The Los Angeles Clippers today announced that they have waived small forward Marqus Blakely. The roster now stands at 15, the maximum number of contracts they can carry into the regular season.
Blakely's departure is likely good news for second year shooting guard Travis Leslie. The final cut date is Monday, still a couple of days away, but with no more preseason games on the schedule the Clippers have no reason to keep Leslie around for a couple of practices if they're not going to go into the season with him. In other words, it seems inevitable at this point that Leslie will be on the opening day roster when the Clippers tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies next Wednesday.
The Clippers have in the past usually entered the season with 14 players under contract, preferring to keep an open roster spot to provide flexibility to make a move in season. Of course, that was under Mike Dunleavy and his protege Neil Olshey -- so maybe this is a reflection of a different philosophy from new GM Gary Sacks, or maybe it's just the fact that they had 15 guys they liked pretty well.
Leslie will still be the guy to go if something happens during the season and the Clippers have to make a move. But this team is already very deep, so the odds of them having to make some sort of emergency signing are pretty slim.
I've always liked Blakely, ever since the 2010 summer league when he outplayed the Clippers' lottery pick Al-Farouq Aminu, and am hopeful that he will eventually find his place in the NBA. The deck was stacked against him in the Clippers training camp: signing a training camp contract with a team with 15 players already under contract is almost always going to end up on the waiver wire. He'll likely head back to the D-League now and wait for his next chance to make it to the NBA. Don't be surprised if he gets that chance later this season.