The LA Clippers will have to make do without Kawhi Leonard next season, and head coach Tyronn Lue may be innovating a bit to accomplish that.
Lue hinted to reporters this week that he may be going with a fairly big change to the Clippers’ starting lineup next season. He said that his vision was to start Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Markieff Morris, and Ivica Zubac, per Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.
The biggest news here is the inclusion of Bledsoe, whom the Clippers just acquired this summer. Terance Mann had started for the team after Leonard got injured and was a breakout star of last postseason. Morris is also an interesting one. He finished the playoffs as a starter, but Nicolas Batum was the starting 4 to begin the year and still made a handful of starts into the postseason. Finally, Zubac was the Clippers’ starting center throughout the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if he will hold onto the job once Serge Ibaka is fully healthy.
Kawhi Leonard’s status for the upcoming season is uncertain after he underwent ACL surgery in July. Things are so uncertain, in fact, that even the Los Angeles Clippers don’t know when or if he’ll play in 2021-22.
Clippers president Lawrence Frank admitted Friday that the team has no timetable for Leonard’s return, and does not plan on setting one anytime soon.
“Oh, we don’t even breach that,” Frank said when asked if he anticipates Leonard playing this season, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “I think at this point, it’s just no one knows when you’re dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame.
“Even just to save you guys [from asking] throughout the year, is no one knows. You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group and we’ll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it’s the right time.”
It’s interesting that Frank says Leonard has a plan and seems to distance the Clippers from it. Their doctors are surely involved, but there were some rumors that the organization was kept in the dark about the procedure.
The LA Clippers have hired one of their former crosstown rivals to join head coach Tyronn Lue’s staff.
The Clippers announced on Thursday that they have hired Brian Shaw as an assistant coach, per SI’s Farbod Esnaashari. Shaw previously served as the associate head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2016 to 2019 after beginning his coaching career as a Lakers assistant from 2005 to 2011.
The hiring reunites Shaw with Lue, his former teammate on the Lakers two decades ago during the team’s three-peat era. Shaw may also know some of the other side’s tricks. He was Lakers coach Frank Vogel’s lead assistant back when they were both with the Indiana Pacers. Additionally, Shaw coached LeBron James on the Lakers for one season.
“To be honest with you, it might have been a God thing,” said Porter. “You know how crazy L.A. is, who knows? Living in L.A. as a rookie doing just strictly rehab without even playing? I might have gotten into some stuff. So I am where I’m supposed to be.”
The 23-year-old Porter also said he has no bitterness towards any team.
Heading into the 2018 draft, Porter had major injury concerns with his back that caused him to slide from the potential No. 1 overall pick to the back of the lottery. The Clippers had picks No. 12 and 13 that year, choosing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson over Porter. Gilgeous-Alexander was an excellent selection who ended up being a centerpiece of the team’s blockbuster trade for Paul George the next summer. But Robinson lasted just three seasons in the league, averaging 4.5 points per game (though the Clippers acquired a quality veteran in Marcus Morris Sr. by trading him).
As for Porter, he went to the Nuggets with the very next pick at No. 14. He ended up missing his entire rookie season after undergoing a second back surgery. But Porter has since blossomed into a strong all-around forward, averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last season on a scorching 44.5 percent from three.
Porter did seem to have some ill will towards the Clippers when the Nuggets faced them in the 2020 postseason. But he got his revenge on them as Denver won that series, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to combust the Clippers. Thus, any hard feelings appear to be gone now.
The LA Clippers’ new arena will be making a concerted effort to address one of the most inconvenient parts of attending a major sporting event.
The Clippers officially broke ground at their new arena, the Intuit Dome in Inglewood, Calif., on Friday. The $1.8 billion arena is scheduled to open in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer told fans at the unveiling ceremony that the Intuit Dome will have a ratio of 27 people per bathroom fixture. Ballmer used the comparison of Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Clippers played last postseason. That arena, which opened in 1991, has a ratio of 79 people per bathroom fixture.
The goal here is so fans do not have to wait in long lines to use the restroom and end up missing important moments in the game. The Intuit Dome’s total tally of toilets is 1,500, which will be the most of any NBA arena.
The LA Clippers may be looking to sign a player who helped down them in the playoffs two years ago.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Clippers are interested in signing veteran forward Paul Millsap. Charania also names the Chicago Bulls as another team in pursuit of the unrestricted free agent.
Millsap is one of the oldest active players in the league at 36. But he still had respectable averages of 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 20.8 minutes a game last season for the Denver Nuggets. Millsap also single-handedly ignited Denver’s 3-1 comeback against the Clippers in the 2019 playoffs with a 14-point third quarter in Game 5 that swung the momentum of the series.
The Clippers managed to re-sign Nicolas Batum and add Justise Winslow this summer. But there is still a decent-sized hole in their frontcourt with Kawhi Leonard likely out for the season and both DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson still unsigned. Millsap does have some other opportunities that may pose a slightly better shot at title contention next year. The presumptive fit with the Clippers is definitely a strong one though.
The Los Angeles Clippers are bringing back Eric Bledsoe as they reload for another run at a championship.
As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers are acquiring Bledsoe from the Memphis Grizzlies. Veteran guards Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo are among those going to Memphis. Wojnarowski added that Beverley and Rondo are not necessarily certain to remain with the Grizzlies.
The Los Angeles Clippers are trading Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Eric Bledsoe, sources tell ESPN.
The Grizzlies, with an already packed roster, are open-minded on the futures of all three players in Memphis — and will likely consider trades with some of those arriving in this deal. Memphis gets salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2022 with trade.
The Clippers clearly wanted more reliable guard depth than they were getting with Rondo and Beverley, two defense-first veterans. Beverley in particular was limited to 37 games last season due to injuries.
Bledsoe started 70 games for the New Orleans Pelicans last season, averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game. The 31-year-old was sometimes criticized for his performances, but the Clippers clearly see something in him as a complementary piece.
Kawhi Leonard has signed his new contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, and it will put much of the speculation about his immediate future to bed.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard’s new contract is for four years, including a player option. Under the Early Bird rights the Clippers held on Leonard, that’s the longest contract he could have signed with the team.
Leonard will earn $176.3 million over the course of the deal. Leonard is set to be with the Clippers through at least 2024 and possibly 2025. It also means he will get less money than he would have had he decided to enter free agency next summer instead.
Here is the breakdown on the $176.3M contract for Kawhi Leonard:
There had been some chatter that Leonard might be willing to listen to pitches from other teams in free agency. That clearly didn’t happen. The fact that he’s made a fairly long-term commitment to the Clippers is pretty clear evidence that he never really seemed interested in leaving.
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The LA Clippers already have two members of the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 championship team in Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka. Now they may be trying to get a third.
Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reported Monday that the Clippers are “enamored” with Raptors big man Pascal Siakam. Anderson also notes that the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors have similar interest.
Additionally, Clippers beat writers Andrew Greif and Justin Russo tweeted that the Clippers’ roster moves could signal a forthcoming trade. Incoming rookies Jason Preston and BJ Boston both received guaranteed contracts instead of a two-way spot.
Scrubb takes up one of the two, two-way spots. Your instinct certainly feels right, though.
I had initially thought—and did think before this news—that Boston was slated to be the second two-way contract for the team. Instead, that could be Preston. Perhaps. But it does create a roster crunch for the Clippers that could signal that a trade is on the horizon.
We know that Siakam, who averaged 21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game last season, seems to be available for trade. The Raptors recently let franchise icon Kyle Lowry go in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat. That could signal a move towards a full rebuild for a team that went 27-45 last year.
Siakam is still owed $106.3 million over the next three seasons. That means that the Clippers would have to work some magic in order to make a trade happen. Players like Marcus Morris, Patrick Beverley, or Luke Kennard would almost certainly be included just to match salaries. But with their interest in Siakam and the moves they are already making, it sounds like something the Clippers would be very willing to do.
DeMar DeRozan grew up in the Los Angeles area, and it has been widely reported that the free agent would like to play there. While the Lakers may no longer be an option, the Clippers remain interested in the four-time All-Star.
DeRozan was scheduled to meet with the Clippers on Tuesday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. The 31-year-old old is also being pursued by the Chicago Bulls and likely some other teams.
As Haynes notes, the Clippers can currently only offer DeRozan the mid-level exception of $5.9 million. That is way below market value for a 31-year-old player who averaged 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game last season. One way for the Clippers to acquire DeRozan at a higher salary would be via a sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs, though it’s unclear if the Spurs would have interest.
There have been some reports that DeRozan would give the Lakers a discount, so it’s unclear if the same applies for the Clippers. However, we doubt he is desperate enough to play in L.A. that he is willing to give up an enormous amount of money just to do it.