5. LA Clippers
The Clippers entered the 2023-24 NBA tied with the Golden State Warriors for the second-oldest roster in the league in terms of average player age. Then they added 34-year-old James Harden and 38-year-old P.J. Tucker in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were expected to make the Clippers serious perennial contenders when they came to Los Angeles in 2019. The Clippers have made it to one Western Conference Finals since. Seasons of 49, 47, 42, and 44 wins without a chip isn’t what owner Steve Ballmer had in mind.
Injuries to both Leonard and George perennially erase any championship dreams in Clipper-Land.
George is 33. Leonard is 32. Both franchise cornerstones are injury-prone and aren’t getting any younger. They are also free agents after this season should they choose not to exercise their respective $48.8 million Player Options for next season.
In addition, both Harden and Tucker can be free agents after this season. Same with the 35-year-old Russell Westbrook and the 33-year-old Mason Plumlee. The Clippers are set to move into the brand-new Intuit Dome next season. They could very well have a completely different roster then.
This year’s Clippers team is currently flirting with a play-in seed. Other younger teams like the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves are currently ahead of Los Angeles in the West standings.
It’s early, but this veteran Clippers squad will likely struggle to get into the playoffs. Ballmer wants to make sure seats are filled and that he has a competitive team playing in his new arena. That means having star power, especially in Los Angeles. That also means that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George likely aren’t going anywhere.
This is a team that should rebuild or retool. However, the Clippers moving into a new stadium means they will likely add to this big-name roster instead.