Trey Thompkins was a good second round gamble by the Clippers — a 6’10” forward out of Georgia with a world of potential as a guy who can play inside or out.
Except he never lived up to that potential as a rookie (he only played in 24 games) then never saw the court this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. So last week the Clippers cut him free.
That cleared up a roster space to add a little depth while Caron Butler’s elbow recovers, so the Clippers sighed DaJuan Summers. He’s the former Georgetown swingman who was with the Pistons for a couple seasons and the Hornets last season.
Summers may not be with the Clippers long term, but he gets a nice cup of Los Angeles coffee.
Friday And-1 Links: Discussing coming out in the NBA
Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.
• Statistically speaking, there is somebody playing in the NBA right now who is a closeted gay. Probably more than one. What would it take for them to come out publicly? Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN explored the idea with the best and most thoughtful piece of sportswriting I saw this week. A must read.
• Anthony Davis was held out of Friday night’s Hornet scrimmage against the Rockets because of a sore groin. It may not be serious but it is something to watch.
Here is our daily look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.
• Derek Fisher says he has no plans to retire. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who plans it, he’s the kind of guy who has it taken away from him.
• Celtics fans, you better not be hoping that the zone defense is your silver bullet, because it’s not.
• Report that Andre Drummond — the UConn big man who will go between 2 and 5 in the draft — has dropped 22 pounds working out since the season ended. You can look at that two ways. Some will say he is showing his potential and commitment. To me, I worry about guys that slacked off in the regular season then started working out and doing things right when the draft and money are on the line. What happens when they get their big deal and get comfortable?
• North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller is drawing Spencer Hawes comparisons.
• Another report Rihanna and J.R. Smith are dating. Well, not sure if dating is the right word. Again my two-word warning: Matt Kemp.
• The Pacers want Leandro Barbosa to return, but he is an unrestricted free agent and it depends on what the market will offer. The Pacers aren’t going to shell out a lot here.
• More Chicago spin on the Luol Deng situation — he won’t play in the Olympics because the insurance on him (with a bad wrist and a $13 million contract next season) is too high. Don’t bet on it.
• If your team needs the kind of player who takes shots that fans think are fun and makes coaches cringe, we have your man — the Magic have released Von Wafer.
The Clippers are not title contenders yet. Not until we see them play better and consistent defense. Not until we’re convinced Vinny Del Negro can coach a team to a championship. Not with the stopgap Chauncey Billups at the two and a second unit that has a nice point guard then Randy Foye, Trey Thompkins, Ryan Gomes and Brian Cook. That’s not depth.
But they are close. They have the best point guard in the game with Chris Paul and another potential franchise cornerstone in Blake Griffin. Their pick-and-roll will be the best in the game (Griffin told PBT he worked hard this summer on his jumper). DeAndre Jordan could be special. They just need time and a few more pieces.
Which is why it all comes down to Donald T. Sterling.
The Clippers have had the worst owner in professional sports for decades now. He has chased profits at the cost of winning. He has driven good players away. He is not a good personor boss (he paid out the largest single housing discrimination settlement in federal court history).
And now he can change that legacy. Or blow that chance and return them to being the Clippers.
Chris Paul is going to opt-in on his contract deal for next season — the Clippers have two seasons to convince him to sign an extension. Blake Griffin plays a role in that, certainly. But if Sterling cuts corners on getting quality role players to go around his stars, if he runs the organization as a second-rate business, if he brings his female friends into the locker room after games to show off his team, if he heckles a player from the sidelines like he did Baron Davis, he could blow this.
Donald Sterling has to become the silent owner. Stay out of GM Neil Olshey’s way. The building is going to fill up, pay more to bring in good role players (even if it means paying the luxury tax). Don’t speak to the media and stay away from the players. There are good people working for the Clippers at every level, let them do their job without interference. Don’t screw this up.
Wednesday’s trade for Chris Paul could set the Clippers up for a decade. They are close, they have the pieces to build a serious contender, the holy grail so many teams are chasing.
Or Sterling could blow it and Paul could be gone in a couple years.