Jeff Ayres‘ trip back to the NBA took him to China and then Idaho in the D-League before he signed a 10-day deal with the Clippers, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. After being let go by the Spurs in the offseason, the center/forward signed with a Chinese team, but said it “ended up not working out.” He was taken with the first overall pick in the D-League draft and became a star with the Idaho Stampede, averaging 16.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. “It’s not what people think, that everybody here isn’t very good,” Ayres said. “A lot of D-League guys are very good. D-League is full of talent. Everything you hear as a rookie in the NBA about, ‘You were the man when you were in college but not no more here.’ It’s the same thing here.”
There’s more Clippers new from Los Angeles:
- Ayres is ready to accept whatever role the team has for him, tweets Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times. Ayres said his agent woke him up with the news of the signing (Twitter link). “I was halfway asleep,” Ayres said. “It was awesome. It was great news to wake up to.”
- Coach Doc Rivers had nothing bad to say about Josh Smith, who was dealt to the Rockets Friday after a frustrating half-season with the Clippers, writes Rowan Kavner of NBA.com. Rivers said that after Blake Griffin‘s injury, the Clippers started winning when they made Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni regular members of the bench rotation. That left little playing time for Smith, who has struggled to get minutes since mid-December. “He was very good, a good teammate and all that, but it just didn’t work,” Rivers said of Smith. “So we wanted to go in another direction.”
- Several former Knicks have helped make the Clippers contenders in the West, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Aldrich, Prigioni and Jamal Crawford have all become important parts of L.A.’s rotation after spending time in New York, and former Knicks coach Mike Woodson serves as an assistant to Rivers.