There may not be a bigger testament to Mike Taylor’s worth than the emotional response elicited from fans and teammates upon hearing the news late Friday night. No one seemed more hurt by the news than Taylor’s best friend on the team, DeAndre Jordan, who briefly commented via Twitter. DeAndre is clearly upset (s.m.h means ‘shaking my head’) that Taylor is no longer on the team, and as of right now he’s probably not the happiest Clipper.
If you’re able to take the emotion out of it, Taylor’s release becomes a little easier to understand. If the decision was based purely on basketball talent and raw potential alone, Taylor surely would have stayed over a few other Clippers. This move was purely a financial decision, as Taylor’s contract was non-guaranteed and saved the Clippers $736,420 dollars and a much desired roster space. Ricky Davis and Mark Madsen likely stayed because they would have had to been bought out, something that Sterling is likely not in favor of doing. In addition, both Davis and Madsen’s contracts expire this year, so their deals have additional trading value that Taylor’s did not. Lastly, by releasing Taylor the number of signed players goes down to 13, giving Dunleavy one extra spot to reach his standard 14 man roster.
In hindsight, it’s hard to expect more than what Taylor gave the Clippers last season. Taylor not only beat out veteran Jason Hart for the primary backup point guard role as a rookie, but he also performed admirably when Baron Davis went down late last season. He was prone to turnovers and off games, but the flashes of potential he showed largely outweighed the mistakes.
Perhaps the most confusing thing about Taylor being released has more to do with how he was acquired. Taylor was originally drafted last year by the Trailblazers, but the Clippers ended up acquiring Taylor for a 2009 second rounder. Dunleavy and company had to have known what they were getting themselves into by drafting a player out of the NBDL, as Taylor would obviously require great patience. Instead, despite his overall impressive performances, Taylor was given only his rookie season to develop . It’s hard to believe the theory that Taylor played his way out of a job by performing poorly in 5 summer league games, as his fate seemed to be decided long before.
The most troubling thing about Taylor’s release is the possible indication that the franchise isn’t as willing to be as patient with it’s young core as it probably should. Trading for draft picks with an eye towards the future is good; releasing them after a mostly successful year is not. You’d like to believe that management could have found a way to keep a 23 year old prospect amidst some of the dead weight on the current roster, regardless of the previously outlined circumstances. Before casting too much judgment though, let’s wait and see what is done with those expiring contracts and empty roster slot.
There is one thing this move definitely signifies: The Clippers aren’t done making moves quite yet.