The last day to exercise or decline contract options for next season went as expected for the Clippers on Wednesday, after the club extended a qualifying offer to wing Amir Coffey to make him a restricted free agent.
Qualifying offers were not extended to guards Jay Scrubb and Xavier Moon, who will be unrestricted free agents Thursday when teams and players can begin negotiating across the NBA. That doesn’t necessarily mean the end has come for either in a Clippers uniform.
Scrubb, a 2020 second-round pick, is expected to play for the Clippers’ summer league team in Las Vegas next month. Moon, who earned three 10-day contracts and later a two-way deal with the Clippers, is probably bound for the Clippers’ summer roster, as well, and both guards could also be later re-signed to deals that would allow them to compete for one of the team’s pair of two-way contracts.
The plan has been for one two-way contract to go to second-round pick Moussa Diabate, a 6-foot-10 forward described as a high-energy but developmental project by team president Lawrence Frank last week. The Clippers have signed other, undrafted players to training-camp contracts who could also be part of any such two-way competition.
Valuable veteran wing Nicolas Batum also officially declined his player option for next season, a procedural move to gain a longer contract. Batum is strongly expected to be back with the Clippers, with league observers believing a deal with an annual average value of $10 million could be the number on which both sides settle. Separately on Wednesday, Bleacher Report reported Batum could command a three-year, $30-million offer.
By tendering the qualifying offer to Coffey, the Clippers ensured they will have the first right of refusal to keep the 6-8 wing, who is allowed to receive offer sheets from other teams. Coffey started the season on his second two-way contract and ended it as an invaluable member of the rotation for a roster riddled by injuries.
Coffey posted career highs of 69 games, 22.7 minutes, 9.0 points, 54% shooting on two-pointers and also making 37% of his three-pointers. When pushed into a role that required more ballhandling, particularly in pick and rolls, Coffey thrived. His opportunities, should he return, appear difficult to forecast on a roster loaded with wings.
Terms of an agreement with point guard John Wall are expected to be reached quickly Thursday upon the opening of free agency after the bought-out former all-star signaled his intent to sign earlier this week. The Clippers will also turn their early attention to meeting with Batum and backup center Isaiah Hartenstein.