Full Boat

If indeed Josh Powell signs a contract with the Clippers today, the opening day roster is as good as decided.  Although neither Yaroslav Korolev nor Powell are officially signed as of yet, assuming those are indeed done deals, it gives the Clippers 14 guaranteed contracts.  With Brand and Livingston both injured, the team will break with tradition and begin the season with the full complement of 15 contracts, the final spot being for the third string point guard that will probably go to Jared 'White Dyn-o-mite' Jordan or Will Conroy (I'm guessing that Guillermo Diaz essentially played his way out of that spot in Summer League).  I'm guessing it will be Jordan.

Barring a trade or some other surprise, the Clippers will start the season with these 15 players under contract:

Chris Kaman
Paul Davis
Aaron Williams
Elton Brand
Tim Thomas
Josh Powell
Corey Maggette
Al Thornton
Yaroslav Korolev
Cat Mobley
Quinton Ross
Shaun Livingston
Sam Cassell
Brevin Knight
Jared Jordan or Will Conroy

Powell's signing also puts ClipsNation's dreams of watching MBFGC in red, white and blue on hold for at least one more year.  As I guessed before, we'll see Sofo in Beijing before we see him in Staples (assuming he makes the Greek Olympic team, not a foregone conclusion as you'll read below).

There was a blog entry on the Clippers official site today referencing MBFGC.  (I'm reserving judgment on the 'official' Clippers blog for awhile - although 'official' and blog seem to be mutually exclusive.  For what it's worth, I met Dena when I interviewed White Dyn-o-mite - she seems nice enough.)

Here's what she wrote about MBFGC:

Here's the deal: we still have Sofoklis' NBA rights until the year, well... forever. Right now, the Clippers are definitely still interested in bringing the center over at some point. The general consensus is that he has a ton of NBA potential.

Sofoklis just turned 22, so he would be a college junior or senior right now (or maybe even a sophomore considering Al Thornton was 23 as a senior). He is still very young. He also still needs to refine his game.

You should probably expect to see the Greek center get a shot with the Clippers at some point, but it will most likely be when he has fully refined his game to a level where he can contribute right away.

This response is interesting for one specific reason: it is almost identical to the answer I received from a different Clippers' representative last week.  I mean, right down to the 'Al Thornton was 23 as a senior' thing.  So the organization has it's talking points straight.

Of course, it doesn't really ring true.  Or at the very least, why would you spend a draft pick (any draft pick, really, but he was a very high second rounder) on an 18 year old if the only reason you won't bring him over 4 years later is because he's too young?  Besides, it's not like we're waiting for his body to develop.

So no matter how you slice it, there's some other reason they're not pursuing Sofo right now.  Kevin referenced this on ClipperBlog in his conversation with Jonathon Givony last week.  

He was incredibly out of shape and was basically benched for the entire year [last year]...Even the Greek National Team doesn't want him.

Now, the Clippers have some experience with overweight bigs, having relied 'heavily' on Stanley Roberts and John 'Hot Plate' Williams in the early 90's.  As was the case with Roberts and Williams then, Sofo's issues have been injury-related, but of course that's almost inevitable with players this size.  It then becomes a vicious cycle - out of shape because of injuries, injured because of weight.  

Contrary to what Givony said, it is my understanding that he was invited to be on the Greek National Team for EuroBasket this month, but chose not to play, in order to train for the upcoming Greek season.  His name was on the original list of invitees.  

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