The Los Angeles Clippers are going through changing times, especially with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sidelined due to different injuries. The duo is yet to take the team to the NBA Finals, but the front office is still hopeful they can get the job done once they return to action.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are planning the next moves as the trade deadline approaches. Rumors have surfaced suggesting that the team is willing to part ways with a series of veterans, including Serge Ibaka, Marcus Morris, and Eric Bledsoe. Ibaka is the one getting more attention from the media, given the benefits the team would get trading him.
According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, the Californians could save a considerable amount of money if they traded the Congolese-Spanish center away. They are close to $100 million in tax penalty, but getting rid of Ibaka's contract would decrease their penalty to $53 million.
Because of both injuries and a roster that is stuck in the middle of the pack in the standings, the Clippers should take a short-term financial approach with their roster.
By trading Ibaka and his $9.3 million salary, the Clippers would see their $94 million tax penalty shrink to $53 million -- a savings of $41 million. Ibaka will be a free agent this summer and his remaining salary at the time of the trade deadline would be $3.1 million -- just slightly less than the $3.3 million in cash the Clippers have available to send out in a trade.
The Clippers are $31.9 million over the tax and are projected to have a $94 million tax bill.
Trade we would like to see: Serge Ibaka, a 2025 second and $1 million to the Thunder for the rights to Vasilije Micic.
Serge hasn't performed as expected for the Clippers, which is why this move could make more sense for them. With Leonard and George both expected to miss the remainder of this season, the front office is taking a different approach to the campaign. Developing young players and waiting for their dynamic duo to return should be the focus for the Clips now.
They could make room to add new players in the future and Ibaka's contract presents a good opportunity to do so.