As broadly hinted yesterday, the Clippers brought Maalik Wayns back into the fold today, signing the point guard to a 10-day contract three days after waiving him -- the three day wait being necessary so that he could clear waivers.
Doc Rivers had made it clear that he feels his need at this point is in the backcourt -- which seems more than a little strange, but then again, he is missing both of his starting guards at present. Even so, it seems like perhaps Doc is being too reactive to a temporary situation, especially considering that J.J. Redick and Reggie Bullock will be healthy any day now, while the front court issues have been ongoing. At the very least, signing Wayns today makes it fairly certain that the Clippers just paid 10/170 (a ten day contract pro-rated over a 170 day season) of a salary for eight minutes of garbage time from Darius Morris, who was signed one game before Wayns could return.
Of course there's also the question of whether Wayns is actually healthy enough to play with the team at this point, given that he did not make an appearance against the Spurs on January 4th, a day before he was waived in the first place.
Obviously the Clippers are not very concerned with the nickle and dime charges (actually closer to $50K by my back of the envelope math) that these 10-days represent, and that's great -- I mean, it's not my money, and it is just a drop in the bucket against a $70M payroll. Then again, as close as the Clippers are to the hard cap of the apron, maybe they should be concerned. An extra $50K might actually come in handy at some point. Not for signing a free agent to a minimum deal, but you never know what could happen with a trade.
I can't quite figure out what Rivers is doing in the bigger picture here. In my experience, he's more or less a straight shooter in his comments in the press -- everyone obfuscates at times of course, but Doc seems to do it less than most. So when he says he's not concerned with the front court right now, I take him at his word (at least to a point). And certainly his actions the last few days have been consistent with his words.
The again, he's not dumb. He certainly knows that in the postseason, when Paul and Redick are healthy, it's the first big off the bench that's going to be the team's Achilles heal, not his third string point guard.
But let's go back to the element of time. It seems as if the Clippers have some time, at least on their target list of bigs like Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. Not to mention that other names will come up in February and early March (Emeka Okafor would be the dream scenario, I think). So when Doc says he's more concerned with the backcourt right now, it makes sense when you place the emphasis on the right now. Odom isn't going to play for any team other than the Clippers, that much is pretty clear. As for Bynum, his list isn't very long either. He's already said that his two preferred destinations are the Heat and the Clippers -- and the Heat didn't even bother to waive Roger Mason, Jr. (who has played 194 minutes this season and has an unguaranteed contract) to make room for him. If Miami had ANY intention of pursuing Bynum, Mason would be on waivers today. He's not, so they don't.
As for obfuscation and agendas, perhaps there's some advantage to be gained with Bynum and his agent by playing coy. So when the Clippers leak that they've cooled on Bynum because of attitude issues, it's just as likely a message to Bynum that there'd had better not be any attitude issues -- and that they aren't going to get into a bidding war (because, well, they can't). Bynum doesn't have many good options for playing NBA basketball this season beyond the Clippers. But if, as suggested by Chris Broussard and Marc Stein, money is one of his priorities, well, the Clippers aren't an option. (These are mixed messages of course -- you don't let it be known that you want to play for one of two teams, Miami and L.A., who are over the cap and can only offer min deals, and then make money a priority.) At any rate, the Clippers lose leverage if they're falling over themselves to sign Drew the second he clears waivers. If Bynum wants more than the min and another team is willing to give it to him, then he's not an option. If he is willing to take the min, then the Clippers have time. Bynum needs the Clippers almost as much as he needs them -- so yeah, I can see a little advantage to be gained by saying "Andrew who? Oh, we aren't really interested in him."
In the picture, I feel exactly the same as I did when it first became clear that Bynum would be available. If Rivers and Paul can have a heart-to-heart with him and are believe that he'll toe the line, then you absolutely add him to the roster. Think about it: the Clippers currently have Antawn Jamison (or Ryan Hollins or Byron Mullens -- pick one, they're all almost equally terrible) behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Bynum could have a 20 minute a night role on a major title contender if he wants it and is willing to accept it, and the Clippers would get a massive talent upgrade in the process.
But Doc is probably right about one thing: there's no hurry. Welcome back, Maalik.