Clippers waive veteran guard Eric Gordon and avoid a steeper luxury tax bill

The Clippers waived veteran guard Eric Gordon on Wednesday, the last day the team had to guarantee his $20.9-million salary for next season.

Gordon, 34, will become a free agent. It was the team’s second transaction of the day after earlier making big man Moussa Diabate a restricted free agent by extending a qualifying offer. Diabate is coming off a first season in which he earned all-rookie honors in the G League.

Though the Clippers felt the brawn that the 6-foot-3 Gordon added defensively and his ability to spread the floor for teammates with his long-range shooting were often a good fit, the team waived Gordon because of an intent to search for savings.

By not adding Gordon’s salary to next year’s team, the Clippers stand to save about $110 million on their luxury tax bill, according to calculations by ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The new collective bargaining agreement between the players’ union and league, which was delivered to teams Wednesday and will take effect Friday, heavily penalizes teams that blow well past the league’s salary cap.

“The new CBA will have implications, not just this but over the next couple years, and always hard decisions will have to be made, and we’ll make those hard decisions,” team president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said in April.

With guard Russell Westbrook still a possibility to re-sign with the team in free agency, the Clippers’ decision on Gordon was also about creating more opportunities for younger guards and wings whose roles have ebbed and flowed, such as Terance Mann and Bones Hyland. Next season’s contracts for third-year wings Brandon Boston Jr. and point guard Jason Preston are also non-guaranteed.

Gordon played his first three NBA seasons with the franchise before returning 12 years later before February’s trade deadline via a trade with Houston. To get Gordon before last season’s stretch run, the Clippers traded away Luke Kennard, swap rights in last week’s NBA draft that moved the team back 10 picks in the first round and John Wall to make a three-team trade work with Houston and Memphis. He went on to average 11.0 points while shooting 42% on three-pointers for the Clippers and started all five games of a first-round postseason loss to Phoenix.

The reunion lasted all of 27 games, however.

His place in next season’s plans had come into question since last week, when the team was in discussions with Boston and Washington for a three-team trade that, as discussed, would have landed the Clippers another veteran guard in Malcolm Brogdon by sending out the expiring contract of Marcus Morris Sr. and Amir Coffey.

The talks fell apart, but it signaled the team’s interest in shuffling its backcourt and reducing their logjam at wing. A report Wednesday by Yahoo Sports indicated the Clippers have also been recently gauging interest around the league in backup guard Norman Powell.

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