Yo. I’m in Nevada – but I have nothing to say about Las Vegas Summer League, so I figure I hit you all with a bridge from Orlando to Los Angeles real quick. There’s a few things to touch on, so let’s get the gloves and go in already:
– Brandon held down the first three Summer League contests that the Clippers played. They played two more to end the week, and if you missed them, good for you. The game against the Orlando Magic “White” team started well enough for the Clippers, as they went on a series of runs to take a 27-16 lead at the end of the 1st quarter and a 46-38 lead at halftime. Clippers 2016 1st-round pick PF Brice Johnson had 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field in the first half. In the second half, the Clippers were ran out of the gym, getting outscored 41-23 to lose the game 79-69. At one point in the third quarter, the Magic White squad went on a 16-0 run. Orlando White C Arinze Onuaku finished with 15 points (6/9 FGs), 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in a game that saw the Clippers record only eight assists and 20 turnovers.
– The next day, the Orlando Summer League came to a merciful end for the Clippers. The New York Knicks won only two games, but both of them came against Los Angeles. While the first contest between the two teams featured a blown lead and wasteful possessions down the stretch in what was ultimately an overtime loss, the Friday finale of the event was a beatdown from start to finish. The Knicks began the game on a 21-7 run, and became the only team to drop more than 100 points in Orlando, defeating the Clippers 106-77. New York SG Ron Baker finished the game with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 4-of-6 threes, and 7-of-13 from the field overall. Johnson and fellow Clippers rookie, PG David Michineau, were not as impressive.
#Clippers first two picks in the draft – Brice Johnson and David Michineau – combined to shoot 1-for-22 in 29-point loss to Knicks.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) July 8, 2016
– The Clippers introduced Johnson, Michineau and 40th overall pick C Diamond Stone on Tuesday, and Johnson would sign his contract Tuesday as well. Johnson had an interesting Summer League experience. On one hand, he let things snowball against Miami and in the last game, and I don’t know how he’s going to gain the 20 pounds he says he wants to gain by training camp. On the other hand, Johnson did average 15.4 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field, and that included the stankburger he had on Friday. Only Orlando White’s Treveon Graham had more points per game while making at least 50 percent from the field in Orlando.
– The Clippers have not signed their 2nd round picks yet, but they figure to still be in the plans. Michineau, quite frankly, isn’t ready. He only scored 41 points on 52 shots in Orlando, shooting a putrid 28.8 percent from the field. He had three times as many fouls (3.6 per game) as rebounds (1.2). He had as many turnovers as assists (4.2 each per game). Despite the fouls, Michineau only had three steals in five games. And he made only 61.1 percent from the line while missing all seven of his three-pointers. At least Stone showed that he can score (10.4 points per game on 52.3 shooting from the field) and shoot (made 6-of-7 FTs, 85.7 percent); Stone has deficiencies on the boards and on defense that head coach/president of basketball ops Doc Rivers alluded to on Draft night.
– Last time I was here, I mentioned that the Clippers’ own free agents represented quantity but not a lot of quality. Here’s an update:
– Backup C Cole Aldrich (1.1 blocks per game) (going home to Minnesota)
– Bench PF Jeff Ayres
– Sixth Man of the Year SG Jamal Crawford (1.5 threes per game) (Returning on 3-year deal)
– PF Jeff Green (
– Backup SF Wesley Johnson (1.1 steals per game) (Returning on 3-year deal)
– Starting SF Luc Mbah a Moute (Returning on 2-year deal)
– 3rd-string PG Pablo Prigioni
– Backup PG Austin Rivers (Returning on 3-year deal)
– So that’s nice. The Clippers lost out on Green and that future first round pick, so Mbah a Moute figures to slide back into his role as the starting SF. Crawford, Rivers, and Johnson returning means that the Clippers will retain chemistry on the bench – they better hope that Crawford doesn’t age, Rivers produces at a level close to Crawford, and Johnson plays with more confidence. With Green out, Paul Pierce may be the backup at PF, at least until Johnson shows he is not JuJuan Johnson. (Pierce is rumored to be returning for the second year of his 3-year deal signed in 2015.) Michineau is the nominal replacement for Prigioni, which is not ideal at all for reasons expressed above; Dan Woike suggests that the Clippers would still sign a minimum salary veteran PG and that third string SF Branden Dawson’s roster spot would be at risk. The Clippers should keep Dawson and send Michineau overseas if it comes to that. Also worth noting that SG C.J. Wilcox is recovering from a right hand fracture. Because Clippers.
Heading into surgery, thanks for all the support! Can't wait to get back to work.
— CJ Wilcox (@UCjwilcox23W) July 8, 2016
Yeah it helps to have both hands.. https://t.co/vhDoLpNxNF
— CJ Wilcox (@UCjwilcox23W) July 8, 2016
– The replacement for Aldrich? None other than C Marreese Speights, who spent the last three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. Speights figures to get slightly more minutes than he got with the Warriors last season (11.6 per game) and more than Aldrich got with the Clippers last season (13.3 per game). Speights’ best attribute is as a shooter, and while that’s nice (career-high 24 made threes, 38.7 percent threes, career 79 percent free throw shooter), I prefer backup centers to protect the rim and finish. Speights averaged 5.1 personal fouls per 36 minutes last season, which is in line with his career average, and he made a career-low 43.2 percent of his field goals in 2015-2016. The FG percentage wasn’t just low because of the fact that more than half of Speights’ overall field goal attempts came from at least 16 feet out for the first time in his 8-year career. Speights also made a career-low 51.3 percent of his shots inside of three feet. Speights has only played 20+ minutes per game once in his career, and that was 2011-2012, the year he replaced an injured Zach Randolph in the starting lineup for the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s a minimum deal, but then again, so was the Josh Smith signing last year.
– The Clippers did not sign Jared Sullinger.
If Doc Rivers said this and signed Jared, trolls would have a field day… https://t.co/6EyWdf0GZk
— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) July 12, 2016
– The NBA announced on Tuesday that “the current rule for away-from-the-play fouls applicable to the last two minutes of the fourth period (and last two minutes of any overtime) – pursuant to which the fouled team is awarded one free throw and retains possession of the ball – will be extended to the last two minutes of each period.” Well, that’s the good news for players like Clippers C DeAndre Jordan. It’s also blatant half-stepping. The NBA could go with the international rule that forbids hacking. Instead, “the introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely,” according to Kiki VanDeWeghe the NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. At least it’s things like this that give me hope that the league won’t shorten the 82-game schedule.
– With the Clippers keeping their “*if healthy*” starting five and four of their top bench players, where does that put the team? Do they stay in Playoff Purgatory? My bad, I said I wouldn’t ask those questions until spring 2017. The team went after SF Kevin Durant. It didn’t work out, #AsExpected. Durant’s signing with the Warriors strengthens a 73-win team. So big picture, that doesn’t help Los Angeles’ chance of getting out of the West. But little picture? The other teams at the top of the West aren’t as strong anymore. The West already lacked the depth of most of the 21st century last season, and now Oklahoma City lost the 2013-2014 Most Valuable Player. Everyone itching to see the Russell Westbrook MVP campaign next season can check how the 2014-2015 season worked out for Oklahoma City. San Antonio just waived retired C Tim Duncan, and his replacement is Pau Gasol – the Spurs are going to be quite old at key spots (also see: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili). There are plenty of teams that figure to ascend in the West, led by a Portland Trail Blazers squad that Lawler and Smith might want to stay quiet about next preseason. But the Clippers keeping the status quo isn’t a bad thing. After all, they are not and have never been contenders – and I define “contender” as “get to the Conference Finals”. Their positioning in the West hasn’t gotten worse this month.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) July 11, 2016