It’s been a whirlwind last month or so in the NBA thanks to free agency, and the LA Clippers have not been a stranger to the way that things have played out. After all, they retained the services of Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac, Robert Covington and Amir Coffey, plus signed John Wall, but they did lose Isaiah Hartenstein.
As a result, it’s made the Clippers’ cap sheet for the upcoming seasons particularly easy to parse through.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are both signed through 2023-24, and each possesses a player option for 2024-25. In essence, they’re locked up for two more seasons with an option for a third. Pretty straightforward.
Norman Powell, who was acquired in February alongside Covington, has four years left on a deal that’ll carry him through the 2025-26 season. He’s the only player on the roster with a contract that extends that far as of this moment.
Marcus Morris Sr. has two years remaining on his deal. It expires after the 2023-24 season. Robert Covington is in the same boat, as is the freshly re-signed Batum.
Luke Kennard’s deal has two guaranteed years remaining and a team option for a third year. Should he see the deal through for the full three years, he’ll hit free agency after the 2024-25 season. Zubac’s new deal also will take him through the same 2024-25 season, but, unlike Kennard, all three years are fully guaranteed. Amir Coffey is also on a fully guaranteed contract through 2024-25.
Wall, the new free agent acquisition, signed a two-year deal with the second year being a team option. Assuming the Clippers pick that up, he’ll be in Los Angeles through 2023-24. Brandon Boston Jr. and Jason Preston have one guaranteed year and one non-guaranteed year left on their deals, which means they’ll likely be with the Clippers through 2023-24, as well.
Terance Mann signed a two-year extension last offseason and has three total years remaining on his current deal that’ll take him through 2024-25.
If you got this far, you’ve realized that there are 13 players currently on the Clippers’ roster who have contracts that, in some form or another, extend through at least the 2023-24 season. But there are 14 players on the roster as of this moment with guaranteed deals.
The one player without a contract that extends beyond this upcoming season is Reggie Jackson.
A year ago around this time, Aug. 6 to be exact, Reggie Jackson came to an agreement on a two-year, $22 million contract that brought him back to Los Angeles. Jackson was fresh off a magical playoff run where he averaged 17.8 points, 3.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds on a 62.6 true shooting percentage.
To truly understand how incredible of a postseason that was, you have to peel back some layers. Among all the players and postseason runs in NBA history, Jackson’s particular collective line had only been seen 7 other times: LeBron James (2019-20 and 2016-17), Stephen Curry (2018-19 and 2016-17), Jamal Murray ( 2019-20), James Harden (2014-15) and Kevin Durant (2011-12).
That’s the list of players in postseason history who have averaged at least 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on a 62 TS% while playing at least 15 postseason games and hoisting at least 100 3-point attempts.
It was a run for the ages, and it ultimately got Jackson rewarded as the Clippers re-signed him to the maximum allowable contract due to Early Bird rights.
But now we’re looking at Jackson heading towards free agency yet again after the 2022-23 season. Jackson will be 33 by the time the season ends. While he is close friends with George, there’s no telling what the Clippers’ decision makers will think of an aging Jackson on a roster that is, well, already starting to get a tad long in the tooth.
There’s always the possibility that the Clippers decide to see what Jackson’s value is on the trade market and move him in a deal to acquire someone who they deem to fit the team better. However, dealing Jackson now would leave them with only one real playable point guard on the roster — Wall — assuming they don’t get one back in a hypothetical deal that sends Jackson out.
Jackson and Wall are going to embark on a training camp battle for the team’s starting point guard spot. If Jackson is on the outside looking in by the time the dust clears, there won’t be any hard feelings on his side. He’s made it known as such in the past where he’s stated that he doesn’t care whether he starts or comes off the bench.
While Jackson has praised Wall ever since the former five-time All-Star inked with Los Angeles, Jackson not retaining the starting point guard job would relegate him to bench minutes and would be a blow to his perceived value across the league should trade discussions potentially stattfinden.
All of this makes Reggie Jackson’s impending free agency a seemingly big deal. With a plethora of teams holding substantial cap space next season — there could be up to 11 teams with roughly $20 million in room by the time free agency opens in 2023 — there’s a distinct possibility that Jackson gets a hefty offer elsewhere. The Clippers could hedge that potential loss by offloading him in a trade package for someone whose contract runs longer than the 2023-23 season.
If the Clippers opt to retain Jackson and re-sign him, it’ll add to an already robust luxury tax bill. While fans shouldn’t care too much about that side of things, it’s something that owners and front offices do keep in mind. So while re-signing Jackson — and we’re being hypothetical here — to, let’s say, a two- year, $30 million deal is only $15 million per season, it’s a substantial luxury tax hit.
With how much the fanbase adores him, his propensity for bailing them out with big shots late in games — “Big Government” time! — and his close relationship with several players, you do get the notion that Jackson will indeed be back. But there are no certainties in this business.
And let’s not get it confused: it is still a business.
It’s the type of business that will make the next 11 or so months intriguing to watch when it comes to Reggie Jackson. Will he stay or will he go? That’s ultimately up to the parties involved. But no matter what happens, enjoy the moments Jackson gives you. They’re intoxicating and invigorating.
Jackson rebuilt his career in Los Angeles. His resurgence onto the basketball scene as a key and impactful player that fans love with their whole heart is something out of a Hollywood script. His future could be determined by how that script plays itself out through next June if the Clippers are fortunate enough to hoist their first-ever championship.
For now, Reggie Jackson is a clipper. And that might be all that matters.