The Clippers are emphasizing continuity with their roster, which is why they passed on making a draft-night trade for the first time in seven years, writes Mark Medina of NBA.com. The team’s quiet draft was influenced by its two stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who are collaborating with the front office on personnel moves.
“They are great partners. There’s a lot of give and take and talking,” president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said. “They have great insight. They passionately care. They care about the type of people that are in the locker room. They look for people who work, have great habits, are pros, can contribute to winning and are great in the locker room. Yet at the same time, they are very respectful that at the end of the day it’s our job to make the decision. But their opinions are very, very valuable.”
Frank also offered a medical update on Leonard, who missed the entire season after suffering an ACL injury during the 2021 playoffs. The team is encouraged by Leonard’s progress and expects him to be ready for the start of next season.
“He continues to do great,” Frank said. “He’s maniacal in his work ethic. It’s fun to see. I’m glad we can afford the light bill because he’s putting in the hours.”
There’s more NBA news from Los Angeles:
- Frank dismissed rumors that the Clippers are trying to trade Luke Kennard, Medina adds. Frank said there’s “zero truth” to the report, noting that Kennard is coming off an “unbelievable season” in which he led the league in three-point percentage.
- The Lakers were excited to land Michigan State’s Max Christie after trading into the second round, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. “It’s very rare to have a consensus pick,” general manager Rob Pelinka said. “Maybe at No. 1 you can kind of get a room full of scouts and get a consensus pick. But once you get to 35, there’s just so many varying opinions. But very uniquely on this night — it doesn’t happen all the time — but Max was a consensus pick of all the scouts and all the front-office people.” Pelinka believes Christie could have been selected in the top 15 or 20 next year if he had returned to school.
- Pelinka and new coach Darvin Ham have met with Russell Westbrook to set parameters for next season, Medina writes in a separate story. Westbrook became a lightning rod for criticism after being acquired from the Wizards last summer. “We’ve been honest about how we think he fits with this team and what we expect of him next year if he decides to opt in and be here,” Pelinka said of Westbrook, who hasn’t yet officially exercised his $47MM player option for next season. “He’s ready to embrace the philosophy of defense first as well. He made that clear to Darvin and me if he chooses to come back.”