The Los Angeles Clippers had high hopes for the 2021-22 campaign, but playing without Kawhi Leonard for the entire season proved too daunting of a task.
Even though star wing Paul George missed 51 games due to an elbow injury, the Clippers hovered around a .500 record after making mid-season moves that saw Robert Covington and Norman Powell enter the fold.
But in the end, the Clippers were eliminated from postseason contention in the play-in tournament. George missed the game against the New Orleans Pelicans for the No. 8 seed after testing positive for COVID-19, which ended up being Los Angeles’ final time touching the hardwood for the season.
As the franchise turns the page to 2022-23, the health of Leonard and George easily top the list of biggest offseason needs. But what else does the team need to do to improve their odds of contending for the championship?
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Mario Solis, sports anchor and reporter for NBC Los Angeles, has two notes involving the point guard and center situation.
“They seem to be targeting a point guard,” Solis said. “And if the Clippers decline Ivica Zubac’s player option, they could be maybe looking for a new center this year.”
The Clippers’ roster construction is built on having multiple lengthy wings and forwards, leaving Reggie Jackson as the one true point guard. Rookie point guard Jason Preston never made his debut this year due to a foot injury, so targeting a new option makes sense.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
Zubac has a team option worth $7.5 million. He averaged 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season while shooting 62.6% from the field. The 25-year-old center has been a reliable contributor to the rotation, but it’s not yet clear if the Clippers will accept or decline his option.
Whatever the case, the Clippers have a strong roster capable of contending once healthy. If they want to win their first ever title, this offseason will be a massive one.