Clippers Rumors

Pacific Notes: Clippers, C. Johnson, Paul, Davis

Through 20 games, the Clippers have already used eight different starting lineups and countless second-unit combinations as injuries continue to disrupt their rotation, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Luke Kennard have been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Pacers as they all remain sidelined with no set timetable to return. Leonard continues to deal with a sprained right ankle that has limited him to five games so far, George is out of action with a strained hamstring and Kennard is nursing a strained calf muscle.

John Wall said it’s up to the rest of the roster to find ways to win until those players can return.

“You know, sometimes it’s not good to lose your best two players, but there is always the next man up,” Wall said. “We all put the work in. We all are veterans. We all know how to play the right way. You just go out there and execute. That’s the simplest thing you can do.”

If there’s a bright side for coach Tyronn Lue, it’s that none of the injuries are expected to be long-term. It’s a different situation than last year when Leonard missed the entire season and George also had a lengthy absence. Lue said he feels “pretty good about the situation right now and how guys are progressing.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns forward Cameron Johnson is celebrating his progress as he works to return from a meniscus tear in his right knee, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I jumped on it and I was shooting (on Wednesday),” said Johnson, who is projected to miss one to two months. “And I did more cardio and I was able to kind of let rip on the bike and get my heart rate up. When we go from playing every day, we’re sweating and running, that’s cardio. After surgery, it’s a little limited with those options. To be able to get back, work up a sweat and get my heart rate up and explore some new movements post-surgery, it’s my win for (Wednesday).”
  • Even coach Monty Williams can’t fully explain why Chris Paul remains unavailable, Rankin states in a separate story. Paul missed his ninth straight game tonight for the West-leading Suns. “My YouTube degree doesn’t go into medical,” Williams told reporters. “I just wait for them to tell me he can play. We’re just not there yet. I don’t have anything to add to that. If he was able to play, they’d be like, he’s ready to go. He’s just not there yet.”
  • After missing tonight’s game with a left calf contusion, Lakers big man Anthony Davis is expected to return Monday, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Clippers' Leonard, George To Remain Out Through Sunday

  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring), along with sharpshooter Luke Kennard (calf), will remain sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Indiana, head coach Tyronn Lue said on Friday (story via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN). However, Lue added that he doesn’t expect Leonard’s injury or George’s to be a “long-term” issue.

Lue Preaching Patience To Wall, RoCo; Kawhi And PG Still Out

  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is preaching patience to reserves John Wall and Robert Covington, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Wall has been frustrated by having to sit out back-to-backs because he feels fully healthy, but Lue noted that the veteran sat out all of last season, so the team is being cautious. As for Covington, he’s averaging his fewest minutes (13.8) since his rookie season back in ’13/14. “It’s a long season and we have so much talent and so much depth that I know it’s going to be times when people going to play and some people not,” Covington said. “I knew what was coming and knew what to expect at times. I’m not the type of person that’s going to complain about too much, I’m going to sit up there and call and be there ready when my number’s called.”
  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) have been ruled out for Friday’s contest against the Nuggets, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. There’s no timetable for either player to return.

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George Treated For Injuries

  • Clippers stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both underwent treatment in Los Angeles today for their injuries, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN (video link). Leonard suffered a sprained right ankle in Monday’s game when he stepped on Amir Coffey‘s foot, and he may not be ready to return on Friday. George missed his second straight game tonight with a strained right hamstring. Neither injury is considered long-term, Andrews adds.

Clippers In Market For Additional Frontcourt Depth

The Clippers‘ front office and head coach Tyronn Lue are “aligned” on the need for additional frontcourt depth behind center Ivica Zubac, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Zubac is currently the only traditional center on the Clippers’ 15-man roster, so the team has been leaning on forwards like Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris to spend time at the five in small-ball lineups. Two-way big man Moses Brown is also an option in the middle, but Los Angeles only appears comfortable deploying him sparingly.

As Fischer notes, Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl are the two most intriguing centers who are in contract years and are considered potential trade candidates — a report last week stated that Turner has drawn interest from the Clippers. However, Fischer believes L.A. may desire a more “switchable” center who can be used in “zippier” lineups without resorting to full-fledged small ball.

Backup centers who can capably switch onto and defend guards or forwards aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, so it’s unclear which players around the NBA the Clippers might be monitoring.

Last week’s report on Turner suggested that the Clippers might look to trade from their wing depth in a deal for a center. Batum and Robert Covington are among the wings whose playing time has dipped this season as the club attempts to find minutes for several vets who are accustomed to playing regular rotation roles. Minutes will be even harder to come by for the players further down the depth chart if and when Kawhi Leonard starts playing regularly, so a consolidation trade using a forward or two would make sense.

The Clippers have dealt away their 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, but could include their 2028 or 2029 first-rounder in a trade offer. They also have a $9.7MM trade exception that could come in handy if they’re eyeing a player earning less than the mid-level.

Leonard, George Won't Play Wednesday

The Clippers have been extremely cautious with Kawhi Leonard this season and he’ll miss another game on Wednesday, though it doesn’t involve his surgically repaired knee. Leonard is listed out due to a right ankle sprain, according to the team’s PR department. The 31-year-old has only played in five games this season.

The Clippers’ other star forward, Paul George, will miss his second consecutive game due to a right hamstring tendon strain.

  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is touting Norman Powell as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Janis Carr of the Orange County Register writes. Powell is averaging 16.2 points in the past 10 games, including a 30-point outing against Utah on Monday. “Like I said, Sixth Man of the Year, that should be his goal, and he has a great opportunity to do that, having 30 points on 15 shots off the bench,” Lue said. “Very efficient. And we need him to play well especially with guys being out and he’s stepping up, playing well for us.”

Western Notes: George, Holmes, Fernando, Dinwiddie, Kleber, Popovich

Clippers star forward Paul George missed Monday’s game against Utah due to a right hamstring tendon strain, according to Law Murray of The Athletic.

It’s a different injury than the one the team cited when George sat out the second half of Saturday’s game against San Antonio. The reason given that night was right knee soreness.

George will be reevaluated in the next couple of days.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes has fallen out of the Kings’ rotation and it may be difficult to move his contract, James Ham of The Kings Beat notes. Holmes is owed $11.2MM this season, $12MM next season and has a player option for $12.9MM in 2024/25.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is optimistic Bruno Fernando can return to action later this week, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Fernando has only appeared in two games this season due to left knee soreness.
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd expressed hope that Spencer Dinwiddie and Maxi Kleber will be available during the team’s upcoming road trip, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dinwiddie dislocated his left shoulder against Denver on Sunday, while Kleber hasn’t played since Tuesday due to a lower back contusion.
  • Gregg Popovich didn’t coach the Spurs on Sunday after meeting with the press prior to the game. Brett Brown filled in after Popovich felt ill, but doctors who examined him in the locker room pronounced him OK, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Jackson And Wall Proving A Solid PG Combo; Inside Ballmer's Plan For New Arena

  • Reggie Jackson and John Wall are proving to be a solid point guard combination for the Clippers, notes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. The duo shared the court to close out Saturday’s victory over the Spurs, and Wall, the backup, says they’re both willing to do whatever it takes to win. “It’s a dynamic with both of us not really caring who’s starting, who’s getting the most benefit,” Wall said. “We’re just trying to feed off each other, whatever the best role for this team is. Like last game, I didn’t play well, and Reggie was playing well. He closed the game out. Know what I mean? Sometimes it’s going to be different, sometimes it can be both of us. But you’re trying to figure out ways to do whatever we can to help this team win.”
  • Steve Farmer of The Los Angeles Times takes an in-depth look at Clippers owner Steve Ballmer‘s quest for the perfect NBA arena. One interesting note from Farmer’s article: Ballmer decided the seats at the top of the arena should have the same amount of leg room as those closer to the court because he wants all fans to be comfortable and in their seats as much as possible. The Intuit Dome is scheduled to open in summer 2024.

George Leaves Early, Says Knee Is OK

  • Clippers forward Paul George exited the team’s game against San Antonio early due to knee soreness but it shouldn’t cause him to miss any games, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reports. George told owner Steve Ballmer he was “OK” on his way to the locker room after Saturday’s win. George is listed as questionable to play Monday against Utah.

Clippers Notes: George, Leonard, Popovich, Covington

The Clippers aren’t worried about Paul George, who sat out the second half of Saturday’s game because of soreness in his right knee, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George didn’t speak to the media after the game, but coach Tyronn Lue said the condition isn’t believed to be serious. George spent the second half on the bench and felt good enough to help throw T-shirts to fans during a break in the action.

“He’s doing OK,” Lue said. “I haven’t seen what they (the medical staff) said happened to him, but I just know he had like a little tweak. But he says he is OK.”

Injuries have played a role in the team’s slow start, but George has been reliable so far, missing just one game because of a non-COVID illness. He was limited to 31 games last season due to a torn UCL in his right elbow.

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Kawhi Leonard embraced Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after Saturday’s game, indicating that any hard feelings are gone from Leonard’s bitter exit from San Antonio, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Leonard has never spoken much about what happened with the Spurs, but he told reporters Saturday that his time with Popovich helped him to improve. “He meant a lot, he’s the reason why I’m the player I am today,” Leonard said. “Built that foundation on showing me winning basketball and yeah, he’s a great coach. Still one of the best coaches I had. We been in too many battles to have a scar on our relationship.”
  • The Clippers were happy to welcome Leonard back to the lineup this week, but that meant many adjustments had to be made, Greif adds in a separate story. With Leonard and George able to carry the offense, other players are adapting to complementary roles. Nicolas Batum said the “rhythm is different, the passing is different, the players are different because two years ago we literally had two guys who could create open shots, when you have PG and Kawhi.”
  • Lue said he told Robert Covington “thank you for sacrificing” as the veteran forward has played single-digit minutes in four of his last five appearances, Greif tweets. Lue added that Covington will eventually see more playing time, but the team is trying to establish a rhythm with its current rotation.