The LA Clippers have reached a one-year deal with veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Clippers are compensating Mbah a Moute the balance of their mid-level exception, leading him back to the franchise after a season away with the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets have lost Mbah a Moute, 31, and Trevor Ariza, and plan to ramp up a pursuit of Carmelo Anthony once he becomes available after a trade and buyout, or waive and stretch, with Oklahoma City, league sources told ESPN.
The Thunder could waive-and-stretch Anthony’s $27.9 million salary — saving the franchise $107 million in salary and tax — within the next seven to 10 days should they be unable to find a trade, league sources said. The Rockets will be a premium consideration for Anthony — along with the Miami Heat, league sources said.
Notably, Mbah a Moute returns to the Clippers after playing two seasons in L.A. from 2015-17.
The free-agent forward left the Clippers after two seasons, joining Chris Paul in the move to the Rockets. He will play significant minutes in the Clippers’ rotation behind starter Tobias Harris.
Houston has lost two of its top rotational small forwards in free agency, including Ariza, who signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Phoenix Suns. Mbah a Moute played a significant role in helping the Rockets become an elite defensive team.
The Rockets were able to offer Mbah a Moute the $2.4 million veterans minimum.
The lock-down defender was a key piece for the Houston Rockets last season with averages of 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 25.6 minutes per night for the West’s top-seed Rockets. After the loss of Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns earlier this summer, the Rockets will face a major challenge replacing last season’s defensive versatility at the forward position.