Reading Material: On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Perhaps to balance out all of the roster turnover — or more likely as an attempt to bolster a nonexistent wing rotation — the Clippers brought back an old friend in 2012.
Bobby Simmons, whose best season as a pro in 2004-05 earned him a five-year, $47 million contract with the Bucks, was back in the mix. (Remember this story Bill Simmons wrote about “the notoriously cheap Clippers lowballing him?”)
Because that contract turned out to be a little rich for a player of his caliber, he embarked on a career as a (very well-compensated) journeyman. So after a couple seasons with the Nets and a couple games with the Spurs, he was back on the market for the Clippers, as a minimum contract option with some length that could possibly knock down some corner threes.
And since only the inconsistent and defensively-limited Caron Butler stood in front of him for playing time on the wing, he got his shot. In 28 regular season games, he soaked up an average of 15 minutes and mostly justified his recent history that included a collection of trades and trips to the D-League. Although he acquitted himself reasonably on the defensive end, he shot only 33 percent from three and 31 percent from the floor, which was what he was supposed to be his calling card.
His shining moment was probably a Game 2 start in the playoffs against Memphis, in which he shot 4-5 from the floor and, played passable, if not surprisingly effective, defense on Rudy Gay.
When I spoke to him after the Clippers played the Nets in New Jersey towards the end of the season, I asked him if it was different being back with the team this time around. His response was telling, that it wasn’t really different because the competitive nature of being an NBA player is essentially the same wherever he’s playing.
On the road.
By this point, Simmons knows what he is as a player, and has the right attitude for someone in his situation. He can’t get too attached — because any team that picks him up will probably be looking to upgrade – but he knows no other way but to give great effort and do whatever the team asks of him. The Clippers will look address their wing situation this offseason, but if they wind up at some point needing someone to fill out the roster, they know what they’d be getting with Simmons.