Update: The Clippers signed veteran guard Lester Hudson to a 10-day contract on Sunday, March 29. That signing has little impact on the questions below regarding Nate Robinson. Hudson is a healthy body for the next 10-days; the Clippers will still have the option of re-signing Robinson for the playoff roster assuming his knee improves, and Jamal Crawford's health remains a key question in all of this.
The Los Angeles Clippers have a multi-dimensional problem concerning a one-dimensional NBA player, Nate Robinson, the 5'9 veteran who had started to play a bit better in his last few games with the team. The Clippers have already signed Robinson to two 10 day contracts this season, and NBA rules require that teams either release a player or sign them for the remainder of the season after two 10 day contracts -- a third 10 day deal is not an option. Robinson missed Wednesday's game in New York with some soreness in his knee and with his second 10 day expiring on Thursday, the Clippers have not yet re-signed little Nate.
The problems with the situation are many. The Clippers backcourt skews small already -- Chris Paul is 6'0, J.J. Redick is a relatively small shooting guard at 6'3, Austin Rivers is not real big at 6'4. Plenty of NBA teams like to "go small" but placing Robinson anywhere in that backcourt rotation makes the Clippers microscopic, not just small. (As Jeff Van Gundy said when the Clippers last played Golden State, "When the Warriors go small, they're big, but when the Clippers go small, they're small.")
But the team, without many scoring options in their second unit, is still without third leading scorer and sixth man of the year candidate Jamal Crawford. Robinson is an imperfect alternative, but he is a scorer, and more importantly is a player who can create some offense and get his own shot, something sorely lacking among the Clipper reserves. In Crawford's absence, Robinson fills a void for the team.
But Robinson's own injury complicates matters. Crawford's injury seems minor -- but because no one really knows what caused it, no one can really say when he'll be back. In theory he could be back at any moment, but no one knows. Meanwhile, if the Clippers do spend a full contract on Robinson it's their 15th and final such contract -- if they had an opportunity to add another player, they would have to cut one to do so. Of course, it doesn't appear that there's anyone available so it may not matter.
My guess is that the Clippers will eventually re-sign Robinson when he is healthy enough to play (a) as an insurance policy against the chance that Crawford won't be back, (b) as a potential change of pace substitution in the post-season and (c) because there's no one else to sign anyway. Unfortunately, if the Clippers are actually in need of Robinson's services in the post-season, it probably means they're in trouble.