Itâ€™s the time of year when we can look at the Clippers and ask, â€œWho is leaving at the end of the season?â€
This seasonâ€™s leading free agent contenders are:
Bobby Simmons, playing the three (or maybe the two). Heâ€™s got a PER of 16.81 and a is averaging 17.7 points per 40 minutes, he scores 1.12 per shot attempt, has an eFG% of 49.7% and can create his own shot. And heâ€™s only 24. Heâ€™s going to get a lot of interest because those numbers show he can play, but heâ€™s not going to break the bank.
Marco Jaric, playing the two (although some think he can be a point). He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Clippers can match. A very good passer with a PER of 15.59 and he can score some (12.2 points per 40 this year). Heâ€™s a second year player who will draw interest if his foot problem is not that serious.
That foot issue means Jaric is going to miss tonightâ€™s game. Their other starting backcourt guy, Shaun Livingston, also will be out, meaning the Clippers starting backcourt includes Rick Brunson. GM Elgin Baylor on the radio this morning bemoaned the fact that with Brunson and Corey Maggette in the starting backcourt the Clippers cannot stop dribble penetration. Looking at their opponents PER, the places they are getting killed is in the backcourt. Kobe must be looking forward to this game.
Bryant missed the last one between these two, which the Clippers won. The Lakers won the first two meetings, with Kobe putting up 37 in the second of those Laker wins.
The Lakers catch a couple of other breaks tonight. First, add to the list of walking wounded for the Clippers Kerry Kittles (another unrestricted free agent at the end of the season). Second, the Clippers are in the second game of a back-to-back, having lost to Memphis last night, and they are 7-9 in that situation.
The Lakers need this game â€” Thursday they start a difficult six-game road trip. While the Clippers may not be able to catch the Lakers (five games back), Denver and Minnesota are still right there and L.A. needs all the wins it can get. And this is one they should get.