The Clippers have 14 players on their 2017-2018 roster with fully guaranteed deals. They also have one player already signed to a two-way deal, Jamil Wilson. That leaves them with one regular roster spot as well as one two-way contract still available. Due to the Clippers’ proximity to the luxury tax, they are unlikely to sign a player to their 15-man roster unless someone unexpected hits free agency. There is a possibility, however, that they add another two-way deal before the season begins. The four likely candidates are the players the Clips have already signed to training camp deals: Marshall Plumlee, Tyrone Wallace, C.J. Williams, and LaDontae Henton.
In my season preview for the first three players on Clips Nation, I concluded that Williams is the most likely to win a two-way deal. That news has changed somewhat with the adding of Henton, as both are very similar types of players, and are going to be in direct competition with one another for a spot. That does reinforce the idea that the Clippers are looking more closely at that position (wing) than others, but it does make the actual prediction of a contract winner a little murkier.
Henton is younger than Williams by two years, but both put up incredibly similar numbers in their respective 2016-2017 seasons in the D-League. Williams shot the ball better from the field and had higher steal and block rates, while Henton brought in more rebounds. Henton is slightly bigger than Williams, so more of a true small forward, while Williams is definitely a shooting guard/small forward hybrid. Small forward is the shallower position on the Clippers’ roster: Sindarius Thornwell might be too small to play there consistently, and Sam Dekker, Danilo Gallinari, and Wes Johnson could all be better off as small-ball power forwards at this point in their careers. That puts an edge narrowly in Henton’s corner, but the race is too close to call at this point.
The other two would be a bit more surprising if thinking purely on who fits better on the Clippers’ roster. The Clips have four veterans who can all play some point guard, and invested a high 2nd round pick in Jawun Evans this past summer. Therefore, while Wallace is by far the youngest of the foursome, he’s also very unlikely to be even remotely in line for minutes on the Clippers if he were signed on a two-way. The same goes for Plumlee, who is behind five players all best suited for power forward or center, not to mention the crowding that would happen if some of the wings are moved down a spot.
If, on the other hand, the Clippers are thinking more about future teams than the current, Wallace makes the most sense. He’s a large, athletic point guard, and those don’t grow on trees. Yes, he can’t shoot and his actual point guard skills are a work in progress. But he has by far the highest upside of the group. Plumlee is unlikely to be more than a third-string big man, and Williams and Henton are mostly three-point gunners. I don’t think Wallace is particularly close to contributing on an NBA roster—but that’s what seasoning in the G-League is for.
I think, in order, the most likely signees for the two-way deal are: C.J. Williams, LaDontae Henton, Tyrone Wallace, and Marshall Plumlee. If the Clippers want a ready contributor, they will go for Williams. If they decide to focus more on development, Wallace is the best bet.