Figure for 2022-2023: $42,492,568
Spoiler alert: we have a recurring theme here. PG-13 is one of the top players in the NBA and paid like it. He ranks as the fifth highest-paid player in the league based on average salary. The Clippers got him in a trade and he helped them reach the Western Conference Finals in 2020-2021. Last year he tore the UCL in his arm, came back in March and looked good. Then he missed the final Play-In game because of health and safety protocols.
Boom or Bust? The Clippers aren’t paying him $42 million a year to get to the Western Conference Finals. But George is an elite player when healthy.
Cap Figure: $42,492,492
Leonard won NBA titles with the Spurs and Raptors. He is one of the top defenders in NBA history. Spoiler alert – when healthy.
Leonard got hurt in the Western Conference Semifinals with the Jazz in 2021, it was discovered to be a partial tear of his ACL in his right knee, and he missed all last season. How is it football players come back from torn ACLs now in seven months?
Boom or Bust? When Leonard wants to play, he can be the best player in the NBA. Has the injury dulled his love for the sport? $42 million is a lot to pay a guy who is aloof in public and hasn’t brought you a title.
Cap Figure: $16,758,621
The UCLA product came over in a trade in February, just when the Clippers knew that George was going to be out for an extended period. He played in five games and then broke a bone in his foot. He’s a good three-point shooter.
Boom or Bust? Impossible to know in such a small sample size. It is worth noting, however that the Clippers have a glut of shooting guards (John Wall just signed last week to a team-friendly deal) and he may not fit in anymore.
Cap Figure: $16,372,093
Morris will be 33 when the season starts. He’s a grinder who was the team’s leading scorer last year but only played in 54 games with a bad knee. He may be on the downside of his career, but every team can use an enforcer like him.
Boom or Bust? You can’t pay enough for toughness in today’s NBA. Morris may not be the athletic specimen he once was but knows how to win.
Cap Figure: $14,415,545
The Duke product came over to LA in a trade in 2020 after three average years in Detroit. Last year he played more because of all the injuries and scored 11.9 a game. He’s a role player.
Boom or Bust? $14 million for a role player – and another shooting guard – is a lot, but Kennard is still young and has the potential to grow into a key rotational player.
Cap Figure: $12,307,692
Covington was part of the Powell for Eric Bledsoe deal and then signed a two-year extension with the Clippers. He’s entering his 10th season and played in 23 games last year. He did set a franchise record with 11 threes in a game against the Bucks.
Boom or Bust? The Clippers overpay everyone, haven’t you noticed yet? Covington is a solid player, nothing more, nothing less.
Cap Figure: $11,215,260
When everyone got hurt last year, it was Jackson who kept the Clippers afloat. He started 75 games last year and was (in my opinion) the team MVP for the season. It was a great story after he was buried on some bad teams in Detroit. He will be 32 when the season starts and has clearly earned the right to be on the floor next season.
Boom or Bust? Clipper fans call him “Big Government” because he always seemed to bail the team out with a bucket. That’s a great nickname. He’s underpaid.
Clippers and Cap Hits
- Nicolas Batum $10,843,350
- Ivica Zubac $ 10,123,457
- John Wall $ 6,479,000
- Amir Coffey $ 3,395,062
- Terance Mann $ 1,930,681
- Brandon Boston Jr. $ 1,563,518
- Jason Preston $ 1,563,518