Clippers Rumors

L.A. Notes: Hyland, Zubac, Westbrook, Dinwiddie, Giles

The fractured left hand that Russell Westbrook suffered Friday night has created an opportunity for Bones Hyland, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Hyland played 16 minutes after Westbrook left the game, and he may have a spot in the Clippers‘ rotation for the foreseeable future.

“It’s been a long time,” Hyland said, “but honestly I’m just ready to keep contributing to the team, build up these wins and carry this momentum into the thing that we all want to do.”

Carr points out that Hyland averaged 26.2 minutes and 13.6 points in the season’s first five games. But he became a forgotten man after the James Harden trade was completed, logging 34 DNPs since November 10 and being listed as inactive five times. He admits it has been “challenging” and credits Westbrook for providing encouragement while he waited for playing time.

“Russ has been a great leader to me, man, since I came here, even before I got here,” Hyland said. “He’s always been that guy I can go talk to. … In this whole process, he told me to stay down, stay hungry, stay in the gym, just keep being myself and it’ll come back around full circle.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Center Ivica Zubac was able to travel with the Clippers after missing the past two games with an undisclosed illness, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday afternoon’s contest in Minnesota. “I hope I can play,” Zubac said. “I didn’t come all this way not to play. But I guess it’s up to the medical staff, but I hope I can play.”
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue talked about the effect that losing Westbrook will have on the team, Turner adds. “Russ plays every night, so just to see him go through something like this is tough on everybody,” Lue said. “He wants to compete in practice, in games, in everything.”
  • Spencer Dinwiddie, who signed with the Lakers last month after being waived by Toronto, is becoming more comfortable with his new team, according to Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. Coach Darvin Ham said his advice to Dinwiddie was “be aggressive and let us figure it out around you.”
  • Harry Giles will report to the Lakers Sunday on his new two-way contract, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Ham told reporters that he’s happy to find a promising talent to fortify the frontcourt (video link). “I think he’s a really good young player,” Ham said. “He was available and we saw an opportunity to gain a little insurance at that position. … He’s also someone we can take a long, hard look at as far as implementing him into the program.”

Russell Westbrook Sustains Left Hand Fracture

Clippers guard Russell Westbrook sustained a broken left hand on Friday vs. Washington, the team announced (Twitter link via ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk).

Head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after the game that he’s not yet sure whether Westbrook will require surgery or how much time he might miss (Twitter link via Youngmisuk).

The 2016/17 league MVP, Westbrook has made nine All-NBA teams over the course of his 16-year career. After the Clips traded for James Harden, Westbrook has primarily come off the bench in 2023/24, averaging 11.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.5 APG and 1.1 SPG on .451/.268/.672 shooting in 57 games (22.8 MPG).

Unfortunately, Westbrook is the second noteworthy player to suffer a fractured left hand tonight, joining Raptors forward Scottie Barnes.

While Westbrook, 35, is clearly no longer in his prime, he’s still a terrific rebounder for a guard who can get in the paint and make plays. Earlier in the season, he talked about being keyed in defensively.

Before the Harden trade, Bones Hyland was the team’s backup point guard, and now that Westbrook is injured, he’ll likely receive some rotation minutes.

Westbrook holds a $4MM player option for ’24/25.

Lue Taking Better Care Of Himself

  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue had a health scare when he was coaching Cleveland due to stress and poor eating and sleeping habits. He’s learned from that experience and has a much healthier diet and exercise plan, he told Andscape’s Marc J. Spears. “I’ve been working out. Eating better. I still have my moments. [I’m] eating less. It’s been good,” Lue said. “(Strength and conditioning coach Daniel Shapiro) has done a good job of staying on me because I can stray away. I’m just doing 20 to 30 minutes per day … Now I’m about 208 [pounds]. Back [in Cleveland] I was 241. I can’t believe I got that big.”
  • LeBron James sparked the biggest fourth-quarter comeback of his career against the Clippers on Wednesday in the two teams’ final matchup as cohabitants of Crypto.com Arena. The Lakers rallied from 21 points down with the aid of three three-pointers early in the fourth from James, who finished with 34 points. “It’s just a zone, and you can’t really describe it,” James said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “You wish you could stay in it forever, but obviously it checks out once the game ends. But during it, you don’t feel anything. It’s just like a superpower feel.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Ayton, Thomas, George

The Sixers continue to believe that star center Joel Embiid, who underwent surgery on the meniscus in his left knee earlier this month, should be able to return to the court before the end of the regular season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Tuesday during an appearance on NBA Today (YouTube link).

“They still are optimistic that they can get him back,” Wojnarowski said. “I think there’s some hope that they can get him back on the court by sometime in late March, back starting to get into condition. The goal here isn’t necessarily to try to bring him back and see how many regular season games you might be able to win with him. The goal is to get him as healthy as he can be for the postseason.”

When the Sixers announced Embiid’s procedure on February 6, they said he would be reevaluated in four weeks. As Wojnarowski notes, that means we’re still about a week away from the team providing a more official update on the reigning MVP’s progress and possible timeline.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • X-rays on Deandre Ayton‘s sprained right hand came back negative, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups said on Tuesday after Ayton left the team’s loss to Miami early (Twitter link via Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Portland center is in the clear. “I think there will be some further testing because he was in quite a bit of pain,” Billups said (link via ESPN).
  • Nets guard Cam Thomas underwent an MRI on his sprained right ankle on Tuesday, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. While the results haven’t yet been announced, Thomas said on Monday that he doesn’t believe this ankle injury is as severe as the one that cost him nine games in November.
  • The Clippers will be without star forward Paul George for a second straight game due to left knee soreness, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Head coach Tyronn Lue said that George didn’t practice on Tuesday and wouldn’t be available on Wednesday vs. the Lakers after having sat out Sunday’s loss to Sacramento.

Clippers Rebranding For Next Season

The Clippers will have a new look when they move into the Inuit Dome next season, the team announced Monday morning (via Twitter). The franchise unveiled a new logo and uniforms, along with a redesigned court that will help establish a fresh identity after 40 years in Los Angeles.

The rebranding comes after outside consultants were hired to conduct fan surveys, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Team officials considered everything, including a possible name change, but that didn’t poll well, with sources describing the reaction to Lowe as “outright hostility.”

“The focus groups are advisory, not definitive,” owner Steve Ballmer said. “But I still listen to them, and I have heard, partially to my surprise, that there is no interest in a name change. I had thought about [the name] years ago, before I got the team, but we heard similar reactions back then.”

The Clippers will replace their current logo, which has been described as bland, with a large “C” that has a ship inside it, a nod to the clipper ships of San Diego that inspired the team’s name when it moved to that city in 1978. The global version of the logo contains the words “Los Angeles Clippers” surrounding the ship in a circle.

The court display released by the team features the logo in the center with “Inuit Dome” printed in blue on both sides of it. The N in “Angeles” extends through the center court stripe to create a compass effect. The painted area is dark blue, with red semicircles above the foul line, and longitude and latitude coordinates for the new building are listed along the sidelines. Other home court designs will be released later, sources tell Lowe.

The Clippers also unveiled white and blue versions of their new uniforms, which feature the logo on the shorts and a new font for the team name. A red statement edition has “Los Angeles” on the front and “Clips” on the waistband of the shorts. Three nautical flags line the sides of the red jersey.

The team won’t have a black version of its jersey next season, with Gillian Zucker, president of business operations for the Clippers and Intuit Dome, telling Lowe, “We kept hearing from people that black was overdone.” 

The Clippers are also excited about their new secondary logos, one of which is a version of “LA” with a smaller A perched on the bottom line of a larger L.

“It will make for a phenomenal hat,” Zucker said. “In 20 years, people will look back and this will be iconic for the Clippers.”

Terance Mann's Scoring Saves Clippers At Memphis

Thunder Notes: Holmgren, Pokusevski, SGA, Sefolosha

The presence of 7’1″ rookie Chet Holmgren has added a lob threat to the Thunder‘s offense, writes Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. By December, the team had already thrown more lobs than it did all of last season, when Holmgren was sidelined with a foot injury. The ability to target Holmgren around the rim gives opposing defenses one more weapon to worry about.

“It’s something we’ve definitely tried to highlight, especially against switches,” coach Mark Daigneault said. “If they’re gonna put a smaller guy on him and switch him, we have to throw the ball up to him.” 

Holmgren had to learn how to establish position in the post before the lob game became effective, Lorenzi adds. He’s grown more comfortable as the season has worn on, and his teammates have figured out the best ways to get the ball to him.

“Just trusting the process of things,” Holmgren said. “Knowing that not everything is gonna be perfect from Day 1. … We have a lot to work on outside of being better at throwing lobs, catching lobs, playing out of actions that lead to lobs. We just got to continue to work at everything.”

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • Even though the Thunder decided to waive Aleksej Pokusevski this week, Daigneault is proud of how the forward developed his skills during his time with the organization, Lorenzi tweets. “(When he was drafted) I didn’t think he really had a great understanding of his own game as a professional player,” Daigneault said. “… Three and a half years later, I think he’s improved in all those things. And that’s what we want to be about.” 
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN looks back at the 2019 trade that sent Paul George to the Clippers in exchange for a package that included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. McMahon states that general manager Sam Presti‘s insistence that SGA be included may have set up the next NBA dynasty. “I didn’t see it coming,” Gilgeous-Alexander recalled. “I’m not like, ‘Why would you do that?’ It made sense. I think Paul just came off like an MVP-caliber year. … I used it a little bit as motivation just to get better and really turn myself into that caliber of player.”
  • Thabo Sefolosha, who was part of the greatest seasons in Thunder history, sees similarities between his teams and the current roster, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I see a lot of what we had, people not expecting them to be this good,” said Sefolosha, who was a guest at Friday’s game as part of Thunder Legacy Weekend. “Super-competitive team. Extremely talented. Credit to Sam. He finds a way. You cannot doubt the man.” 

Northwest Notes: Conley, George, Blazers, Nuggets

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley will earn $9,975,962 in 2024/25 followed by $10,774,038 in ’25/26 as part of his new two-year extension, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). It’s a straight two-year contract with no options, and Conley can’t be traded for six months due to the 8% raise in year two of the extension, Marks adds.

Appearing on NBA Countdown, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said (Twitter video link) Conley initially wasn’t thrilled that Utah sent him to Minnesota at last year’s deadline, having instead hoped to land with the Lakers or Clippers. However, he and his family now love the area and he was enthusiastic about staying with the Wolves.

In a story for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton writes that Conley’s extension looks like a win for the Wolves on the court and off, even though they’re almost certain to be a second apron team in 2024/25. Pelton says the No. 1 seed in the West is well worth spending money on. Minnesota has only paid the tax once in franchise history, but Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are set to become majority stakeholders next season.

Pelton also examines Minnesota’s free agents this summer and ways in which the team could trim payroll, which seems unlikely barring an unforeseen development.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Jazz guard Keyonte George, the 16th pick of last year’s draft, spent the summer watching all 82 of Utah’s games from 2022/23 to prepare for his rookie campaign, he tells Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. “I watched as much film as I could just so I knew what my role was going to be coming in,” George said. “I knew Mike (Conley) was gone, so I just had to go into a new situation, trying to be a lead guard, and I was trying to speed up the process. My main goal was to be effective as soon as possible so I wanted to put myself in a position to be knowledgeable and not think about what I was doing in a new system and just play.” Known as more of scorer coming out of Baylor, George knew facilitating would be key to NBA minutes. He says he continues to study other players to gain an edge. “As the year has gone on, I’ve felt way more comfortable and my shot is starting to fall,” George added. “Definitely the game is slowing down for me. I’ve been watching games around the league and seeing how other guards get to their spots and just trying to figure out my spots and my shot selection.”
  • The Trail Blazers have reached a five-year “bridge agreement” with the city of Portland that will keep the team in the Moda Center through at least 2030, with the current lease expiring in 2025, per Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. The Blazers own the arena but the city leases the land. President of business operations Dewayne Hankins said the move will keep the team in Portland and owner Jody Allen has instructed the Blazers to get a long-term deal done with the city.
  • The Nuggets are 25-8 with all five starters active but just 12-11 when at least one player from the group is unavailable. With that in mind, head coach Michael Malone says he’s more focused on repeating as NBA champions instead of angling for the West’s top seed, as Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes. “For me, (the top seed) is not a top one or two priority, to be very honest,” Malone said. “We talked about that with our team today. The good thing is Minnesota is No. 1. We play them three more times. We’re three games out (of first place). So we have avenues to become the No. 1 team. It’s definitely attainable. But I don’t want to win that battle and lose the bigger war. … I think having home court in the first round is very, very important. I think having a healthy team going into the postseason is very important. And if we happen to be the No. 1 seed, that’s just a cherry on top. But we’re not gonna put all our cards in just to attain that and to risk being healthy for a very deep playoff run.”

Rivers Was Consulted Before Harden Trade

  • Former Sixers coach Doc Rivers was consulted by the Clippers before they acquired James Harden from Philadelphia, he told Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points. Rivers has since taken over the Bucks’ head coaching job. “I was the one, obviously, they consulted,” Rivers said. “They made calls and I was one of the guys who said it would be a great deal for them because I thought he fit them better than he would fit the Sixers team. I think he’s a perfect fit there. It’s a league. We talk. They just talked, asked questions, and I was on board early.”
  • Speaking of Harden, Mark Medina of Sportsnaut.com describes how the Clippers guard has made changes to his game to fit in with his current teammates. That includes his mindset on the offensive end. “My job for this team is to touch the paint and get the shot, make the shot and make the game a lot easier for teammates,” Harden said. “Whether I have my step-back going or getting to the paint, I’m going to make a play for a teammate.”

And-Ones: Barton, All-Star Game, Buyout Market, More

Will Barton, who reportedly reached an agreement with CSKA Moscow last month, will return stateside without having played for the Russian club, per an announcement from CSKA (Twitter link). Barton’s contract was terminated via an early exit clause.

An 11-year NBA veteran who appeared in 56 games last season for Washington and Toronto, Barton could be a candidate to return to the league down the stretch. However, Alessando Maggi of Sportando hears from sources that the wing’s departure from CSKA Moscow was related to failed medical tests. If that’s accurate, any NBA teams with interest in Barton will be sure to do its due diligence on his health situation.

CSKA Moscow indicated in its announcement that it remains on the lookout for a player who can help out at shooting guard and small forward.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Ten basketball writers for The Athletic shared their thoughts on how the NBA could improve its All-Star Game. Some of their ideas? Combining All-Star weekend and the in-season tournament final four into one event; turning the All-Star game into a two-on-two or three-on-three tournament; or simply naming All-Stars and not playing the game.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN, Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton take a closer look at what sort of impact the NBA’s rule tweaks have had on the buyout market and consider which player will be the most impactful buyout-market addition this season. Of the veterans who have already found new homes, Pelton views Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie as the player capable of making the greatest impact.
  • Joe Vardon, Sam Amick, and David Aldridge of The Athletic polled several players at All-Star weekend on a variety of topics, including the best player and team in the NBA, whether the league has become too offense-heavy, and what rule changes they’d implement if they had Adam Silver‘s job for a day. The Celtics earned the most votes (five) for the NBA’s best team, with the Clippers (four) coming in second.